As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year in digital marketing—so much has happened this year, both inside and outside of the industry. While you’re trying to make sense of all the crazy headlines that filled the news during the past 12 months (and digesting all the cookies you ate at the office holiday party) we’re digging into events like a new Google AdWords interface, the overturn of net neutrality, and the ubiquitous adoption of voice-activated assistants like Alexa. That being said, we all know that digital marketing is ever-changing and will likely change even more in 2018. Advertisements pop up in new channels and places every day. But one thing that never changes is the need to understand and appropriately target your consumers. This is why our biggest insight from 2017 is the need to constantly create consumer-focused marketing strategies even when everything else in the industry seems to be changing.
Advertising now appears in Facebook messenger, Google Home and more—but it also has to become more granular in targeting consumers if it wants to remain effective, especially as many millennials and other shoppers become increasingly distrustful of traditional marketing. In 2015, 84% of millennials said that they didn’t trust traditional advertising, which may correspond to a drop in trust for media, business and government. People do, however, show trust for brands who work to establish a personal connection.
One of the biggest players in this new type of advertising game is Spotify. The music streaming powerhouse, whose listener base is 72% millennials, is able to dial in on consumer preferences through the kinds of songs consumers listen to and the types of playlists they make. The company tracks and analyzes all of this data to understand trends and remarket to their fanbase. At the end of every calendar year they send every listener an email linking to a customized playlist filled with that listener’s most-played songs (I was embarrassed to see how much I listened to the La La Land soundtrack), as well as a “Ones That Got Away” playlist highlighting similar tracks. As a consumer it’s ridiculously hard to resist clicking through the email to see and replay your year’s obsessions in music, and it caters to each person’s exact preferences. In addition, Spotify breaks down their strangest consumer habits to make these catchy billboard advertisements:
Spotify loyalists can all see their own music idiosyncrasies reflected in these ads, as well as popular cultural references. But the ads represent more than this—at their core they highlight the consumer, not the brand. They’re not shoving traditional “Buy now” messaging at the viewer. And this relates to Spotify’s overall brand goal—focus on people, not data points.
So how can you apply this idea if you’re not a multi-billion-dollar company? Here’s the answer: by listening to your customers. And one major step you can take to achieve this goal, if you haven’t already, is connecting with your followers on social media. It’s not enough to simply throw up a few Facebook posts and then turn a blind eye to the comments—make sure you’re actively responding to as many comments as possible, with gratitude for those that express loyalty and a genuine apology and assistance for those that express aggravations. You can even reach out to loyal fans with a personalized coupon, or engage in a Twitter conversation with customers (though we can’t all be as funny as DiGiorno Pizza).
In addition, see what others are saying about your company—either on social media or elsewhere—and take their thoughts into consideration as best you can. In the midst of A/B tests and influencer campaigns, make sure your consumer’s voice is still driving everything you do. Make sure your ads are tailored to them—and if you’re not sure how to do that while still maintaining a strong call to action, we’re here to help. Here’s to strong marketing performance—and customer relationships—in 2018.