Commentary

Action Marketing: A Key To Success In 2018

Forrester deems 2018 as a “year of reckoning” for the marketing world, and I can’t help but agree. After reading that ad spending will be flat in 2018, I rejoiced.

Although the new year is upon us, there are still lessons to learn from the past year. For one, many brands fell short by applying traditional, emotion-driven approaches to digital channels while still expecting to see increased ROI.

In addition, CMO roles continued to drastically evolve, and this year, even more CMOs will be responsible for driving revenue — not just awareness and engagement. CMOs are on the hook to deliver more (awareness, leads, and sales) with less (tools, budget, time, and staff). Instead of plowing money into traditional ad spending, CMOs must focus on shaping the customer experience as a business driver, not a system of campaigns.

To be successful in the current marketing climate, driving action rather than provoking emotion is crucial.

The power of action marketing

Action marketing uses data to create campaigns that drive customers to carry out the next action in a conversion funnel. This is different from conversion marketing because conversion marketing focuses on a single action. Instead, action marketing is a series of actions that drive down the funnel to a single goal.

This year, the most important marketing metrics no longer include impressions, awareness, views, and time spent with content. As metrics shift, the conversion funnel shortens and customers’ experiences become less about emotional value and more about action-inducing capabilities to close a sale.

Large social media strides have shortened the gap between customer awareness and conversion, opening up new action-oriented opportunities across channels:

1. Instagram Story Ads

When this feature rolled out, reach was the main objective. Now, Instagram has changed its ad platforms to include metrics such as video views, traffic, conversions, and mobile app installations.
You’ve likely seen influencers’ stories with calls to action like “swipe up,” “learn more,” or “shop now.” This action marketing approach shrinks the gap between consideration and conversion. I hope to see more performance and action marketing functionality from Instagram in 2018.

2. Facebook Canvas Ads

This platform enables brands to design custom landing page-like experiences specific to an audience within a mobile news feed. Through this feature, our agency has been able to drive customers directly to the buy flow, bypassing home and landing page experiences and, in turn, increasing conversion.
A single ad can specifically target consumers with the right messages, content, or offers and then drive them to the buy button without needing to leave their news feeds. I’m curious to see where Facebook takes this ad format in 2018.

3. Chatbots

I believe chatbot relevance will grow tremendously in 2018. But chatbot for marketing will only work if chatbots are useful and help customers take action. Starbucks is a prime example of action marketing through its voice-activated chatbot app that allows consumers to place orders and complete payments.

It’s simple to measure email campaigns on click-through rate and conversions, and this will soon carry over to chatbot metrics. I hope to see more brands providing value and driving action via voice and chat in 2018.

This marketing year will require brands to create more cohesive, action-driving experiences from paid advertising to conversion. Connecting these dots is difficult, and proving ROI will continue to be an uphill battle. Marketing is already perceived as a cost center, but with a focused shift toward action marketing, along with a sound strategy and KPIs in place, marketing agencies and brands can transform 2018 from the “year of reckoning” to the “year of success.”

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