When developing a digital marketing strategy, it’s vital to account for the preferences and behaviors of the audience you’re trying to engage with. That may sound like a simple point, but in actual practice, aligning strategy with audience can be a challenge. That’s because consumer trends are in a constant state of flux, which means that marketers must be nimble and adaptive.
Certainly, the past couple of years have brought some significant disruptions to consumer trends. How can marketers respond in kind? Consider just a few basic tips and guidelines.
Shift to Digital
Since the early months of 2020, we’ve seen a massive shift toward digital. This historic shift is something marketers should keep an eye on, because it continues to have subtle implications for consumer behavior. Here are three ways in which we’ve detected a seismic impact from the shift to digital:
- Consumers are spending more time engaging with digital media. The metrics on this are pretty clear: There’s been a significant year-over-year rise in the amount of time consumers spend on digital media. Health concerns, lockdowns, and general shifts in behavior have led more and more people to stay at home streaming content on connected devices. Online streaming and even online fitness are just going to keep rising in the years to come.
- Consumers are cutting the cord. Cord-cutting isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s certainly picked up over the past couple of years. With more and more consumers subscribing to streaming platforms, cord-cutting is really the wave of the future.
- Consumers are embracing e-commerce. Again, e-commerce isn’t new, but there has been an unmistakable surge in popularity. Simply put, more people are staying at home, which means they’re doing their shopping online. The past year saw a massive spike in e-commerce sales, while brick-and-mortar stores have seen business taper off.
Choose the Right Channels
In conjunction with the shift to digital, a couple of channels have really gained in prominence and significance. As you consider the best places to invest your digital marketing dollars, it’s crucial to consider programmatic audio and connected TV.
With more people working from home, audio entertainment is on the rise. Remote employees often stream music, listen to digital radio stations, or tune in to podcasts while they’re working from their home office, or simply doing tasks around the house. Meanwhile, with workplace commutes declining, terrestrial radio engagement is down. Unsurprisingly, as audio consumption has grown, so has the investment in programmatic audio ads, especially podcast ads.
Connected TV (CTV)
As noted, CTV has also had a lot of momentum over the past couple of years. Consumers who have spent more time at home have sought new ways to stay entertained, resulting in increased CTV adoption. Again, advertisers have taken notice. If you want to know just how important CTV has become, the major surge in CTV ad dollars is a dead giveaway. With CTV expected to be in four out of five households by the end of 2021, it’s something marketers just can’t ignore.
Embrace the Death of Cookies
Finally, marketers should be aware that, amidst concerns over online privacy, cookies are being phased out of many digital environments. As such, the very nature of audience targeting is evolving. Marketers should begin testing cookieless tactics, as cookies probably won’t be with us for too much longer.
There are a couple of strategies that are especially worth pursuing:
Find Inherently Cookie-Free Solutions
Believe it or not, there are some audience targeting options that are inherently cookie-free. Some examples include contextual targeting and IP address targeting. Both can be valuable, and the time to start experimenting and testing them is now.
Use First-Party Data
As it becomes more difficult to accrue third-party data, the significance of first-party data will continue to grow. Accessing first-party subscription data will be crucial to marketers going forward.
Keep Pace with Evolving Trends
Clearly, consumer behavior is ever in flux. While many of these evolutions have been prompted or exacerbated by the pandemic, others were already set in motion. And certainly, there will be further changes in the coming months and years. As ever, adaptability remains a key to success for digital marketers and advertisers.
As you think about your strategy and digital marketing budget for the coming year, make sure you take these trends into account. If you have any questions about how to leverage this information, reach out to enCOMPASS and we’d be happy to chat.
Additionally, note that our team is constantly monitoring digital marketing trends, pivoting our strategies, and ensuring we’re delivering the best possible results on behalf of our clients. If any of these trends change, or if new developments emerge, we’ll be sure to let our clients know. Until then, contact us any time you have questions or concerns about digital strategy.
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