For both internal teams, and digital marketing agencies alike, marketing is evolving so rapidly that it is hard to keep up – no matter how many hours you’re putting in trying to execute. Your marketing needs have grown. Digital media has expanded to a point where there are too many things to keep up with. What with social media pushing brands to engage with their audience not only in a public forum but with a unique brand voice, demands just keep on growing.
To add to that, everything is going mobile and that’s a whole different ball game. Mobile has everyone talking about how big data is going to work in the future. What’s going to happen with wearable technology? Smart phones are rapidly evolving too, so while we’re dealing with the screens of today, what are the screens of the future going to look like? How are customers going to interact with these screens and how can digital marketers keep up with future new technology?
The solution is a digital marketing agency that is able to not only keep up with the times but look to the future. This need is only going to grow as time goes by, and agencies must constantly update their skills and processes to help increase your sales, loyalty, and brand visibility. So when selecting a digital marketing agency, you have to make sure the agency is working with the times rather than pulling tricks from an old hat.
Yes, the future is murky and unclear for digital marketing agencies. But there’s a way to stay ahead of the game and predict where the digital landscape is heading. How do you know you’re picking an agency that isn’t mired in the past and is prepared to drive the future of marketing? Here are a few predictions from experts that just might help you determine if your choice of digital marketing agency is a good investment:
Digital Agencies will Drive R&D on Personalized, Data-Driven Marketing, and It’ll Become More Refined
According to research done by CMO, “Sixty-four percent of marketing executives ‘strongly agree’ that data-driven marketing is crucial to success in a hyper-competitive global economy.”
As Matt Jarvis, Chief Strategy Officer at cultural impact advertising agency 72andSunny writes, “Big data will get personal. The revolution that has changed how brands go to market will become personalized and allow individuals to use data to pursue their passions and goals. Products and experiences that help people along on this journey will become a much bigger part of our lives. Marketers who participate in this productively and respectfully will form deeper relationships. Those who intrude will get shut out.”
Currently, most digital marketing agencies measure marketing success by looking at likes, shares, and mentions. These points of measurement are not typically accurate – you could be receiving engagement but no sales.
A digital marketing agency looking towards the future will research and develop more accurate metrics and use those methods to help you grow. While new means of gathering data and creating content are still being developed, including the use of artificial intelligence and individualized data capture, these metrics are already in use to some degree. If you find that your digital marketing agency isn’t using new methods, they may not be able to carry your company into the future. With the constant development of better analytical tools, you have to make sure you’re hiring a team that is able to execute campaigns with more personalized, data-driven methods, which will bring in better results.
Your Digital Agency will Help you Create More Personalized Content
Account-based Marketing Software, Triblio, shared this stat: “Marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized web experiences.”
As internationally recognized content management strategist Scott Abel states, “The future of content marketing is personalization. Without personalization, we’re just spraying content around the Web and hoping it’ll stick to someone — anyone, actually”.
Have you ever posted a job, and then got one of those complete generic, form cover letters from an applicant? If they don’t tailor their cover letter and resume to the job they’re applying for, chances are they’re not going to get the job, right? Well, content without personalization is just like those form cover letters. If a digital marketing agency is doing this, it’s definitely time for them to update their content creation strategy.
Digital marketing agencies in the future will focus on tailoring the message of your content to the individual viewing it. Personalization is all about delivering relevant and educational content to a market that needs that specific information at the right time, in a preferred medium (be it video, text, or audio) and responsive to the device they choose to use. Personalization is already happening – we can already see it all over the internet and in email marketing. So if you’re not on this bandwagon already, it’s time to hop on.
Basically, digital marketing agencies should keep the core of what the content is about and personalize it to your audience. Though means of delivering this content might change, the thought behind it is always going to be what counts the most.
Your Agency Won’t Just Create, It’ll Focus on Staying Lean and Agile
McKinsey and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a report titled “Marketing’s Moment: Leading the Disruption.” According to the report, “43 percent of marketing teams feel they are not encouraged to experiment.”
Staying ahead of the game isn’t just about being up to date on the latest tips and tactics. It’s about being on the edge of all the latest digital strategies – because if you’re not, someone else will be. Staying agile in this ever-evolving digital world means having a group of people look at what’s already popular in the market, and then finding a newer, better, more cutting-edge way to do it. This not only ensures being a few steps ahead of competitors but also contributes to remaining lean by cutting out the bureaucratic side of management that does nothing but create red tape.
Marketing expert Mitch Joel confirms this. In a Harvard Business Review article, Mitch writes, “Most marketing is still driven by quarterly planning or seasonal initiatives (aka marketers know best). While it may be hard to transition to a truly real-time way of operating (aka consumers know best), starting with models of leanness will force agencies to be more nimble, more sensitive to how the brand’s budget is allocated and force a spirit of partnership with the brands they represent”.
The model of leanness is slowly becoming the new norm for digital marketing agencies that want to do well in the future.
