Continuing to implement digital marketing strategies might be the last thing companies think about during the current global pandemic. For some, it may not even be something worth focusing on. As there are currently more pressing issues at hand, that is certainly a valid point of view. At the same time, digital marketing should not be discredited for having little to no priority today.
Yes, digital marketing was already making waves even before the pandemic due to its global reach. At its core, digital marketing has always been about keeping up with the latest trends and adjusting to them. In recent times however, it’s clear societal norms were upended when the global pandemic grew larger. Because of this, more companies have had to rethink their digital marketing strategies to fit this current normal and place more focus on it. As more economies globally begin to open up slowly, the need for proper digital marketing once again becomes important.
As noted earlier, redefining digital marketing efforts should reflect the current global situation. Companies today are finding creative ways to ensure they are still able to service new and long-time customers as a way of building relationships even in extraordinary times.
Take for instance email marketing. Even before the global pandemic, it was a cost-effective strategy in reaching out to audiences new and old. By creating email campaigns, you can reach out to existing clients to let them know that you are here to help them online. These small but effective reminders can go a long way in maintaining the rapport that you’ve built.
Consider what it means for a while to be a consumer during the lockdown period globally. People spent less time outside or on the road and exposed less to traditional marketing means. No doubt billboards and roadside ads got lesser views as there were fewer people on the streets. Conversely, this meant that more people are browsing online than ever before. With more people browsing online on their phones or computers, search traffic since the pandemic started has greatly increased.
With this in mind, companies need to ramp up their online presence for consumers. Social media still remains a powerful tool that people are using to contact and interact with businesses. Some company websites are now also including FAQs on how they will address the current situation moving forward for everyone to see. SEO and PPC advertising also can continue to thrive as they are a means of increasing online traffic.
There are no two ways about it. Digital marketing in today’s global pandemic is very different and requires more unique approaches. We’re seeing how different businesses reacted to the current situation and how they’ve been able to adapt as best they can. Some industries were hit harder than others but still continued to keep their audience engaged regardless of the impact.
Take for instance the travel industry, one of the most affected industries during this pandemic period. Whether locally or internationally, travelling was severely restricted due to closed borders and cancelled vacation plans for the foreseeable future. Despite this, some key players in the industry did not halt their presence online. To keep customers engaged, travel companies- whether airlines or airports – continued to build brand awareness. Through social media, they’ve kept themselves busy with photo sharing contests, customer surveys and frequent updates on availability.
Right now, it is unclear how long this “new normal” is going to last. The global pandemic both shifted and altered what consumers needed to prioritize. With more people relying on online resources, many businesses models also began to adapt to people’s changing needs.
As discussed earlier, digital marketing is certainly not a new concept. However, in order to navigate through these uncertain times, it is something that businesses should embrace more. With changes to many business models, marketing strategies should adapt as well. We may be in the midst of a global pandemic, but that also does not mean you have to stop reaching out to consumers.
Digital marketing and its platforms continue to change alongside the many innovations brought by technology. There is no clearer indication of where the business landscape is heading than the start of the new year. However, it also becomes a challenge predicting what effects these advances can bring and how to adapt to them successfully. As 2020 begins, it’s worth looking at what digital marketing trends will continue to rise in the coming year. We’ve seen some interesting trends that will surely make their presence felt as we continue to move forward into 2020.
The concept of artificial intelligence continues to be a hot topic of discussion in business. While initially seen as a fad, it is now at the forefront of digital marketing and how we conduct business. While still considered a work in progress, AI’s continued evolution will be felt in the years to come.
Many businesses are starting to maximise the use of AI-powered chatbots on their websites. In 2016, 80% of businesses were already seeing the benefit of using AI chatbots and that more would come around to the idea by 2020. As technology and research for machine learning continue to develop in the coming years, chatbots can further improve in providing more accurate information to its users.
Of course, AI does not just stop with automation and chatbots. AI also analyses online consumer behaviour to provide more targeted content. It made strides in text analysis and data collection to get a better picture of what consumers want. From their findings, they can tailor specific, sometimes niche content towards them.
