8 Game-changing Approaches For Solving A Marketing Plateau

When a company starts seeing its first successes in a marketing strategy, it feels exciting. Growth can be massive and exponential at the start, but over time, the massive numbers can start to taper off. The longer you hold onto any one marketing strategy or tactic, the less an audience might be engaged in your marketing.

AdAge

When this happens, the first instinct of marketing professionals is to look at where the existing strategy can be improved. The better approach might be to shake things up a bit and change tactics completely. Switching up your marketing has the benefit of taking your audience by surprise while remaining interesting to your existing customers. The approach you bring to the switch-up of tactics can make it much easier to get those numbers growing again.

These eight thought leaders from Ad Age Collective have experience with switching up marketing strategies when things get stale. We asked them about the most game-changing plans they’ve encountered in careers. Here’s what they had to tell us.

1. Diversify your presence.
Treat marketing activities with the same sound advice one gets from a financial adviser: diversify your investments. Marketing channels ebb and flow in popularity influenced by external factors. Establish a presence in digital, print, audio, video and real-time channels and watch your metrics daily so you can respond to spikes in preferences to be exactly where your audience is, and when. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

2. Test new messaging and creatives.
When we lose momentum, a game-changer for us is testing new messaging and creatives. Messages can get stale and creative trends change over time. Mixing up the creatives and messaging gives something new to excite existing audiences while potentially reaching new audiences. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

3. Explore testing into new audiences.
Explore testing into new audiences. Brands love to go after millennials, but women over 50 account for 27 percent of all consumer spending. Through customized creative and targeting via paid media channels, you can reach new, untapped customers to drive your business forward. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Look for tactics with a large audience.
Once you have plateaued in your marketing and have harvested all the “low-hanging fruit” per se, look for marketing tactics that have a very large audience. For example, consider offline channels, sponsorships or even influencers to boost your public persona and develop a larger identity for your brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Automate your processes.
Automating your processes can be a game changer for marketing, especially when you plateau. There are always areas to improve, and to save on time and money. If you have the appropriate software collecting relevant data and analyzing it, then it saves time for the web developers and can offer new opportunities to review data. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. Create a flywheel or compound effect.
Try to create a flywheel or compound effect with your marketing. Many marketing activities don’t get more efficient with time, but those that do are game changers. Loyalty programs, user groups, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations and influencer marketing are all areas to consider but are not an exhaustive list of potential flywheel marketing initiatives. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

7. Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes.
Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes and identify another area of their day-to-day lives you can be a part of. It may be simply marketing on a different channel or platform or looking to partner with like-minded brands that are important to your audience. If you have plateaued in one area, don’t abandon it. Keep that message going but identify that other point where the audience can find you. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

8. Go back to basics.
It may be counterintuitive, but I find that going back to basics can take you forward. Whenever I feel like my marketing efforts have become stale, it’s because I have over-complicated things. So, I go back to fundamentals. What do people want? What are their pain points? And then I listen to them on social media and frame content that answers their needs. Simple changes are all that’s needed. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8 Emerging E-commerce Trends Marketing Experts Are Excited About

Trends come and go like the ebb and flow of a tide. It seems like with each new quarter we see e-commerce trends on the horizon that might have a massive impact on various industries. Companies that can spot these trends before they hit the mainstream can capitalize on their new knowledge. Because of how quickly trends can gain traction, a company that can prepare or pivot into a trend before everyone else can see a lot of engagement from their core audience. However, the key is figuring out which trends are the exciting ones.

AdAge Collective

In particular, e-commerce trends can be particularly fickle. Emerging trends, the ones that haven’t reached critical mass yet, are the ones that businesses should spend their focus on. An emerging e-commerce trend, if caught on the rise, can catapult a company’s popularity. When you find the most exciting emerging trends, you’re almost guaranteed to be the talk of the town.

