Marketing, as it enters the 2020s, is in a strange but exciting place. The broadcast approach strategy — capitalizing on mass appeal and one-to-many communication — is waning. Its replacement — hypertargeted, one-to-one experiences — is winning.
This is causing a shuffle in the advertising hierarchy, leaving both marketers and companies to fumble their way through predicting what will happen next. Don Draper wouldn’t even know where to start. There will always be room for great creative minds, but the ability to create brands will follow a completely different delivery model.
The work of a marketer is now twofold: Use large channels to brand a company, and stay top of mind. Use individual targeting to personalize your message and drive purchases. It’s more segmented and more complicated, but it offers far more possibilities.
Marketing and Advertising’s Focus Has Changed
The point of advertising has always been to create a one-on-one relationship with the customer, even when platforms only allowed for mass messaging. Messaging that speaks to everyone speaks to no one.
With new opportunities, however, come new challenges. And the biggest challenge facing advertising in the future won’t be the branding, the messaging, or the platform. It will be the experience. What it takes to reach today’s consumer is something clean, simple, slightly personalized, and very timely. It’s very much, conceptually, like a grocery store checkout. The more convenient, timely, or intriguing the item, the more likely you are to spontaneously purchase it before leaving the store.
This same concept explains why targeting users through Instagram is working so well. It’s not terribly inconvenient — people can easily ignore the message and scroll away. But if the item fits a current need or appears at the right time, a purchase is increasingly likely. (This is how I end up with books. They know I like books.)
But as these experiences get more personalized and purchasing habits shift further to smaller online outlets that almost resemble pop-up shops, there will be an increased need to create trust between new brands and consumers.
It’s great that you can create a Shopify or Magento shop seemingly overnight. It’s an amazing opportunity for smart entrepreneurs who understand targeting and know how to reach current consumers. But their biggest challenge will be establishing trust. As a new brand with little recognition, this is always difficult. I faced this early in my career — people at conferences and on the marketing circuit sometimes treated me like I was invisible until my content and speaking engagements started speaking for me.
Even though a lot of the barriers to entry have gone away, particularly regarding economy of scale, this is still a challenge. So how do new brands establish trust? It starts with security.
Consumers Will Invest More Time for More Security
Adam Rogas, CEO of NS8, an e-commerce cybersecurity firm that works directly with platforms like Shopify and Magento, sees verification happening sooner in the process, as well as more often.
“With global e-commerce growing rapidly, particularly on mobile devices, merchants will need to embrace the use of third-party data and automated verification tools to score users and session data. There will be an increased reliance on connecting pre-session data and recognizing fraud earlier in the process, rather than just verifying payments and personally identifiable information,” said Rogas.
Data is incredibly important for a small business and can be a huge asset over time. Collecting it, however, can lead to a couple more clicks for the consumer. This will be the inevitable push-and-pull dynamic between consumer experience architects and security teams. The CX side wants everything to be seamless. But security is the baseline to even having an experience. Consumers are showing an increased willingness to take minor pauses or endure slight inconveniences in the process for the sake of security.
“From the consumer standpoint, most buyers will likely be more open to additional layers of verifying their accounts and orders,” said Rogas. “With large-scale data breaches becoming more common, many shoppers appreciate the extra steps in fraud prevention that protect their personal data.”
And while one e-commerce snafu may not seem like much, it can have long-term consequences. “People will not do business with a breached company, plain and simple,” explains Samantha Cruz, cyber operations researcher at Horangi Cyber Security. “Even if the company is eventually able to recover the financial losses, the impact on the company’s reputation would be a scar that would take a significant amount of time to fade. That is, if it even fades at all.”
Don’t forget, as Cruz points out, that a breach could also encompass trade secrets and the very things that make a business competitive. Without those advantages, a brand could lose its foothold in the marketplace to a degree that no level of marketing or advertising could overcome.
By combining security with data collection, it’s far easier to create trust and arm your business with data. Transparency is key: There’s nothing wrong with declaring your intent. If you communicate that more data both makes things safer and creates a better, more streamlined experience, consumers will most likely appreciate your candor.
We’ve reached a tipping point where creative isn’t a marketer’s biggest concern. It is — or should be — security and data collection. Shift where you focus your time and customer experience, and you may just find yourself managing more consumer interest than ever before.