Johanna Marmon, Author at MarTech MarTech: Marketing Technology News and Community for MarTech Professionals Thu, 11 May 2023 15:49:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MarTech’s guide to GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation Thu, 11 May 2023 15:49:21 +0000 Five years on from GDPR's debut, and with procedural changes afoot, here's an updated guide to the seminal data privacy regulation.

The post MarTech’s guide to GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation appeared first on MarTech.

GDPR General Data Protection Regulation logo

When the European Union adopted its General Data Protection Regulation in 2018, the law was heralded as a privacy game changer that would usher in a new era of consent around online data collection and put the right to protect personal information directly in the hands of individuals.

It was also meant to standardize privacy laws across member EU nations. GDPR would eliminate the need for individual countries to write their own regulations — as well as requiring any company, regardless of location, that markets goods or services to EU residents to comply with the law.

But five years later, enforcement challenges dog the watershed law, with complaints that were filed the day GDPR hit — alleging that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Google forced users to give up personal information without proper consent — still wending their way through the court system.

Meanwhile, technology continues to evolve at a pace with which the glacial legal system simply cannot keep up (this article about GDPR compliance and AI tools like ChatGPT helps paint a picture of the challenges ahead).

This disconnect, along with rumblings over lax enforcement, particularly in countries where big tech vendors are headquartered, are just a couple of the reasons that EU regulators are now looking to fine-tune the way GDPR is administered.

This piece will take a closer look at those procedural changes – as well as other data privacy regulations in the hopper, go over some of the law’s biggest fines to date, and examine what marketers need to know as we head into the second half of 2023.

Procedural changes on the horizon

Earlier this year, the European Commission announced that it would seek to streamline the way data protection authorities across the EU work together when enforcing GDPR in cross-border cases. “This will support a smooth functioning of the GDPR cooperation and dispute resolution mechanisms,” the Commission noted. The initiative — called Procedural Rules of Enforcement — aims to tackle a host of problems, from how GDPR complaints are handled to the duration of proceedings themselves. And when consensus cannot be reached, the proposed enforcement rules will “clarify” the procedural aspects of dispute resolution.

Critics have said the new enforcement rules are light on specifics, but with close to 800 cases pending under GDPR, procedural reform is critical. As the NOYB, or European Center for Digital Rights, a non-profit based in Vienna, Austria, puts it, GDPR is enforced in theory only, with the tech companies finding ways to stall proceedings, appeal rulings, and circumvent fines. (“NOYB” is short for “none of your business.”)

GDPR’s stateside influence

In the U.S., new or amended data privacy laws are on the books in Virginia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Utah, with enforcement dates ranging from January 1 of this year (Virginia) to December 31 (Utah), with California, Colorado, and Connecticut effective as of July 1 (in California, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) amends the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)).

In addition, nine other states have proposed laws that are still pending, but marketers should anticipate eventual enactment.

These laws are notable in the present context because — with the exception of California — they all “adapt terminology” from GDPR, yet diverge in how they are enforced, with district attorneys, attorneys general, and, in the case of California, the California Privacy Protection Agency, all in the enforcement mix.

For marketers, cookie management will be of paramount importance as brands/websites continue to understand how consumer rights around sensitive data are protected under the state laws.

At the federal level, there’s a bipartisan effort to establish a new privacy law — called the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) — that would create a national standard around individual rights. And on March 1, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the proposed law.

While no vote was held, privacy groups and other stakeholders note that the desire for federal privacy legislation exists and may ultimately result in action.

Dig deeper: Only 11% of US businesses fully comply with CCPA privacy law

GDPR lobs hefty fines

Back in Europe, GDPR enforcement issues aside, some complaints have resulted in large fines, levied against companies like Meta, Amazon, and Google.

The year started with a $413 million fine against Meta for GDPR violations by Facebook and Instagram. Delivered by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), which, incidentally, has faced extensive criticism for how it handles GDPR complaints, the agency’s actions affirmed a decision by the European Data Protection Board that said “contractual necessity” isn’t an appropriate reason to run behavioral ads. (Behavioral ads refer to online advertisements or marketing messages that are delivered to consumers based on their search history).

For years, Meta had been bundling its user-consent agreement into its apps’ contractual terms of services, which effectively forced users to agree to data harvesting if they wanted to use the platforms.

Meta’s early January fine came on the heels of a very expensive 2022 for the company, which saw penalties doled out to the tune of more than $800 million. It was also told it had three months to put measures into place to ask users for permission to run behavioral ads; at the end of March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Meta would allow users in Europe to opt out of targeted ads. But the company isn’t making it easy, requiring users to submit an online form stating their objections.

Along with the Meta fines, other notable GDPR sanctions include:

  • $785 million against Amazon, decided in July 2021 by Luxembourg’s data authority. This decision — to date the largest penalty under GDPR, and which centers on how the company processes personal data — is currently under appeal.
  • $237 million against WhatsApp (the Meta-owned messaging service), decided in September 2021 by DPC which signaled the culmination of a three-year inquiry into how the app shared user data with Facebook.
  • $52 million against search giant Google, an early GDPR fine (January 2019) that was later upheld on appeal in French court. That country’s National Data Protection Commission determined Google was not in compliance with GDPR’s data transparency guidelines and that the company did not sufficiently make clear how user data was collected and used for targeted ads.

