Four Trends You Need to Think About Differently

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Marketing is continuously evolving, so marketers must continually rethink their strategies. Here are four areas of marketing to re-evaluate today.

Loni Stark, director of product and industry marketing, Adobe
Loni Stark, director of product and industry marketing, Adobe

There's never a dull moment in marketing. One person who knows this firsthand is Loni Stark, director of product and industry marketing at Adobe. Stark's perspective is not only as a marketer, but also as a provider of digital marketing. That combined viewpoint provides her with a distinctive angle on trends in the market. During a conversation we had last week, Stark shared some of that insight with me; specifically, she talked about the elements of content marketing, channel integration, and mobile marketing that marketers should be thinking about differently.

Content is shrinking and growing: Content is becoming more snackable. Marketers can take a message and reduce it to an image or pin or infographic and get it to where they can measure the impact of it and what action customers take, Stark said. At the same time there's a resurgence of long-form content. What's more, customers' attention may be decreasing in some areas, but it's increasing for things that they find most engaging. An example is the binge-watching that's become commonplace.

Considering these conflicting trends, marketers need to think about a spectrum of content: from snackable content to deeper levels of content, as well, Stark said. It's important to generate high-value, long-form content such as blogs for engaged customers, as well as bite-size content for people who aren't ready to commit to more. Stark cited the ALS Association's Ice Bucket Challenge as an example. “The Challenge wouldn't work without the research and information about ALS available on the association's website,” she said. “Its challenge went viral for a few reasons. First, because it supports a cause people want to align with—‘I can rally behind this.' Second, it's crazy fun and gives permission to do something crazy. And third, there was a clear call-to-action that was meaningful: Complete the challenge or donate in 24 hours. Most people donated, they didn't just douse themselves.” The snackable content, i.e. videos, created by participants taking the Ice Bucket Challenge is great for awareness, Stark said: Throngs of people visited ALS Association's site for first time as a result of the Challenge. Those first-time visitors then had deep content available to them if they wanted to find out more about ALS and the association and potentially become more than just a one-time donor. “Even with all the snackable content available, there's still a need for the content that's a feast, too,” Stark said.

Not just channel, context: While marketers continue to debate the merits of omnichannel versus multichannel, some are missing the all-important element of context. “Think about not just the content you create, but also the channel it will live in, and the task customers may be trying to complete when viewing that content,” Stark said. Marketers also need to consider a customer's primary task when he's taking an action versus, say, just the device he's using to complete that task. That task is the context, not the device itself. For example, if a consumer is using a mobile phone to research a nearby restaurant with a gluten-free menu, the restaurant search is the task to be considered, not just that she's using a smartphone to conduct the search.

Customers' new journey: Mobile and digital have changed the customer journey, which can lead to customer frustration. In the past when prospective customers would go to a car dealership, for example, a salesperson would use body language and other cues to know something about them and they would have numerous questions; now prospective customers have completed much of the research online, so they step into the dealership with all this data. “One of the challenges with in-store experiences is how marketers can translate [customers' preparedness] into a meaningful conversation with associates and salespeople who don't have that context,” Stark said. Mobile is one answer.

Mobile makes customers superhuman: “The mobile device is like the Tony Stark suit,” Stark said. “It becomes a little like you're superhuman when you use it because it's offering things that you would not have known or have been able to easily accomplish otherwise.” GPS, for instance, make map-averse drivers able to travel without getting lost. Mobile banking apps allow customers to deposit checks or transfer money from anywhere as if with superpowers; they don't have to go to a branch. “The corollary for marketers,” Stark said, “is to think about what mobile app or experience their brand can offer that will provide a superhero power for users.”

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