January 26, 2017
Marketing is changing. The fundamental principles of marketing still exist, but the “how to” has changed dramatically. As marketers, we create an exchange of value between brands and the consumers they service. But to remain relevant, we’ve had to adapt our strategies to keep pace with the market trends currently disrupting small business marketing as we know it.
So many factors are driving this shift that it’s hard to pinpoint just three. But it’s fair to say that the following is a good starting point:
- widespread use of new technology and big data
- an unprecedented focus on consumer experience
- increased adoption of marketing automation software
Of all the trends impacting the state of marketing today, technology’s imprint is seismic. While we have not abandoned the pillars of the marketing mix as we know it, technology has changed the way marketers communicate with consumers. It’s done so by increasing accessibility and visibility, and providing a real-time public forum for both brand and consumer, alike, to engage.
But not only has technology given brands unprecedented access to consumers, and consumers to brands, it has put at our fingertips, more consumer data than ever before. Over 2 quintillion bytes of data is created every day, enough to fill 10 million Blu-ray discs. When stacked, these discs would measure the height of 4 Eiffel Towers.
This data is commonly referred to as “big data.” While smaller businesses don’t deal with the volume of data a global brand like Coca-Cola would, there’s still an abundance of data available for smaller organizations to utilize for their small business marketing programs. From Facebook Audience Insights to Google Analytics and everything in between, data is driving digital campaigns these days, and for good reason.
Data is the secret sauce to well-executed marketing strategies. They give us consumer insights – insight into what the consumer is thinking, feeling, saying, and doing. Gone are the days of us having to guess what we think consumers want. Because of technology, brands can collect data on consumers at each stage of the buyer’s journey and know what influences their purchasing behavior. Which could have a positive impact business revenue.
Now, brands can see who clicked on their Facebook ad, for example, and also know their location, demographics, and more. This helps brands develop audience personas. Personas help shape content strategy.
Other innovations like geofencing let companies target consumers based on their location and deliver real-time content when they are near that company.
Another emerging technology is the Internet of things (IoT) – that’s connected or smart devices. Smart devices are always listening and learning consumer behaviors so that it can deliver relevant content on demand.
Lastly, there’s artificial intelligence (predictive analysis). Search engines use it to predict the questions consumers will ask, helping to deliver the right content.
It’s becoming clear as we enter the age of the consumer that marketing is a learning system. “Intelligent” technology helps marketers build a realistic image of who consumers are and what they want. This insight fuels more effective marketing campaigns.
Finally, marketing is becoming more automated. Marketing automation combines marketing campaigns across all channels—from direct mail to online, social, and mobile initiatives — with your CRM and other systems to create a powerhouse of consumer insights. This marketing technology equips marketers with the tools to be strategic about each consumer touchpoint. It removes the mundane, repetitive tasks that often bog down many marketing programs.
With marketing automation, leads get personalized content and engagement is tracked. For each touchpoint, leads earn points toward a target lead score, giving the company a better idea of when they are “sales ready.”
The Challenge for Small Business Marketing
As time marches on, marketing will continue to evolve. Brands that keep pace with the changes have the best chance of reaching “connected” consumers in this new digital ecosystem. Big data, consumer experience, and marketing automation is still based on the basic principles of marketing we were raised on. But as we navigate the age of the consumer, we have to meet them where they are. And more than likely, it’s online.