What marketers need to know

Two words need to be high on every marketer’s list when it comes to GDPR: compliance and consent. Compliance, of course, refers to the need for companies with any sort of web presence that market to customers in the EU to understand the regulation, keep up to date on changes as they happen, and be able to react quickly when issues arise.

Of course, tangential to that is the need for marketers to understand the types of data their companies collect, and, more importantly, how that data is processed, stored, and what kind of sensitive personal information it contains. Compliance also hinges on collecting necessary data only.

Top of mind for marketers should be the other key word: consent. Broadly speaking, companies are more likely to remain in compliance with GDPR when they have gotten the proper permission to gather or use users’ personal information. It may sound obvious, but GDPR has a specific definition for consent, which is “any freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication” that the subject agrees to allow websites to gather and process their personal data.

Unsurprisingly, marketers have a big role to play, not only in understanding, but in enabling compliance with GDPR and the US-based rules and regulations it has influenced. While the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, so does consumers’ desire to safeguard their privacy.

In the five years that it has been on the books, GDPR has proven if nothing else that protecting data is a corporate responsibility. Companies that handle data with care and show users that their concerns over online privacy are valid will have an edge over their less prudent competitors.

Dig deeper: Build trust, gain sales

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

The post MarTech’s guide to GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation appeared first on MarTech.

Why we care about data management platforms Tue, 21 Mar 2023 15:11:30 +0000 Explore data management platforms in depth — what they are, why they are important and their future in a privacy-focused landscape.

The post Why we care about data management platforms appeared first on MarTech.

Consumers buying products and services across various online channels leave a trail of every digital marketer’s most important asset — data. But this data is worthless if it can’t be collected, organized and put to use. 

That’s where data management platforms (DMPs) come in. DMPs allow marketers to understand customers and their purchasing behaviors better. This leads to more effective marketing campaigns that drive higher engagement and sales. With DMPs, marketers can glean insights into which campaigns drive the best results among target audiences.

This article looks at data management platforms in depth — what they are, why they are important, what they are used for and their future in a privacy-focused landscape. 

Table of contents

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is a data management platform?

A data management platform is exactly what the name suggests. It is a digital platform that allows businesses to collect, store and organize data that is then used and analyzed to drive marketing and other business decisions. DMPs collect data related to:

  • Customer demographics.
  • Purchasing history.
  • Website clicks.
  • The online registration forms they fill out.
  • And other sources.

This information is then segmented to provide businesses with actionable insights and a clear understanding of customers and their purchasing habits. 

While DMPs can use first- and second-party data, they heavily rely on third-party data from online sources. The differences between data sources are essential. 

  • First-party data is information collected directly from your audience, like website clicks, social media follows, likes and comments, email addresses, etc. It’s considered extremely valuable because it’s collected first-hand, assuring greater accuracy and availability. 
  • Second-party data is first-party data that someone else has collected and sold to you.
  • Third-party data is gathered by entities that don’t have a direct relationship with the consumers whose data is being collected. 

Once data is collected, DMPs organize it into segments so marketers can build specific campaign audiences. These audiences can be people who fit into certain demographics or purchasing behaviors. Audience segments are built using any number of data points, like family size, household income and age ranges. 

Most DMPs have reporting features for analyzing audience data to discern patterns and understand customer behavior. Because large portions of the data DMPs collect are anonymous (via cookies and IP addresses, for example), marketers get the 10,000-foot view and create generalized audience profiles.    

DMPs vs. CDPs

DMPs aren’t the only avenue by which brands and businesses can harness the power of data. Customer data platforms (CDPs) are similar to DMPs in that they collect information, organize it and provide actionable insights. 

But there is one significant difference: CDPs generally only use first-party data and collect and store specific information about customers using personal identifiable information (PII). CDPs connect the data points gathered back to the individual user, providing even better knowledge about customers and their behaviors. 

For example, with DMPs, marketers might know that a user in a specific age group in a specific geographic area searched for women’s skincare products and is interested in workout gear and running shoes. 

A CDP could tell you that user’s name, specific age, address and other identifying information. Also, because CDPs don’t rely on third-party data (i.e., third-party cookies) to collect information (remember, first-party data is gathered with permission), privacy and consent issues are less of a concern than those currently associated with DMPs which gather and use third-party data. 

Data protection laws

Marketers should note that legislation, like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, stateside, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), protects consumers as it relates to their personal data and defines guidelines for any businesses that use — or share — that data.

Consumers are more aware of online privacy issues now and expect transparency about how their data is used. Marketers must tread carefully and be prepared for how this continuing evolution will impact their strategies and tools, including DMPs.

The future of data management platforms 

Central to the privacy discussion — and the compliance issues introduced by GDPR/CCPA — is Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies in the second half of 2024. Created by advertising companies, these cookies track website visitors across the web to gain information about where consumers go and, crucially, what they buy. 

Because DMPs have historically relied heavily on third-party data to fill their pipelines, a future without third-party cookies would mean platforms must gather customer information from different sources, such as point-of-sale and social media. 

In an online environment without third-party cookies, many believe that DMPs are becoming redundant — with marketers increasingly turning to CDPs. That said, it’s probably premature to say that the platforms will become extinct anytime soon. DMPs will likely evolve as the conversation on data privacy and third-party cookies plays out. 