These eight entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have become quite adept at spotting emerging trends and picking out the most exciting ones from the bunch. We asked them about the most recent emerging trends in e-commerce that we should be aware of. Their responses are below.

1. COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator
A trend I noticed is COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator. Huge brands had to dive into the direct-to-consumer (DTC) playbook. Mega-retailers being “forced” into e-tailing now are finding they can activate customers at mega-scale via video ads, gaining positive attribution analytics leading to redistribution of and more sales productivity for their marketing spend. – Sean Cunningham, VAB

2. Personalization improving the online shopping experience
E-commerce personalization will improve the online shopping experience. Customers want to feel cared for, especially when they are looking for a particular product. Algorithms can assist with making webpages, emails and even advertisements more personal. When the algorithms are properly trained, then businesses can use them to win over customers. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

3. Exponential growth of online grocery and last mile delivery
The greatest e-commerce impact of COVID-19 is the exponential growth in online grocery and last mile delivery. Consumer volume increased as advertising opportunities for brands beyond perishables have expanded. Now beauty, alcohol, OTC and other center-aisle categories must build strategies for “the third shelf.” – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Shopify’s integration with the Walmart Marketplace
Shopify’s integration into the Walmart Marketplace is big news. This sets up a positive network effect for Walmart, Shopify and Shopify’s sellers — more audience for Shopify and its sellers, more product diversity and revenue for Walmart to compete with Amazon. By linking advertising closely with demand, this will make the Walmart advertising platform more powerful for some advertisers. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. ML and AI for customer service increasing velocity
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service will help increase e-commerce velocity. Customer service is often an underfunded necessary evil for e-commerce brands, particularly when a burst of operational issues inevitably arise. Resolving customer challenges at scale keeps customers coming back because customers want to talk to “someone” who can resolve issues in real time. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. The rise of the curbside delivery concept
The game has changed completely for businesses that rely on in-person activity for revenue, such as restaurants, bars and events. The concept of “curbside delivery” has opened up new possibilities for taking a piece of that experience away to recreate in new and different environments. The more creative a brand is, the more they can still meet customer needs regardless of our changing world. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7. Growing importance of voice search
Voice search is coming, but it’s being ignored. With the rise of virtual assistants, e-commerce has been quick to understand the implications. When a consumer can order a product by simply saying “Hey Alexa, order X,” that changes everything from the standard web and/or social search. Marketers need to understand that voice is a completely different game to SEO — adopt voice early and they’ll be ready. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8. The surge of in-home training and mindfulness platforms
An exciting trend to watch emerge has been the surge of in-home gym equipment, virtual personal trainers and mindfulness platforms which allow people to feel part of a community without having to meet in person. This is a big area of opportunity for both the consumer and the advertising industry. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7 Smart Ways To Assess The Quality Of Your Brand’s Content

Anyone in or adjacent to the marketing world knows that “content is king.” Everything you create and share with the public should always be of high quality, as it’s a representation of your brand and is what will draw people to your business. But with a never-ending demand for branded content on your blog, social media channels and website, how can you be sure that each piece is top-notch before it goes out?

AdAge Collective

We asked the members of Ad Age Collective to share some unique ways to gauge the quality of your work before it gets published. Here’s how they recommend assessing your content.

1. Set clear standards.
In order to assess anything, you need to have clear standards. This goes for content as well. So, create a clear set of standards that cover things like tone, visual elements, key messages, restricted topics, etc. Standards may need to vary by media type. Then, the key is to have someone other than the content producer assess the content against the standards. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

2. Make content on-brand, on-strategy and interesting.
High-quality content, like all marketing, answers three questions with a resounding “yes.” Is it on-strategy? It must have a clearly defined goal, target audience, etc. Is it on-brand? From logo usage to the tone of the messaging, it must look, feel and sound consistent. Is it interesting? It must be unmissable and unskippable, which is easier said than done. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

