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Marketers were sent into a panic last week when Facebook announced its algorithm will soon limit the brand and publisher posts in users’ feeds. Many in the industry are calling it the “nail in the coffin” for organic reach. But it isn’t just Facebook that has marketers on edge. The latest data reveals that many “tried and true” digital marketing techniques don’t pack the punch they once did:
- Brands increased their blog output by 800% over the last five years, but blog shares have gone down 89%.
- Corporate behemoths like Procter & Gamble have called digital ads “ineffective” and slashed their spending.
- 78% of brands have tried influencer marketing but struggle to quantify the ROI of those campaigns.
- Only a mere 24% of B2B marketers feel Social Media Marketing has an impact on lead generation.
So what does all of this mean? Is digital marketing on its deathbed? Far from it.
Leading companies are leveraging new techniques to rapidly build their audiences, increase their number of leads, and exponentially grow their revenue.
The key is consistent and deliberate experimentation. Today’s on-demand economy requires a flexible and data-centric approach. A winning marketing tactic has a shelf life. Technology moves fast and people are fickle. What worked last year, last month, or even last week may not be as effective today.
The new year is the perfect time to try new mediums and tactics. We asked some of the most groundbreaking digital marketers which marketing trends will blow up in 2018 and beyond.
1. Campaigns Optimized for Voice
Voice-controlled speakers flew off the shelves this past Christmas. The most popular voice-enable gift: Amazon’s line of Alexa devices. There are now an estimated 45-50 million of these devices in US homes (not including mobile phones with smart assistants built in) and 60 million Americans using them monthly.
So what does this mean for marketers?
Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Now are your new best friends. We’ve already seen some creative ways brands can use these devices to interact with their audience.
Stranger Things: The Netflix 80s-era spooktacular series has always embraced cutting-edge technology in its marketing, and we were particularly impressed with their game for Google Home. In it, users chat with Dustin, Eleven and the rest of their favorite characters in a 20-minute long adventure. The game was released to promote the highly-anticipated season 2, giving fans an opportunity to explore another part of its intriguing world.
Dunkirk: To promote Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk,” a choose your own adventure Alexa skill was added. Users could create a character and guide them through the action. The experience brought the battle to life with a thrilling audio drama with music, sound effects and top-notch voice acting.
In addition to interactive experiences, these voice-controlled devices introduce some new challenges and opportunity for SEO. Jessica Landon of Netmark, an internet marketing agency, shared some practical suggestions for how marketers can prepare:
“With devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, there will be an overall increase in long-tailed voice searches. With people asking questions to their AI devices, your website would appear more relevant if had a Q&A section/page. Keyword strategies should be shifted from simple keywords to long-tailed phrases. This will require more copywriting skill.”
2. Chatbots and Facebook Messenger Marketing
1.3 billion people use Facebook messenger each month. Smart brands are quickly figuring out how best to connect existing and future customers through messenger.
One of the companies leading the way in Facebook Messenger marketing is Octane AI, a startup that helps companies recover lost revenue and answer customer questions through a slick, powerful bot.
“Messenger marketing is the new email marketing,” says Ben Parr, cofounder and CMO of Octane AI. ” Consumers have moved away from email and its noise to messaging apps, especially Facebook Messenger. This is especially true in ecommerce, where abandoned cart messages and other Messenger marketing campaigns are proven to increase sales and revenue.”
Noah Kagan, CEO of Sumo.com and AppSumo.com agrees, “Diversify how you communicate with your customers. With email open rates declining, build out text, bot, and group communication to hedge your mediums.”
Most brands use chatbots for customer service, but a few are doing things a little differently:
Whole Foods: The Whole Foods’ Facebook Messenger bot inspires people to try something new in the kitchen. Their bot allows users to search for recipes and ask questions without ever having to leave Messenger.
National Geographic: To promote their series on the life of Albert Einstein, Nat Geo developed a chatbot that gave users the chance to interact and hold a conversation with the genius himself. The bot is no longer active, but we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of Mr. Einstein.
3. Captive Audience Advertising
Anywhere where people have to wait is an opportunity to expose them to your brand. Screens are popping up everywhere to do just that. From movie theaters to our seats on airplanes, captive audience advertising has been growing at a steady pace. While this form of marketing is not new, the content and style of these messages are changing. Instead of strictly ads, leading brands are using news and weather reports to captivate their audiences.
Three channels, in particular, give brands an opportunity to personalize their message and get more creative in their delivery:
Gas Pumps: The pump is the perfect place to experiment with storytelling. For starters, it’s a one-to-one channel. Unlike movie theaters or airplanes, people are generally undistracted after they’ve started to fill up their tank. This means that gas pump advertising sticks with viewers more than television. State Farm recently tried gas pump ads and saw 48 percent of respondents being able to recall seeing the ad, and 69 percent said they’d consider the company the next time they shopped for insurance. More and more, we’re seeing “advertainment” at the pump. The latest gas stations ads are using artificial intelligence to play Pandora music stations, host trivia, and even crack jokes.