One solution seems simple, pivot more wholly to first-party data. Some DMPs, like Lotame’s so-called next-gen Spherical platform, already primarily utilize first-party data, the benefits of which are already well documented.

Brands and marketers should continue to focus on building customer experiences and providing reasons for customers to engage. Ultimately, all this will help increase the volume and quality of data collected.

Dig deeper

Want to learn more?

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

The post Why we care about data management platforms appeared first on MarTech.

Why we care about location marketing Fri, 17 Feb 2023 15:05:58 +0000 Location-based marketing is effective for brands with physical locations. Here’s how to leverage the strategy.

The post Why we care about location marketing appeared first on MarTech.

What if you could tailor marketing messages at the granular level, based on where your consumers are, in real time? 

For example, what if you could send a discount offer on a product or service by text message when a customer enters a pre-defined location, such as your brick-and-mortar store? Or remind your customers that it’s happy hour — and that you offer two-for-one appetizer specials — when they’re near your bar or restaurant.

Delivering offers to target customers is the key benefit of location-based marketing.

The means to deliver location-based marketing is in place and familiar. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, providing the device necessary to deliver messages to consumers wherever they are. And, consumers expect to receive ads and offers on those mobile devices. Advertising on mobile devices captured the largest share of digital advertising in 2022 at $34 billion. (Overall, spend on digital marketing was a staggering $77 billion.)

Top five media channels per ad spend in 2022

In this article, you’ll learn the importance of leveraging data from users’ mobile devices to create ads, offers and other content that drives business.

We’ll define location marketing and describe several location-based marketing methods.

Table of contents

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is location-based marketing?

Location-based marketing (or “proximity marketing”) delivers ads and offers to potential buyers based on their location. There are two ways to identify the locations of potential buyers: 

  • By GPS coordinates on a mobile device.
  • By deploying Bluetooth-based “beacon” technology to trigger ads or alerts when consumers are in places (i.e., stores) that GPS signals can’t always reach. 

The major difference here lies in how location data is generated. (Beacons transmit information very short distances. They are used within locations like store aisles.)  

Relevance is a key benefit of location marketing. Instead of pushing generic ads across channels and hoping that some of it resonates, location-based marketing lets marketers to deliver highly targeted messages that reach consumers as they go about their daily activities. 

Location-based marketing works best for brands or businesses with retail locations. For example, a furniture store might send Presidents’ Day discount notifications to customers who have pulled into the parking lot of the mall in which the store is located during the holiday weekend. 

It’s worth mentioning another important type of location-based marketing that is inbound and doesn’t depend on mobile data. Sites like Yelp will show advertisements and promotions based on user behavior, including the locations and types of businesses explored on the site.

Location-based marketing targeting methods    

There are three primary methods of location-based marketing, which target customers based on where they are, where they have been and where brands would prefer them to be.

Geofencing: Reach them where they are

Geofencing uses a variety of location services to pinpoint where consumers are in real time and is deployed by software that is contained within mobile apps. Geofencing is enabled only when customers share their locations from within an app. 

The geographic area has boundaries, hence the term “fencing.” An example would be a radius around a store, restaurant, neighborhood, etc. When people enter or exit the boundary, messages are delivered. 

Starbucks uses geofencing to send rewards program members discounts on drinks they regularly order when those customers are near cafes.

Geotargeting: Reach them where they’ve been

Geotargeting relies on reaching people based on where they’ve been and what actions they might have taken when they were there. 

Geotargeging enables marketers to send targeted content to specific groups or those who have engaged in specific behaviors. 

A restaurant may want to promote a new brunch menu, for example. It might build a campaign for customers who have visited recently to drive return business. 

Geoconquesting: Get them to go somewhere else

Geoconquesting delivers notifications to customers when they are near a competitor’s business. 

In one well-known example, Burger King created a campaign called the “Whopper Detour” to target consumers within 600 feet of McDonald’s locations.

This clever — and popular — marketing strategy used geofencing to send coupons for one-cent Whopper sandwiches to users of the BK app, which was reportedly downloaded a million times over the course of a couple days during the campaign.

The benefits of location-based marketing

For marketers, there are many reasons to implement location-based strategies. 

By delivering ads, offers and information when potential buyers are near the point-of-purchase, merchants can increase foot traffic and improve customer experience, which in turn helps boost customer retention and loyalty.

Location-based marketing also offers a window into what customers want using insights gleaned from what they spend their time doing and how much time they spend doing it. 

Attribution of location-based marketing tactics tends to be higher than other channels. Measures of sales, in-store traffic, and engagement are more accurate because customers are using trackable mobile devices and apps. 

Challenges of location-based marketing

Location-based marketing is not without challenges.

This channel relies on marketers getting data only from mobile users who have opted in to location tracking and have downloaded the brand’s app.

Privacy is also a concern. Advertisers need to strike a balance between sending ads and offers when they will be viewed as beneficial to users, while avoiding the perception that location-based marketing is overly intrusive or creepy.

Dig deeper

Want to learn more? Here are some other great resources:

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

The post Why we care about location marketing appeared first on MarTech.

