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A decade ago, digital marketing was a relatively simple concept, focusing on online content and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). As a result, it wasn’t the hot topic it is today.

Now, in 2020, digital marketing has become an absolute necessity for any business with an online presence, and it’s not only the large Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies that understand its importance. The surge of digital marketing in B2B firms, logistics companies and professional service firms has also been huge.

Companies have come to understand that, by using online marketing, they can target their audience with a precision that simply wasn’t possible in the past. In other words, digital marketing has the potential to be both the perfect sales promotion tool and the ultimate way to create a long-lasting relationship with the customer.

But to reach this utopia, marketers need strategies to address the following digital marketing challenges.

1. Creating true and trustworthy content

As consumer expectations change, the nature of marketing itself also changes. Unilever’s Senior Vice-President Marc Mathieu captured this perfectly when talking to The Economist Intelligence Unit: “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it; now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it”.

Consumers have all the tools and information they need, at their fingertips, to do their own research in seconds. Which makes it extremely easy to check for bad or false reviews and compare between competitors. They want companies to proactively deliver relevant information and valuable content that is easy to consume.

This phenomenon highlights the increasing importance of high-quality, true and trustworthy content in creating long-lasting relationships with consumers and generating brand loyalty.

2. Safeguarding privacy

The concerns are there: GDPR has and will keep on having an impact on digital marketing, and marketers have no choice but to adapt. In particular, there are three key areas that marketers need to worry about: data access, data permission and data focus.

However, GDPR can also be a great opportunity for your company to create targeted marketing campaigns with people that are engaged with your brand. How? By giving different consent options, you can gain insight in the consumer’s individual interests.

Furthermore, digital natives have grown up in a sharing community. They understand the compensation of what they are giving up in order to get something positive back.

Sharing personal information will not go away, but we do have to learn how to get the most out of it. This brings us to one of our next digital marketing challenges.

3. Personalising content

Sharing has become everything, and Generation Z, in particular, greatly values personalization and sharing experiences. The best strategy for engaging with potential customers without using a broad campaign is to provide a tailored experience for individuals or small groups.

This focus on the unique needs and preferences of specific customers helps get the right product or service to the right consumers at the right time. It also helps build brand credibility and increases the chances of having more meaningful interactions, and ultimately, conversions.

This kind of personalisation can be achieved by using big data or user-generated content.

But although the technology is there, digital marketers often still struggle with the execution of their strategy. The time and cost of creating personalised content can create a barrier. Also, to really succeed, marketers need to tie this part of their digital strategy to business goals and define specific use cases.

4. Ensuring marketing and sales alignment

Buying patterns have seen dramatic changes in the last decade, and with customers being much more autonomous than in the past – proactively searching for solutions, educating themselves on options, comparing products and offers, reading testimonials – sales teams are often only involved once a prospect is very far down the sales funnel.

Added to this is the fact that customer journeys are increasingly non-linear, with purchase decisions potentially spread over days or weeks, and across a multitude of devices.

To address these points, close alignment between marketing and sales teams is key to offering customers a smooth and seamless experience across the entire customer journey, from the first interaction with your brand, right the way through to becoming a happy and loyal customer.

The two teams need to strive for the same goals and work together to take a truly customer-centric view.

5. Embracing Industry 4.0

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), or Industry 4.0, are terms that are used interchangeably to describe the blurring of the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds.

We all see the implications of this in our everyday lives (think Google Maps, Siri, Netflix), as manufacturing technologies and processes move towards cyber-physical systems (CPS), the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.

Industry 4.0 is essentially turning manufacturers into digital enterprises. This means that digital marketers need to review their current digital infrastructure and assess how it has to evolve to support a digital enterprise.

Digital marketing can be of great value to manufacturers, helping them understand how buyers are behaving at every stage of the funnel. All these efforts are trackable and measurable, allowing marketers to make data-driven decisions and react faster than ever before to changes in the marketplace.

The most important elements that need to be in place to fully embrace Industry 4.0 are the following: implementing an inbound marketing program, defining new personas, creating a sales-ready website and developing a thought leadership program.

For other Digital marketing topics, take a look at our Digital Marketing Guide.

6. Ensuring a flawless customer experience

Delivering a seamless and consistent customer experience during the entire customer journey has become an essential component of the overall digital marketing strategy. This means taking an effective omnichannel approach. Make sure you have a deep understanding of who your customers really are, and ensure that your companies’ values, tone, branding and structure are consistent across all online and offline communications. Furthermore, optimise design and content per channel to create a truly seamless experience.

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