This article was written by Marie Flounoy for CBS Small Business Pulse on April 13, 2017
With the rise of technology, social media and various other technological tools, the future of marketing is ever evolving. Whether you’re an individual, small business or Fortune 500 company, if you’re still utilizing the top marketing trends of last year, you may already be behind. With over 12 years of experience in leading teams in digital marketing, business development, data and technology, Kim Brown, founder of Centrally Human, LLC, shares three marketing trends you can use this year to enhance your business, as well as insight on the trends you should leave behind.
What is the philosophy of Centrally Human, LLC?
Over the last 10 years, the marketing industry has seen an explosion in data and technology that everyone thought would connect businesses closely to their customers. In reality, the innovation has created increased complexity that has furthered the distance between marketers and consumers. Centrally Human believes that real human connection exists at the intersection of data, technology, and marketing. We act as a strategic translator and connector — turning complex data and technology expenses into investments and assets that are simple to understand, translated to your business, and leveraged in unique ways to close the gap and create authentic and profitable relationships between marketers and consumers.
What marketing trends were king in 2016?
2016 was an incredible year for marketing. Specifically, the concept of digital marketing really expanded its definition beyond internet ads. Three key trends that were king in 2016 were data, addressable TV, and accountability. Data has been a key topic for a few years now, but 2016 saw the general knowledge, interest, usage and popularity hit an all-time high. For example, how many people looked at a product or service online, then got followed around by an ad for when you were just looking or you already purchased the item or service? 2016 was the year marketers really started understanding the power of data and all the incredible data sources to use to be more relevant to customers.
As for addressable TV, TV is the opposite of dead — it’s innovating and growing and at an incredible pace. 2016 was the year that TV became more digital to allow for those innovations. Marketers can now target ads based on who lives in the household, so your ads can be different than your neighbors. The definition of TV is becoming diversified from the viewing experience to the content creation. There is more competition than ever on the distribution and content creation side, for example Netflix and Amazon with original content, and consumers want video more than ever, such as with viewing online, full seasons at once and multi-device viewing. TV was center stage in 2016 and proved it wasn’t only relevant, but adapting quickly to the times.
Finally, accountability, I believe this is a two-fold trend that will continue. First, the increase in data is increasing accountability on marketers to drive measurable business results tied to the business. Purely measuring views without connecting to sales isn’t enough anymore given the growth opportunities for businesses and outsized marketing budgets. Second, the increase in technology is holding agencies more accountable to their business models. Layers of hidden fees and arbitrage started becoming exposed in 2016 and questioned by the marketers paying for services. With this being said, accountability is going to stay and increase on agencies and marketing partners.
What are the marketing trends you definitely need to leave in 2016?
Marketing on channels irrelevant to your business. With data, improved measurement and more opportunities to reach consumers, brands no longer need to spend money or time on channels that don’t make sense for them. How often do you see brands advertising during a holiday or trying to start conversations on social media that are completely irrelevant to their business? Consumers are smart people and can easily see through the lack of authenticity.
What are the marketing trends you think a business must utilize in 2017?
Data, mobility, and authenticity. 2017 should be the year brands get a handle on their most valuable asset, their own first party data. So many brands have incomplete or unreliable data, but if the customer is really king or queen, then that should be the most valued asset. The ability for marketers to work with data is easier now more than ever, so first party data needs to be the first priority. After that, it’s connecting that data to your customer and where they are spending time in a way that is meaningful, valuable and authentic. For example, no pop-up display ads on smartphones. Mobile is getting easier. but it’s also more complex, especially with consumer privacy. Your data and privacy expert should have a seat at the table in all planning meetings. Finally, for authenticity, it’s about brands knowing themselves and having marketing stay true to that image in all aspects. From content to ads to language, music or where you have the conversation, all of that is connected to the brand and will either increase your authenticity, which is a new requirement for millennial consumers, or take away from it.
In your opinion, what is the future of marketing?
Data and precision targeting. Consumers have less patience and attention to be inundated with semi-relevant marketing, but more importantly, companies and brands have growing expectations for marketing to deliver results. That pressure to deliver ROI to the bottom line with drive increased scrutiny, data-driven marketing, and precision decision making will be necessary in the coming years. This means mobile will be the primary device, and customer data will be an increasingly lucrative commodity.