Why we care about loyalty marketing Wed, 08 Feb 2023 14:25:00 +0000 Learn why loyalty programs are a win-win for brands and customers and ways marketers can reward customers across various channels.

The post Why we care about loyalty marketing appeared first on MarTech.

As a marketer, one of your primary goals is to not only attract new customers but retain the ones you already have and entice them to buy from your business again and again. Offering a competitively priced product that customers want to purchase is a huge piece of the puzzle. But how do you convince those customers to stay with you? How do you get them to buy, not once, but many times over?

The answer largely lies in Loyalty Marketing; that is, building a relationship with your customers and earning their loyalty. To do so takes time and effort — from providing exceptional service and soliciting feedback to understanding their needs. However, implementing a strong customer loyalty program is a highly effective tool in the loyalty kit.

Anyone who has experienced the thrill of earning that free large iced coffee or cashed in on rewards points to get special deals or freebies at their favorite retailers or restaurants has interacted with a loyalty marketing program. When executed properly, they are a win-win: Customers benefit from discounts or other perks on items they’d most likely be buying anyway, while retailers enjoy customer retention, increased revenue and other avenues for growth.

The programs, perhaps unsurprisingly, are popular. In 2022, U.S. consumers belonged to an average of more than 16 loyalty programs and regularly used about half of them, according to research firm Statista. The global market for loyalty is worth billions, forecast to explode to $24 billion by the end of 2028.

In this article, we’ll go over what loyalty marketing is, walk through a few different types of loyalty programs and discuss loyalty marketing in the digital age (and what it means for marketers) — as well as touch on what’s ahead for marketers in the space.

Table of contents

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

What is loyalty marketing?

Simply put, loyalty marketing is a strategy by which businesses attempt to attract customers, build their trust and retain them through offering incentives, such as free products (beauty brands, for example, often include sample-sized products in orders over a certain dollar amount), discounts on products and perks such as earning points on purchases that can be redeemed later for rewards. Airline frequent flyer programs fall under the loyalty umbrella.

The idea is that customers who spend money (as well as sign up for the program) are rewarded with things that either hold monetary value or receive exclusive, early access to sales, new products or the like. 

Regardless of the perk, however, the goal is two-fold: 

  • To keep existing customers returning for more.
  • To have those same customers refer others to do the same. 

And because research shows that loyal customers spend more and more on each subsequent purchase (and are more likely to try new products from businesses they are loyal to), marketers know that this segment is an important part of any marketing strategy.

Types of loyalty programs

There are several types of loyalty programs out there. Some of the most common are:

  • Points programs. In this common program, points are accumulated as dollars are spent. Customers redeem points for benefits that might include discounts, freebies, etc.
  • Tiered programs. Upon signing up, customers might be at the lowest tier with basic perks. As they spend more, they move to higher tiers with better incentives.
  • Paid loyalty programs. An obvious example in this space is Amazon Prime, which, for a yearly fee, provides members with free two-day shipping, access to certain sales and the ability to stream certain titles and shows for free on its streaming service, among other perks.
  • It’s also worth mentioning subscription models based on recurring revenue. These can serve as ways of retaining customers over an extended period of time, although the challenge is securing renewals. The subscription model can be found everywhere, from online delivery services to regularly purchased consumer goods like razor blades and high-cost software.

Loyalty marketing in the digital age

For consumers of a certain age, loyalty marketing brings to mind cards (punched or stamped) presented at checkout in brick-and-mortar stores which are then carefully tucked back in a wallet and saved until the pre-determined number of purchases is met and a reward is doled out. 

These programs (which absolutely still exist) are relatively simplistic, free to sign up for and offer a visible path to a tangible reward — that free sandwich after the fifth purchase, for example — for spending money with a particular business.

But they also rely on shoppers returning to the brick-and-mortar store to both spend and earn rewards. Because they’re basic (filling out a quick card in-store or providing an email address is often about all there is to signup), it’s tough for businesses to do targeted marketing or track particulars about what customers are buying, when they’re buying it and where.

Today, loyalty must be mobile-forward and integrated wherever customers engage with brands and retailers. This omnichannel approach to loyalty marketing aims to create engagement by:

  • Interacting with customers.
  • Tracking their purchases/rewards across devices.
  • Using that information to anticipate their wants and needs. 

However, the most important part of omnichannel loyalty is that it provides retailers and marketers with large amounts of relevant data that, if used correctly, can illuminate customer behavior and lead to better marketing strategies.

Starbucks’s loyalty marketing program — explained in detail here — is a great example of omnichannel. Customers who visit a café to have coffee might be tempted to use the free Wi-Fi. But access requires users to provide an email address and agree to be contacted about promotions and offers. 

The company then ups the ante a bit. When an offer email comes in, redeeming it requires the customer to sign up for the rewards program and use the app to make the purchase that leads to the reward.

This is engagement across multiple channels, which enables the company to send targeted offers based on location, drink preference and so on. These targeted offers tell the customer that Starbucks understands what they want — which in turn builds additional trust.

What’s next in loyalty marketing?

In 2023, marketers must up their game and devise out-of-the-box marketing programs to keep customers’ fleeting attention spans. Adding gamification to the loyalty mix — using trivia, puzzles and other app-based games to increase engagement — is one trend that’s gaining more traction.

