Marketers love trends. We make a living by taking advantage of them. We analyze, criticize and banter about the latest social media channels or annoying buzzwords.
How often, though, do we assess negative trends in our industry? Do we earnestly try to find the underlying reasons for those trends?
Let’s look at the common challenge of breaking through the noise and how that noise has led to two other challenges: our increasing reliance on paid advertising and channel over-saturation. Each section below ends with tips on how to combat these negative trends.
Challenge No. 1: Breaking through the noise
You can receive a call, SMS text, email, tweet, blog comment, Facebook post, Facebook message, LinkedIn introduction or InMail, mobile app push notifications, Fitbit notification, Xbox Live voice message, Snapchat photo …
The communication possibilities are seemingly endless-and more pop up almost every day.
As channels come and go, they create unique communities with their own best practices for content. Marketers tend to approach all these audiences in the same way, though: by broadcasting the same marketing message across each channel.
There may have been a time when this tactic was effective, but platforms and networks have counteracted those efforts by building algorithms that serve users only relevant content.
As a result, organic reach across many popular channels has declined, and marketers are reverting to pay-to-play tactics. WORKSHOP: Become your own media outlet and apply journalistic practices within your organization.
I often hear marketers say social networks, along with search engines and publishers, are greedy for ad revenue and are preventing smaller organizations (that can’t pay to play) from reaching audiences. However, by hiding crappy content, those platforms and publishers are protecting their hard-earned audiences from spam and half-assed marketing efforts.
To conquer content noise, try these approaches:
- Serve your audience content that matters to them.
- Engage in more one-to-one relationships.
- Provide value-and give much more than you ask for.
- Participate in industry communities, and build your “tribe.”
- Share your content in a manner appropriate for each audience/platform, and focus on your storytelling.
Challenge No. 2: Increasing reliance on paid advertising
As a direct result of content noise, declining organic reach and overall increases in competition, paid advertising has become more expensive and harder for search engine marketers and pay-per-click advertisers to understand.
With waves of consumer eyeballs switching from desktop to mobile , marketers are now chasing both audience channels and device platforms.
Campaigns devoted to testing new channels and optimizing for ROI across these new variables are time-consuming and expensive. Beyond that, how do brand managers even know that their audiences can see the advertising?
There are 45 million active AdBlock users in the United States, and up to 22 percent of smartphone users block mobile ads, but the challenges don’t stop there. On-demand video (Netflix, HBO, Hulu, etc.) is overtaking television, and TV viewers skip past commercials.
Furthermore, programmatic ad buying often puts your campaigns in areas of the Internet where, if your ads aren’t blocked, you’re lucky to reach a qualified buyer. Plus, when was the last time you saw someone in their car looking at a billboard (or even the road) instead of his cellphone?
To conquer these advertising shifts, take these tacks:
- Own intent-based and relevant industry searches (through search engine marketing and optimization).
- Create high-quality, empathetic and valuable content. It converts better and keeps costs down.
- Experiment with campaigns across many channels to determine what works best for you.
- Maintain accurate reporting.
- Track key performance indicators closely, and reassess your strategy often (at least quarterly).
Challenge No. 3: How over-promotion and channel saturation are killing effectiveness
Efficiency is a marketer’s best friend.
“I can get three months of automated social media content out of one white paper? Sign me up!”
Though I enjoy efficiency as much as anyone else, let’s pump the brakes. Careless republishing, automation and excessive scheduling can greatly undermine your return on marketing. I’m not suggesting these are bad tactics—just apply them thoughtfully, or else you could spread your marketing efforts too thin.
Say, for example, that you create a high-quality piece of writing. You’ve researched your audience, optimized for intent-based keywords, promoted with influencers, designed a killer graphic, amplified through paid search, set up proper tracking analytics and installed all the bells and whistles.
You happily report that your content acquired new leads, expanded your social media following and even helped close a new client. Terrific!
Now, though, your boss expects you to do it three times a week.
You don’t want to let her down, so you accept. You’ve got this. You have a process, plus reporting and scheduling tools to help.
Does this sound familiar?
Though it would be excellent to create high-performing content three, five or more times per week, that velocity isn’t feasible for many organizations. They try, but quality suffers.
Marketers end up throwing more money at bad content in an attempt to increase distribution and replicate performance from previous efforts. As spending spreads onto more channels, marketers create more noise and drive up costs.
To conquer over-promotion, heed this advice:
- Stop trying to do too much. Create realistic content processes prior to scaling.
- Develop a content team with people who complement one another’s skillsets.
- Practice moderation.
- Repurpose content authentically and thoughtfully for each audience. Brains can beat budgets.
- Identify content gaps, and align content with your customer journey.
- Remember that quality outweighs quantity.
Have you experienced these trends in your marketing efforts? How have you conquered them at your organization? Please leave your comments below.
A version of this article originally appeared on MarketingProfs.