3. Show the true worth of your content.
Make sure your audience can see the true worth of your content by making it different and clearly better than the competition. Connect to solutions people seek now, and show the impact it will make on key profit and loss line items. Once that happens, then your content quality is above par and it puts you on the path to being one-of-one (and not one-of-many). – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

4. Read it out loud.
This is such a simple step, but reading your content aloud helps you understand how it sounds to others. You’ll find any awkward phrasing or repeated words. Hearing your content spoken aloud also gives you the chance to assess if it’s conversational. It becomes easier to make changes to make it sound better. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

5. Test it out with a focus group.
Test your content and images with simple online focus groups to quickly see what resonates the best. This will help you determine which content is of the highest quality and connects best with your audience for the brand message you are trying to project. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Put it in front of non-marketers.
Content is primarily the function of the marketing department. The risk is that piece of content comes across as too salesy or bloated when it comes solely from a marketing team without vetting. A good quick trick to see if your content is quality is putting it in front of other team members before publishing. My personal favorite: engineers. They’ll always tell you if a message is grounded enough. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7. Make sure the right consumers see it.
Part of producing quality content is ensuring it resonates with the right consumers, but equally important is making sure they see it. When producing content, writers and promoters need to be on the same page about distribution, what part of the funnel it represents and what persona it targets. This plan, produced for all content, is a prerequisite for reach and efficacy, and therefore also quality. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6 Exciting Publishing Trends Ad Professionals Want To See In 2020

It’s a new year and decade, and experts across all industries are waiting to see if their predictions for 2020 trends will come to fruition. The digital publishing landscape is no exception — professionals in advertising and media have a lot of ideas about what’s coming this year. What’s more, these predicted trends have the potential to leave a significant impact on marketers and content creators.

Six Publishing Trends for 2020

To give you a better idea of what may lie ahead in the content publishing world, we asked the members of Ad Age Collective about the trends they hope to see this year. From increased live video to more interactive content, keep an eye on your digital feeds for these six things.

1. Live video surpassing recorded video

2019 was the year companies really dove deep into video. The problem? A tidal wave of corporatized videos that all sounded the same — clean in appearance, but stale in content. In 2020, recorded video will decline as consumers become suspicious of overly polished videos. Instead, companies will turn to live video as a medium to publish content and engage consumers in a more authentic way. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

2. Quality over quantity

I keep wondering when we’re going to find the end of the internet or when the servers are going to say, “drive full.” I hope 2020 will be the year of less content and more substance. Write excellent stories once a month or quarter instead of “producing content” weekly. Don’t produce to occupy an audience; select one amazing idea and move them to action. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

3. More interactive content

Interactive content lets you engage with customers in a more meaningful way. Customers participate in creating content instead of just consuming it. More interactions will help us understand customers better and connect with them, which will help businesses provide better services and more helpful products. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Removing ‘likes’

The testing of removing “likes” from social media would be a game-changer in the industry. Not only would it remove some of the negative impacts affecting society, but it would also even out the influencer market so only true influencers would work and those with fictional followers would go by the wayside. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

5. Consistent monetization models for traffic

This year is going to expand the trend of publishers looking for ways to monetize their traffic. Publishers have toyed with models such as affiliate revenue and product development, with each having its pluses and minuses. 2020 will be the year where publishers finally figure out some consistent methods of monetizing their traffic. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE

6. Scale of attention

Unprecedented consumer athleticism with devices and distribution has transformed an advertiser’s customer base into a full population of relentless video content editors and publishers. Anyone can sort through a sea of sameness in seconds to get to where their video attention is placed on “hold.” The great news is that the video content being consumed and shared is like a food group to consumers. Look for the individual stories, characters and events that are being “eaten” in real scale (in millions) by real consumers and make the most of technology tools to reach the appropriate audiences for your brand. Scale of attention will differentiate great content in 2020, in real-time, capturing everybody’s appetite. – Sean Cunningham, VAB