Marketers also make rewards mobile-friendly and continue to push toward app-based programs Strategic partnerships are also on the rise. For instance, many hotel brands have linked with ride-sharing providers to offer deals to guests enrolled in their rewards programs.

But regardless of what your loyalty program looks like in 2023, ensure an emotional connection to your customers underpins it. Emotions have the highest impact on loyalty, according to Capgemini

Again, that means marketers must create programs and experiences tailored to consumers’ preferences. But the payoff is there: 70% of emotionally engaged consumers spend twice as much on brands they are loyal to, per the same Capgemini report.

But wait, there’s more!

The web is chock full of resources about all things loyalty marketing.

Here’s a great primer by the website Loyalty Lion: What is loyalty marketing? The importance of brand loyalty in modern marketing

Here are some examples of loyalty programs: 

Plus some stats on loyalty marketing: 14 customer loyalty trends to follow

And here’s a guide to subscription business models.

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

The post Why we care about loyalty marketing appeared first on MarTech.

Why we care about search marketing Mon, 23 Jan 2023 14:34:09 +0000 A combination of solid SEO and PPC strategies can boost your site's visibility in search engines, resulting in more traffic and conversions.

The post Why we care about search marketing appeared first on MarTech.

Search marketing is a very big deal. 

Consider: While Google doesn’t disclose exact figures, numbers are estimated to be anywhere from 3.5 billion to a truly staggering 8.5 billion per day. Any way you slice it, it amounts to millions of searches per minute, all day, every day. And a huge percentage of those users are researching products to buy, deciding whether to buy those products, looking for options from multiple sellers and so on. Search is a huge component of digital marketing and ecommerce.

For marketers, Google’s ubiquity, along with other search engines like Microsoft Bing — and the overall importance of search in general — means that in order to compete for clicks that convert to dollars, a solid search strategy is a must. 

This article will walk you through the basics of search engine marketing (SEM), the umbrella under which search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search (a.k.a., pay-per-click or PPC) sit. We’ll look at challenges facing marketers and best practices to meet them and the future of search marketing. 

The web is a big, busy place, so marketers competing for consumers’ time, attention and, most importantly, money must understand the critical role search plays in digital marketing — and how to use search to their advantage.  

Table of contents

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

What is search marketing?

Broadly defined, search marketing is a digital marketing strategy by which marketers use search engines to gain visibility and traffic for their online presence. As noted above, search marketing encompasses both SEO and PPC (more on both later), but broadly, the strategy involves any tactic to elevate a website’s visibility on a search engine. 

The ultimate goal for marketers utilizing a search strategy is to boost their ranking in search results. In a practical sense, that means when someone searches something like “best snowblowers” or “where to buy teak patio sets near me,” businesses are jockeying behind the scenes for position near the top of the resulting search engine results pages (SERPs). 

That coveted real estate adds up to more clicks — statistics show that around 30% of all clicks go to the top search result on Google — and eventually, marketers hope, more purchases.

The two tactics commonly used in search marketing to bolster visibility are SEO and PPC. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is an organic component of search marketing. Website owners use keywords and other strategies to push their websites as high as possible within a search engine’s results. Identifying what your target audience is searching for, then creating content to address the intent behind their search query is one of the foundational elements of SEO.

The reason for utilizing SEO as part of your search marketing strategy is simple. Google and other search engines use “crawlers” to sweep the web, using the information contained in the pages the crawlers come across to create a vast index, or library, of webpages. 

Then, algorithms — sets of rules that search engines use to understand what the webpages are about — analyze the pages to determine the order in which results are displayed and look at factors like site usability, relevance, quality and so on. 

Once you’ve got keywords down, the next logical step in SEO is to create helpful content on the topics you’re trying to drive search results for, so the search engines recognize relevance and authority.

Critically, Google, Microsoft Bing and other search engines don’t accept payment for website ranking on their search results pages. But patience is key. Many experts say that marketers should expect these tactics to begin to pay off in three or more months, as it takes work and strategy to optimize your results on search pages.

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, on the other hand, is a paid strategy. Advertisers use networks such as Google Ads to promote websites above the organic search results. Search engines display PPC ads based on online auctions — which roughly translates into the amount marketers or business owners are willing to pay every time someone clicks on their ad. 

Finding the sweet spot between generating the right number of clicks and making sure you don’t blow your budget is key for marketers, as is keeping tabs on performance using services such as Google Analytics and paying attention to which ads generate conversions — and when. But also take note, PPC is not pay-to-win. That means your ads won’t get more attention if your bids are higher. And it’s not just about clicks — it’s about Google’s Quality Score too.

So, how effective are SEO and PPC? Why should marketers care? To start, consider that the average person conducts multiple Google searches per day, while 59% of shoppers reported that they use the search engine to research products they plan on buying. 

In 2019, a large majority of ecommerce sessions (65%) originated by search: 33% from organic and 32% from paid, according to the most recent statistics published by Statista in November. There are no two ways about it — jockeying for a position among millions of sites on the web truly requires a robust search marketing strategy.

Google organic search can drive some 60% of web traffic. U.S. search ad revenue grew 33% to $78 billion last year. We told you it was a big deal.