The continued use and development of AI also directly ties into another trend to watch in 2020. Personalised marketing is something that companies continue to look at as a way to stand out in the coming years. As technology becomes more intelligent, the importance of personalizing also begins to take centre stage. We see it now in targeted or native ads that appear when consumers browse the internet on their laptops or mobile devices. Knowing consumers’ interests, searches and visits to particular websites allow marketers to create ads that entice them to engage with their products and services even if they are away from the sites they initially visited.
Personalised marketing also extends to email marketing. More digital marketers are beginning to value meaningful connections with their subscribers. They often prioritise audiences who remain engaged with them in various email campaigns. They receive constant updates about the business, the latest news about services and sometimes get rewards for being active customers.
This trend will gain more momentum in the coming months and years. Whether through products, services, or content presented, a personalized feel attracts new customers or improves relationships with your current ones.
The role of social media in digital marketing continues to be an evolving trend. We’ve seen in the last couple of years how companies are able to successfully connect with their audience through different social media platforms. However, a new trend emerging in the form of social media influencers.
To understand the impact influencers have, it’s important to look at how they affected what “word of mouth” means online. Even in today’s digital age, the idea behind word of mouth in marketing has remained largely unchanged. A company’s popularity can sometimes be credited to this tried and true method. At the same time, the aforementioned digital age also means that “word of mouth” is now defined differently. Go on any social media platform and you’re likely to come across posts of an influencer talking about a particular product they are endorsing. Regardless if their fanbase is large or not, their organic reach still extends beyond their audience list. They use photos, videos, and even simple “stories” that feature timely content. In essence, this is what “word of mouth marketing” means in the digital age and how it can be much more influential.
But as compared to influencers with millions of followers, micro-influencers with the smaller but dedicated following are expected to rise. In 2020, the success of social influencers will not be based on their number of followers but the type of relationship they have with their audience.
Digital marketing is often about seeing what clicks with people today and what does not. What is considered trendy today may not have the same influence in just a few months. Just a few years ago, cell phones were not even in the discussion when it came to marketing strategies. Today, many companies hinge on the power of smartphones and mobile browsing capabilities. We’re seeing the rise of AI and how its influence will continue to spread and affect many other trends. Trends from the past may instead undergo an evolution that is synonymous with the times. More than anything, it’s very likely we will see plenty of these evolved trends – better versions of what they once were – dominate the business landscape in 2020.
Social media makes it easier for people to interact with their favourite brands. Because of it’s accessibility, it provides to retail companies adds a layer of transparency that today’s consumers prefer. They connect on personal levels with brands that often makes them loyal to particular brands or retailers. This interactivity is mostly due from the work social media managers do.
More retail companies recognize the benefits of having social media managers and what they can do for their business. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are seen as extensions of customer service, social media management requires a specialized skill set apart from the usual customer service representative. Their tasks are often misconstrued as simple when the truth is that their role is a lot more nuanced. Forward-thinking retailers already leverage social media managers to augment their customer service efforts.
It can be said that social media managers are the busiest people of any retail company. Because of social media’s reach and real-time interactions, social media teams need to be highly responsive and available 24/7.
As part of customer service, they interact with customers on a daily basis on various platforms. They establish a certain rapport that can lead to potential brand loyalty among consumers in the process. Retailers who successfully integrate their social media and their customer service will see more value added to the customer experience.
A common misconception for social media managers — and by extension customer service teams – is that they have an “easy” job that anyone can do. This often leads to the wrong assumption they can be replaced just as easily. Social media managers require analytical, strategic, creative, communications and other skills that set them apart from anyone who has an active presence on Twitter. As a top influencer puts it, “[it] involves being creative like an artist but also learning to be the ‘data scientist’.” In addition, many social media managers today have specialized knowledge in retail and other industries that can help when interacting with customers. This knowledge can help upsell your company’s products and services. When properly integrated to your company culture, they become fully invested in your vision and how you aim to reach more customers.