Digital Marketing Agencies will Drive Relationships With Influencers and Advocates
According to a study featured on eMarketer, “84% of marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months. Those who had already done so were happy with the results: 81% said influencer engagement was effective.”
So why is influencer marketing such a big deal? Well, in the future, brands are going to own a part of their audience with influencer marketing. And this is something you can do too. By cultivating a community that already supports you, and engaging with your customer base, you will begin to own your audience in a way that will result in an army of loyal brand ambassadors.
Your digital marketing agency should be working with you to track influencer conversations – what are customers talking about and how can you give them what they want? Customer responses and feelings toward your brand will help shape new marketing strategies. A good digital marketing agency will collaborate with you. You, in turn, should collaborate with your influencers. This will help everyone stay ahead of the game.
As Daniel Newman, founder of tech agency Broadsuite, Inc. says, “The brands that are rising above the noise in the cluttered digital universe are doing something that most brands simply haven’t figured out yet. They are building an eco-system for their consumers that drives not just readership, but activates a sense of brand advocacy that keeps them coming back”.
Newman hits the nail on the head here. The more brand advocates you have, the more you will thrive in the future.
The Digital Marketing Agency of the Future will Shift From Campaigns to “Always” Advertising
What do you most focus on when it comes to advertising a new product just before and after its launch? Chances are you probably thought, “a multi-platform campaign that links to a landing page with emphasis on the product in question”. If that’s where your head went, well, it’s a good thing you’re reading this article. While a good campaign strategy is the current norm for advertising products, the growing trend leading into future practices is of constant customer advertising and engagement.
You need to work with your digital marketing agency to make sure your social media presence and marketing strategy are “always on” – from serving up customized ads based on social media marketing results and audience analysis, to expanding the reach to audiences using a variety of different devices.
An example of this comes from PepsiCo Executive Brad Jakeman. In a recent Ad Age interview, Jakeman stated that while in the past Pepsi may have produced four TV spots a year, spending a million dollars over eight months developing one slice of content, in the digital age Pepsi is producing a thousand times more content than they used to. As he states, “Four pieces has [now] turned into 4,000. Eight months has changed to eight days and eight hours, and budgets have not gone up”.
This just goes to show how rapidly digital advertising and the demands of customers is growing. Your digital marketing agency needs to be growing alongside them.
As actionable marketing expert Heidi Cohen says, “[Y]our 2016 mobile marketing must be dynamic. It depends on where and what your audience is doing at that specific time and location. Their content matters. You need to deliver the right message at the right time based on your audience’s location and needs.”
Indeed from Android’s and iPhones to tablets and now wearable gadgets,the evolution of mobile devices is one of the key factors making an impact on the marketing world. As the spotlight shifts from bigger screens to smaller ones, businesses are now pushed to create content for these screens and have a one-on-one relationship with their customers by using mobile-centric marketing tactics like Heidi Cohen talks about above.
A study from GlobalWebIndex, states that 75% of Internet users went online via a mobile device at the end of 2015. In 2016, mobile devices aren’t only the most popular or commonly owned device, but also they’re starting to overtake all other devices in terms of time spent online.
Being aware of these statistics and finding ways to grow with the mobile market are things a digital marketing agency should be doing now. The future is around the corner, and a good digital marketing agency is one that is prepared to meet it.
Your Digital Marketing Agency will Continue to Evolve SEO
Many agencies still think of SEO as link building, and a means to be found. And while this might be how it started, we’re no longer living in the 90’s. SEO has dramatically evolved, and now you’ve got to implement SEO into everything, from content and within your website, to ad campaigns and social media. As Dave Snyder, CEO of Copypress, states “Content SEO if done correctly by moving people into the buying cycle, can yield traffic that converts to PR, branding, etc. Yes, it can produce links, but if done correctly it can do much more”.
Because of Google’s new algorithm which dismisses the old way of measuring a website’s popularity and instead focuses on the content and authority of the website instead, mastering SEO has become much more than just knowing what keywords to use to represent your business. The authoritative algorithm is only one of the rapid changes SEO is going through.
Digital marketing agencies should be focused on helping you create and execute a complete digital marketing strategy that not only serves all the major search engines (keeping their algorithms in mind) but also creates a positive and valuable user experience for their clients.
The Bottom Line
Can we predict the future? No. A new trend or technology could be introduced tomorrow that changes the face of digital marketing forever—that’s pretty much guaranteed these days. What we can do, however, is make an educated guess about the future of digital marketing based on the information we have now, and your digital agency should be helping you weed through all of the trends, tips, and tricks to develop an approach that achieves your objectives—and doesn’t leave you hanging.
The experts have weighed in, and you can see the growing trends for yourself. The best thing to do now is to be aware of all the changes so that you and your digital marketing agency can both work together in a way that makes sure you’re ready for the future. How are you preparing for the future?