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An interview with George McCormick: How digital marketing strategies are changing

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Photo Credit: lilcrazyfuzzy/iStock Photo

Have you wondered how to factor in the most profound changes in the digital marketing ecosystem in 2020 and beyond? As the founder of one of the leading social media agencies in London, George McCormick speaks about changes in digital marketing and how businesses can adapt their strategy accordingly:

How has the evolution of mainstream social media marketing affected business decisions?

Actually, a lot of shifts have taken place. We now see smarter AI chatbots taking over customer care and even sales, so multi-channel communication has become more streamlined. It means that companies who run Facebook and Instagram ads, for example, can scale up campaigns much more rapidly without being concerned about staff shortages when new inquiries come in. Facebook and Google were nifty at countering Amazon with the rise of image marketing in other countries: although Amazon commands the majority of product searches in the US, all over the world, retailers now tap into the Facebook and Google ecosystems to pump out their product feeds and connect with audiences in a highly targeted way. It is also worth noting that since Instagram and Facebook targeting is possible via the same ad platform – a disproportionally higher reach is now available for things like short video ads and carousel product ads, again adding to scalability.

What can you share about voice assistants and mobile?

As we drive more sales and meaningful connections via social media marketing, the ecosystem should be able to handle it with ease. Voice assistants are basically an extension of the chatbot family, capitalising on the fact that most social media ads target mobile phone devices – and the concept of proximity marketing. Brands will start to deploy much more of this technology and it is a huge help. Late adopters of this technology will likely have higher operational costs to compete at scale when opting to remain without it. I would not say that voice assistants will impact the problems ad networks face when it comes to lower bidding for mobile inventory, but it is a step in the right direction for sure.

How is the industry doing with personalization?

There is one word here: scaling. As omnichannel communication, big data and AI bots function together, we can see how easy it has become to provide personalization at scale. It is again the case where pressure is taken off the HR department and businesses can grow with greater ease than before. If privacy laws remain the same and do not tighten up further, personalization has a great future and place in your marketing strategy. This ties in closely with email marketing too.

Have there been any meaningful changes in email marketing?

Yes indeed.  It has become much more engagement-based as users are being tracked according to their engagement – so segmentation is much higher. This could mean for example that from all the wealth of customer leads we drive with social media marketing and other forms, we’re able to drive more high-value clients to appropriate products and boost ROI. Then, let’s not forget that since social media channels don’t share all organic activity with your followers, some businesses remain committed to investing in building powerful email campaigns. To me of course, the integration of social and email is an interesting area that we work with a lot.

Will there be a change in how companies allocate their budgets?

Well, each business is different, especially when you consider the profitability of products weighed against the cost of pay per click – and the business model itself: If Dixon’s earn a hefty profit on the first sale of an electronics product, but Harrods only earn their money on the second or third sale it makes to a customer, then both will approach things very differently. But I see a shift from Linkedin towards Facebook, Instagram and perhaps even Twitter, thanks to more advanced targeting methods being available in recent months. We also see more businesses bypassing the limitations of low search volume with what display can offer them.

What do you see as the most essential marketing activities for businesses who want to be up to date?

Being up to date is one thing – but really, it is also about remaining competitive. With this in mind, content marketing has been hugely important and continues to be, but it is supported by more activities in the integrated marketing ecosystem. AI and machine learning, for example, is something that is deployed quietly by ad platforms so some SME’s are not so aware of its presence, albeit that they benefit from it during campaign setup. Customer experience – and CRO is rather crucial too because it helps to remain competitive. Communities themselves are taking a bit of a backseat – in other words, businesses now spend more money to target a variety of communities with paid ads, rather than trying to build their own community. Then, the overlap is huge between mobile marketing, proximity marketing, and customer experience (in-store), as well as paid social media.

Any final tips or trends to watch out for in the next few months?

The trends are moving swiftly. I think Facebook for Business is going to be a breakthrough opportunity to help more B2B organizations – and to hopefully show with consistently good results, that social is not only for B2C. You’ll hear Microsoft and many others talk about easy chatbot implementation – but make sure it is the kind of technology that can engage and convert your users. If a variety of new technology works out well and budgets are cut on customer service teams: be sure to keep an eye on mobile cost per click, because it may just increase as businesses pass on their savings in other areas to customer acquisition. Video marketing will remain a solid segment to invest in – creating these valuable assets can be used wisely across channels for a long period of time.

More insights and updates from George McCormick can be obtained from his official website:

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