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Marketing has always been a field focused on proactive outreach and consistent innovation, and this year is no different. Digital marketing approaches have already approached ubiquity in the past few years – it’s almost impossible to find a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer without an online presence – but even that online landscape is continuously changing, usually requiring retailers to adapt and improve their strategies. Here are 3 of the most significant developments that should be considered.

1. Data is Supreme

It should come as no surprise that data is still the most important resource in a modern marketer’s toolkit, and methods of collecting and parsing data are more widespread and sophisticated than ever. Modern customers, especially younger customers, are increasingly disaffected in terms of brand relationships and don’t respond as well as older generations to traditional mass marketing. Social media engagement and an ever-increasing affinity for personalization and individually-tailored techniques are how customers are more typically engaging with brands lately. In order to effectively attract and serve potential customers through this model, brands and retailers must make extensive use of all available data to ensure a satisfying and unique experience for as many customers as possible, in order to achieve maximum engagement and return on investment.

2. Automation is Indispensable

Data is important, but you need to know what to do with it – and how – in order to utilize it to its fullest potential. Human brains are excellent at parsing and decoding data, but for large and growing brands and retailers, the potential amount of data is absolutely massive, and there’s almost no way that even a dedicated team of people can make sufficient sense of all the information pouring in. That’s why today’s marketing gurus generally agree that sophisticated implementation of automation techniques is key to success when using data. Automation can also be useful for analyzing engagement and evaluating the success of marketing strategies. For example, let’s say your business is scented candles – you can find customers who’ve bought similar products recently, but there are a lot of different kinds of fragrance products, high-end and low-end, and there may be other factors such as branding or gift purchases. It may be necessary to parse the available purchase history of individual customers, and even continue to measure engagement and effectiveness post-outreach. This would be an absolute headache without automation tools, and through their use, human employees are freed up to work on creating more high-quality content.

3. Data is Become More Expensive and Less Accessible

The supremacy of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook has had almost a monopolizing effect on the availability of the afrementioned data. As social media platforms grow and are increasingly utilized for organic brand outreach, they are able to charge more and more for the opportunity for retailers and brands to use their platforms in order to reach customers. Especially given that these companies control search engines and online storefronts – and make their fortunes increasingly in the collection of data – gaining access to that valuable data is becoming increasingly difficult. There is no easy solution to this development, other than more focused marketing spending and potentially more direct customer outreach, but businesses are going to have to find ways to adapt in order to succeed in the face of these recent changes in the modern landscape.