“There are roughly three and a half billion Google searches made every day,” said Craig Dunham, CEO of enterprise SEO platform Deepcrawl, at our recent MarTech conference. “According to research from Moz, 84% of people use Google at least three times a day, and about half of all product searches start with Google. The way that consumers are engaging with brands is changing, and it’s doing so rapidly.”
He added, “Consumers begin their journey with the tool that many of us use hundreds of times a day. Thus, the connection to revenue becomes clear — it starts with search.”
The concept of digital transformation has been around for years, but it’s taken a whole new form in the wake of recent societal shifts. New technologies and the 2020 pandemic have led to a “greater focus on the need to drive optimal digital experiences for our customers,” says Dunham.
A brand’s website is often the first, and most lasting, impression customers will have of your organization. Here are some strategic actions he recommends marketers take to ensure their online properties are optimized for the search-first age.
Educate your team and higher-ups about the necessity of organic search
“The website is a shared responsibility and it requires proper strategic leadership,” Dunham said. “The first step is to take some time and educate yourself, your leadership, your board and your organization so they more broadly promote organic KPIs as business-wide objectives.”
“There’s great data out there on the impact of the efficiency of SEO as a low-cost acquisition channel,” he added.
Aside from sharing communication from Google on the importance of search from a business perspective, marketers can look for case studies from reputable organizations to encourage search prioritization. This can help higher-ups start seeing organic traffic as a key business metric.
“I was in a meeting recently and I had a digital leader say to me that you know website performance should not be an SEO metric — it has to be a business metric,” he said.
Create a cross-functional search ops task force
“Much of the data and insight generated by CEOs and their tools today are rarely utilized to their full potential,” Dunham said. “This is in part due to SEO not being seen as a business priority. As a result, it’s been siloed — pulling in teams from across the organization breaks down those silos.”
The more team members are involved with search processes, the more they’ll see its impact. People from each department will have more opportunities to contribute to growing online visibility using their unique skillsets.
“We know that businesses that are able to implement these organizational-wide search operations systems and practices — connecting a range of perspectives and search activities that are happening — are going to be the ones that will have a competitive advantage,” said Dunham.
Apply SEO testing automation
More and more brands are turning to automation tools to streamline tasks. According to Dunham, these solutions can be used for search-related activities as well.
“Automation can be well-deployed within web development processes,” Dunham said. “Until recently, this technology didn’t exist.”
Brands now have access to a wide variety of automation tools to streamline SEO-related tasks. The key is to pick solutions that align with your organization’s goals and give you full control over their deployment: “There are additional risk mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure you don’t release bad code that will result in large traffic losses, ultimately driving down revenue across your critical web pages,” said Dunham.
If brands can optimize their internal process, teams and tools around organic search, they’ll increase their chances of achieving long-term success in the search-first digital landscape.
SEO platforms: A snapshot
What is SEO? Search engine optimization encompasses a wide range of marketing activities, including content marketing, user experience strategy, technical analysis, and more, all with the goal of increasing the traffic websites receive from search engines.
What do the tools do?SEO platforms help marketers draw more insights from their work. They offer capabilities such as rank-checking, advanced keyword research, competitive intelligence, and backlink analysis. What’s more, enterprise-level platforms take these functions to new heights with extensive auditing and analysis of page performance, making it easier to find key areas needing improvement.
Why we care. SEO has remained one of the key foundations of digital marketing for years. Search drives roughly 50% of website traffic on average, according to a study on SimilarWeb data by Growth Badger. And while marketers have developed strategies to keep up, SEO’s growing complexity has made this a more complicated marketing discipline that companies cannot afford to ignore.
As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”
Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.
Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.
But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.
Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:
GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.
Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.
What’s a retail media network?
On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.
GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year. Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.
“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.
You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.
Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.
But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.
Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.
Think about these 2 things in 2024
That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?
Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.
For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.
However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.
Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.
The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.
You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.
“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.
As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
The martech landscape is expanding and AI is the prime driving force. That’s the topline news from the “Martech 2024” report released today. And, while that will get the headline, the report contains much more.
