AdAge recently polled a few of the bloggers on the Power150 to ask about the future of digital marketing. The answers ranged from Web video to micro blogging to social networks.
I agree with most of my colleagues cited in the article with one caveat - content works best within context. As our lives look and feel very busy, now more than ever, randomness and chance will favor the prepared marketer.
Context matters in viral marketing, and it matters in concert with content. Your customers are time starved, it's your job to join the conversations they are already having and to help them connect the dots with you. Not for you, it's not about you - it never was. Integration does not mean that your tactics are matching each other, it means they are matching your customers' world view and needs - where and when they fit her lifestyle.
Some homework for marketers who wish to drive the changes occurring in digital marketing towards an ecosystem - not merely to understand and exploit them:
- Participate with short and to the point content that manages to be relevant and contextual to the existing conversations - micro-platforms like Twitter and Tumblr are following in the footsteps of convenience created by IM. Peter Imbres of Point Oh! explains that: "It's less a question of how they [marketers] can directly apply this technology than how they need to understand collective conversations."
- Develop permission-based portable conversations - stop talking about your customers as targets, and start getting to know them. I've been reading that mobile advertising may be on the rise, especially as the mobile Web gets better. Marketers beware, as you collect more information about people, make sure you are reaching out to them on their terms. Back in October I wrote a post outlining 5 easy ways to add value.
- Offer compelling content on a consistent basis - it's the hardest thing to do especially in industries and companies that have gotten used to charging a premium for it. Ideas should be free, it's the execution that makes all the difference anyway. Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 says it best: "the content marketing movement is the philosophy of marketing
services not by traditional methods, but by delivering valuable,
relevant and compelling content to customers and prospects on a
- Facilitate the growth of online streaming video - increasingly, your customers are either streaming or watching video content online. Given the recent dispute of Comcast Corp. and BitTorrent Inc. over congested nodes because of alleged bandwidth hogging, there is opportunity here. Time Warner Cable is planning to experiment with consumption-based or metered pricing for broadband in Beaumont, Texas. How about helping sponsor some of that broadband? Paul Chaney of Conversational Marketing cites consumer-driven use of video: "ooVoo, seesmic, Revver, Jumpcut ... the list goes on and on. Oh, and FastCompany.TV that Scoble just inaugurated. Add to that the fact that people are scurrying to their computers to watch television programs on sites like Hulu, Netflix or DailyMotion."
The conversation around keywords and language deserves its own post. Bret Swanson and George Gilder of the Discovery Institute, a nonpartisan public-policy think tank based in Seattle, project the Internet will grow by 50 times in 2015. These are the early days. Although we already saw a big move in marketing spending online in recent years, the answer for marketers cannot be delivering the same push message through different media.
Digital marketing has enormous potential not merely to help you demonstrate ROI. It has the opportunity to become a true ecosystem. Will you let customers stay in the driver seat long enough to learn from them not just about them?