Marketing your product or your business isn’t easy; it has never been. Companies and brands, no matter how big or small, have been consistently competing over the ages in order to reach a larger audience. And although the game has changed significantly over the years, there are still some fundamental challenges that every business needs to overcome if they choose to sell their products and grow their brand. Fundamental challenges like communicating your product’s value and inspiring confidence among buyers are something every business needs to figure out. Add to that more seasonal, unpredictable, and dynamic challenges, like the type that arise as markets evolve and businesses change, and effectively marketing your brand begins to feel like an extremely tough challenge.
One such example of an immediate and unpredictable challenge is the pandemic. Almost every business across the world has had to adapt in some way or another in order to survive the recent chaos, and the same can be said about marketing in general. Since most of the world was under a strict lockdown, almost all commerce-related activity had to be done digitally, especially marketing.
This has surely given a solid boost to digital marketing, inspiring brands to invest more into digital marketing channels. In fact, it’s fair to say that running a business has become next to impossible in today’s time without a digital presence.
But with great opportunities come greater challenges and competition. Digital marketing isn’t immune to the same old marketing challenges, instead, one could argue it gets progressively difficult to market yourself online as digital channels get bigger and more popular. Below is a list featuring some of the major marketing challenges faced by brands today as well as some advice on how to overcome them.
Major digital marketing challenges brands face today
Marketing across multiple channels
Content marketing has been steadily growing over the years to the point where it has become impossible to ignore. As a direct result of this, too many content marketing channels have emerged, saturating the digital marketing place. Two decades ago, starting a blog would have been cutting-edge digital marketing, today you need a robust social media strategy, multi-channel promotion, and at least two years of consistent writing to even get a blog off the ground. The point is that the marketing ecosystem has diversified, and it simply isn’t enough to stick to a single platform or strategy.
For your content marketing strategy to be fruitful, you’ll have to adopt a multi-channel approach. Essentially, you’ll have to choose multiple platforms to execute your marketing strategy. But how do you do that? Do you double down on various social media platforms? What about video marketing? Should you start a blog or a newsletter? Or should you entirely focus on advertising and sponsorships? With so many options out there, most businesses either ignore most marketing opportunities or are divided between too many platforms and strategies. What you need to do is, pick the right platform and strategy that is best suited for the type of results you are looking for.
The solution is to know your audience. You’ll have to build consumer personas and extrapolate the type of content and platform they will most likely consume and use. Knowing your potential audience will also help you produce the kind of content that will resonate with them the most. Once you have some idea about who your audience is and what they like to see the most, you can double down on your user’s preferred platforms. This will help you funnel down and focus on a few critical marketing channels rather than being all over the place.
High Demand for content
Content has exploded for the nth time, and no matter how much of it you produce, it simply doesn’t seem to be enough. Even after strategically selecting your marketing channels, you are still going to need to put in a lot of effort simply trying to match the content demand for your preferred platforms. Let’s assume you are a woman’s fashion brand trying to attract new customers. You might want to heavily focus on Instagram and Pinterest while also being slightly active on youtube. However, you’ll soon realize that it can be a real challenge producing consistent original content, even for a few select social media platforms.
This is because most marketing channels today are saturated to the brim, so it has become tough to stand out or be visible amidst the noise. To have tangible results with, let’s say Instagram, you’ll have to put out relevant, engaging content consistently, sometimes even multiple times a day. This is especially difficult for SMBs that lack a dedicated marketing team or do not wish to hire a digital marketing agency.
The best solution to this roadblock, in my opinion, is to create strategic content that can be repurposed on multiple platforms. This means that rather than focusing on five different strategies and content plans for five separate media platforms, you simply focus on having a singular cohesive system that manages to serve every platform you are aiming for. Coming back to the women’s fashion brand example, you might want to create ‘foundational content’ in the form of style guides either on youtube or your website. These would be well-researched and in-depth guides that will serve as the core of your marketing campaign. The next step would be to extract tiny snippets from these content pools, which would be perfectly suited for other social platforms like Instagram and Google ads. So essentially, you only work on a singular piece of content that is compatible across various platforms, saving you significant time and resources.
Standing out and going viral
Singling out a few relevant platforms and strategically creating content for them is a huge step forward, but it is no guarantee for success. Blindly posting across social media platforms simply won’t cut it. To enjoy any significant results from your content marketing efforts, you’ll have to ensure that you can establish a unique identity for your brand. Given the existing and growing competition across major social media platforms, it is incredibly challenging to establish a unique identity and a loyal fan base for yourself.
The first step towards overcoming this hurdle is to reach your audience, or rather, reach the right audience. Algorithms increasingly control the internet, and anyone who knows their way around them can surely be a great marketer.
The point is that different platforms are based on different algorithms, and to succeed at any form of marketing, you’ll have to know each of them well. Some platforms value frequency over quality, while others value user engagement over everything else. You’ll have to develop a comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanics of the platforms you wish to target and incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
Beyond just ‘playing by the rules’ of the platform, it might also be a good idea to keep tabs on the recent trends and the type of content that performs best. It’s great to come up with original ideas and content consistently, but it’s also ridiculously difficult to do so. Always focus on creating meaningful content that represents your brand, but also don’t miss out on any potential opportunities for repurposing an already popular piece of content. What you need to unlock the content marketing success you are looking for is the right mix of originality combined with what is relevant and popular in the market.
So far, we have extensively focused on direct challenges faced by content marketers, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t any technical challenges to marketing in general—the biggest one of these being calculating the return on investment for any marketing strategy. This happens because most marketing channels do not directly lead to revenue generation; rather, they simply serve the purpose of building a strong brand identity and capturing leads, which obviously cannot be linked to concrete sales figures.
So how do you go about calculating the precise ROI for a given marketing strategy or campaign? Well, there isn’t a direct way to do so. However, there are still ways of judging if a marketing campaign is effective or not. All you need to do is define certain KPIs that impact your business the most and measure if your marketing efforts significantly improve them. Say you are an e-commerce store, and your primary goal is to increase website traffic (and hence sales). All you need to do is take a look into your analytics. Do you notice a significant spike in your website traffic right after a particular campaign went into action? Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Although you’ll never get an exact ROI per dollar for any content marketing strategy, this is still the best you can do to ensure that your campaigns are making more money than what they cost.
And finally, let’s talk about privacy. Privacy issues have been a growing concern for an increasing number of companies and users over the last few years.
Rightly so, users are becoming more aware of how their data is being used and are demanding greater transparency. This, in itself, isn’t bad news. However, it does place some challenges for brands that regularly utilize customer data to target their audience better.
If you have to have a global audience, the task at hand gets significantly more challenging. The first biggest hurdle is to comply with all the emerging privacy laws. You’ll have to be especially mindful of privacy regulations if your company or any associated third party stores user data in any shape and form. As laws around privacy get stricter, brands might likely lose access to most of the consumer data they enjoy today, and thus, your strategy needs to be flexible enough to accommodate such a change. On a lighter note, it is also essential to avoid being seen as a brand that doesn’t take its user’s privacy seriously. Users have become sensitive about these issues, and even the tiniest mishaps can lead to serious backlash and negative press.
Marketing a business has never been easy, but luckily today, we are surrounded by a million different tools that we can utilize to communicate with our consumers. Sure, every medium and platform has its own unique challenges, but a seasoned marketer would never shy away from these.
Yes, digital marketing can be incredibly difficult at times, especially given the enormous amount of content and competition across most platforms. Still, with clearly defined goals, a strategic approach, some room for experimentation, and the will to see your campaigns through, any brand can succeed at its content marketing efforts.
by Darren Mathew