Since the release of the most recent Martech Landscape in May 2023, 2,042 new marketing technology tools have surfaced, bringing the total to 13,080 — an 18.5% increase. Of those, 1,498 (73%) were AI-based.
“But where did it land?” said Frans Riemersma of Martech Tribe during a joint video conference call with Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec and HubSpot. “And the usual suspect, of course, is content. But the truth is you can build an empire with all the genAI that has been surfacing — and by an empire, I mean, of course, a business.”
Content tools accounted for 34% of all the new AI tools, far ahead of video, the second-place category, which had only 4.85%. U.S. companies were responsible for 61% of these tools — not surprising given that most of the generative AI dynamos, like OpenAI, are based here. Next up was the U.K. at 5.7%, but third place was a big surprise: Iceland — with a population of 373,000 — launched 4.6% of all AI martech tools. That’s significantly ahead of fourth place India (3.5%), whose population is 1.4 billion and which has a significant tech industry.
The global development of these tools shows the desire for solutions that natively understand the place they are being used.
“These regional products in their particular country…they’re fantastic,” said Brinker. “They’re loved, and part of it is because they understand the culture, they’ve got the right thing in the language, the support is in that language.”
Now that we’ve looked at the headline stuff, let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating body of the report.
The report: A deeper dive
Marketing technology “is a study in contradictions,” according to Brinker and Riemersma.
In the new report they embrace these contradictions, telling readers that, while they support “discipline and fiscal responsibility” in martech management, failure to innovate might mean “missing out on opportunities for competitive advantage.” By all means, edit your stack meticulously to ensure it meets business value use cases — but sure, spend 5-10% of your time playing with “cool” new tools that don’t yet have a use case. That seems like a lot of time.
Similarly, while you mustn’t be “carried away” by new technology hype cycles, you mustn’t ignore them either. You need to make “deliberate choices” in the realm of technological change, but be agile about implementing them. Be excited by martech innovation, in other words, but be sensible about it.
The growing landscape
Consolidation for the martech space is not in sight, Brinker and Riemersma say. Despite many mergers and acquisitions, and a steadily increasing number of bankruptcies and dissolutions, the exponentially increasing launch of new start-ups powers continuing growth.
It should be observed, of course, that this is almost entirely a cloud-based, subscription-based commercial space. To launch a martech start-up doesn’t require manufacturing, storage and distribution capabilities, or necessarily a workforce; it just requires uploading an app to the cloud. That is surely one reason new start-ups appear at such a startling rate.
As the authors admit, “(i)f we measure by revenue and/or install base, the graph of all martech companies is a ‘long tail’ distribution.” What’s more, focus on the 200 or so leading companies in the space and consolidation can certainly be seen.
Long-tail tools are certainly not under-utilized, however. Based on a survey of over 1,000 real-world stacks, the report finds long-tail tools constitute about half of the solutions portfolios — a proportion that has remained fairly consistent since 2017. The authors see long-tail adoption where users perceive feature gaps — or subpar feature performance — in their core solutions.
Composability and aggregation
The other two trends covered in detail in the report are composability and aggregation. In brief, a composable view of a martech stack means seeing it as a collection of features and functions rather than a collection of software products. A composable “architecture” is one where apps, workflows, customer experiences, etc., are developed using features of multiple products to serve a specific use case.
Indeed, some martech vendors are now describing their own offerings as composable, meaning that their proprietary features are designed to be used in tandem with third-party solutions that integrate with them. This is an evolution of the core-suite-plus-app-marketplace framework.
That framework is what Brinker and Riemersma refer to as “vertical aggregation.” “Horizontal aggregation,” they write, is “a newer model” where aggregation of software is seen not around certain business functions (marketing, sales, etc.) but around a layer of the tech stack. An obvious example is the data layer, fed from numerous sources and consumed by a range of applications. They correctly observe that this has been an important trend over the past year.
Build it yourself
Finally, and consistent with Brinker’s long-time advocacy for the citizen developer, the report detects a nascent trend towards teams creating their own software — a trend that will doubtless be accelerated by support from AI.
