Marketing your business online is getting more challenging. Never before has the landscape of the online marketing platform changed so fast and so drastically. Though I am writing this article about challenges we are facing in 2017, there are even more nuanced challenges creeping up almost daily. Each individual market faces its own unique set of challenges. In this article, I will take a cruising altitude approach to what I have been experiencing as online marketing challenges this year.
We live in a world where our real life communities are shrinking and our online communities are growing, businesses need to adapt, or they will quickly get passed up by companies that have their finger firmly on the pulse of online marketing.
Online marketing consists of any method of reaching your potential customer. Though there are many facets of online marketing, most can be categorized under a certain class or practice.
Types Of Online Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
This encompasses some of SEO, Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising, and Display Marketing.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO typically refers to marketing and optimization done to a website to assist it in ranking better in organic search.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Marketing on social media such as Facebook through created content, ads, or both.
- Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing can include Email Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Referral Marketing, and Video Marketing.
This is not an exhaustive list of the different ways you can market online, but even this short list can be daunting to consider because there are so many facets within each marketing category. There are entire conferences dedicated to each of these marketing types. I attend one of the Top SEO Conferences each year to learn first hand from those with more experience than I.
Arming yourself with a good understanding of these marketing methods is great, but it takes a true practitioner to recognize challenges and overcome them as they are hit with them.
In this article, I am touching on general issues that marketers face often. These concepts are not new to 2017 alone, but there are unique aspects of each concept that apply to what we are facing in 2017. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.
There have never been more avenues for reaching new customers. Every day there are new apps, services, solutions, and more that launch with the goal of solving the most niche issue marketers face. It’s crazy. At the MarTech Conference (MarTech Conference is dedicated to the intersection between Marketing and Technology) in San Francisco earlier this year, Scott Brinker and Anand Thacker debuted the updated MarTech Landscape for 2017, a graphic showcasing all of the products and software dedicated to helping people market. It is overwhelming, to say the least. There has never before been more confusion over what solution to use to reach new customers.
Not only is there a ton of noise when it comes to choosing a solution for marketing your company, the consumers are hit with more noise from marketers than ever before. Everything is marketing to us, even the products we already own. When you open your pantry to decide which cereal to consume, the boxes are marketing to you to choose them over their neighbor. We scroll past dozens of ads every minute on Facebook. Instagram has done a great job of integrating ads into our feed of photos from our friends. Our friends’ photos are showcasing products they are consuming.
Some forms of marketing are more noticeable and some are extremely subtle. It’s all noise that we have to cut through somehow. This year has brought new noise and given us, even more, decisions on how to reach our customers.
On the flip side of that, more choices mean being able to more closely target our ideal customers. Knowing what kind of websites, social media, forums, online stores, and games our customers consume can help us better make marketing decisions that cut through some of the noise.
There are more distractions than ever before that add to the noise I mentioned in the previous point. We are distracted people with TV shows we are consuming while we scroll content on our phones. We even went from consuming content on a big screen down to a tiny screen that narrows our field of view even more. As we walk down the road we are looking at our phones rather than ads plastered on the wall. When we are on an actual computer, we have multiple tabs open in
When we are on an actual computer, we have multiple tabs open in our web browsers. While jumping between multiple tabs we may also have a company chat app open, and our email. We get dozens of emails each day marketing to us. Many of which we ignore.
These distractions are changing our brains and forcing us to adapt to stay on the task at hand. Overcoming distraction is going to be a huge thing companies are going to have to figure out this year and in to the future.
Netflix knew that people love watching tv shows so to keep people on their platform they started to produce their own shows that have become more popular than many of the network shows. Netflix had to overcome the distraction and other networks are following in Netflix’s footsteps. It’s not anything new. HBO has been doing this for ages since it realized that people can get access to newer movies elsewhere.
The attention span of our customers is getting shorter and more guided. As I mentioned before, there is more noise than ever before and we have more options. The amount of stuff we have to cut through to get to content that we actually care about is getting thicker. It’s not just marketing content we have to scroll past its content from people we know that we are not interested in seeing. Think about how long you have to scroll Facebook before you get to something you are interested in interacting with or how many photos on Instagram you scroll past before finding one you actually want to like or comment on.
Our attention spans are shorter because they have to be. We can’t give everything coming at us our undivided attention or we would never get anything accomplished. In all reality, it’s a survival method. We are adapting to our environments as they change around us. The challenge we face as marketers is to find a way to reach our customers in a way that they will pay attention to. This means getting to know what our customers are interested in and creating unique content to put in their path.
Online Marketing has never been more expensive. Even with new tools to make us more effective as marketers, the cost of entry still grows. Personal Injury Attorneys trying to reach new clients through ads on Google are paying over $200 for a single click to their website. It’s insane. You can spend less by narrowing your targeting, but that results in reaching fewer people. There is a constant trade off when you try to save money with marketing.
We are living in a pay-to-play era in online marketing. The Googles and Facebooks of the world are tightening down their free offerings to make more room for paid marketing solutions. Google search has less room for organic search results than ever before. Facebook has made it almost impossible to reach people who “like” your business’ page unless you spend money on ads.
If you have a budget you need to stay within, online marketing is going to take more of your time than ever before. You used to be able to turn on the Google Adwords fire hose and hit enough customers to produce a decent return on investment (ROI), but that is not the case these days. The cost is so high that nobody can afford to turn on the firehose and hold on for dear life.
Effectively reaching your customers means crafting targeted marketing messages and promoting them in the right way. One marketing message is not going to cut it these days before our customers have become so diverse in their likes and dislikes. This means we can’t simply create an ad for our male customers and an ad for our female customers anymore. We have to create an ad that specifically reaches our male customer who is 25-35 years old, has a college education, watches UFC, enjoys CrossFit, likes craft beer, and only eats cheeseburgers made from grass fed beef. It’s pretty crazy to know that we could target someone with interests so specific, but it is also very time consuming to do so.
Online Marketing in 2017 is going to require a lot more time than ever before. Over the past few years, we have seen marketing teams in some of the nations larger companies explode in size. E. & J. Gallo Winery is located in my hometown and their marketing team for their large variety of brands is growing day by day. It seems like everybody I know works for Gallo in one of their marketing departments.
Marketing is not getting any easier, but it is. If you are a niche brand trying to market to a specific person with specific likes and dislikes, the tools we have these days make it extremely easy to do so. However, if you are a company that needs to reach a diversified community, you are going to have to create multiple marketing messages to reach each demographic’s specifics. Demographics are not simply location, gender, age, education, and marital status anymore. Demographics is the top of the funnel. As you begin to look at the specifics of your market you are working at the psychographic level. This is where things really start to get interesting and marketing becomes fun again.
What are some of the challenges you face in online marketing in 2017? Share with us in the comment section below or on social media.
As always, feel free to reach out to us if there is anything we can do to help you reach your target market online.