The digital environment pretends to be kind to modern companies. It gives you access to a global market from your fingertips and provides you with all of the tools that you could ever need. Apps tell you when you’re mentioned online, whether your PPC strategy is effective, and where your competitors are getting their inbound links.
But despite all this digital wizardry, it’s still frightfully tricky to gain any traction in the online space. While the tools might be accessible and mostly free, it’s a level playing field. Everyone else has access to the same facilities. In the world of digital marketing, your customers seem to be forever out of reach.
“The digital content ecosystem, I’ve come to believe, is like the night sky. There are thousands of stars all vying for our attention. Yet few or none truly stand out.”Steve Rubel, Chief Content Strategist at Edelman
How do you get your brand in front of new customers in such a competitive environment? What do you need to do as an organization to make real inroads and get a return on your digital marketing dollars?
Doing the same old things isn’t going to work. Setting up a website and creating an account on Facebook isn’t enough to create a following and gain impressions. You need something more holistic that delivers real value to customers. The old strategies are no longer sufficient.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the cutting edge methods of targeting your brand that go beyond PPC and SEO. Take a look at the following:
Social Media Targeting
Social media targeting is where you use all of the information about customers on social media sites to create highly-targeted advertising messages.
Customers provide a lot of information about themselves on social media. You can find demographic information, the language they speak, their interests, their associated keywords, and even their location.
Businesses are finding that it’s much more effective to use social media targeting than it is to use a scattergun approach. You can craft far more potent, personal, and relevant ads using a user’s social media data than you can when using search PPC. Keywords in a search bar tell you very little about the person behind them, but social media account data tells you a lot.
You can use social media targeting across a range of social networks, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The strategy that you use differs from one platform to the next because of differences in how they allow you to collect information.
Again, while this strategy might sound ideal in theory, actually putting it into practice is a challenge. You need to understand how to generate customer personas and collect relevant data for targeted adverts. It’s not always easy, especially if you need your campaign to run across multiple platforms. Here, again, a digital marketing agency can help. Digital marketers have special tools and protocols that enable you to ramp up your marketing relevance and get the customers you want.
A second exciting subject in digital marketing circles today is Influencer marketing Influencer marketing is currently one of the hottest topics in the digital advertising space. Sixty-five percent of companies say that they are actively looking to increase the share of cash they dedicate to it in the current financial year. But what is it, exactly?
Influencer marketing is where you partner with so-called “influencers” – online personalities with a following – online and get them to share your products and services with their audience. What’s interesting about influencer marketing is that it doesn’t look anything like traditional advertising. You’re not paying influencers to plug your products – that would actually undermine the whole enterprise. Instead, you’re giving them incentives to talk about who you are and what you make. The idea is to provide customers with genuinely helpful information about what you do and how they can benefit from your services.
Of course, influencer marketing can be a risk: the particular influencer you target might not like your product and could say something negative about it. Companies, however, are finding that, on balance, this isn’t what happens. What’s more, it’s actually much easier to get your branding and points across to advertising-saturated audiences when they don’t believe that advertising is taking place. When a customer watches a review video from their favorite influencer, it’s for its own sake. You’re not forcing them to sit through a commercial yet you’re still introducing them to your product.
Influencer marketing, therefore, is great in both theory and practice, but there’s a problem: most companies don’t have links with influencers. You might think that it’s a great idea, but you might not have the personal connections you need to make the strategy work.
Here’s where agencies can help. Digital marketing agencies help you make connections with relevant influencers, supercharging your marketing efforts.
New Marketing Strategies
That Are Hot Right Now (Or Will Be Shortly)
So, we’ve discussed two marketing tactics: social media targeting and influencer marketing that are both hot right now. But what else is coming down the pike?
Smart Speaker Opportunities
The smart speaker is fast becoming a feature of the modern home. Google Home and Amazon Echo are both experiencing a boom in sales as consumers get used to the idea of just speaking to their devices and having them do things for them, like give a weather report or open the blinds upstairs. So far, this marketing opportunity has gone relatively untapped, but it’s like that we’ll see a strong move into this space as more consumers adopt these devices.
We already discussed the benefits of influencer marketing, but so far, this has usually meant partnering with big influencers with 100,000-plus followers. Now there’s a move by some companies to target much smaller influencers: people with just a few hundred or thousand people in their audience.
The reason for this has to do with authenticity. Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of large influencers. The suspicion, whether true or not, is that these influencers are paid shills of big companies, pushing products, instead of giving authentic reviews and opinions. Firms, therefore, now see the value of reaching audiences through smaller influences, as yet untainted by corporate money.
Once upon a time, businesses were happy to create a catchy jingle to go along with images of their products. But, now, advertising is morphing. With the internet, consumers are much more able to control the type of advertising they receive. Most don’t want to be bombarded with catchy branded messages, no matter how much they might get stuck in their heads. What they really want are companies that provide them with genuine value.
Firms, therefore, now see genuine marketing opportunities from being thought leaders in their space. Being the preeminent source of information on a particular subject automatically elevates them above competitors who don’t provide their customers with the same level of education. What’s more, creating informative, original content complements SEO strategies. If you’re the source of information on a particular topic, you dramatically increase your backlink potential and could even attract links from coveted authority sites.
Customer Brand Ambassadors
Marketers know all about the concept of “social proof.” It’s the idea that customers rely on the opinions of their peers when deciding whether to buy a particular product. Marketers know this, and so they’re looking to create ways to create conditions where genuine customers become brand ambassadors, extolling the benefits of choosing their products. Tools like Bazaar Voice and YotPo are taking advantage of this phenomenon, giving businesses the tools that they need to help customers share information about their products in the online marketplace. It’s a strategy that bypasses online influences.
So what have we learnt? Essentially, we’ve discovered that digital marketing is moving away from merely putting adverts in front of customer eyeballs. Instead, it’s communicating with them on their own terms, offering value at the same time as showcasing products. Businesses are increasingly putting the message out through third parties, like influencers, or getting their customers to do the heavy lifting for them. Superficially, it seems like a crisis of faith at the heart of branding, but at the same time, we’re seeing the emergence of opportunities for more powerful authentic connections.