The Evolution of Integrated Marketing

by Zach Coulter

TRENDS TO WATCH FOR IN 2019

Have We Reached Peak Content Yet?

Content strategy has its roots in late 19th century magazines developed by agriculture companies. The magazines they produced were intended to offer farmers practical information to help them be more successful in their growing operations (while also selling machinery and seed).

Leap ahead to the 1990s, when the Internet was first introduced, and content strategy is digital. In 2004, Merriam-Webster declared “blog” the word of the year. Soon thereafter, businesses noticed that search engines were rewarding websites that regularly published fresh content.

Thousands of brands embraced this new approach to building awareness within their target audience. They took advantage of the opportunity by publishing millions of pieces of content. As a result, the Internet has become very noisy. Low-quality content no longer delivers the expected benefits in search engines. Users are reading less and scanning more.

It would be tempting to say that ‘content strategy no longer works’. But that would be a mistake. The current reality is that content still works, but the user’s expectation of quality has never been higher. In other words, if your marketing team is creating content only for the sake of search engines, it’s time to adjust your approach. A winning strategy demands content that is original, relevant and genuinely insightful. If that means producing less in order to produce better, then do it.

Focus on quality first and your audience will reward you.

 

Fast and Furious

Remember the early days of the Internet? At the risk of dating myself, I do. I remember the first time my dad and I popped an AOL compact disc into our Apple IIC. I remember the sound of a dial-up connection, with its squealing, squeaking, whirring and buzzing. It was a sound that meant you were merging onto the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY—merging very slowly.

A couple of decades later, our expectations for speed have changed exponentially. Modern users demand that websites and applications load fast, and if they don’t those users will find another solution that does.

That’s good news for those of us whose attention spans have never been shorter. Recent innovation in web and application frameworks and microservices allow developers to build sites, apps and products that are blazing fast.

As users become accustomed to these snappier experiences they will be reluctant to accept the old version of normal. Companies that fail to adapt to these user expectations will see declining engagement, traffic and rankings as a result.

Bottom line, if website speed isn’t a priority for your organization, it should be.

 

Wanna Chat?

At GLS / NEXT we talk a lot about “building pathways” that allow your audience to find you using the channels that they prefer. We are seeing many more users who show a preference for communicating through a website chat feature.

Chat functionality saw tremendous growth in 2018, and there’s every reason to believe that trend will continue. Users love the convenience and discretion of starting a conversation without necessarily having to give up any of their personal data.

Chat is also one of the channels where AI (artificial intelligence) is making a meaningful impact. Bots are becoming more capable of handling various aspects of chat conversations without alienating users.

Even if your company isn’t ready to go “all in” on chat, you may want to consider dipping a toe in the water in 2019. Add a chat option to your contact page and make sure that it’s staffed during business hours. The worst that can happen is that you’ve made your website a little more convenient for users who prefer this type of communication.

 

Marketing Analytics: The More Things Change…

At GLS / NEXT, we take great pride in our ability to help clients understand the impact their marketing activities have on top- and bottom-line growth. However, as analytics tools have become more sophisticated, there is a growing temptation to “miss the forest for the trees.”

Experience has shown us that the most effective and balanced approach to marketing analytics is a combination of real-time, quarterly and annual measurement and reporting.

At GLS / NEXT, we use tools like Databox to track metrics that are available in real-time—like Google Ads, social engagement and marketing automation.

Then, on a quarterly basis, we compile a roundup of all activities and outcomes. This quarterly report is useful for internal marketing teams when they are called upon to justify budgets and show progress to other stakeholders.

If quarterly results indicate the need for a tactical pivot, then go for it! However, more significant changes to strategy should be based on significant data that can be compared on a year- over-year basis.

Companies that succeed in this environment will be those that avoid the temptation to change course based on yesterday’s click-through rate and focus on smart strategies that pay dividends over time.

ZACH COULTER BIO…

With over ten years of digital marketing experience, Zach crafts innovative, integrated solutions to his client’s challenges. A natural storyteller, Zach creates content, search engine optimization, and analytics strategies that make a measurable impact.