This year began with one of the most surprising spectator events in memory. On Wednesday January 6, the world started watching a puddle in Newcastle. The small pool of water was beamed out on live-streaming app Periscope and became a social media sensation as people watched with increasing fervour how members of the public were getting around the puddle. #DrummondPuddleWatch trended internationally and garnered some 50,000 Twitter posts.
The event was not only seen as a bit of fun, but for some it was a marketing opportunity. Domino’s Pizza, Hunter wellies, PG Tips, Marmite, Greggs and a whole host of others joined the conversation, adding their witty quips on Twitter.
This reaction was a great example of the trend for moment marketing. WARC and Deloitte’s Trends Toolkit recently put moment marketing as the number-one global marketing trend for 2016. It’s all to do with reacting to events, quickly and cleverly, in your online marketing.
“Put simply, moment marketing is the ability to instantly connect your digital marketing to what’s going on in the world at that time,” says Antione de Kermel, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) managing director of brands and agencies platform TVTY.
Digital marketers have to make their voices heard over a cacophony of content hurtling towards consumers
“Campaigns can be synced to a wide range of events that are likely to impact consumer behaviour, for example a change in the weather, the score of a football match or the screening of a major TV ad campaign. It’s about ensuring your message connects at the exact moments when consumers reach for their smartphone to react on social media or search for more information.”
These days the media landscape is a noisy place. Digital marketers have to make their voices heard over a cacophony of content hurtling towards consumers from a number of devices and a range channels. This tsunami of information has created a generation whose attention span is waning, so the message to brands is clear – if your messaging is going to get heard, it’s got to be memorable and get attention for the right reasons. Moment marketing is one of the ways that brands can cut through the noise and get noticed for the right reasons – relevance.
Using key influencers
Another popular and effective way of reaching people in 2016 is influencer marketing. The rise of social media stars on channels such as YouTube and Instagram has opened up a whole new avenue for brands to reach audiences. “Working with vloggers and social influencers is an increasingly powerful, not to mention effective, way of communicating with, converting and retaining customers,” says Jenny Halpern Prince, founder of social talent agency The&Collective and public relations agency Halpern.
“A recommendation from a trusted influencer is more credible than a message that comes directly from a brand. Studies show partnering with influencers increases retention rates by 37 per cent and boosts conversion rates ten times over,” she says.
Ms Halpern Prince and her agency have seen a steep rise in demand for influencer marketing over the past two years, with at least 75 per cent of marketers now investing in it and 60 per cent set to increase their spend with vloggers over the coming year. “Put simply, brands that aren’t investing will lose out,” she adds.
The right kind of content
Creating the right kind of content is the first challenge facing the marketing community in the coming year. The second is choosing where to place this innovative and engaging content. Which channels will create the best returns? Has social media eclipsed traditional methods such as e-mail? Should marketing budgets be ploughed into paid search?
According to some, different channels have a range of benefits and a healthy mix of all is the way forward. “With more competition for clicks online than ever, brands must ensure their digital marketing strategy mimics consumers’ online behaviour across an increasingly complex media landscape,” says Stephanie Carr, EMEA vice president of Marin Software.
“Although search and social both engage large audiences online, they serve very different purposes along the consumers’ path to conversion. For example, while the benefits of social media can be seen at the start of a customer’s decision-making process, the return on investment of paid search is apparent more quickly and often leads to the all-important final conversion click,” she says.
Using multiple channels
Having a good spread across multiple channels is just one part of the puzzle. Research by Marin Software has found there needs to be a joined-up approach across these channels to get the best results. “Advertisers achieve 68 per cent higher revenue per conversion from their search campaigns when they are managed together with social advertising campaigns,” says Ms Carr. “In fact, we know that users who clicked on both search and social ads are more likely to buy and spend more.”
One of the elements of social marketing tipped to really take off this year is video. More and more video is being consumed through social channels and content producers such as Now This News, with clips, designed to be watched with or without sound, tailoring to the mobile market, are gaining prominence.
“In 2016, the battle between video superpowers Facebook and YouTube will heat up and newcomers like Snapchat will contribute to overall growth in the time we devote to video content on social media,” says Merinda Peppard, EMEA marketing director of Hootsuite. “The way brands advertise will also change and become much more social as new mobile formats and social media products offer advertisers efficiency and promise relevance for consumers.”
So if search and social both have their places in the mix, what about the more traditional avenue of e-mail marketing? It may not be as trendy as its counterparts, but according to many, it still has its place.
“E-mail will continue to rank highly as the most effective digital channel for digital marketers,” says Andrew Davies, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Idio, a content marketing platform. “Unlike social media platforms or SEO [search engine optimisation], which are always subject to the fickle whims of Facebook or a Google algorithm update, marketers fully control their mailing list.
“The efficacy of e-mail will improve as content personalisation technologies get better at understanding what each recipient is interested in and automatically select the most relevant brand content to put in each e-mail.”
The coming year is certainly an exciting one for digital marketing, but the black cloud of ad-blocking still looms large across the industry. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau UK’s Ad-Blocking Report conducted by YouGov, one in seven British adults are currently using ad-blocking software, and a joint report by PageFair and Adobe found ad-blocking is estimated to have cost publishers almost $22 billion globally in 2015.
The stats may be dramatic, but the general consensus among marketers is the industry will adapt and the end-product will be a better user experience for consumers. “While ad-blocking won’t be the Armageddon that doomsayers are predicting, the industry will realise that it has a collective responsibility to act,” argues Nick Hugh, EMEA vice president at Yahoo. “Publishers will adopt a more user-centric, additive approach to advertising which will bring native advertising to the fore and the buy-side will adapt accordingly. The rise in ad-blocking will drive even more innovation with this ad format, delivering yet higher audience engagement and return on investment. The industry will fight back.”