4 challenges that demand a digital marketing shift.

Every brand knows the power of digital marketing. It is one of the easiest and effective ways to reach a targeted audience at the perfect time. But more than just a sophisticated advertising tool, digital marketing has also paved the way for a more interactive, two-way communications model where genuine engagement with customers is now part of pretty much every marketing strategy.

But like everything else, digital marketing is changing rapidly with emerging trends and new challenges coming up all the time. Because of that, some brands will need to adjust their current digital marketing approach. This can be a painful process leading to many lost opportunities, or it can be a smooth transition filled with captured potential. Planning ahead and changing course early makes all the difference.

We’ve collected the 4 most crucial challenges that will impact digital marketing going into the future.

1. Content overload

There is so much content out there. When you’re brand posts content on social media, you’re competing with all the other brands that have a similar offering, brands in different categories, news cycles that seem to be breaking stories every day, educational material, entertaining content, and posts from an individual’s personal network. That content overload reduces the effectiveness of digital ads. A recent HubSpot survey about video ads on YouTube revealed 42% of people never click on ads, and 37% said they skip ads as soon as possible.

The antidote is not placing even more ads to reach more people in absolute numbers. Instead, grab attention with creative relevance. Do something that’s a little different to capture initial interest, then deliver a message that makes sense to your target audience to hold that interest. Optimise results by folding the ad into the greater brand narrative and make it part of a larger cross-channel campaign.

‍2. Too big on tactics, not enough strategies

One of the great things about digital marketing is that you can track and analyse an almost infinite amount of different metrics. That gives you valuable data such as which ad brought in traffic that converted the most versus another ad that brought in mostly a crowd just looking to browse. But the relentless push towards data creates the risk of digital marketing becomes a tactic-first activity. Too much focus on data only produces small ideas and cost-cutting, rather than big ideas, experience and opportunities.

Digital marketing will only be effective if there is a strategy in place that connects companies to customers in a way that is meaningful to both. There’s a lot more to it than just putting more money on the one ad that seemed to work. A coherent and effective digital marketing strategy is built by defining goals, knowing your audience, exploring customer journey maps, getting the channels right, publishing content that grabs and refining all of it over time.

‍3. Breaking brands

The cycle of what’s in and what’s out has accelerated immensely in the digital age. As part of the same change, digital tools now allow brands to respond swiftly and pivot to new opportunities as soon as they arise. The danger comes with doing too much of that, just because other brands are doing it. It’s not a bad thing to include your brand in trending stories, but always keep your core brand purpose and narrative in mind. People know the difference between a brand sending out authentic messages, and one that is simply chasing something just to be heard.

If you don’t have a clear idea of what your brand’s core purpose, vision and narrative is, then developing that should be your priority. Before you commit to any marketing strategy, digital or otherwise, you need to invest in brand development and put your fundamentals in place. This gives your brand a sense of direction across campaigns, and through consistent messaging attracts the right audience and inspires loyalty over time.

4. Third-party cookies are being phased out

While there will still be first-party cookies, third-party cookies are on their way out which will have massive implications for digital marketing. As a reminder, every time you visit a website your browser will store a small text file called a cookie. This cookie contains information about what you do online. The cookie enables online measurement, personalisation, customisation and targeting.

First-party cookies are dropped into your browser by the website you visit, third-party cookies are dropped by domains that you do not directly visit yourself – they are integrated in websites that you do visit. That’s what helps created targeted ads based on interest. Losing that capability will be huge for digital advertisers everywhere.

While there is no clear solution yet, brands still have some time to prepare for the loss of third-party cookies. Most likely what this means is that content publishers will need to have greater control over their content and understand what content users are consuming. The days of anonymous cookie-based programmatic buying at scale will be behind us. Advertisers will have to really understand their supply partners.

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