4 Digital Trends which are utterly useless for any CMO in 2017

In the words of Dashiell Hammett:

“Who shot him? I asked.
The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: Somebody with a gun.”

 

If you are reading this post, there is a great chance that you’ve seen, how digital trend (or trends) are presented in various seminars & digital client pitches.

At times, the most basic and obvious information is presented as a “strategic insight”.

Below tweet is an example:

Needless to say, some of these digital trend can make any digital pitch excruciating long and boring.

Also read : How to hire digital marketing agency in India?

A lot of these “so called digital trend” ( & audience behaviour ), which is presented in the name of digital insights by publishers & media planners, adds little value to any strategic discussion.

I am sure clients are equally tired to see these slides in various conferences and pitches.

Below are few examples, which I believe are no longer “digital trends”, they are in-fact “a fact”, and we (as digital strategists and practitioners) must stop discussing & presenting them to our clients, not because they are not true, but because they are “too stupidly obvious to state in 2017“.

I’ve also listed these commonly spotted “digital trends” in the order of their extreme irrelevance.

Digital Trend #1

Digital is growing in India

Dude, like seriously?

If it was not growing, you wouldn’t have been standing there to present it in first place. Our industry has become a 10K cr industry talking about this for years.

From a strategic point of view, what is more important for a client to know is how their category is growing in the digital space.

Digital Trend #2

India Internet Users To Touch X Million by 2020

Fine, there are 200 million FB users, 250 million WhatsApp users etc. etc.

Is that even relevant for any brand? Clearly, no brand would like to target all of them.

Beyond a point, the “grandness” of these numbers are statistically irrelevant for any marketer.

The point that any brand would really like to know is:

a. how to find relevant audience

b. how to scale up their marketing in this large and ever so growing digital landscape of India?

Digital Trend #3

Mobile is BIG!!!

 

Honestly if you ask me, anyone (be it agency or publisher), who is caught even whispering that “Mobile is growing in India”, should be executed in G.O.T style.

I mean cmon guys!

The fact that mobile is a more powerful medium than desktop (or even television) in India, is like announcing that “Pandavas won the battle of Mahabharata” as Breaking prime-time News on Republic TV.

The smartphone growth, or the volume of smartphones getting sold is no longer of “strategic importance”.

What clients really want to hear from their digital agency, is how to create a truly “Mobile first” digital strategy in this complex digital landscape of India.

Digital Trend #4

Video and Content Marketing are like King and Queen

Dude, its like saying “hyper-link would be the next big scientific innovation of 2017”.

I understand, that many clients may not have the same level of digital maturity but calling video and content “as next big thing” is hilarious.

Last I checked, online video is eclipsing TV by a huge margin.

What would be interesting however,  is to tell any brand, how they can create quality engagement on the back of digital video content, which would also impact some meaningful metric in the real world.

How to allocate funds for digital marketing?

Budgeting for digital marketing is a mystery for most clients.

In my experience, 2 out of 3 clients have asked me to recommend budgets for content marketing and digital media planning.

Is there a science to figure out the right media mix?

Lets go a little deeper to understand this problem.

A marketing plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines your marketing strategies, tactics, costs and projected results over a period of time.

Your marketing plan and budget keep your entire team focused on specific goals – it’s a critical resource for your entire company.

Frankly, nobody knows how much is too much for Digital and why?

Though, it is slightly easier for organisations whose DNA is 100% grounded into digital like e-commerce, gaming, music or other content apps etc.

But even for them, prioritising their budgets towards various channels is still difficult. 

I’ve consulted numerous startups at different stages of their business, marketing spend optimisation is as important as conversion optimisation. 

Here’s how one should go about budget allocation in digital marketing. 

CONTENT MARKETING Vs DISTRIBUTION (PAID ADVERTISING)

 

The first question marketers have to answer is how much they should spend in creating their digital assets and how much they need to distribute it.

Trust me, it is not as easy question as we think it is.

Key to this question lies in the understanding of digital metrics at different stages of customer journey.

  • What are we really chasing? (Brand Awareness / Brand Recall / Conversation Share / Leads / eCommerce sales etc.) For e.g. How much you should spend on content creation if your objective is sales?
  • What are your industry specific trends? ( for e.g, according to a Cisco report, B2B companies have rated video content in the top 3 most effective digital tactic for lead generation )
  • What are the general paid and organic benchmarks for Search & Social?

Allocating BUDGETs by Audience

 

People think the beauty of digital marketing is audience targeting.

Wrong!

The real beauty is the power of data analytics which helps you understanding your audience preferences in finer details.

Different data types in analytics helps you uncover various aspects of audience behaviour.

