Every day brings new digital marketing information. An update here, a new statistic there.
But lately, I think we’ve reached a watershed. It’s time to look up, and see how far this tide of change has taken us.
Already, marketing managers tell me they’re struggling to keep up with all the ways digital marketing is changing. Quite aside from actually doing any work, just reading the news and understanding the shifting landscape takes some doing.
At the moment, from the top of my head, here are some of the most significant changes:
Google updates are coming thick and fast
Both for natural search listings and Pay Per Click (PPC), Google’s constant refining of its algorithms, processes and rules means defining a strategy to get found online isn’t a one-off fix: it’s a full-time job.
The role of social media is changing
The perceived cheap nature of social media has provoked a huge influx of low-quality marketing until many channels are approaching saturation point. Meaningful communication is getting tougher by the day.
Video integration is revolutionising email
Online video is becoming ever more integral to the online experience, and people are used to watching where they are, with a single click. We’re seeing more and more clients include video in marketing emails, and the results are spectacular.
There’s no doubt, online marketing is changing at a head-spinning rate – and it’s getting more complex by the day. I talk to clients, and see how exhausting it is trying to stay ahead of the game.
But there’s a much deeper and more compelling reason to stop, take a step back, and look again at how you do your marketing online. And it’s actually very simple.
You need to change your digital marketing, because your customer needs you to
It doesn’t matter what the experts say, or – to any great extent – what your competition is doing. Your business depends, wholly, on your customer. And the truth is, what your customer needs and wants from your marketing is changing at an unprecedented rate.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to recognise a few home truths:
Your customer is multi-channel
They don’t categorise themselves as an online or offline customer; an email, mobile, web or social media contact. And you shouldn’t think of them that way, either.
These days your customer – like all of us – skips effortlessly from their computer to their smartphone, from Facebook to their inbox, almost without realising they’re doing it. If you don’t give them a consistent experience of your brand, it’s going to feel very strange indeed – and if you’re not using the same channels as they are, your marketing is invisible.
Your customer is researching their next purchase
Ask yourself: when was the last time you made a significant purchase without having done any online research at all?
Whether they’re booking a holiday or buying a pair of shoes, the chances are your customer is better informed – before they even contact you – than ever before. The task now is to influence them before the sale, while they’re still researching, so approaches like content marketing really come into their own.
Your customer’s expectations are rising
Every day, the goalposts move a little further. Because you’re not simply up against your own competition; you’re trying to live up to the experiences your customer gets every day, dealing with top brands from every walk of life.
For example, it’s now perfectly common to receive prompt, attentive customer service through Twitter; companies that tweet, but aren’t equipped to engage in two-way conversation, can begin to look as if they’re ignoring their customers.
Your customer’s world – and their buying process – is changing, fast. If your digital marketing isn’t integrated and flexible enough to respond to that change (and the next change, and the one after that) then somebody else’s will.
And that, in a nutshell, is the reason why now is the time for you to review your digital marketing from the ground up.
I have no doubt that integration is the future for digital marketing and it will continue to advance in sophistication. Your customers’ needs have changed. It’s high time your marketing did too.