So far, the apps that are being created internally may be no more than “simple workflows and automations.” But come the day that app development is so democratized that it will be available to a wide range of users, the software will be a “reflection of the way they want their company to operate and the experiences they want to deliver to customers. This will be a powerful dimension for competitive advantage.”
Constantine von Hoffman contributed to this report.
Navigating through the world of business can be chaotic. At the time of this publication in November 2023, global economic growth is expected to remain weak for an undefined amount of time.
However, certain rules of marketing remain steadfast to guide businesses towards success in any environment. These universal laws are the anchors that keep a business steady, helping it thrive amidst uncertainty and change.
In this guide, we’ll explore three laws that have proven to be the cornerstones of successful marketing. These are practical, tried-and-tested approaches that have empowered businesses to overcome challenges and flourish, regardless of external conditions. By mastering these principles, businesses can turn adversities into opportunities, ensuring growth and resilience in any market landscape. Let’s uncover these essential laws that pave the way to success in the unpredictable world of business marketing. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to integrate these insights into your career. Follow the implementation steps!
Law 1: Success in Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Navigating the tumultuous seas of digital marketing necessitates a steadfast ship, fortified by a strategic long-term vision. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Take Apple, for instance. The late ’90s saw them on the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of grasping at quick, temporary fixes, Apple anchored themselves in a long-term vision. A vision that didn’t just stop at survival, but aimed for revolutionary contributions, resulting in groundbreaking products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
In a landscape where immediate gains often allure businesses, it’s essential to remember that these are transient. A focus merely on the immediate returns leaves businesses scurrying on a hamster wheel, chasing after fleeting successes, but never really moving forward.
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A long-term vision, however, acts as the north star, guiding businesses through immediate challenges while ensuring sustainable success and consistent growth over time.
Consider This Analogy:
Building a business is like growing a tree. Initially, it requires nurturing, patience, and consistent care. But with time, the tree grows, becoming strong and robust, offering shade and fruits—transforming the landscape. The same goes for business. A vision, perseverance, and a long-term strategy are the nutrients that allow it to flourish, creating a sustainable presence in the market.
Begin by planning a content calendar focused on delivering consistent value over the next six months.
Ensure regular reviews and necessary adjustments to your long-term goals, keeping pace with evolving market trends and demands.
And don’t forget the foundation—invest in robust systems and ongoing training, laying down strong roots for sustainable success in the ever-changing digital marketing landscape.
Law 2: Survey, Listen, and Serve
Effective marketing hinges on understanding and responding to the customer’s needs and preferences. A robust, customer-centric approach helps in shaping products and services that resonate with the audience, enhancing overall satisfaction and loyalty.
Take Netflix, for instance. Netflix’s evolution from a DVD rental company to a streaming giant is a compelling illustration of a customer-centric approach.
Their transition wasn’t just a technological upgrade; it was a strategic shift informed by attentively listening to customer preferences and viewing habits. Netflix succeeded, while competitors such a Blockbuster haid their blinders on.
Here are some keystone insights when considering how to Survey, Listen, and Serve…
Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty:
Surveying customers is essential for gauging their satisfaction. When customers feel heard and valued, it fosters loyalty, turning one-time buyers into repeat customers. Through customer surveys, businesses can receive direct feedback, helping to identify areas of improvement, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
Engaging customers through surveys not only garners essential feedback but also makes customers feel valued and involved. It cultivates a relationship where customers feel that their opinions are appreciated and considered, enhancing their connection and engagement with the brand.
Product & Service Enhancement:
Surveys can unveil insightful customer feedback regarding products and services. This information is crucial for making necessary adjustments and innovations, ensuring that offerings remain aligned with customer needs and expectations.
Surveys are instrumental in collecting demographic information. Understanding the demographic composition of a customer base is crucial for tailoring marketing strategies, ensuring they resonate well with the target audience.
Customer feedback can also shed light on a company’s operational aspects, such as customer service and website usability. Such insights are invaluable for making necessary enhancements, improving the overall customer experience.
Consistent surveying allows for effective benchmarking, enabling businesses to track performance over time, assess the impact of implemented changes, and make data-driven strategic decisions.
Regularly incorporate customer feedback mechanisms like surveys and direct interactions to remain attuned to customer needs and preferences.
