Marketers’ Focus for 2016: Digital Tactics That Help Acquire, Convert, Retain Customers

Shelly Kramer

Statistics represent more than just numbers on a page. Those facts, figures, and percentages tell the stories of brands – where they succeeded, where they fell short, and how they plan to approach their next chapters. They can also tell the story of consumers – what they respond to and what they feel misses the mark, as evidenced by what, or where, they did (or didn’t) spend. A really great report accomplishes both, breathing fresh air into how we approach our own companies. How can we deliver more value? How can we measure that? What will the numbers say? In this post, we’ll take a look at the findings from a recent survey on digital marketing that might have you asking yourself those questions.

Report findings

Extole, a referral marketing company, recently released Perfect For You: How Referrals and Other Top Channels Drive Retail Revenue. They surveyed 302 professionals responsible for marketing and technology in the retail industry to gauge their experiences with (and budgets for) different types of digital marketing tactics, from SEO to social to content. The results were eye-opening and, while the responses are specific to retail, there are takeaways that we can all apply to our digital agendas to market better and smarter in 2016.

Digital marketing is on the rise, and social leads 2016 spending. A whopping 41% of survey respondents said they planned to spend more on social marketing next year – think Facebook ads, Twitter for Business campaigns, etc. There is good reason for this spend increase, as the report also found that social media marketing generates at least 36% of new customers for 31% of those who use it. Backed by those metrics, it’s no wonder marketers are willing to spend more on social. Mobile advertising and email marketing will also see significant budget increases next year. On the opposite end of the spectrum, paid search and content and affiliate marketing (among others) will see less money. See Figure 1 for a complete breakdown.


Figure 1: Spend on tactics vs. last year, Extole, Perfect For You: How Referrals and Other Top Channels Drive Retail Revenue, page 9

Acquisition and retention rule marketing goals. A majority of survey respondents chose customer acquisition and retention as the most important goals they had in mind when marketing in the digital space. As you can see from Figure 2, conversion came in a very close third, and awareness trailed. We’ll talk a little more about awareness – in this case, content marketing tactics – a little later, and I’ll call out why I think that part of the funnel is so underrated.


Figure 2: Acquisition and retention are top goals, Extole, Perfect For You: How Referrals and Other Top Channels Drive Retail Revenue, page 11

Email marketing scores big for conversions. Email marketing (followed closely by social) was chosen by 44% of respondents as the most effective digital tool for converting customers. In the retail space, especially with the popularity of online shopping and the ease with which coupons or discounts can be sent to scores of consumers, this high ranking makes sense. Let’s take a big picture approach to these conversion numbers, though, which you can see in full below in Figure 3. Are there ways your business could up your conversion numbers using digital tactics? If you had to re-rank the list for your industry, would it be similar or strikingly different?

MostEffective Figure 3: The Digital Programs That Get Results, Extole, Perfect For You: How Referrals and Other Top Channels Drive Retail Revenue, page 15

PSA: Content marketing is not dead

Extole’s survey respondents may have rated content marketing poorly compared to other digital customer reach programs, but there’s a bit of irony in that: The very report summarizing the findings of research is, in fact, an example of content marketing. What’s even better? The fact that we’re here talking about it now is an example of how pervasive content marketing can be when it is done well.

And listen, of course marketers want to use tactics that help them attract and convert leads – that’s a no-brainer. They also want to retain existing customers. But a focus that shifts away from content (in a variety of iterations) that helps your customers along the way as they work to research and learn about products and services they want to buy is, to my way of thinking, short-sighted. Also, shifting away from content that helps retain them after the sale is equally short sighted.

Let me give you an example: I’m a long-time pro user of the MyFitnessPal app. I started using the app before Under Armor purchased the company, but following that acquisition, I’ve seen a great increase in the amount of content they generate, and how the app works to continue to connect with me on a deeper level. Their email marketing is spectacular, and their blog regularly delivers content that is helpful to me, focused on fitness, exercise, and diet – and all the things that a MyFitnessPal app user might care about. Would I still use the app without that content? Probably. Do I like it even more, and am I less likely to move along to the newest, latest, and greatest fitness app on the market as a result of the “relationship” that I’m developing with MFP? Absolutely. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Everybody wants an easy button. Why focus on what we could do to inform our customers when we can instead focus on things that bring us leads? If you can figure out a way to do both, you’ll add to your brand’s value proposition and build some serious customer loyalty.

Leads are great. Conversions are better. Happy customers are fantastic. But don’t forget that along the way it’s not always just about you, and what YOU want from customers (more money). Sometimes, it’s equally as important to focus on things like: What do they want (and need), before they buy as well as after they buy, that can make them love us even more? Let’s do more of that.

Where do you spend your digital marketing dollars? Do two or three of the digital tactics outlined in this report stand out as uber important to your business and, if so, can you identify ways to funnel content through those channels to make your brand even more useful to customers? Maybe there are other ways you plan to market smarter in the digital world in the coming year. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Marketing must be the glue that binds the company around the brand promise. Learn how in Marketing’s New Mandate: 5 Core Principles for Driving Business Value.


Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.


About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.


About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Christopher Koch

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

To learn more about how humans and robots will co-evolve, read the in-depth report Bring Your Robot to Work.

Download the PDF (91KB)


About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing. Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.


What Is The Key To Rapid Innovation In Healthcare?

Paul Clark

Healthcare technology has already made incredible advancements, but digital transformation of the healthcare industry is still considered in its infancy. According to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare, the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead for the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) are astounding.

Many health organizations recognize the importance of going digital and have already deployed programs involving IoT, cloud, Big Data, analytics, and mobile technologies. However, over the last decade, investments in many e-health programs have delivered only modest returns, so the progress of healthcare technology has been slow out of the gate.

What’s slowing the pace of healthcare innovation?

In the past, attempts at rapid innovation in healthcare have been bogged down by a slew of stakeholders, legacy systems, and regulations that are inherent to the industry. This presents some Big Data challenges with connected healthcare, such as gathering data from disparate silos of medical information. Secrecy is also an ongoing challenge, as healthcare providers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions tend to protect personal and proprietary data. These issues have caused enormous complexity and have delayed or deterred attempts to build fully integrated digital healthcare systems.

So what is the key to rapid innovation?

According to the Connected Care eBook, healthcare organizations can overcome these challenges by using new technologies and collaborating with other players in the healthcare industry, as well as partners outside of the industry, to get the most benefit out of digital technology.

To move forward with digital transformation in healthcare, there is a need for digital architectures and platforms where a number of different technologies can work together from both a technical and a business perspective.

The secret to healthcare innovation: connected health platforms

New platforms are emerging that foster collaboration between different technologies and healthcare organizations to solve complex medical system challenges. These platforms can support a broad ecosystem of partners, including developers, researchers, and healthcare organizations. Healthcare networks that are connected through this type of technology will be able to accelerate the development and delivery of innovative, patient-centered solutions.

Platforms and other digital advancements present exciting new business opportunities for numerous healthcare stakeholders striving to meet the increasing expectations of tech-savvy patients.

The digital evolution of the healthcare industry may still be in its infancy, but it is growing up fast as new advancements in technology quickly develop. Are you ready for the next phase of digital transformation in the global healthcare industry?

For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.