In this article, I’ll walk you through the 10 biggest challenges I think marketers will face in the next 5 years.
With over a decade of experience in the space, I’ve seen plenty of challenges arise and paid close attention to how marketers approach each one. And I’ve learned that, as in most things, a good offense is the best defense when it comes to facing obstacles head-on.
Let’s get started.
We’ll cover these 10 challenges and how to overcome them:
- Proper Tracking
- Non-Sales Conversions
- Attribution Modeling
- Backend Sales
- Consistent Brand Messaging
- Top Network Identification
- Opt-In Rules
- Government Regulations
- Conveying Complex Innovation, Simply
1. One of the Top Marketing Challenges Is Proper Tracking
Tracking your goals and conversions is a big one—and it’s really hard to do.
By setting up proper tracking for your key performance indicators (KPIs), you’ll be able to analyze how your campaigns are performing. More importantly, you can adjust them based on how your audiences are responding.
For successful tracking, follow these steps as needed:
- Define your metrics.
- Figure out what tools you require in order to keep track of those metrics.
- Make sure there’s a set employee or team to take on the tracking.
- They will need to communicate their results to maximize impact.
- Then, marketing strategists can tweak or change the campaigns based on the results.
For example, you may track ecommerce conversions with Google Analytics or digital to brick-and-mortar conversions with Facebook pixels.
For goals such as return on marketing investment (ROMI), keep track of your incremental revenue, cost of goods sold and marketing spending.
2. Pay Attention to Non-Sales Conversions
When you think conversions, you typically think sales.
But there are all kinds of conversions to look out for – and track – in marketing. Here’s a key example: Facebook view-through conversions.
According to Facebook, a view-through conversion is an action that a user takes within one day of seeing your ad on their platform (or within a month of clicking an ad).
These conversions include defined consumer actions or events. You can edit the attribution window for more or less time.
If you’re advertising on Facebook, consider the Lift Study. You can run an experiment to see which ads impact people more with a random test group and control group.
In Google Analytics, you can assign monetary values to non-sales goals depending on what percentage of a product or service value the non-sales event contributes. This is a great way to combat current issues in marketing management.
3. How to Overcome Marketing Challenges Through Attribution Modeling
Unless you’re a small town general store with a loyal consumer base of locals, conversions don’t happen in one fell swoop.
Because of that, it can be tricky to pinpoint which marketing touchpoints to thank for a final conversion.
Attribution modeling helps with this. There are various types of attribution models to choose from. Here are the five most common:
- First click: AKA first interaction
- Last click: AKA last interaction
- Last non-direct click: Sometimes, you’ve already won the conversion before the user directly types in your URL or visits your store to make a purchase. This reflects the touchpoint that pushed them over the edge.
- Linear: A multi-touch model that gives equal weight to every touchpoint leading up to the conversion
- Time decay: AKA weighted, a multi-touch model that prioritizes the most recent touchpoints
Figure out what’s best for your business and stick with it. Keep your finger on the pulse of your different marketing channels and figure out your assists for every goal.
4. Tying New Customer Conversions to Back-End Sales
This is another way to set yourself up for proper tracking, but it’s important enough to highlight.
You’ll want to tie new customer conversions (AKA front-end sales) to additional sales made by existing customers (AKA back-end sales). This means you’re actually connecting database sales to website conversions because the two are not mutually exclusive.
In the upcoming decade, one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers will be differentiating between new customers and existing ones. There’s a difference in content marketing and advertising for those who are loyal to the brand and new audiences you’re trying to attract.
Back-end sales contribute to your lifetime customer value. The higher a lifetime customer value, the more you can invest in marketing to retain customer loyalty (for example, newsletters or complimentary webinars) and marketing to get new customers (press releases and PPC ads).
5. Use Consistent Brand Voice and Messaging to Combat Recent Issues In Marketing
In order to find your place in the marketplace, you’ll need to create a consistent brand voice and messaging. You need a solid creative look and feel across all ad platforms, including your website.
Your company should have a thought-out style guide for content, copy and design. This means selecting your brand colors, logo styles, visual media specifications, platform preferences and writing do’s and don’ts.
Even if you think you can wing it, do yourself a favor and develop a real voice and presence. Make sure it resonates with your true buyer’s personas—in all their nuance.
Focus on a few key things to set a solid brand voice and messaging foundation:
- Dissect your audience
- Communicate any changes across your teams
- Give your voice an authentic personality by featuring real users and team members
Check out Coca Cola’s Instagram feed for an obvious example of brand voice and messaging consistency:
As businesses begin to emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), make sure your messaging and your actions are in sync. Consumers can see through empty statements.
