As another year of digital marketing draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on how our industry has evolved over the last year, and what the months ahead will bring.
One thing is for certain: it’s an exciting time to work in digital marketing.
The opportunities that advertisers now have for engaging with consumers are more diverse and varied than ever, allowing for increasing levels of personalization and marketing innovation. However, more choices also bring more complexity – especially when it comes to harnessing data, measuring digital advertising performance and quantifying results. To thrive in this dynamic environment, here are five trends to watch in 2015:
- Show me the ROI. From mobile apps and social networks, to video ads, email promotions and search campaigns, the digital channels and devices now available to market to consumers are numerous and growing by the day. Marketing budgets, on the other hand, have limits. With so many options now available, figuring out how to most effectively allocate digital spend is critical. Some campaign strategies may work better than expected, while others may not work at all. More and more, marketing departments are being asked to substantiate how their efforts are not just “capturing eyeballs” (if they even do that), but actually contributing to the bottom line in the form of conversions and sales. This requires tracking of every “touch point” along the end-to-end customer journey to understand what’s working, what’s not and why.
- Big data or big hype? Just when marketers need to be more accountable, consumers are making it harder for them by becoming more difficult to pin down. Today, most people move effortlessly between smartphone, desktop and tablet, from ecommerce site to social network to mobile app. Effective marketing demands an ability to reach audiences at the right time, with the right message, in the right place. The term “big data” has been tossed about for years now as the answer to advertisers’ prayers – enabling them to have more knowledge about consumers than ever before. But businesses need ways to actually use the information they are capturing about billions of online actions. Data in and of itself is just noise. Actionable, real-time, easy-to-interpret marketing intelligence is what ultimately drives better, faster and smarter decisions.
- End-to-end marketing intelligence. According to a CMO Club study, more than 85 percent of participating marketers said that “customer data stuck in silos prevents them from running multi-channel campaigns that use data to personalize the experience.” Today’s advertisers and networks have invested a lot of money in a host of technologies that help them buy, serve and execute digital campaigns. In order to track performance across the multi-channel customer journey, analytics need to be “agnostic,” with an ability to leverage data being generated by a host of different technologies, devices and systems. Specialized tracking solutions that only look at one piece of the pie will not survive in an environment where marketers need to allocate spend across mobile, desktop, video, social and more.
- Future-proof campaign strategies. Today, modern tracking technologies have capabilities that assess performance while a digital campaign is running. But as technologies continue to evolve, the best solutions will not just measure actions and conversions, but actually optimize campaign planning, execution and budgeting strategies before they are rolled out. We’ll see things like advanced data visualizations and analytics being used to identify important patterns and trends, and this insight will in turn inform decisions about how to continually refine and improve campaign strategies and predict the lifetime value of digital customers.
- Publishers embrace tracking. When it comes to digital ad tracking, the value to advertisers and networks is apparent. Data about campaign performance helps them decide where to invest marketing dollars for the best result. Increasingly, we will also see publishers get in on the action as they adopt tracking solutions as a means to more accurately segment and monetize their audiences. Digital publishers invest a lot of resources to get eyes on their site. By deploying technologies that analyze the behaviors and habits of consumers who visit, they will be better able to verify the value of their traffic and more profitably match buyers and audiences.
In 2015, advertisers, networks and publishers alike will need to step up their analytics game as they are increasingly being asked to take advantage of all the data at their disposal to prove the value that they deliver to their customers. Increasingly, we will see the utilization of sophisticated marketing technologies that empower users to transform big data into smart intelligence, so that they can optimize advertising performance, audience quality, and ongoing campaign strategy in real-time.