The digital landscape is shifting at a rapid clip, and content marketing practices are needing to adapt to keep pace. Today’s marketer needs to be extremely forward-thinking in their approach, setting out plans and campaigns designed to suit not only current demands but also those likely to become standard in the near future.
And once you factor in the escalating demand for marketing content, you realize the size of the challenge we face. Even as opportunities abound, the incredible level of competition makes it all too possible for a brand to be taken out of contention through its simple inability to produce and distribute marketing content quickly enough.
While many elements can be automated (programmatic PPC has largely reached the set-it-and-forget-it phase, for instance), anything that involves manual intervention will severely test the creative and procedural efficiency of any marketing team. In this piece, I’m going to get into some more detail about why scalability is now the key to effective marketing.
Rising UX standards are reducing ad impact
The average smartphone user’s expectations for general UX are driven by the models established by Apple and Google through their digital ecosystems, and to a lesser extent by Amazon’s comprehensive ecommerce package (with Alexa at the center driving voice search as a standard option). With every system update comes a new level of integration — handled through virtual assistants and smart search utilities — that sees consumers require less effort to find the information and options they need.
This presents a scaling demand because online marketing materials are chiefly seen while people are trying to achieve other things, but higher levels of UX ensure that we spend less time in that position and are less willing to put up with mediocre marketing. We are still happy to be marketed to in general, but we need the materials to be high-quality and uniquely formed to suit our individual needs.
Whenever ads of one format dip in value, you need the infrastructure in place to do one (or both) of the following things:
- Increase your production. Sometimes the best way to proceed is simply to compensate for the lessened value by producing and delivering a greater volume.
- Adjust your creative direction. Consumer preferences vary on a frequent basis. When you know something is no longer working, you need to be able to change approach.
- Move format. For instance, if your Facebook image ads are no longer getting the conversion rate you need, you might find that Snapchat ads are more viable.
It’s unclear exactly what the future of online advertising holds, which is all the more reason to stay on your toes and be ready to shift the scope of your campaigning.
Cross-channel reach is key
The aforementioned level of online integration has also reduced the significance of any one channel. Today, consumers don’t need to commit to specific brands, platforms, apps, or methods — they can use them all, often combining them to great effect. Additionally, we’ve seen over the last decade how quickly new contenders can sweep to prominence, hurried along by adoption among younger generations (exactly how Snapchat became a hit).
As such, single-channel campaigning is a non-starter for any ambitious company. Focus on Facebook and you neglect Twitter. Target a specific app and you’ll suffer when it’s unexpectedly supplanted by a fresh rival within months. The ultimate goal of the modern marketer is to be everywhere relevant, always at the right times, and the recipe for achieving this changes slightly with every passing day.
The reason why content marketing will always have a large role in a major marketing campaign is that it has lasting results. Establish your content through today’s social platform, and you’ll earn a degree of recognition that will stick with you throughout the digital world, giving you a built-in audience when the time comes to spread to new channels.
Starting again is increasingly common
With so many factors playing into the perception and success of a brand, it’s not always possible to chart a path of consistent iterative improvement. Word travels very quickly on the internet, and fads rise and fall within days. Something catches fire seemingly overnight and then fades into obscurity just as fast.
This reality is increasingly being accepted and even embraced as part of a cultural shift from lifetime businesses to temporary investments — the average entrepreneur is more likely to deal in flipping businesses online than they are to commit everything to a single point of failure. If one business fails, it can be discarded — if it flourishes, that opportunity can be rapidly exploited.
Because of this, the average marketing professional is just as likely to be tasked with handling a rotating pool of business assets (with numerous sites to configure) than they are to have just one, and they’ll need to be able to pivot as needed. This will require the operational freedom to redistribute resources, and the technology to ramp up the processing power.
Marketers today need to be hyper-aware of everything going on throughout the digital landscape, but even that isn’t enough to see what’s around the corner. Since the industry operates at a lag, it demand scalability and flexibility at a foundational level, making it possible to adjust scope and direction as needed. If you can’t scale, you will fail.