Brands have been waiting for the lockdown to end to start pumping money back into creating conversations and building engagement. They’re saving up the annual budgets for later, hoping that market gets back to normal & consumers start purchasing in order to justify ROI. With a lot of stock stuck in the pipeline, there’s going to be an almost frantic rush of brands trying to grab the consumer’s attention and push him/her into buying. And most marketers will turn to digital marketing to get quick returns. Yes, that’s where performance marketing comes into the picture. However, it’s not the old way of running automated campaigns and bidding on the keyword that’s going to be enough. There’s going to be a demand for Performance Marketing 2.0 – Strategic, human behavior centers performance marketing and not just data and platform led.
Here are our predictions on the future of performance marketing post Covid-19:
- More integrated sales funnel – Most brands have multiple systems that run in silos – the CRM tool, social listening tool, retail store sales data, eCommerce sales data but there are very few companies that have integrated these. As life returns to normal, tool integration will remain in focus. Brands would want to measure the efficacy of their spends as accurately as possible by integrating them with metrics like Brand Preference Scores. Vanity KPI metrics will go away for better and more accurate tracking. However, for this, a lot of brands will need to invest in technology that allows them to do this. For the brands that are growing, it may be an easy call but for the brands who are pinching their pockets, this may still be far away.
- Increased spends on digital – As media becomes expensive, tracking becomes imperative, and hence more marketers turn to digital. Digital advertising is going to see a boom in India post Covid-19 lockdown ends and India limps back to normalcy. This is because the content formats allow for quicker turn-around of the advertisements with accuracy in measurement.
- Increased investment in programmatic buying – Programmatic advertising was gaining popularity before Covid-19 struck. Our prediction is that it will pick pace if vendors decide to lower the guaranteed spends required. However, what remains a challenge with programmatic is the need for understanding data. Unless brands hire resources, who can understand and analyze data, programmatic will remain under-utilized.
- Newer ways of calculating ROI – CPC, CPV, and CPM are redundant measures for calculating ROI. CAC scores were popular only for eCommerce sites. Marketers and brands will now start measuring ROI in terms of actual sales, repeat purchases, duration of conversion and how quickly did people move through the different levels of the conversion funnel.
- Agencies working on a “Conversion Guarantee fee or free” model – With such stiff competition in the market, a lot of agencies will start offering promises of guaranteed results and work with revenue sharing models. A lot of start-ups were anyway using ‘skin in the game’ to get their agencies to work for them and get paid for delivering results. This will now percolate even to the bigger companies, which will increase pressure on the performance marketing agencies and growth hackers to deliver results.
However, if everyone aims to pump in monies towards the end of Q1, there’s bound to be advertising clutter. How do you break this clutter? How do you ensure maximum impact and higher ROI? Let’s take a look at what we think digital marketers should focus on.
- Targeting: Targeting has always been about demographics + in-market segmentations at best. But now, marketers will need to segment their audiences with more than just age, gender, location & interests. But this is not the most foolproof method since all your competitors would be doing the same thing. Here’s how we recommend you segment your audience base:
- Start by segmenting your audience based on usage and attitudes towards your category. Understand the innate reasons for these attitudinal patterns
- Add a layer of demographics on top of these segments
- Create personas by identifying barriers for conversion for each of the segments
Why do we think this is needed? When the same set of audiences is seeing the ad for your brand, your competitor’s brand, and 10 different categories, you need to get the best returns on your investment and that is possible only by identifying the most profitable segment for targeting. Remember, what’s huge in quantity may not be the most profitable. You may spend more on targeting a niche segment but if the conversion for the cohort is higher, it’s money well-spent.
- Content: This becomes one of the most important elements for running your ad and has multiple elements that you, as a marketer will need to consider.
- Messaging: In the post-COVID-19 world, when all of us would have faced content fatigue, messaging will become of utmost importance while serving an ad. Unfortunately, the most over-looked part of the performance marketing strategy is messaging. Due to the character restrictions and the sheer number of pieces that the copywriter has to write and the designer needs to creates (sizes, formats etc.), messaging always gets the stepchild treatment. However, there’s a far more deep-seated reason why the messaging is always cliched and not very impactful – not knowing the audience. Until we’ve identified everything about the cohort & understood their barriers, only then can we identify the trigger for conversion. If as marketers, we are not able to work on the messaging of the ad copy, the conversion rate will remain poor, no matter how many segments and personas we create. Remember, each segment, each persona, each sub-persona will require a separate message. Do not shy away from the painstaking process of creating multiple copies & creatives and running test campaigns to get better results
- Content Types: Yes, digital marketers and platforms have been pushing us to keep trying newer forms of content and encourage us to create dynamic content. Yes, Content is King but the content type is what gets you the attention. Be present in as many content types as possible. Create videos, audios, static images, GIFs. Use Facebook canvas and carousels. All forms of dynamic content give you more space to tell your story but remember, if your story is not strong, no content type can save you.
- Do not ignore SEO. While the paid game has to be strong initially, organic growth is what brands should be aiming for. Think SEO with a filter of performance. Write your content based on what your end consumer will look for. Look beyond category keywords and think like a human being searching for your category for through various stages of the conversion funnel and write content accordingly.
- Go Local: Regional Language advertising is the best bet for quicker conversion. Invest in building a team of copywriters who can write effectively in local languages. Do not get English copies translated. Translations do not work. What we’d suggest all brands get into DCO (Dynamic Creative Optimization). Invest in tools that will help you churn this out faster.
- Media Platforms – Marketers are genuinely spoilt for choice when it comes to media vehicles to choose from. There are OTT platforms, social media apps, gaming apps, emailers, audience networks, independent blogs and websites, eCommerce stores… The list is endless. How do you choose the right platforms to advertise on? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing the media mix:Are you blanket bombing on all platforms where your audience is present and hoping that they will see it and click on it? Is this the best solution always? Don’t diss this, at times it works
- Are you present on a platform that is not related to your category directly but if the communication is crafted well, the platform can work for you?
- Is the platform seemingly expensive but has a better quality of audience that has a higher chance of conversion?
- Which platform will be the anchor platform for which part of the marketing funnel?
- What is the platform journey? How can you use the platform to work for you instead of you working on the platform?
- Marketing Funnel – The funnel of conversion will change post-COVID-19. How? Well, wait for a separate blog on this to find out.
What can brands, who do not want to invest or have not yet invested in Martech and who do not have data analysts on-board do in such times?
- Do an in-depth & continuous competition analysis. Competition is already spending a lot of money on identifying what’s working and what’s not. Use their intelligence to serve yourself better. However, also identify space for yourself and your brand. Mimicking is the worst possible thing you’ll do in all this content clutter
- Go beyond the obvious. As a strategy consultancy, we’ve learned that the answers lie with the consumers itself. Deploy quick and innovative solutions like marrying social listening with category semiotics to arrive at search insights and content strategy.
- Find a partner to help you collate ALL your data and make sense out of it. It may sound expensive but it actually ends up saving costs for you in the long run. Most of the insights are sitting in your resource library, waiting to be opened up and read in conjunction with other reports. Get partners, who are experts are reading human behavior, to go through the data and provide instigations
- Collaboration. Bring your creative team, media team, marketing team, and sales team on the same table. Having facilitated quite a few of these collaborations, we have seen some amazing results being delivered when everyone is involved and there’s a sense of ownership towards the same goal.