Digital marketing is evolving as rapidly as the technology that powers the internet.

With these technological changes come changes in consumers’ needs and behavior, but are brands keeping up with these changes?

This article identifies problems, solutions, and opportunities associated with these changes, as well as steps brands can take to adapt and take advantage of today’s technology-driven marketplace.

Changes in the Digital Marketing Landscape

Technology has drastically changed the way we live, work, behave, and shop. Despite these major shifts in technology and connectivity, underlying human motivations remain the same. And, as people become more and more used to this technology, their behavior has become more and more predictable.

Here are a few of the key factors that brands should pay close attention to:

Multimedia is king for younger generations, so brands must deliver content in multiple formats.

People aged 18 to 36 spend nearly 18 hours per day consuming media across a variety of channels, according to Crowdtap. Born and raised with social media and the internet, these younger generations are digital natives. Over 85% of Generation Y, for instance, owns smartphones.

Some audiences are in fact mobile-only. All product research, online interactions, and the majority of their media consumption takes place through mobile devices. According to Comscore, nearly 50% of audiences in the UK and the United States engage the top 100 digital properties exclusively through mobile devices.

While people watch more and more video, traditional TV viewership is down, while streaming services are up. Each year, Netflix gains ground while traditional networks lose ground.

Users are screen-agnostic, so brands should be screen agnostic.

It’s no longer enough to develop separate strategies for separate devices. The world is moving too quickly and specific screens don’t dominate certain aspects of consumer behavior.

Consumer behavior cannot be divided between mobile, desktop, and tablet. People move across multiple devices, often simultaneously. A traditional TV ad can prompt smartphone research which can continue on a desktop, which can then lead to an in-store purchase.

Given the near-infinite number of pathways to purchase across multiple channels and devices, brands must stay current with content delivery channels.

Effective marketing relies on effective targeting, so brands should utilize the latest analytics and targeting technology.

Human motivations have not changed, but information technology has given us new ways of analyzing those motivations. Data drives programmatic technology and allows brands to personalize advertising, as well as content.

Focusing exclusively on customers with buyer intent, however, can inundate and saturate customers. The right use of programmatic technology, recommendation engines, and data management platforms, however, can offer significant, data-driven advantages to brands.

Exploiting the latest advances in data-driven targeting allows brands to customize, personalize, and predict. This is the greatest advantage of technology: it allows brands to deliver value at the right time and in the right place.

Decisions happen in a moment, so brands must be ready when a customer is triggered.

Instead of focusing on end-of-the-funnel advertising, marketing, and communications, brands should focus on the research-oriented customer. The “First Moment of Truth,” when a customer makes a purchase decision, is actually preceded by the “Zero Moment of Truth,” as it is dubbed by Google.

This moment, whether it is conscious or subconscious, occurs when a customer realizes a need and begins the research phase. During the product research phase of the path to purchase, customers are open to influences from brands.

The latest advances in advertising technology are designed to target moments such as these. Trigger-based advertising, geo-targeted ads, beacons, and moment-based targeting methods are designed to take advantage of these instances.

Other advanced targeting methods, such as “mood targeting,” will give brands the ability to fine tune their targeting even more precisely.

Customers are settling into digital routines, so brands need to work with those routines.

At any given moment, a customer may realize a need and, subsequently, decide to make a purchase. Since these moments can occur anywhere, brands need to be ready to meet their customers’ demands at any time or place.

It is no longer feasible to drive customers through a predetermined digital funnel towards a specific website, page, or platform. Since people are already settling into predictable habits and routines, brands need to be able to meet customers on any channel.

Some customers, for instance, may spend the majority of their time on Facebook or in Twitter. Others may prefer to deal exclusively via email. Since conversions and customer interactions can occur in any of these mediums, brands must be present and ready to assist at a moment’s notice.

 

Overwhelmingly, today’s customers are mobile, social, and multi-channel. To adapt to the needs of these customers, brands must be able to reach across devices, channels, and platforms. Since today’s customer is always on, brands’ must adopt a digital marketing strategy that is always on.

Marketing Digital Marketing: A Guide for Brands in 2016