Artificial intelligence and harnessing the power of data analytics is always part of the conversation when it comes to predicting the future of anything in the digital marketing sphere — and that is certainly the case here. Specifically, however, there are a few essential items to keep a close eye on.

First, understand that while Google is the reigning titan of search, there’s room for competition and that it principally comes from Amazon and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram. That’s why paid advertising on Amazon and having the right keyword strategy is important for digital marketers, especially when you consider that customers conducting searches on the site are most likely ready to buy.

One of the perennial challenges marketers face with their organic search strategy is keeping up with changing search algorithms. Google, for example, made major updates to its search algorithm some 10 times in the last two years, as well as running many undisclosed experiments and making minor improvements. Staying on top of those changes — and responding appropriately, as well as focusing on brand-building — is a must for digital marketers.

Marketers should also continue to pay special attention to keywords, both for SEO and PPC (there are differences). Speaking of keywords, marketers should keep in mind that voice-enabled search (especially for local businesses, restaurants, stores, etc.) is rising in popularity and accuracy. Optimizing mobile sites and keywords to support voice search by understanding that such searches are structured in full, conversational sentences is important. 

Resources for learning more about search marketing

Unsurprisingly, the web is full of helpful information about search marketing. A plethora of helpful information can be found right here or on our sister website, Search Engine Land.

  • Search Engine Land’s excellent primer on search marketing can be found here.
  • Google’s advice on search essentials can be found here.

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

The post Why we care about search marketing appeared first on MarTech.

What is ecommerce and which trends are shaping its future? Wed, 07 Dec 2022 13:30:00 +0000 Learn about ecommerce as well as key new trends like mobile and social commerce and how they are all shaping the future of marketing.

The post What is ecommerce and which trends are shaping its future? appeared first on MarTech.

By now, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find someone old enough to use a digital device who hasn’t shopped online at some point over the past couple of years.

If you’ve ever purchased a recurring shipment of laundry detergent, bid on a vintage pair of sunglasses during an online auction, or even downloaded an e-book to your tablet or reader, then you’ve engaged in ecommerce.

Indeed, virtually anything can be bought and sold online — and virtually anyone can establish an online storefront to engage in ecommerce. But getting in on the action requires online retailers to be nimble and able to attract and retain customers by providing high-quality, seamless shopping experiences.

This article will explain broadly what ecommerce is, impactful trends shaping the industry, both today and into the future, and discuss the rise of mobile commerce (m-commerce), in which ecommerce companies allow customers to complete purchases via mobile apps rather than using links to drive them back to websites.    

What is ecommerce?

In the simplest terms, ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services on the internet. Every type of transaction (B2B, B2C, C2C, etc.) that is completed online falls under the ecommerce umbrella. Ecommerce allows companies of all sizes and shapes, from small businesses to the largest corporations, to engage online and reach buyers anytime, anywhere.

While ecommerce traces its roots back to the 1970s, trading goods and services online as we know it today has been around since at least the mid-1990s (when the websites of two seminal companies, Amazon and Ebay, both launched). Close to 30 years later, worldwide retail ecommerce sales reached a staggering $5.2 trillion in 2021, a number that is on track to balloon another 56 percent over the next five years, according to research firm Statista. By 2027, Amazon alone will rake in more than $1 trillion in online sales.  

There are several reasons why ecommerce only continues to grow. Convenience is one major driving factor. Because online consumers are unencumbered by the constraints of brick-and-mortar stores — the internet is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — they are free to shop literally whenever they want. Tack on popular draws like free shipping, or the benefits and perks that come with online membership programs like Amazon Prime, and it’s not difficult to envision a future in which ecommerce dominates; by 2026, it will make up close to a third (31 percent) of all sales in the US.  

Platform vs. marketplace

Broadly speaking, business owners looking to get into ecommerce can either sell their products on an online marketplace (think Etsy, Amazon, and Walmart) or via an ecommerce platform (Shopify, Squarespace). Ecommerce platforms are simply software applications that enable sellers and their consumers to interact at an online storefront. Marketplaces, on the other hand, are exactly what they sound like — a type of ecommerce site where many different sellers connect with buyers.

While there are pros and cons to both models, online marketplaces are considerably less risky because there are virtually no startup costs or website maintenance to worry about. On the other hand, there’s stiffer competition and it’s difficult to stand out. Platforms might cost more to start up and maintain, but business owners have direct insight into their customers’ behavior, making it easier to establish brand awareness and gain loyalty.

Dig deeper: How marketers on Amazon can still launch and grow brands

Trends impacting ecommerce

It’s impossible to ignore the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on ecommerce sales, which in the United States were some $870 billion in 2021, representing a 50.5% jump over 2019. Not only did the pandemic force shoppers to change their habits overnight (online grocery shopping exploded, for example), but it also forced businesses to up their ecommerce games, or even jump into the pool for the first time.

As the world adjusts to living with COVID and the disruptions it will continue to bring (supply chain problems, illnesses at distribution centers causing shipping delays, etc.), online businesses must be ready to adapt, as well as understand that consumers — even as they shop online in record numbers — are increasingly returning to brick-and-mortar stores.

