We have come to a crossroads in performance marketing, and there are some big changes afoot. Up to this point, marketers have been constantly on the lookout for the next new online platform, social media channel or tool, in the hope of gaining the attention of their target audience and producing qualified leads.  

As a result, a large proportion of their budget is being spent on digital tools and tactics, and according to eMarketer by 2018, 56.5% of all ad spend in the UK will be on digital, and that spend will likely be across too many channels and platforms.

CMOs looking to solidify their strategies for the next 12 months will first need to sort out this confusing mess of digital tools and channels to work out what’s working and what’s not.  

Back to basics 

Successful marketing departments will review their marketing methods, consolidate their digital tools, and revert to tried and true strategies as opposed to chasing the next new shiny thing. 

We’ve seen a few UK companies start to use digital to support older marketing methods. For example, Vodafone UK has made its customer engagement channels more accessible by switching its focus on call centres to online communities. 

This has led to the creation of new information aimed at driving discussion on products and services. Through interesting content and lively discussions, customers and prospects are able to gauge the benefits of specific products, as well as access feedback from individuals who have already accessed the same products, all on their way to the checkout. 

What about social media? 

This transition could mean the death of the social media as we know it. Marketers are starting to realise that social is not the full strategy or the end point in itself, but rather a channel in a much broader multi-touch marketing campaign.

Instead of just “doing social” for the sake of it, marketers will use the data gleaned in social to support account-based marketing, to get smart and learn about their prospects. This will help them personalise any engagements they have with their target market and actually understand who they are beyond just a potential sale.

For example, PlayStation Europe’s online community has encouraged deeper engagement with the brand to increase online sales. The community has more than three million unique monthly visitors who consume 8.5 million page views in an average month, making it a leading destination for gamers to connect and share their experiences.

On top of this, the most engaged community members were recently confirmed as the biggest spenders on PlayStation Store, with more than 80% of top community members among the company’s elite customers. 

A move from transactional to experiential

Performance marketers will also become better at understanding prospects, with the shift from transactional to behavioural data. Until now most customer data gathered and put into CRM systems has been based on purchases made by customers. But what they buy is not who they are, and brands will start to use big data to see what customers actually do, not just what they buy. This will provide performance marketers with the right information to have a meaningful, personalised conversation with a prospect.

An example of this going to work can be seen at Sephora, which is using its online beauty community – BeautyTalk – to build the Sephora brand, establish its expertise in the beauty world, and ultimately drive sales and loyalty.  

The company uses customer insights gleaned from the ongoing dialogue on the site to continue to develop new ways to meet their needs. Its most engaged community members spend more than 133 hours in BeautyTalk a month and are Sephora evangelists, sharing products and activities with consumers outside of BeautyTalk. On top of this, community members spend twice the amount of average customers, while evangelists spend ten times more than the community members. 

Marketing needs in 2016

2016 will be a big year for the marketing department. The task at hand isn’t small, but the pay-off will extremely rewarding, as marketers consolidate, review and use digital to support more traditional marketing methods, rather than creating more chaos and confusion. The result will be a better understanding of the target market, ultimately leading to better products, more sales and happier customers.