Also Read : Understanding types of data sets in marketing

It is very important to start understanding your audience reports in web /app analytics. 

Your site analytics could tell you a lot about your future customer and how you need to reach out.

By comparing sources such as paid campaigns, organic traffic and social media channels, you can apply the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.

You are going to find out what sources generate the majority of sales to later tune up your budget allocation.

Use the Pareto Principle and identify the top 20 percent of your traffic sources that generate 80 percent of good results. Focus your budget on that.

Also read : 80-20 rule of sales – How to find your best customers 

A/B TestING, Scale up and Repeat

 

One of the most important thing I’ve learnt in my digital career is to learn the art of creating successful pilot test campaigns.

It is vital for your to create certain hypothesis KPIs and key assumptions about your business audience which you would want to test through your pilot campaign.

For instance, if any third-party reports are saying that your target audience is actively engaging through social media and searching less on search engines, you should create a separate social led campaign to test the hypothesis.

Once you have your results, try re-verify them, but this time with slightly higher budget.

Now repeat this to your strategic benefit as it would give you enough confidence as marketer where you can keep on increasing your budgets in social media as a channel and optimise your business returns.

Create your own Digital Strategy Template

 

While allocating digital marketing budget for your brand or startup, it is critical to follow your industry best practices but at some point you must try to find some key insights about your actual audience.

A lot of times, you would realise that the actual buying audience is very different from the target group you are chasing for a long time in your media plans.

If you act fast enough, you can optimise the channel budgets in real-time which can boost your overall performance and drive efficiencies. 

Also Read : How to create your digital strategy template? 

Budget Allocation should be fluidic

 

A lot of enterprise companies allocate funds annually for marketing, but digital marketing usually requires more maintenance, with quarterly or monthly allocation adjustments.

High volume, automated buying in channels like paid search or paid social should be analysed for performance and landscape fluctuations, with budget allocations being adjusted accordingly.

70:20:10 Rule of Digital Media Planning

 

Frankly speaking, nobody can actually guesstimate the budget amount,  but new predictive modelling technologies have emerged to help CMOs forecast media performance to better allocate budgets.

If you are a nimble startup or a small business, consider the 70/20/10 rule as a good starting point.

  • 70% of the budget be allocated to “tried and tested” channels (like Search, Social Media & Email)
  • 20% to “safe bets” (newer channels like Mobile Marketing & Native Ads, that seem promising, even if they haven’t proven themselves just yet),
  • 10% allocated to “experimental” (cutting edge, unique opportunities like “Big Data” which might provide a big payoff).

How to make your social media marketing effective?

Most of the digital strategists, who’ve read this post by Brian Bolard,  stopped asking this question, why social media posts on the brand pages gets so little number of likes and comments organically?

The social media world has converged to one and only one thing ” More Money = More Reach = More Engagement ”

What about More customers?

Last I checked, marketing was all about gaining newer customers (loyalty?? What’s that?).

I am sure, for most of you (especially if you are a client who has spent a lot of money in acquiring those fans), the bugging question is “why did those people liked your page in first place?”

As a digital practitioner, I’ve made some personal observations (more of a point of view really) about social media and digital.

One of the observations was around the utilisation of social media platforms as an advertising medium.

Fundamentally, social space was not supposed to be intruded by ads. One of the reasons, as to why Twitter didn’t started monetisation of their platform for a long time. (Read : Is data mining the future of twitter’s monetisation strategy?)

The reality is that nobody likes ads in social media. Or let me put it even more bluntly.

People do not join Facebook to like BRAND PAGES!

They join to connect, converse & stay engaged with the “people” in “their lives”. Brand pages or businesses are an aberration if they are not relevant to the environment.

Also Read: Here’s why you should stop worrying about your Facebook page likes

Lets deep dive a little more into this.

 

Social Media Fans vs Customer?

If I put this question to top Fortune 500 Companies CMO’s, whether they are looking for more fans or more customers from their social media pages, I am sure, just like anyone else, they would take few moments to understand the difference.

What’s the difference between these words?

Turns out it’s not just a difference of definitions, but also of mindset and therefore, changes your entire social media strategy.

When you think of the word “customer,” you envision someone, cash in hand, ready to buy your product. If you take it one step further and think of a loyal customer, then it’s someone who repeatedly buys from you and perhaps even refers your business.

Scott Ginsberg of the Womma blog defines them so:

“A customer is someone who comes to a store to buy a lamp and never comes back. Fans crave experiences unlike any others.”

The word customer originated in the 1540s and meant “a person with whom one has dealings.”

The word fan originated much later in 1889. It meant “devotee” or “ardent admirer” and was primarily used to describe baseball enthusiasts and as a short form of fanatic.

