Marketing teams are under increasing pressure to stand out from their peers at a time when the proliferation of consumer platforms is complicating outreach efforts. With the pace of technology rapidly evolving, many digital marketing professionals are calling for a more advanced and experimental approach.
That’s the perspective of Karen Navis, vice president of global demand generation for marketing technology specialist Tealium, who said when she hears the phrase “progressive digital marketing” that she thinks about how the world — and consumer preferences — is constantly changing. “That’s whether it’s a new tool, a social media platform, or the way consumers want to consume information,” she said.
What is a progressive digital marketer?
A progressive digital marketer is someone who strives to reliably anticipate the needs of their customers and is quickly pivotal when new industry trends emerge. They are also constantly considering their own market entry strategies, with an eye toward making their target audience feel that the content they are presented with is relevant. “Progressive marketers are always thinking about how to build trusted digital customer experiences with their brand and how they take their customers on a journey — and that includes both their messaging and the martech stack that underpins their digital platforms,” she said.
Building support to drive experiential marketing starts with finding budget support, said Shahar Oren, chief marketing officer and co-founder of EX.CO, an online publishing platform. “It starts with chatting with your finance team and understanding how to set up a marketing budget with room for trial and room for error,” she said. “Leave 20% of the budget to try new things like testing new platforms, messaging, and ideas the team comes up with.”
According to Oren, the most advanced thing you can do is acknowledge the fact that you can only plan so much up front, always be ready for changes and listen to what’s going on around you. “Beginning in 2021, the death of the third-party cookie was an important topic, but then Google pushed the deadline, and suddenly it became a low priority, and we had to change our messages accordingly – being prepared that in our mindset really helped.”
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Switch to content consumption
Anthony Gallo, chief product officer of Tenovos, a digital asset management company, said digital marketers need to understand web usage has shifted from basics like the usefulness of websites to content consumption. “We have to be more progressive in how we think about digital storytelling content, because it contributes more to the customer journey,” he said. “Look at Instagram and TikTok – we see content consumption as the main use of these devices.”
Advocate the use of big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) tools as tools for marketing teams to help them recommend the right content at the right time: the key is to collect as much data as possible. “If you have a little bit of data, you get an artificial intelligence tool that is not effective,” Gallo said. “The more data you can get, the more effective your algorithm will be at the end of the day, which means you need to experiment at scale.”
Start by finding a problem to solve
Naves’ tip for digital marketers who want to test something new is to know the challenge you’re trying to solve first, because in order to be successful you need to prioritize and focus. “Next, you have to understand the industry’s KPIs,” Naves explained. “Different industries have different environments and contexts, so having a frame of reference while building your company’s baseline metrics and KPIs is essential. Leverage your agency and program partners for case studies to get fresh insights here.”
Once you’ve targeted the problem you’re trying to solve and the hypotheses you want to test, you can create audiences to target. This means thinking about how customer data and marketing technology tools can increase support for testing, for example website bots, CDPs or website customization tools.
“The important thing is knowing the problem, deciding what you want to test, understanding your data, knowing your tools and platforms, and getting more brains to make the most of the testing opportunities,” said Naves.
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Elevate your automation strategy
Gallo cited automation as another key tool for enabling incremental marketing strategies, allowing marketing teams to test assumptions, experiment with different approaches, and verify their effectiveness. “Those scenarios are not often tested, and experimentation is not done, because when you think about managing data from all data and images, it goes beyond classic web pages and apps,” he said. “Automation is the key to all of this work.”
See outside the box
Navis highlighted the importance of leveraging multiple resources to find new inspiration for digital programs, for example joining a peer-to-peer group focused on new digital strategies. “Connect with and follow digital marketers you respect, read books and articles on telling brand stories across digital channels, join associations, or sign up for Google Alerts on certain topics,” she said. “In general, get involved in the digital community, whether virtual or in person.”
Embrace first party data
If digital marketers or marketing managers don’t start exploring the loss of third-party cookies, Naves said they should start thinking about it and how to prepare. Naves added, “If you want to build reliable customer experiences, you will need a first-party data approach in the future in order to support your digital trial programs as well as report on referral and return on ad spend.” “And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad and dreary – with proper planning, any company can overcome the loss of third-party cookies with a first-party data strategy.”
Experimenting means failing fast and learning
Creating a place where experimentation and learning happens means being OK with failure, as long as you capture everything you can and apply those lessons learned into your strategy. As for her personal learning from progressive digital marketing strategies, Navis admitted there were times when she felt like she would take a digital experience out of the park. “It didn’t always happen and that was fine,” Naves said. “As long as your foundational digital programs are constantly running, it is okay to try new things whether it is a hit or a fiasco. You always learn from both and work to improve your craft.”
Oren agreed that there will always be room for error but reaching your audience directly and listening to customers and clients is critical. “Marketers make a lot of assumptions based on research, articles, and data when we can just ask our audience directly and get the data straight from the source,” she said. “There is no substitute for the first-party data companies that are always chasing after it. It is there to let you know what content your audience is engaging with.”