In the age of social media, your customer service team is responsible for how your company is perceived. As a Forbes article puts it, customer service is called the “human face – or voice – of your brand”. Social media has made it easier for people to share their personal experiences with companies, whether positive or negative.
In a recent survey by Sprout Solutions, 81% of people said that social media has helped increase accountability among businesses, saying it helps encourage transparency and amplifies issues. Additionally, 45% of consumers said they use social media to share their positive experiences with a brand. With a good, well-trained customer service team, they will be able to provide quality service and support that customers will rave about.
Quality customer service is essential for medium, large or listed companies. While resources may be available locally, it can be a very costly endeavour. Smart companies today acknowledge the value of an offshore customer service team that operates on a 24/7 basis. Most of all, they provide excellent service and value to a company at a lowered cost.
The traditional outsourcing model of hiring solely call centre agents is becoming an outdated practice. As demand for more specialized, competent customer service steadily increases, companies should no longer consider it a minor role. Because of this, the role of social media managers should not immediately be dismissed as easily replaced. Their back office support keeps loyal customers satisfied while also attracting new ones due to their professional approach.
Whether in retail or other industries, social media now plays a critical role in letting a business flourish. By working together with a customer service team, they positively shape online reputations that attract a wider audience and making them loyal customers.
It can be said that today’s digital marketing specialist uses the internet as a canvas. They are able to shape the direction of a business thanks to their efforts and understanding of online platforms. Because today’s internet has made it easier to stay connected with others, digital marketers know how to leverage it to a business’ advantage.
Modern technology has made it so that enterprises of all sizes are on a leveled playing field online. A medium sized business can compete on the same level as a large or listed one with their own targeted online marketing campaigns. Through social media and other related channels, digital marketers can bring more eyes to any company and build an audience.
Companies today should be aware of just how powerful a digital marketing specialist is. The need to stay “current” is a must for businesses today, especially in your given industry. Luckily, digital marketers help businesses stay competitive online, regardless of their size. With a deep understanding of current trends, they are able to shape the online business landscape and adapt approaches that will attract the biggest audience.
On paper, a digital marketing specialist takes on plenty of the roles a traditional marketer has. They develop strategies for campaigns, write up the needed copy, manage the promotion and create reports on them. The difference is that they operate on the much broader online platform. Their role reaches a much wider audience, which requires very strategic approaches to entice their target market.
Part of their responsibilities is being familiar with more modern marketing terms and processes. Traditional marketers may not understand the true value of a website’s SEO content or PPC advertising. Digital marketers on the other hand know how important they are. Aside from having a fully functional website, they know what it means to optimize search results. Your online presence is a valuable commodity that digital marketers know how to promote.
A lone digital marketing specialist can handle plenty of functions. On the other hand, having a dedicated remote marketing team can help businesses complete different tasks at the same time. Each member brings their own specialty to the table, but with the same end goal in mind.
With more and more people going online, a digital marketing specialist can help your business take advantage of the platform. For instance, a company’s brand and reputation are greatly amplified on social media. Through these channels, digital marketers will help attract more traffic to any business with the content they promote. They help develop solid relationships with your target audience, which can lead to a much wider reach.
Earlier, it was said that some companies are looking at dedicated remote marketing teams to gain more traction online. One of the biggest reasons for this is cost of hiring an offshore marketing team is much less than hiring one locally. With the right offshoring provider, you will be able to find the right people who will make up your team. An offshore marketing team is sometimes considered a business’ “secret weapon” as they deliver quality results without any increased overhead.
The most successful companies today recognize the need to constantly adopt current trends to maintain their success. With more people going online, it has become important to establish a strong online presence that will attract a potential audience. Together with the shift from traditional to digital marketing, collaborations with an offshore team are becoming more prevalent.
Whether you need a just one person or an entire team, your business will benefit greatly with offshore digital marketers. They are able to guide medium, large and listed companies through the online landscape by optimizing searches and raising brand awareness. With a wide range of offshore marketing roles that can be recruited for, companies can strengthen their online presence without needing additional expenses.
In this digital age, where agility is king, ensuring your brand appeals to your target market can mean regular change. This can be especially true for offshoring marketing.