That’s why industry-watchers say that the future of ecommerce is in the omnichannel sales approach, which provides customers with a seamless shopping experience, regardless of whether they’re shopping in store, online, via a mobile app, or by phone. In a practical sense, it means that shoppers experience seamless communication between channels. With the omnichannel approach, a customer, for example, can complete a purchase online, but can also call customer service to get return information on that same order.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, unsurprisingly, have a huge role to play in the evolution of ecommerce. Harnessing data to understand what and when shoppers buy — and using it to personalize the buying experience and help make business and inventory decisions — is helping make ecommerce more efficient for bother buyers and sellers.  

The rise of mobile and social commerce

Perhaps no trend impacting ecommerce is as prevalent as the rise of mobile, or m-commerce; by 2025, retail m-commerce sales — in which shoppers complete purchases via their smartphones or tablets using apps — are expected to amount to some $710 billion.

It’s a huge opportunity, but sellers have to be ready to take advantage of the growth. Mobile sites must be easy to use and help shoppers quickly find what they’re looking for. But another large challenge is in getting customers to complete their purchases; cart abandonment happens when payment forms are cumbersome, filled with clicks, or aren’t intuitive. Mobile payment options like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Amazon Pay, and others enable shoppers to buy with one click; Amazon also has the “Buy Now” button that bypasses its multi-step process.

Sellers must also understand the ongoing impact that social media has had on e-, and m-, commerce. Increasingly, customers want to browse and purchase items without ever leaving their social platform of choice.  Instagram, for example, makes it easy for brands to connect to their customers, but creating content that not only stands out, but leads to a sale, is crucial. This competitive field is extremely crowded, so sellers have to take the time to actively engage with customers.

The future of ecommerce

Sophisticated, tech-savvy consumers will no doubt play the leading role in the continued evolution of ecommerce, demanding enhanced shopping experiences. For example, video shopping — in which brands create content that shows products in action — is gaining a growing foothold and may shake things up in 2023. Don’t discount the importance social/video platforms like TikTok will continue to have on huge swaths of the buying population.

Going beyond the use of traditional video, cutting-edge ecommerce retailers are starting to explore the possibilities of virtual reality, offering potential customers the opportunity to experience a product before buying.

The buy-now-pay-later phenomenon is also gaining major traction. Customers are enticed by the ability to split purchases large or small into interest-free payments using systems like Klarna, Afterpay, and others.

Payment flexibility will play a role in helping offset the impact inflation has had on consumers’ purchasing behavior. But sellers are also well-advised to offer generous return policies; consumers are more likely make repeat purchases from sellers with easy returns. Flexible fulfillment (buy online, pickup in store) is similarly another growing trend to watch. Though it’s not necessarily new, the name of the game for customers is convenience, so sellers must continue to find ways to increase the ease factor.

Finally, ecommerce sellers need to be ready to cater to the new generations of shoppers entering the marketplace. Their buying power, coupled with their extreme tech-savviness, makes them a formidable challenge — and opportunity — for retailers.

Resources for learning more about ecommerce

We’ve got a wealth of resources to help you learn more about ecommerce, from how to grow your ecommerce business to tracking how inventory challenges pressure both in-store and online sales.

From around the web:

The post What is ecommerce and which trends are shaping its future? appeared first on MarTech.

Why we care about B2C marketing: A guide for marketers Fri, 11 Nov 2022 16:26:54 +0000 Here's what you need to know about B2C marketing, key B2C strategies, challenges facing B2C marketers and trends for 2023 and beyond.

The post Why we care about B2C marketing: A guide for marketers appeared first on MarTech.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing continues to evolve rapidly to keep up with shifting consumer behaviors and trends driven by our digitized world. 

B2C marketers must understand the impact 24/7 internet access has on how and why consumers buy what they do – and provide relevant, personalized content and experiences with which their customers want to engage. 

This article will explain B2C marketing and touch on B2C marketing strategies, challenges facing marketers, and trends for 2023 and beyond. We’ll also take a look at the ecommerce giant Amazon, one of the titans of B2C digital marketing, and what made it an industry leader.

What is B2C marketing?

B2C marketing is a strategy by which a business sells its products and services to consumers, rather than to other businesses. Retail storefronts, ecommerce companies and even online streaming platforms such as Netflix all accomplish their sales via B2C transactions. 

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing, on the other hand, refers to the marketing of goods and services to other businesses. B2B sales cycles tend to be longer (companies making software purchases, for example, will do extensive due diligence before investing in a product). Whereas, B2C transactions are often instantaneous or close to it.

Dig deeper: Why we care about B2B marketing: A guide for marketers   

While both B2C and B2B campaigns sell products and services, successful B2C marketing campaigns seek to trigger and capitalize on both consumer impulses to buy and the emotional response their products elicit. This means as a marketer, you must be able to anticipate your consumers’ needs — and be able to deliver them before they realize what they want. 

Luckily, in today’s digital world, there’s a plethora of data that B2C marketers can tap into to accomplish this very objective and mount successful campaigns by:

  • Meticulously tracking and analyzing consumer spending.
  • Understanding how consumers interact with sponsored posts on social media and which links they follow.
  • Tracking what they ultimately end up buying.

Note: Direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing is a strategy within B2C marketing. It involves selling directly to the end consumer, thus bypassing retailers, wholesalers or marketplaces.

