7 Predictions For Driving Marketing ROI in 2014
I collect marketing experiences. I love hearing stories about what works for companies, and what doesn’t, because everything’s changing so rapidly today that the list of “marketing must-haves” is quite a moving target today.
So, as we move into 2014 and finalize our plans, here’s a few things we’re hearing from the front lines of some of our most clever client marketers and media partners:
- The word is mixed on those big $100,000+ single-sponsor microsites the publishers are building for clients. They make sense to us – putting your content on media sites that generate 500,000 to 1 million visits a month seems logical. It’s a bit like why retailers put their stores in shopping centers, because that’s where the people are! But we’re seeing some of them shut down now, where the large advertisers aren’t renewing their sponsorships because they’re not seeing the traffic or ROI they expected. Good idea, but perhaps the cost/impression and cost/lead were out of line with returns from other media programs.
- Fragmented marketing is accelerating. Customers and prospects are found in more places in smaller groups than before, rather than congregating around just a few magazines or media sites. Trade shows are still effective, but they tend to be smaller and more niche rather than the big monsters of the past (remember Manufacturing Week, anyone?). Your targets gather in multiple LinkedIn groups. You can’t use email alone to keep in touch, because your customers spend more time today trying to stay out of their inbox. You’re likely to get a faster response from people via chat or increasingly with a direct message on Twitter. They go to more focused media websites, they follow particular bloggers they find compelling, they spend considerable time surfing YouTube and getting questions answered there.
- We’re going to need more editors in the future. There’s just too much noise going along with all this fragmentation. Media websites that are catering to user comments and blogs are getting a lot of traction, but I have to think that it’s so overwhelming to people that the role of an editor will come back into vogue – just tell me the information I need to do my job better. Time remains our most precious commodity, and while new websites from media are effective at building traffic and communities, at some point we’re going to look to experts to filter and present information in ways that cut through the noise and clutter.
- In fact, while we’re all focusing more on content creation, as marketers we’re coming to realize that creating engaging content is HARD, and that connecting content to your brand is not a simple task. Writing for your own blog or as a guest blogger on a media website provide great visibility, but if you’re writing blather instead of information that helps the reader do his/her job better, you’re going to lose your audience.
- Email is strangling us. We’re slaves to our inboxes. It’s not unusual for clients to tell us they have to deal with hundreds of emails a day just to keep pace with their workload. We’re seeing email response rates declining, and I have to believe that will continue.
- A few clients have asked about cutting all media advertising in favor of inbound marketing and their own lead generation efforts. Actually, because now I’m old (30 years in marketing now!), I’ve seen two cycles where companies thought media no longer played a role in the marketing mix: 1996, when companies thought this new world wide web thing could completely handle their lead generation programs, and 2001, when the downturn led companies to think they could permanently walk away from media advertising. In both instances, marketers realized an integrated approach made more sense, and that media sites that generated 500K visits a month provided visibility – and credibility – they simply had to have.
- What’s the role of distributor co-op programs or channel marketing programs? We’re seeing some companies moving their spending to distributor programs, and others moving their spending away from them. We think the latter is the right approach – co-op money invested in distributor partner marketing can be effective. However, there’s no doubt distributors tend to commoditize products and are rarely a good representative of your brand message. And, we also see many co-op or channel programs using client money to push people to the distributor, where a variety of competitive solutions are offered, rather than using that money to push prospects to your own site.