Refining, redeveloping and relaunching a brand can be a time consuming and incredibly costly exercise for marketers.
Everything – from the big ticket items (rethinking the brand’s messaging and meaning), to the smaller details (new stationery!), not to mention redesigning and relaunching creative, website and social media – comes under the microscope.
My most recent marketing role has taught me that a full rebrand and relaunch doesn’t have to destroy your entire budget.
My story as head of marketing for national offshore solutions specialist Diversify OSS is an example of how major rebrands can be achieved on a slim budget in the digital age. It’s a strategy where you can still leverage the vast talent in your local community, empower your local team and let them focus on the bigger picture.
When I recently took up the head of marketing role at Diversify, I had a mandate to make significant changes to re-position the business as the best offshore solutions provider for medium to large companies.
To do this, we needed to reinvigorate the brand through new messaging, a new look and a digital presence that set us apart from competitors.
With a relatively limited budget, the rebrand had the potential to devour our entire marketing budget within a few months.
We needed to deliver a quality digital presence and brand within budget, and not sacrificing quality.
We did so by adopting a strategy we recommend to our own clients, using local and offshore talent.
With a marketing background for professional services and financial services businesses, and having never worked in an offshoring business before, I was sceptical about managing a market team with employees on the ground and offshore.
This scepticism was quickly extinguished as I saw the great quality work that could be delivered, and here’s how we did it.
Number one, we didn’t offshore the whole process as the Australian creative market is second to none.
It was crucial to find the right Australian creative agency who could design something unique and ground-breaking but also work with our offshore team on implementation.
A comprehensive tendering process resulted in chosen agency, 40/40 Creative. This young Gold Coast firm hadn’t worked with Filipino developers before but were very receptive to the idea and understood the cost benefits that our business could achieve.
We chose the agency first, so 40/40 Creative could have a say in recruitment of an offshore developer from our staff in the Philippines, a highly educated and developed offshoring community.
We engaged 40/40 on a retainer basis to conduct regular quality assurance exercise as our offshore (and now full-time) developer went to work, ensuring the coding being undertaken was clean and effective.
Our mixed-model approach allowed us to enjoy the benefits of having our full-time developer working on the site and have an experienced creative developer, ensuring a high product standard.
Of course, building the website is just one element. Scaling up the team, we also recruited highly experienced offshore staff for the content writer and digital marketer/graphic designer roles. This allowed me to focus on executing the overall strategy while my team focused on all of the operational elements of the marketing function.
While I was a sceptic at first, for marketing managers to successfully manage offshore teams I’ve found it’s all about efficient and prescriptive leadership. Using Skype, Trello and Basecamp, I could communicate quickly with my team, manage their workloads, push them when needed and oversee major projects easily. My offshore team were as easily accessed as the person right next to me in our Brisbane office.
I’ve become very close with my offshore team. We have regular catch-ups, one-on-one discussions and team meetings. They’ve become incredibly high performing, in many cases delivering work that is comparable to, if not better than, Australian workers (especially in the search engine optimisation space). Their technical abilities are excellent, and I’ve learned a fair bit from them.
All of my initial offshore marketing team members are now full-timers, and all had a huge role to play in our now-launched website.
The value an offshore approach can deliver shouldn’t be underestimated by Australian marketers.
Local employees mostly want to be working on the big picture items, growth activities and strategies, and they can do this by overseeing offshore teams who can execute and implement.
My offshore team members allowed me to hire experienced local resources I wouldn’t otherwise have had the budget to bring on board.
Better yet, I was able to hire locally based and highly skilled contractors to work on the big picture pieces such as our new creative and approach.
This is where you want to spend your time and effort (and budget), not in the operational elements.
Mark Evans is the head of digital strategy, marketing and business development at Diversify, a national offshore solutions specialist that works with large and small listed and private companies to help grow their businesses by establishing tailored offshore teams. With offices in Australia and the Philippines, Diversify helps businesses identify and solve their unique problems, by nurturing and fostering high quality, high-performance teams. Learn more about what Diversify can do for your business through offshoring.