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

B2C digital marketing strategies

Content marketing is among the most important and effective B2C digital marketing strategies today. Defined as marketing focused on creating and distributing online content (i.e., blog posts, articles, videos, etc.), content marketing is used to attract and engage an audience that will purchase the content generator’s products. 

YouTube, for example, provides a platform for marketers to create video content that drives consumers to online retailers. The pet product retailer Chewy, for instance, creates YouTube videos called Chewtorials that combine practical information with product tie-ins. 

One of the most valuable channels for tactical content marketing is social media, with the objective to use social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even LinkedIn to push content. 

Have you seen a sponsored Instagram reel promoting a specific brand of tomato sauce or outdoor gear? Or perhaps a post from a brand linking back to its online store? Then you’ve seen social media marketing

One trend we’re seeing is the continued rise of influencer marketing, where brands use individuals with large social media followings to promote their products. But one of the most successful social media marketing tactics involves sharing where brands create content that their existing users are compelled to share with their own networks. 

To get customers to share content, besides including buttons/icons on websites, blogs or emails, you must understand your audience and what they value. And don’t forget, tapping into emotional engagement works. 

Email marketing is another foundational — and extremely successful — B2C strategy. Its ROI is an impressive $36 for every $1 spent, which outperforms virtually any other digital channel. 

Marketers can use email in any number of ways, but the key lies in delivering relevant, personalized information. If you don’t know what your customer’s preferences are, you won’t be able to deliver email content that drives purchases. 

A word about Amazon

No discussion about B2C marketing would be complete without mentioning Amazon, the world’s largest ecommerce site, with 300 million active customer accounts and close to 2 million selling partners across the world. 

Amazon is not only a leader in marketing itself but in providing marketing support and platforms through which its sellers market their own shops and products. 

Close to 30% of Amazon shoppers complete their purchases in under three minutes, while half finish in less than 15 minutes. That’s because shoppers are given exactly what they want — and Amazon learns what that is by understanding browsing and buying history.

Amazon rakes in an enormous amount of data (who their customers are, how old they are, what they buy and when, and so on), using analytics to deliver customized shopping experiences that translate into sales.

Amazon also pioneered the use of peer reviews and ratings, which have been shown to impact consumer behavior.

But its Prime membership program sets the ecommerce benchmark for establishing and maintaining relationships with consumers. The program:

  • Incentivizes shopping on through free shipping and returns.
  • Provides instant access to music, books, and other media for an annual fee. 

To compete with Prime Day, Amazon’s heavily marketed sale event that’s available only to Prime members, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and even Nordstrom have rolled out their own online events. The takeaway? Membership programs compel consumers to make more online purchases.       

B2C marketers must be nothing but nimble. Challenge number one is being able to adjust to ever-changing customer behavior. More than ever, customers expect polished, high-caliber engagements tailored to their shopping habits – but they also expect those to be delivered briefly. 

Create a YouTube video that’s too long or content that doesn’t get right to the point, and the customer won’t watch or read. Understanding that attention spans are getting ever shorter will be a challenge for B2C marketers. 

Marketers must also be able to stay abreast of changing markets that are packed to the gills with competitors – all of which are vying for your customer’s attention. An obvious tactic would be to monitor what the competition is doing by using software or products that analyze website traffic, keywords, and so on. 

But perhaps the most important trend is the continued use of data analytics in digital marketing strategies. Marketers must harness the power of data to understand how their customers behave online. 

And while customer data and information on how marketing campaigns perform can be enormously helpful to marketers, staying on top of it, not to mention making sense of it through analytics, is a huge challenge. 

Done correctly, data analysis helps you improve B2C marketing strategies by learning about and understanding customer behavior. 

The B2C marketing stack

B2C marketers are under pressure to perform. The B2C marketing stack is critical in achieving good outcomes, but B2C is so various, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Most B2C marketers will need capabilities for ecommerce, content (content management systems and digital asset management), social media and a way to analyse customer data.

The digital experience platform (DXP) category features vendors who offer some or all of these solutions. Some businesses will prefer to put together their own custom stacks from individual point solutions. Recognizing this, DXPs generally offer subscriptions to solutions within their platform rather than lock businesses into the entire offering.

Explore platform capabilities from vendors like Sitecore, Optimizely, Pantheon, WordPressVIP and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on digital experience platforms.

Click here to download!

Resources for leaning more about B2C

There is a wealth of information about B2C marketing available, including our own ongoing coverage of B2C and D2C brands like Apple Rose, Cherry Bombe, David’s Bridal, Lucchese and Paul&Shark. Here’s a selection of additional resources:

B2C Marketing: A regularly updated blog from the independent analyst firm Forrester.

Marketers’ Guide to B2C Brand Strategy: An overview of the topic from independent analyst firm Gartner.

The Adobe blog: Adobe is a vendor of marketing technology, of course, but it processes trillions of consumer data points and is a valuable source of information on consumer behavior.

B2C Content Marketing: A deep dive into perhaps the most important element of B2C marketing from agency Grow & Convert.

B2B vs B2C Marketing: 5 Differences Every Marketer Needs to Know: A closer look at the differences between the spaces from online advertising agency Wordstream.

The Ultimate Guide To Profitable B2C Marketing: Another take on strategies that work from marketing services firm ReVerb.

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

The post Why we care about B2C marketing: A guide for marketers appeared first on MarTech.