Digital Marketing Channels are Flatlining. Here's What …


When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Was is it on purpose? As many as 60 percent of banner ad clicks are accidental. Only 9 percent of them are viewed for more than one second. Yet every day, experienced marketers waltz into the office with their latest banner ad idea. Or worse, autoplay video. This is partly why I’m building an AR company that helps make ads more interactive, but also a tell-tale sign that disruption is inevitable. 

Marketers are desperate to increase numbers and generate traffic using old-school techniques such as SEO, content, social, email, webinars and influencers. Of course, consumers sense these tactics and are feeling increasingly suffocated by belligerent ads while marketers aimlessly spin their wheels.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

After all, when the first banner ad was created by Joe McCambley in 1994 for AT&T, it spread like wildfire. “Banner ads didn’t always suck,” McCambley explained in his article for Harvard Business Review. “My children tell me that’s like inventing smallpox.”

What was once a novelty has become a digital disease, seeing aggressive pushback from browsers such as Safari’s feature that disables cross-site cookie tracking, and Google Chrome’s built-in ad-blockers coming 2018.

“Sure, digital was exploding not too long ago — the growth seemed unstoppable — insurmountable even,” explains Ryan Urban, CEO of BounceX. “But a lot of that growth was really just people first getting online. Not the beginning of an upward trend, just a one time bounce that is leveling off. Now, that market is nearly saturated.”

In March of this year, SmartInsights found that across all ad formats and placements ad click-through-rate is just 0.05 percent. Marketers are simply unable to increase digital revenue and spending more than ever trying to.

“We can’t even leverage the decreasing amount of traffic we are able to drive and identify,” Urban says. “We bludgeon with discounts and race our prices to the ground; we email prospects to death; we created apps that no one cared about; we poured resources into customer loyalty programs that never really took off; and all omnichannel has done is get us to invest in a terrible personalization software that hasn’t increased conversions.”

Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free

Urban shares his advice for what marketers have to do to save their digital revenue, marketing strategies and (perhaps most importantly) their jobs:  

1. Speed up your slow mobile website.

This will come as no surprise: If your website is slow, no one will stay on it. And if no one is on your website, no one is buying anything. Increasing site speed has to be a priority. Run, don’t walk, to your boss’s office and tell them that if you can improve your mobile site speed by 30 percent, you will grow your mobile revenue by 25 times.

2. Change your customer acquisition model.

Stop spending money on low intent prospects. Efforts should be poured into identifying who the best customers are — the ones who will spend the most consistently. That’s who marketers should be paying more to drive to our sites. Lifetime value for the win.

3. Start leveraging behavioral email.

Batch and blast emails are killing our prospect lists and aren’t helping our customers. The difference between a 0.3 percent and a 0.1 percent unsubscribe rate is death. Over the next three years, if you’re emailing at a 0.3 percent unsubscribe rate — you’re not going to have anyone left to email.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Start focusing on sending behavioral emails. Behavioral emails are the most relevant messages to specific people based on actions they’re actually taking in real-time. This includes cart abandonment, connecting them across their devices and understanding that on average it takes four to five visits for someone to purchase for the first time from your brand.

4. Unlock a new revenue channel.

People-based marketing is the future. We’re not marketing to cookies anymore, we’re marketing to actual human beings. The first step to this channel is through identification, figure out who is actually coming to your site and what they’re doing while they’re there.

Marketers who embrace change and return to a people-centric approach where humans take precedent will unlock incremental revenue across all current channels. Resuscitating their channels may not be simple, but will ultimately garner the right customers the right way.

Related: This 14-Year-Old Founder Explains How to Market to Teenagers on Social Media

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