Guest article: How to succeed with Digital Marketing in the visual era

Business | Sat 10 Nov | Author – Business & Finance

Businesses and marketers still struggle with producing personalised and compelling visual experiences at scale

Consumers are moved by visual experiences. As humans, we love visual content because that’s how our brains have been hard-wired to process information. According to research from 3M and MIT, we process images 60,000 times faster than text at a nimble speed of about 13 milliseconds. And because visual communication has been around longer than written communication, it’s only natural that our visual acuity has gained the upper hand through years of evolution.

While the internet has acclimated to the visual era and images now command the modern web, businesses and marketers still struggle with producing personalised and compelling visual experiences at scale. Content has become the bottleneck for personalisation and digital marketing investments are no longer moving the needle. According to Forrester and the Harvard Business Review, 66% of CMOs are not hitting their business targets even though billions are being spent on MarTech every year. So how can businesses drive better ROI for their digital marketing efforts?

Here are three things needed to succeed with digital marketing in today’s visual era, all enabled by advancements in technology:

Balancing Creative and Data

For the past several years, a bulk of digital marketing efforts and tech spend have been dedicated to data collection and enablement, but this is ultimately not translating into the visual experiences that speak to consumers. While marketers have tons of data, content gets bottlenecked in that it’s a challenge for marketers to deliver visual content that is both timely and personalised to each customer, so often times they are faced with the false dilemma of supplying personalised content on a small scale or generic content on a mass scale. In order to navigate this obstacle, marketers should look to rebalance resource allocation and focus on technology that enables them to not only collect data and segment consumers, but leverage that data in a way that addresses the creative side of the equation – ensuring customers get the best visual experience possible no matter where and when they engage.

Enhancing the Traditional Customer Journey

The traditional idea of customer journey mapping relies heavily on predicting the future. However, it’s extremely difficult to predict what consumers will do across countless digital touchpoints and channels. Marketers today should look to enhance the customer journey by focusing more on understanding the past instead of trying to predict the future. By examining where the customer is at any moment and taking into account the sum total of past interactions, marketers can deliver the best experience in real time regardless of when the customer engaged, or the channel he or she used. Whether it’s an email, webpage or display ad, marketers can leverage technology to improve the customer experience and journey by responding in real time vs. trying to predict where the customer will go next.

Automating Content via Machine Learning

Digital marketers can optimise their efforts by increasingly automating content creation. While machine learning has been thought of as primarily applicable to content distribution decisions, its potential in marketing content production is also promising. With the help of AI, many variables of content production, such as layout, visual identity, voice, and tone, can be better personalised. Human creativity will still be at the core of content, but AI will increasingly serve to augment and multiply the capabilities of creative professionals by scaling design to millions of personalised variations. In doing so, machine learning will help marketers refine the way content is presented. Just as personalised graphics and imagery can now be automated, they can also be optimised through machine learning to serve more persuasive, personalised, and relevant content to each individual customer.

While the internet and many digital channels have adjusted to the visual era, many legacy martech tools have failed to adapt. To succeed with digital marketing and drive better ROI, marketers need to first shift gears to creating appealing and personalised visual experiences. Marketers should move the needle from data collection back towards a focus on delivering the right kind of creative. Additionally, marketers should seek to enhance the traditional customer journey by engaging customers in real time rather than trying to predict where the customer is going. Lastly, they should look to technology to optimise visual content via machine learning in order to deliver more personalised experiences to each and every customer. There is massive opportunity ahead for brands that embrace new and emerging technology to succeed in the visual era.

Matthew Potter, Regional Vice President, EMEA at Movable Ink, is a marketing technology expert with extensive experience working with and for both large corporations and innovative start-ups. As VP of Northern Europe, he is responsible for leading Movable Ink’s expansion across the region through strategic new business and customer success initiatives.