Since first being used in a sports connotation, the word fan has now expanded to encompass many other industries. Musicians have fans. Movie stars have fans. And today, thanks to the Facebook lexicon, businesses have fans too.

Finding Real Social Media Fans For Your Brand

In 2008, former Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly wrote an insightful and very popular blog post called “1,000 True Fans.”

Copyblogger goes on to further extrapolate on this concept and discusses 20 steps to finding your true fans by teaching and promoting your knowledge.

Clearly, they are also pointing you in one direction, creating valuable information in a smart package which builds context, connect and relevance with your audience.

Content Marketing is no more ‘just’ the King, it is the entire kingdom

Clearly, the rise of social media platform is not because people are consuming more advertising, but because they are consuming more content.

Imagine it like a coffee shop. Those who love to drink coffee often have their favourite cafes or go-to joints.

They frequently visit a chosen venue because it’s a great place to hang out.

A lot of them even know the owners of the place and other frequent visitors, who, like them, regularly drop in to socialise.

But without the rich aromas and great tasting coffee that the place serve, would they still go there if there was nothing to drink?

Social media marketing is pretty much like that coffee shop, so long as you (brand) would keep serving your audience real and meaningful content (coffee) , you’ve got a great hangout place for your audience. 

But more often than not, brands tend to focus on securing their presence in the race to catch up with competitors. They get the coffee shop in the form of a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube presence, but forget what they’re serving (advertising).

Content marketing for B2B companies

There is a never ending talk around using digital content marketing for B2B and how it can drive generate more leads and eventually sales numbers.

Content, as we all know, is a highly misnomered term in our digital marketing world. For some, it is merely few keywords that can boost up your ranking in the search engine, while for others it is journalistic power that can change the fortunes of an individual, an organisation or a nation.

Unfortunately, everyone is a content creator today, starting from the neighbourhood SEO company to your personal public relations agency and last but not the least, the Social Media experts who truly believes that their tweets will conquer the world, someday 🙂

Incidentally, the idea of content being created (rather carved) strategically for the B2B brand is no less than journalism. The content ideas for any brand should not be driven by SEO keywords only, rather it should be an informed decision made by the marketing teams with the intent of offering something new to their perceived target audience.

The concept of SEO content can surely generate a lot of hits on your website or landing page in the short term but it may not be the actual game changer in the long term.

Creating a strategy in content marketing for B2B is an art, science & philosophy, all put together into one single tiffin box which is then served to the audience (hot and fresh) with the clear intent of winning their hearts forever.

In this case, expert content editors can really work their charm and magic on your current marketing approach. They know exactly what content to be served to whom, who likes what, what should be the desired response from certain audience, how should a brand story be narrated in order to convey the right marketing message in between.

Here are few pointers that can transform your web & social media content into active brand newsroom.

Identify the audience and spend your energy in knowing their content habits

Find out whom you really want to target first on the web, whom would you like to get stumbled upon your brand through search engine or your social page.

Make a serious effort through researching their online content consumption habits.

Find out what they like to read, watch & engage with. Gather this data and keep serving your potential customers with the right content in your own unique style.

Identify the content formats they consume

Try finding what formats they consume easily.

Are they voracious readers, are they one of those who read books and newspaper cover to cover, or are they savage rich media & video gulpers?

Do they like high end 3D gaming environments, or are they all time radio fans who love their iPods & iTunes?

Is your target audience the one who likes every single photograph they see on their Facebook timeline or retweets every single joke or quotation on twitter?

These patterns can tell you exactly what content format you need to use to get the instant connect with your target audience.

Find out where do they go to find their content

It would make your job rather easier if you know the right place & context when you can connect with your audience.

Offering health content to people when they are looking to lose weight on a blog or through an app is the best context you could find for your content, similarly offering content around insurance services when someone is looking to buy a flat could well be the right context.

These contexts can help you win their trust and will position you not as a seller but as trusted advisor.

It doesn’t matter where the content is served, so long as the context is correct. You must know the places your audience visit to find that content.

Be it a website , a WordPress blog, a forum, a Social Network like Facebook, twitter, an app like Instagram, Pinterest or Watsapp. Make your brand’s content stay relevant wherever your audience is going.

Know what is liquid about your content

Higher the liquidity, the better the share-ability of your brand’s content, you must know what is the liquid element in your entire content strategy. What is it that would compel your audience to share it with others. Journalistic content is no good if it is not thought provoking or exciting enough to go viral among the target audience.

In the end, I would leave you with an interesting video talk by CMI:

To summarise this, here’s some food for thought

Content is created for humans, not search engine algorithms.

~ Anonymous Marketeer

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