Elevators: Elevator advertising offers a few advantages over the other forms of captive advertising. They’re used at least twice a day, offering more exposure to your message. In general, it’s a professional audience which usually means higher disposable income. Lastly, an elevator ride is one of those slightly awkward life situations where just about everyone welcomes a distraction. The elevators at Wrike HQ in San Jose, CA are outfitted with screens that inform us of the weather, stock prices, celeb gossip and even trivia. According to Captivate, a leading provider of elevator advertising, 95% of viewers find this content to be informative.
Self-driving Cars: The technology isn’t perfect but experts agree that automated vehicles are the future of transportation. With no need for a steering wheel, pedals, and a traditional dashboard, car interiors will soon evolve into lounging spaces. Multiple screens will provide riders entertainment, news, and even transform what the interior of the vehicle looks like. While we’re a few years off from automated vehicles in every driveway, smart marketers are preparing now for how they’ll tell their brand’s stories in this new medium. For now, they can start experimenting with new ideas in screen-equipped taxis and limousines.
4. Live Streaming
Broadcasting live video exploded recently with apps like Periscope, YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Instagram. Many brands haven’t taken the plunge, citing live video as too risky or fleeting. Most opt for more permanent video options that they can have more control over. But the data may surprise you. According to Facebook, users watch live videos an average of three times longer than videos that are not live. From Benefit Cosmetics’ live makeup tutorials to Target’s live music video with Gwen Stefani, leading brands are taking risks with live streaming and earning some big rewards.
Over the last few years, LinkedIn has transformed itself into a content marketing powerhouse, with loads of new publishing options, display ad tools, and innovative original content. It’s a unique, 467 million strong global network of active professionals that can reap big rewards for marketers. Josh Fechter, cofounder of BAMF Media, has been a trailblazer on the network.
“You can reach hundreds of thousands of views in the 1300 characters allowed for a LinkedIn status,” says Fechter. “Marketers are flocking back to LinkedIn to dominate the space. The barrier to entry is high because you need excellent copy and engaging stories. As a result, it’s become an arena showdown for the most creative storytellers.”
Linkedin’s publishing tools enable brands to post longform, blog-like content. Getting featured on Linkedin Pulse can quickly expose your content to millions of people on the network. Personal status updates can be leveraged to reach massive audiences as well.
Fechter is widely known for the often copied “Viral Linkedin Status” that usually consists of a personal experience (double spaced) and a surprising opening line to hook readers. He shares the formula here. These statuses have blown up on the network and are a refreshing change of pace from the typical links and announcements most of us post.
With all of the new publishing options and engagement at an all-time high, it’s a great time to experiment with your content on the network.
6. Branded Lenses and Filters
Snapchat is one of the most popular mobile apps thanks to its groundbreaking filters. Every day, millions of people turn themselves into puppies, vomiting unicorns, or flower crown divas and share the results with friends and family. Leading companies are connecting with their audiences in creative ways with these apps. And the results speak for themselves. A Snapchat filter Fox created to promote their hit drama “Empire” was viewed a whopping 61 million times and boosted awareness by 16 points. As of now, there are two main ways companies can use these apps to share their story:
Geofilters: Companies and events can get their own audiences to spread the message for them with these location-based filters. For example, Disneyland’s geofilters make it easy for people to share that they’re in the park with friends.
Sponsored lenses: Sometimes doing something wacky or unexpected can help your brand stick in people’s minds. On Cinco de Mayo, Taco Bell teamed up with Snapchat to create a bizarre, yet unforgettable taco face filter that was shared millions of times.
With Instagram now testing out branded filters and lenses, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Additionally, location-based geo-filters are relatively inexpensive and can be set up in minutes. Try creating one for your next corporate event.
7. VR and AR Experiences
With the addition of better AR capabilities in iOS 11, Apple opened the way for an augmented reality (AR) revolution. Forward-thinking brands are using AR in new and novel ways. One of our favorite examples is IKEA. Using IKEA’s AR enabled app, people can see what over 2,000 pieces of furniture will look like in their living or workspaces. After placing the virtual furniture in their physical rooms, users can order the piece with just one tap.
Virtual Reality (VR) has exploded in popularity following the availability of inexpensive yet high-quality headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR, and even Google Cardboard.
Big budget action flicks like Spiderman and Justice League have their own VR experiences, allowing fans to step into their favorite hero’s boots and wield their incredible powers. Other brands are using VR technology to meet more practical needs. Lowe’s Holoroom allows people to see what their remodeling project will look like before they hammer a single nail or spend a single cent. This service, available online and at 19 Lowe stores, has created happier customers and more repeat business.
VR and AR are still very much in their infancy, and the potential for brands to tell ever immersive stories is limitless.
Great Marketing Requires Great Collaboration
Marketing is changing fast and the demands put on marketers is increasing every year. Marketers will survive through continued experimentation, one that is deliberate with a system to track and measure ROI. These seven trends are a good place to start that experimentation.
But innovation requires collaboration. Pulling off these trends requires buy-in and collaboration from outside the traditional marketing team.