Is Marketing Better Online or Direct Sales?

I used to work in retail, and our in-house marketer at the time was fond of saying “marketing is changing.” Back then, we used to think that marketing was limited to TV ads and magazine spreads. But as the digital landscape has evolved, the role of marketing has changed too.

Whether you’re running a retail business or selling direct to consumers, it’s essential to keep up to date with marketing trends and switch up your methods to be effective.

Here, we’ll explore five marketing trends and the role that digital plays in each one.

1. Influencer marketing rises as traditional forms decline.

In 2018, traditional forms of marketing like TV commercials and magazine spreads fell victim to digital distraction, as consumers increasingly turned to social media platforms to keep up to date with the news, trends, and events that interest them.

While social media platforms were initially designed for sharing short-form content such as statuses and links, consumers are now demanding longer-form content from brands. To keep their attention, brands must maintain consistent engagement throughout the entire content life cycle to make sure that their content is engaging enough, and of sufficient quality, to keep the attention of prospective customers.

In 2019, consumers have turned to digital distraction in droves, with one third of American consumers engaging with digital content regularly, and nearly 70% using social media to keep up with the news and trends that interest them.

Influencer marketing has risen as a result, as people with large followings on social media have become immensely influential, even when they aren’t directly connected to a brand or product. In fact, influencers can have a far greater impact on a brand’s success than traditional marketers, as they’re likely to engage with the brand’s target audience far more frequently and on a more intimate level than a marketing department could ever manage.

2. Influencer marketing isn’t just about celebrities.

While influencer marketing has risen as a result of the platform’s popularity among celebrities, the platform can be used by anyone who has a large social media following. In fact, researchers at HubSpot have found that 97% of top-performing marketing campaigns used influencers, rather than traditional advertising.

As a brand or business owner, it’s essential to understand how to use influencers effectively, as they can represent an invaluable source of traffic and engagement on your behalf, as long as you know how to work with them. To ensure that you create authentic, high-quality content that will engage with your audience, you’ll need to set yourself apart from the celebrity influencers who are trying to sell you products, and the digital landscape has made this easier than ever.

3. Authentic content leads to increased conversions.

As we’ve established, people have turned to digital distraction in droves, and marketers must adjust their strategy accordingly to ensure that their brands are reaching their full potential.

To get genuine, organic traffic that’s likely to convert into paying customers, you’ll need to produce authentic content that speaks to people’s interests, rather than just pitches products or services at them. In 2019, marketers are moving away from the retail model of selling a product and moving towards a model based on engagement and community building.

To create authentic content, you’ll need to start with an honest assessment of your own company, its values, and what it stands for. It’s essential that you’re not only presenting the “best” side of your company, but that you’re also being true to your brand’s nature. Once you’ve established credibility, you can bring your authentic self to your marketing content, and prospective customers will be able to see that you’re not just trying to sell them something.

What’s more, when people see that you’re being authentic, they’re more likely to trust you, feel that you’re approachable, and open to listen to your advice or suggestions. When customers trust you, they’re more likely to feel that you’re trying to help them, rather than just sell them something. In other words, being authentic breeds credibility, which in turn, leads to increased conversion.

4. Customer centricity reigns.

In the past, marketing departments were responsible for driving as many sales as possible, with little regard for what was happening after the order was placed, let alone what would happen with the customer after they left the store. But with customers increasingly turning to digital devices and apps to interact with brands before, during, and after their shopping experiences, marketers must ensure that their customers feel that they’re always in the loop, and that their needs are being met.

Marketing departments need to put customers at the center of everything they do, from research and product development to buying decisions and customer service. This is where the customer journey begins and ends, and what sets apart successful businesses from those brands that are struggling.

To ensure that customers feel that they’re an integral part of the process, marketers should put themselves in the shoes of the customer, and determine what would make them feel the most valuable, rather than what would make them the most profit. Only then can you develop marketing messages and strategies that are highly relevant and of value to the customer, and increase the likelihood of purchase, while also growing your business.

5. The marketing mix changes.

Simply put, the way that we used to market stuff has changed. Back in the day, we’d put an ad in a magazine, or maybe TV would be the alternative. Then, we’d wait to see if anyone responded, or if we got lucky and someone contacted us about the product or service we were advertising. If they responded, great! If not, we’d try to find another way to get the word out there.

Today, with customers increasingly turning to digital devices and apps for their information and entertainment needs, the way that we engage with them changes too. We now have the opportunity to follow, subscribe, or bookmark content that interests us, with little or no effort, once we’ve found it. As a result, consumers are more informed than ever before, and have higher expectations when it comes to marketing, as they expect relevant, engaging content, without any paid interuptions, or irritating commercial breaks.

To ensure that our customers feel that they’re always in the loop, and that their needs are being met, marketers should re-evaluate their traditional advertising tools, such as TV commercials, print ads, and web banners, and look for new ways to engage with customers.

The way we engage with customers may well change again in the coming years, as algorithms that determine what content we see, based on our interests and behaviors, evolve to fit the times we live in.