6. Know What Networks You Should Be Spending Time and Money On
It’s important to figure out what networks you should be spending the most time and money on.
More and more platforms will open up to advertisers in the next few years. You’re not going to know which ones are best for your business without analyzing them.
That’s why you have to develop a system to test your cost-per-acquisition, develop campaigns that improve the metric and scale accordingly.
Of course, the right channel depends on performance—but it also depends on budget. Some platforms (like commercials or native ads) may be pricier than more affordable alternatives (like sponsored Facebook posts).
Keep in mind, it may be more valuable to your business to spend a decent chunk of your budget on a platform with proven results. For example, LinkedIn is notoriously more expensive than its social counterparts like Facebook. But if it’s the platform that reaches your target audience most effectively and proves a higher ROI, it’s worth it to make the investment.
Don’t discount any platforms until you’ve tested them. Find what works best for you and puzzle out your budget so that you’re allocating the right amount to the right platforms.
Of course, we don’t even know the full extent of ad options that will emerge in the next 10 years, which is why it’s always important to leave a little room in your budget for experimentation.
7. One of the Top Marketing Challenges Today: Tighter Opt-In Rules
Networks are getting tighter and tighter with their opt-in rules.
Recently, the Apple iOS 14 update required apps like Facebook to display an opt-in screen asking people if they agree to tracking. There’s also the fact that Google Chrome is ditching third-party cookies.
Though platforms will continue to hunt for other ways to set up and target new audiences, changes like this make it harder to target new audiences as the public becomes more privacy-oriented.
Due to the newness of these privacy crackdowns, we can’t say exactly how to get around the loss of third-party cookies. We can say that being at the forefront of any new shifts will be critical to maintaining effective advertising strategies.
As more information becomes available, you’ll want to pay close attention to things like Server Side Tagging through Google Tag Manager and Conversion Measurement APIs.
But privacy concerns don’t just apply to advertising.
In the United States, the CAN-SPAM Act requires companies to provide opt-out options for recipients, but opt-in practices are a preferred practice.
Developing opt-in strategies will help you build a network of first-party data, which sets you up for success in the decade to come. As privacy norms tighten, you’ll want to be ahead of the game.
8. Combat Ad Fatigue With Benchmark Marketing
More and more people are joining different online spaces as they come. That means more advertising online, which makes it harder to cut through the clutter.
All the while, consumers will eventually become numb to the ads we know today. Ad fatigue leads to a reduction in action by users, and it’s one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers.
One way to keep yourself ahead of the competition is through benchmark marketing. Competitive benchmarking in particular lets you know where your competitors are at—which means you can figure out how to beat them.
9. More Government Regulations Will Change the Game
Just like the rules and norms for opt-ins will shift, so too will government regulations on marketing and tracking.
Now, we have truth-in-advertising laws which are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Within the last few years, influencer laws have become more mainstream thanks to Instagram moguls like Kim Kardashian and innumerable micro-and macro-influencers.
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10. The Last of the Marketing Challenges: Keeping Messaging Simple Amid Complex Innovation
Technology advances quickly, and that pace is likely to speed up over the next 10 years.
When it comes to innovation, conveying complex tech in a simple way is one of the most prominent marketing challenges in and of itself. This is especially true for companies focusing on SaaS, fintech, cybersecurity, and more.
It’s important to keep your messaging simple despite innovation. For example, take a new cryptocurrency brand with its own blockchain. To the average reader, that sentence may as well be gibberish. The company’s job, therefore, is to take that complex thought and convey it simply enough that it can still appeal to the masses. How can they express their mission, vision, values, and overall purpose to potential customers without confusing them?
While it’s true that conveying your product and unique value proposition has always been critical, the continuous introduction of new, complex technology and AI will only add to the burden. Businesses need to stay one step ahead and rely on skilled copywriters and marketers able to break down these complicated processes.
Another example is Option Alpha, an automated stock and options trading platform. Its software is complex enough that it requires no coding from the user, but they’ve still managed to clearly express what their software is all and cut out any confusion.
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Working with a high-quality creative team can help you keep it simple, sweetie without ignoring your company’s awesome advancements.
The Bottom Line: There Are Ways to Get Through All Marketing Challenges
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that the digital landscape will continue to change. Have a keen eye for regulation changes, new norms, increased competition and more. After all, knowing how to overcome marketing challenges will keep you relevant for the long haul.