The job of a CMO has never been more difficult. Consumers are spending a huge part of their lives in a virtual world, powered by digital content and social media feeds. We might be using the same fiber optic cables, but the shape and form of the content we send through these digital pipelines is changing at the speed of light.
The social media landscape is changing dramatically. Facebook is losing ground to Reddit among millennials – an interesting trend that was predictable in 2013 and has gone into overdrive with recent news stories highlighting how vulnerable Facebook activity is to intrusion by third parties.
The shifting sands have prompted headlines claiming we are experiencing a generational shift in how we interact online. They draw comparisons to how Myspace was gutted by Facebook and other platforms that evolved much more quickly. If this is true, there are two key lessons that matter:
Peering behind the digital curtain, you might wonder which comes first – evolution or change. Did Twitter expand their character limit to accommodate a changing role for their platform, or has the character limit increase spurred a change in how we communicate?
CMOs don't need the distraction of understanding "why." That's a question for historians, because by the time it's been answered, the shift has already happened. If they have their finger on the pulse of "how," they can react to change in progress and meet the market where it is.
As a freelance marketer, I've come to respect that an advertising campaign is the result of two powerful forces: (1) the preconceived notions of the marketing guru that puts the project together, and (2) the definable habits of the target audience. Today it seems like there are as many marketing professionals as there are stars in the sky. So, let's focus on the second force - the habits of the target audience.
To accommodate the habits of a diverse target audience, savvy marketers are presenting the same collection of digital artifacts in a variety of formats. If you were to try and create completely original content for every digital medium out there, you would balloon the cost of the campaign to the point of insanity.
For an example, let's pretend that you needed to market a new line of women's shoes, designed for fashion-conscious women of all ages. Your first step is going to be a professional photo shoot with the shoes. Some of the photos will have models showing how they play into a trendy outfit, while other photos will be focused on helping an online shopper get a clear idea of how the products look from various angles.
Once the photos are optimized, it's time to shoot a few fivw-second video clips or animations for social feeds, along with a longer set of videos for YouTube and other video sites. At this stage, you've invested more than a few thousand dollars in producing your digital media artifacts for this campaign. The next step is deploying these artifacts in a way that connects with the target audience, based on their digital habits.
Remember, these habits are changing at the speed of light. So, you can't put all of your eggs in one or two paid advertising channels. If I were in your shoes (pun intended), I would crank out a variety of social ads designed to speak to specific types of consumers. I'd make sure that our video content included an influencer showing off how the products fit their lifestyle.
But the problem is that once you get beyond a certain age group, it becomes more difficult to reach them on social media and online video. For example, what about your old-school catalogue shopper that's still transitioning from mail-in catalogues to shopping on an iPad?
Flipsnack has a nifty online catalogue maker that lets your team quickly import your artifacts into a versatile format that is familiar to more traditional offline shoppers. If you can place your product at the crossroads of an elderly customer that is transitioning to an online shopper, you will greatly expand your potential market. And the good news is that older customers have deeper pockets than other market segments.
In conclusion, CMOs shouldn't fear a changing digital landscape. A variety of digital marketing platforms can be used to help offset uncertainty. And the engagement data that comes back from your campaigns will help you fine tune your next push.