Continuously refine and adjust offerings based on customer feedback, ensuring products and services evolve in alignment with customer expectations.
In conclusion, adopting a customer-centric approach, symbolized by surveying, listening, and serving, is indispensable for nurturing customer relationships, driving loyalty, and ensuring sustained business success.
Law 3: Build Trust in Every Interaction
In a world cluttered with countless competitors vying for your prospects attention, standing out is about more than just having a great product or service. It’s about connecting authentically, building relationships rooted in trust and understanding. It’s this foundational trust that transforms casual customers into loyal advocates, ensuring that your business isn’t just seen, but it truly resonates and remains memorable.
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For instance, let’s talk about Oprah! Through vulnerability and honest connections, Oprah Winfrey didn’t just build an audience; she cultivated a community. Sharing, listening, and interacting genuinely, she created a media landscape where trust and respect flourished. Oprah was known to make her audience and even guests cry for the first time live. She had a natural ability to build instant trust.
Here are some keystone insights when considering how to develop and maintain trust…
The Unseen Fast-Track
Trust is an unseen accelerator. It simplifies decisions, clears doubts, and fast-forwards the customer journey, turning curiosity into conviction and interest into investment.
The Emotional Guardrail
Trust is like a safety net or a warm embrace, making customers feel valued, understood, and cared for. It nurtures a positive environment, encouraging customers to return, not out of necessity, but a genuine affinity towards the brand.
Real Stories: Share testimonials and experiences, both shiny and shaded, to build credibility and show authenticity.
Open Conversation: Encourage and welcome customer feedback and discussions, facilitating a two-way conversation that fosters understanding and improvement.
Community Engagement: Actively participate and engage in community or industry events, align your brand with genuine causes and values, promoting real connections and trust.
Navigating through this law involves cultivating a space where authenticity leads, trust blossoms, and genuine relationships flourish, engraving a memorable brand story in the hearts and minds of the customers.
Guarantee Your Success With These Foundational Laws
Navigating through the world of business is a demanding odyssey that calls for more than just adaptability and innovation—it requires a solid foundation built on timeless principles. In our exploration, we have just unraveled three indispensable laws that stand as pillars supporting the edifice of sustained marketing success, enabling businesses to sail confidently through the ever-shifting seas of the marketplace.
Law 1: “Success in Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint,” advocates for the cultivation of a long-term vision. It is about nurturing a resilient mindset focused on enduring success rather than transient achievements. Like a marathon runner who paces themselves for the long haul, businesses must strategize, persevere, and adapt, ensuring sustained growth and innovation. The embodiment of this law is seen in enterprises like Apple, whose evolutionary journey is a testament to the power of persistent vision and continual reinvention.
Law 2: “Survey, Listen, and Serve,” delineates the roadmap to a business model deeply intertwined with customer insights and responsiveness. This law emphasizes the essence of customer-centricity, urging businesses to align their strategies and offerings with the preferences and expectations of their audiences. It’s a call to attentively listen, actively engage, and meticulously tailor offerings to resonate with customer needs, forging paths to enhanced satisfaction and loyalty.
Law 3: “Build Trust in Every Interaction,” underscores the significance of building genuine, trust-laden relationships with customers. It champions the cultivation of a brand personality that resonates with authenticity, fostering connections marked by trust and mutual respect. This law navigates businesses towards establishing themselves as reliable entities that customers can resonate with, rely on, and return to, enriching the customer journey with consistency and sincerity.
These pivotal laws form the cornerstone upon which businesses can build strategies that withstand the tests of market volatility, competition, and evolution. They stand as unwavering beacons guiding enterprises towards avenues marked by not just profitability, but also a legacy of value, integrity, and impactful contributions to the marketplace. Armed with these foundational laws, businesses are empowered to navigate the multifaceted realms of the business landscape with confidence, clarity, and a strategic vision poised for lasting success and remarkable achievements.
Oh yeah! And do you know Newton’s Law?The law of inertia, also known as Newton’s first law of motion, states that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion… The choice is yours. Take action and integrate these laws. Get in motion!