Digital Marketing is the New Normal

Needless to say, we live in a digital world. From businesses to social organizations and even governments, everyone is trying to reach their audience through the digital media. But the plethora of marketing avenues within the space hasn’t been easy to navigate for many, especially in an opportunistic manner. Add to that, multiple devices and newer platforms aren’t helping solve this conundrum for marketers. In an age of evolving technology, it is not only hard to keep up, but also cope up.

The modern day CMO’s job is much like modern day parents who have to constantly update themselves with new age lingo’s/ styles and keep a tab on what their kids are taking a fancy to. Apart from the Herculean task of becoming tech geeks and familiarizing themselves with the latest in digital innovations, marketers also have to ideate on how to integrate it into their marketing strategies. All this, with a third eye on engagement and earnings!

But what’s baffling is the short life of the exercise. The world of digital marketing is changing so rapidly that what used to be the next big thing is already turning obsolete before our eyes.

It’s probably a safe time to say that ‘digital’ as a separate entity is dead. It is ‘the ‘marketing’ of today. Once haven been given the step-sisterly treatment in the entire marketing strategy plan, digital has slowly made its way into the space of traditional media and today stands proudly as a core part of every marketer’s big scheme! In some cases, the entire marketing plan is based on the digital media!

Birth of ‘traditional’ digital marketing

Not too long ago, it was enough for brands to invest in SEO, SEM, Blog development, PPC and if budgets permitted, even viral videos. Although they aren’t going anywhere any time soon, these are considered the pre-requisites of a marketing plan today and almost unworthy of mention in the boardroom discussion. They have truly become the ‘traditional’ element in the digital world of wonders. In fact, some trends like creating games or microsites have almost gone outright obsolete.

What does the crystal ball say?

Big Data has taken over our lives and continues to rule. It is now more dynamic, accessible, and broadly understood. This will open up new opportunities for messaging optimization – but, more importantly, the access to data will challenge marketers to become more nimble and responsive. Real time analytics and marketing automation for hyper targeting using in-app messaging and push notification is already gaining commendable traction.

Video ads are considered the next big thing. Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Instagram are all incorporating video ads in a bigger way to enhance user engagement. Brands are now focusing on making themselves more relatable, human and likable, like using 15 second quick peek Instagram videos or Facebook vlogs from the CEO.

Content marketing has come of age. A content arms race has begun, one which places a strong emphasis on audience engagement, participation, and emotional investment rather than views alone. Authentic storytelling, getting away from overly branded messages and developing hyper-relevant content is the name of the game. To create distinctive, authoritative content, the most creative organizations are broadening the scope of what content marketing includes. New types of content include: simple quizzes, ROI calculators, HTML5 infographics, clickable whitepapers etc.

Interestingly, this has further led us to micro-moment marketing. Consumers today turn to search engines on their phones for any immediate info at any given point. This real time requirement is captured in intent and context. Brands that recognize the potential of capitalizing these moments can gain some strong hold in the competitive market.

You v/s For You

Brands have understood the need to not just reach out to the consumers but adapt to their changing requirements, impulses and moods.
Personalisation has taken a whole new meaning. Identity based PPC marketing allows brands to hyper target and optimize the user buyer journey. No two viewers will end up seeing the same communication. Creating an experience unique to an individual’s needs could yield higher conversion rates and user retention. This personalized UX can be further taken to a mobile platform through the use of beacons, which re-engage in-store visitors via social media. In the coming year or two, one may even get to see brands interact with consumers directly in real time.

Another avenue where brands are moving over from ‘me’ centric communication to ‘you’ is through Business Owned Communities. There is a rise in the number of Facebook groups, Slack channels and other forums that unite over a common cause, problem or idea. Businesses can benefit from bringing together their large fragmented consumer base by setting up these cost-effective, self-running online platforms and understanding how they feel about the product or the industry. A trend that is soon going to catch up in 2016, these communities might just turn out to be a warehouse of consumer insights.

Influencer Marketing is something most brands are banking on. Incorporating social media influencers to leverage multiple consumer touch points have effectively proven better exposure and acceptance. Simply because they don’t carry the ‘perceived selling agenda’ that brands often face.

These trends might dynamically change the way brands function in 2016. Having said, they also face the threat of getting hackneyed in no time. Digital has gone beyond Search, Social and Display. Apps have become a necessity. Mobile websites are mandatory. But the most significant change in trend is right in the marketer’s den. While internal marketing department used to be segregated, it is an integrated entity today. Brands now benefit incorporating data scientists and tech specialists right into their marketing teams.

It is after all a matter of identifying opportunities. Lose your focus and you might just miss the boat.

(This post has been authored by Nikhil Rungta, CMO,
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