Biggest Marketing Lessons Learned in 2018

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In 2018, marketers sought expert advice to help solve their most challenging content problems. As we’ve supported brands with their marketing strategy, we’ve also learned several lessons along the way. We’d like to share our take on the biggest marketing lessons from 2018.

Content defines marketing efforts

Content is the single most important driving force that begins the conversation between customers and your brand.  It’s the MUST-have gateway to building relationships with your target audience. As brands invest more resources into their content marketing strategy, the value placed on customer communications is apparent.

Customers trust content from other customers, not ads

Consumers and their attitudes toward advertising have shifted. The truth is, customers trust content from other customers. 84% of millennials say they don’t like or trust traditional advertising – this shift is undeniable. Brands are realizing the power of leveraging content from their target audience, or user generated content or UGC.. This enables brands to connect with their customers on an emotional level, as UGC is as authentic as it gets.  This also allows marketers to empower their target audience to produce socially shareable content, which keeps their customers at the core of their marketing strategy.

Content discovery is changing

In 2018 we saw newer technology, such as voice search and visuals, become more instrumental in how consumers discovered content. Customers continue to find alternative ways to discover and consume content, which is something worthy of any marketer’s attention. Brands need to prepare for these new search alternatives by producing different types of content, at higher volumes, for segmented  audiences.

Unlike text-based search that uses one to three keywords, customers are now using natural questions when searching by voice. Aligning your content with Google’s displayed search query answers increases the chance that searching users will discover your Featured Snippet and navigate to your website. This is the key to marketing for voice search. It’s been said that more than half of marketers increased their use of image-based content — a clear indication that marketers need to continually prioritize their content to ensure its effectiveness.

Creativity and personalization differentiates successful brands from the noise

Creativity and personalization will continue to revolutionize the way marketers connect with their target audience. It’s necessary for marketers to try new personalization methods and continually think outside the box. This is critical to differentiating a brand’s message and grabbing people’s attention.  Marketing is no longer about proficiently using traditional channels, but rather constantly innovating and utilizing creative solutions to maximize ROI.

Marketers should consider using integrated campaigns and finding creative methods to distribute content that focuses on engaging their audience. Equally important to creating a competitive advantage is understanding what content customers find valuable, in ways competitors aren’t considering. The ultimate goal is to uncover opportunities that provide value through personalized content. Continual creativity and personalization that increases customer engagement and loyalty should be at the forefront of any marketers approach.

Authenticity and customer success can help restore weakened relationships from automation

Automation has allowed marketers to expand their reach and make internal processes more efficient. At the same time, automation tools aren’t always used with care, and could remove authenticity from a brand’s marketing communications. Customers expect brands to communicate with them in the ways they prefer. Marketers need to be diligent in understanding their customers’ communication preferences, and this is where customer success excels. Some experts suggest companies should foster a more cohesive relationship between marketing and customer success teams, to help strengthen customer relationships that may have been compromised through casual use of automation.

Customer Success and Marketing strategies should align

Customer success is defined by personalized support and demonstrates the most value to customers from their investment in products and services. A more tailored customer approach also encourages word-of-mouth marketing, that develops stronger relationships, and promotes organic growth. These two teams align when Marketing drives interactions and equip customers for success with authentic content, like UGC. The goal of UGC is to optimize marketing collateral and empower customers to solve problems on their own. This frees up resources that can be reinvested into growing the brand.

A flexible content strategy is critical

With continual shifts in the way buyers discover new products, we saw some brands had a rigid, simplified marketing strategy to support all their efforts, including content. According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. In most of these cases, these strategies didn’t allow for flexibility to accommodate a sudden change in content needs. We believe it’s critical to have a flexible content strategy, so brand content can be utilized across multiple campaigns and departments.

TINT helped brands accomplish their marketing initiatives in 2018 by adopting our rights request feature to push approved UGC into a Digital Management Asset platforms, like Widen. This made it easy for brands to use content across departments, resulting in a  more flexible content strategy overall. Brands also looked to TINT as a solution for authentic, always on content, to help identify their goals and develop flexible, successful content strategies.

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Originally published November 28, 2018, updated November 30, 2018Posted in Marketing