5 Things Digital Marketers Need To Stop Doing In 2016

There are brands that have totally nailed content marketing, and there are some who are still trying to get with it. Aditi Nargundkar talks about 5 things you need to do ensure to be at the top of content marketing

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Editor’s Note: The article has been cross-posted from LinkedIn with due consent from the author – Aditi Nargundkar. All the views expressed below are completely personal and not endorsed by her employer or Lighthouse Insights.

… or whatever’s left of the year 🙂

Content Marketing has been the belle of the digital ball in the last few years, and continues to reign in 2016. This new cool thing has turned us marketers into treasure-hunters, each one seeking the perfect content piece for their brand, to be natively integrated with the brand’s usage (so.much.jargon.) However, in this chase for the perfect piece, a lot of us end up compromising on the quality of content integration. There are brands that have totally nailed this, and there are some who are still trying to get with it.

Here are 5 things you need to do ensure you’re not the latter.

1. Believing that listicles = content marketing

Listicles gained popularity in the digital format thanks to Buzzfeed. However, the popularity of this format predates Buzzfeed (remember Cosmo’s “17 ways to please your partner”?). While these short, thematic capsules perfectly suit our audiences, very few brands or categories have been able to leverage the power of the listicle. Successful listicles need to hold the audience’s attention right from point #1 to #987 , which makes good content creators wary of any out-of-place integration. As a result, even the most mediocre content creators have now started offering brands a place at the bottom of the list. So if you’re a brand selling moisturizers , you could be offered the #8 on “8 must-haves this winter” – a nice package shot of your mass CPG brand (just like the Brand Manager ordered), at the bottom of a list containing everything artisanal and hipster about the upcoming season. Will the millennials and centennials consume this as an organic piece of content? That’s anybody’s guess.

2. Being floored by “innovative” formats

Honestly guys, we’re well into the second decade of 21st century. Innovations will hit you in the face every week, esp. digital innovations. It is up to you to decide whether it makes sense for your brand and consumers. All of us have met people who seemed excited by the very existence of a GIF (which has kinda been around even before millennials).  It is an exciting format, but only if used creatively and not as a substitute for pic albums/ films. Similar examples have been seen with 360-degree videos. Brands wanted to establish their “digital thought leadership” by being the first ones to offer this content format to their audiences. The result? We managed to see some not-so-great and a LOT of “WTF” 360-degree videos from brands last year.

3. Believing that audiences can be won with “Digital Thought Leadership”

I’m going to be a little brutal here. Audiences DGAF about what tech you used or HOW you managed to precisely target them, EVER. All that these sneaky little rascals care about is the relevance for them, in terms of Utility or Entertainment. The biggest proof for this hypothesis is the fact that content marketing has been the most dominant trend in digital marketing this decade, surpassing any tech innovations like QR Codes, Augmented Reality, Apps, Micro targeting platforms etc. The only place where your “Digital Thought Leadership” would be approved is your office. Use it only if it helps you build relevance and reduce costs, and stop relying on it build engagement or virality.

4. Overeating at the All-you-can-Eat Digital Data Buffet

Picture three people – an athlete, a hungover dude and a pregnant woman walking into the town’s most popular all-you-can-eat brunch joint. All of them are here for one reason – all-you-can-eat. All of them stuff their plates (and faces) on each round. But what do you picture their plates to be full of? Would the grilled cheese sandwich be found on the athlete’s plate or the hungover dude’s? Would you find the lean protein on everyone’s plate, or just two people’s plates? Too much mystery? Definitely not.

Replace the brunch joint with your most popular platform, and the buffet with all the data points it offers. The different type of people walking in are the different type of campaigns you’d run. And then there are the plates. The plates are your post-eval presentation decks. How do you want to fill your plates?

The digital medium can offer us a large number of data points. These data points are just the right fodder for day-long presentations and discussions (we marketers just love those, don’t we?), but do ALL of them really deliver on our goals? . It’s time for us to start pruning the data points we chase, and it has to start right from the campaign planning stage. Needless to say, all the tracking tools & reports have to focus on these specific, pruned set of metrics. In (the rest of) 2016, it’s time to [for example] stop celebrating high engagement number or mope at low number of impressions when all we needed was reach.

5. Stop Adapting for mobile and start designing for mobile

Marketers, especially in India and elsewhere in Asia, have been reading reports on themes of  “Mobile on the rise”, “Mobile is coming” ,”Mobile is BIG” for most of this decade. Now that mobile is big and staring at us right in our faces, many brands have decided to consider it in their marketing mix, especially media mix. This approach is mainly led by inclusion of mobile ad spends in the media mix, and building responsive websites. This force-fit of existing assets often reminds me of all things out of place, like this guy from Indore at Niagra falls, or this song, or the aunty next door who swam in the building pool in a salwar suit, or just my Mom’s friend who wore Kanjeevarams throughout her Roman holiday.

SO how can we be like the Romans when in Rome? Simple. Let’s stop Adapting for mobile and start designing for mobile. It’s about giving up a mobile-compatible approach, for a mobile-first approach. Many Indian startups, whose business model revolves around an online interface, have been the early adopters of this philosophy. It seems to have worked for them, since they’re continuing to innovate and deliver on mobile.

A small example here is the presence of the three – bar hamburger icon for menus, even in the desktop versions of most sites/apps! So how can you start thinking mobile-first, as a marketing manager? Again, simple. Stop approving creatives and artworks while viewing them on your desktop. After all, if you’ve gone all the way to Rome, might as well put on that gladiator costume and slay that tiger, no?