Karin von Abrams
The Future of Digital Marketing conference, presented by Econsultancy, is an annual fixture on the London marketing calendar. This year’s gathering again boasted a number of stimulating presentations, as well as heated discussion.
After the opening keynote, four hour-long sessions were devoted to the travel, financial services, retail and publishing industries.
These were the themes of the day:
The Future of Digital Marketing Is the Future of Marketing
Digital channels are increasingly crucial for all advertising and other communications with consumers. In fact, the word “digital” is becoming superfluous.
The Future is Unknowable—But It’s Already Here
Few speakers were prepared to predict the future. But speakers and delegates seemed to share a sense of what it will be like.
Within a few years, one or two genuinely new technologies will burst on the scene. But most “innovations” in marketing will be new applications of technologies already available, such as using Google Earth more to provide local context for travel destinations online, or using augmented-reality programs in mobile phones to display full product and price information for items viewed in the physical world.
Respect Is Key
In a world of behavioral targeting and the mountains of information being amassed about Internet users, transparency is more important than ever.
- Relevance for consumers means respecting their declared preferences, the explicit permissions they give and their right to privacy. Take the high ground.
- Give people access to their own information. That breeds trust and will lower resistance to marketing messages.
Going Back to Basics
A recurring refrain in all the industry sessions. Marketers of all stripes, dogged by the recession and overwhelmed by the plethora of digital tools and channels available, need to get the essentials right.
- Website optimization. Know what’s working, and fix what’s not. Ease of use for consumers is increasingly important. Make sure navigation and content are efficient and up to date, and remove dead links.
- Consistent, end-to-end branding.
- Ensure your products, services and USP are crystal clear to consumers.
- Make simple, clear calls to action.
- Set deadlines and keep them. Work backward from where you want your business to be in six months to establish marketing plans. If you can’t see reaching the goal you set, rethink the goal.
- Concentrate on home markets first. Get those right before rolling out elsewhere.
- Search: It may not be sexy, but it remains “the lifeblood of marketing.”
- Don’t average cost-per-click data over entire campaigns. To see underlying patterns, you need to get granular.
- Make your money go further. Assess the media you own (content assets, Website and so on), the media you buy and the media exposure you earn (mentions in major newspapers or industry news sources, for example). Maximizing coverage of your owned and bought media in the press can multiply your exposure many-fold.
Basics Aren’t Enough
Somewhat paradoxically, this theme went hand in hand with hard advice on Web analytics, clarity, brand consistency and leveraging existing assets. Many speakers stressed the importance of getting beyond the predictable and the merely adequate to deliver an unexpected, higher-value consumer experience—aka “magic.”
- Think high value, not high volume.
- Avoid fake personalization. If you claim to act on your customers’ declared interests, make sure it shows. Tailor content to your site visitors and the recipients of your e-mail campaigns.
- Empower your advocates, and provide tools they can use to spread the word.
- Cool tools are best, such as iPhone applications or widgets that make key activities portable, easily accessible—and fun.
- Use an element of surprise to spark excitement and interest. If you run a travel site, delivering one unexpected, intriguing option in an otherwise predictable list of hotels in Florida can remind users of something often forgotten these days: Serendipity is central to the online experience.
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