Advertising is a constantly evolving industry, both for those who work within it and those who rely upon it. While that has been the case for decades, the digital era has put it all in flux on a far more rapid scale. It’s true that TV overtook radio which beat out newspapers, but that happened on the scale of years, if not decades. In digital marketing, however, the change is far more rapid – sometimes changing by the week.
With so much changing, the online advertising platform WordStream polled its customers to learn what real-world advertisers – both individual companies and agencies – had to say about their marketing plans and challenges this year. It’s quite revealing and may shine some light on your own plans and show you where you may be underspending or overextended on your marketing spend.
Understanding the Field
To start, WordStream asked respondents about the size and scope of their marketing efforts. The company first asked the size of users’ marketing teams and discovered that a slight majority – 35 percent – had only one marketing person in charge of all efforts. Another 33 percent had a small team – between two and five people – while another 21 percent had no dedicated marketing staff at all.
Perhaps hand in hand with this are what users listed as their largest challenges to growth. Here WordStream found a near-even split among those citing limited time (40 percent) and those with budgetary constraints (39 percent). This was somewhat in parallel with another question later in the survey that asked whether companies outsourced their marketing work or handled it in house. Here, the poll found half of respondents did all work internally, while 49 percent outsourced at least some portion of their advertising work.
The results may not seem that surprising to you, depending on your individual working situation. But, when you look at the stats, there are many companies out there that seem to rely on a one-person team who is crunched for time and doing all the marketing work on their own. It may also come as no surprise, then, that a 2017 study by Comparably found that workers in creative design and marketing were among the most likely to report feeling burnt out.
Knowing What’s Important
With time and budgets at a premium, it’s critical that advertisers and marketing teams know what is the most important to their organization and what will have the greatest impact for their business online. To that end, WordStream asked consumers to rank their top strategies in order of importance and found that paid search came out on top, averaging a position of 1.58 on most marketers’ lists.
While not necessarily surprising, the close fight for second place was more telling. Content marketing eked out paid social advertising with an average position of 3.12 versus 3.13. Trailing behind by half a position was email marketing, ranking 3.66 on average. As WordStream notes, the result shows that advertisers have come to see the importance of a strong and solid content-driven foundation for any marketing campaign, and the investment in content marketing shows that businesses are making a concerted effort to deliver quality content to help sway buyers minds while they are on their purchasing journey.
The end result of these strategies is outcomes, and WordStream’s survey asked what users considered the most important objectives for their businesses. Topping the list was increasing ROI, followed by optimizing conversion rate, increasing the number of conversions and improving conversion tracking. These objectives are not universally applicable, particularly for websites that don’t offer online sales, but the overarching theme of being able to directly attribute sales to a given campaign is something that should be at the center of any type of paid digital marketing campaign.
The Belle of the Ball – Video
Video continues to surge as one of the top media options that advertisers are including or working to include in their overall marketing strategy. In the survey, 59 percent said they are currently using video as part of their strategy. Video marketing can take a number of different forms, from quick web commercials to question-and-answer sessions or even how-to shorts or product insight videos.
There’s no wrong way to add video to your marketing strategy, but still many find it difficult to do so. The survey also asked companies what the biggest obstacles were for them in adding video to their strategy and, as with the responses before, the No. 1 response was a lack of time. Another 28 percent said they lacked the knowhow to create video, while 17 percent more cited cost. Rounding out the top results, an additional 13 percent who didn’t think it was necessary.
Going Beyond Digital
Digital campaigns aren’t the only marketing efforts used by companies who answered the WordStream survey. In fact, a number of additional marketing channels are popular with the company’s users, including SEO, which ranked as the No. 1 additional channel used by 79 percent of respondents. In second was email marketing with 66 percent and, in third – and showing up for a second time – was content marketing with 60 percent.
SEO and email marketing are tried and true tactics that have well established themselves as vital tools in the modern marketing toolbox, but content marketing has truly surged in the past few years. Content marketing can take a wide variety of different forms, including many of the options already discussed above such as email marketing, SEO campaigns, video creation and much more. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute provides a fairly broad definition that spans any created and distributed content that is valuable, relevant and consistent and used to attract and retain a clear audience and drive them to a conversion point.
Emails, videos, blogs, SEO and so much more can be included within this definition, and employing a solid and logical flow throughout these campaigns as an overall content marketing strategy can make it a streamlined process for your potential customers to find you (SEO, social media, SEM), learn about your products (website copy, video, email) and ultimately make a purchasing decision (incentive offers, discount code emails, retargeting) with your business.
Better Expertise, Time Savings, Better Results
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to finding, measuring and achieving success in the realm of digital marketing. It’s also why so many companies and organizations turn to marketing agencies like JFG. In the survey, 56 percent of those who said they use an agency or other third-party provider noted they chose to do so to take advantage of better expertise, while another 31 percent said it was for the time savings. Another 9 percent chose a partner for their ability to deliver better results.
Whatever your reason and whatever kind of assistance you need, you’ll find it when you work with JFG. Our team offers extensive experience and knowledge of digital marketing channels, social media, SEO and more, and can help define, create and manage a campaign that helps grow your bottom line. Give us a call or send us an email and learn how we can help today.
Bringing with him more than a decade of experience in traditional and online news media, digital marketing and content production experience, Ryan Yaeger is the copywriter and digital content strategist at J. Fitzgerald Group. When not busy wordsmithing at his proverbial word anvil or working on client SEO, you can find him testing new board games or cheering for the Bills or Sabres.