Video may have killed the radio star, but when it comes to 21st Century marketing, social media already has all of its predecessors firmly within its crosshairs.
It’s startling to think that just a generation ago television advertising was the undisputed king of the hill when it came to effectively reaching out to your target audiences. The freedom of moving images coupled with the ability to choose who sees your campaign based on the schedule surrounding your advert was liberating for marketers who grew accustomed to compressing campaigns into print media — or 30-second audio clips for radio.
(Shifting sands: Audiences under 36 have already begun to heavily favour digital approaches to advertising such as social media as opposed to the more traditional television-based campaigns. Image: Marketing Charts)
The power and accessibility of the World Wide Web have clearly changed the types of advertising channels that we’re exposed to. While older generations can still be expected to see 70% of their adverts on television, Millennials and Generation Z combined will see nearly 50% all their targeted adverts sourced from social media platforms.
Speaking at a panel of 50 leading marketing professionals, Guardian News and Media Chief Digital Officer, Tanya Cordrey was keen to highlight that although the industry is fast evolving, “the creativity and the passion from brands that have really helped build loyalty and emotion is where marketing hasn’t changed. Those things you still need, but almost all aspects of marketing have changed very dramatically.”
The winds of change have been whipping many industries with traditional roots in recent years, but few have been so swift to adapt to the digital age as marketing. Clearly, Cordrey’s aforementioned creativity and passion from industry professionals have shone through in finding swift solutions to the disruptive forces at play. Let’s take a deeper look at digital’s brave new world:
Life after traditional marketing
The pace in which the digital age has immersed itself into the world of marketing has posed exponential challenges for decision-makers worldwide. Charles Wells, Chief Marketing Officer for fundraising organisation Just Giving said: “The biggest challenge for the marketer of the future isn’t how do I get skilled up, but how do I get to fit into this machine and which cog am I going to try and be?”
Wells’ words may seem ominous — as if the digital machine is a fearsome beast to tame — but there are unprecedented levels of opportunity for marketers to fine-tune their campaigns in order to appeal to users more directly — and, significantly, to engage with them on levels that were considered impossible some 15 years ago.
Writing for Forbes, John Hall explains that modern marketing hinges on making the transition ‘from me to you.’
In the past, marketing campaigns were forced to be much more generalised, and much more focused on ‘talking at’ mass audiences rather than truly engaging with them. “In the past, brands would develop an idea or a message and push it out for everyone and their mother to see, whether those recipients truly cared to see it or not,” Hall elaborates.
Today, technology enables brands and marketers to create campaigns and content that caters to more niche audiences, while social media-based platforms give businesses the chance to accurately gauge the general reception to specific marketing approaches.
Community-based digital spaces like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have built a bridge between marketers and their audiences where engagement opportunities are rife. A fledgeling marketing campaign can now receive instant feedback from a focus-group of almost three billion social media users, giving decision makers ample time to make essential tweaks and strategise future approaches.
(Chart showing the number of social media users worldwide. Image: Statista)
Given the sheer volume of users active on the World Wide Web at any given money, and the near-unfathomable range of big data now available on demand, it’s fair to say that the internet has become the most influential tool in the history of target marketing. We’re no longer bound by one-size-fits-all campaigns that are designed to lure in as many potential customers as possible without specifically appealing to any of their characteristics.
Hall summarises: “There’s a much greater focus on what audiences want and how they like to receive information, engage with content, and work with brands. Marketers need to listen to and authentically engage with audiences, and they need to do it on that audience’s terms. Technology can help.”
Jennifer Yesbeck, Marketing Manager at Alexa, has a philosophy that “in marketing, if you’re trying to talk to everybody, you’re not reaching anybody.”
In the marketing world of yesteryear, it was tricky business positioning a campaign under the noses of the right audience. Small fortunes were spent in attempting to reach as many potential customers as possible by taking educated guesses on the kind of publications they read and traditional media they digest.
Thanks to the power of the digital age, we can now position content, adverts, calls-to-action directly in front of the people we’re trying to reach based on a gigantic network of demographics, including: age, gender, education, marital status, race, religion, political beliefs, personality, lifestyle, employment, region, country and residence among many other factors.
(It’s never been easier to reach large audiences for less. Image: Seriously Simple Marketing)
The cost of appealing to audiences online may be remarkably low compared to traditional forms of marketing, but the true value that can be seen in digital campaigns stems from the ability to hit your precise target audience. This ensures that none of your marketing is wasted on apathetic viewers or readers, and maximises your chances of a campaign resulting in higher sales and clickthroughs.
Organisations like Alexa allow decision makers to craft their own ‘buyer persona’, based on who marketers believe their target audience actually is. A buyer persona requires a little introspection over the kind of demographics your prospective buyers have, as well as their sources of influence and buying decisions. Once a buyer persona is created by marketers, Alexa then gets to work on finding exactly where their target audience will be found online, before appealing directly to them.
Google Ads is another excellent tool for incisive targeted marketing. By tapping into Google’s vast array of functions, you can not only decide how local or global to go when advertising your business but also work out exactly how to budget your campaign — based on the estimated clicks and calls your company you will receive. However, most campaigns fail before they even begin. Knowing how to optimise and target campaigns properly are essential in keeping costs down while maximising your return.
Tools like Wordstream focus on optimising Google and Facebook Ads.
Finally, there are few more strategic targeted marketing tools available than through Facebook Business. With an estimated 2.3 billion users, Facebook makes for a formidable marketing directory. Through the company’s scalable options, you can base your campaigns on either achieving more audience engagement, calls, or clicks and get to work on placing your campaign under the noses of Facebook users based on factors like their demographics, location, interests, behaviour and/or their connections.
The world of marketing may have transformed beyond recognition, but in 2019 it’s never been easier to fine-tune your campaigns to reach exactly who you want on a budget of your choosing.
Modern marketing doesn’t have to be entirely outward-looking either, and it’s entirely possible for your own business website to convey multiple personalities in order to appeal to an array of different visitors even if they’re navigating on to the same domain.
(Showing traffic quality details. Image: Finteza)
Do you want to spend the next month encouraging visitors from Japan to download your new iOS app? Are you eager to promote your early Black Friday sales prices to audiences from English speaking nations? Have you just launched your service in Brazil and want to showcase an introductory offer to them? It’s now entirely possible to adapt your website for anybody.
The days of simply talking ‘at’ general audiences are over.
Welcome to the brave new world of finely tuned targeted marketing.
2019 Tech Trends for Marketers: How finely tuned is your targeting? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.