The Role of Creative in the Future of Digital Marketing

One of our key tasks as marketers is to be creative and find ways to generate interest and demand in our products and services. Creativity has been essential to marketing success long before the internet or digital marketing came about.

Creative has always been a key factor in standing out in marketing both online and traditionally, but as online-targeting becomes increasingly sophisticated, consumers now expect the online world to be cutting-edge. Relying on a fixed formula is risky and, as technology becomes more advanced, your approach to digital marketing will need to be smarter, more creative and better informed if you want to have a chance of standing out.

Many digital marketers have abandoned innovation in favor of “playing it safe” but, for those who hope to build highly effective digital marketing plans in the future, creativity will play a leading role in their development and execution. Here’s why creativity has always been important, and how it will become increasingly critical as a tool for achieving success in digital marketing in the future.

Why Creative Is So Important

Today’s users move fluidly between devices and channels and expect a seamless, engaging and fun experience. At any given moment, every user is rapidly taking in several pieces of information that they have to assess when deciding whether or not to award their attention to anything. Creativity already plays a vital role in breaking through, making an impact, resonating and inspiring the customer to give you their attention. However, it will play an even bigger role in the future when it comes to generating real engagement that leads to conversion.

The fact is that we oftentimes get caught up in the work and analysis we do to ensure the right product is promoted to the right segment, but sometimes we forget that there’s a person at the other end of our promotion.  Microsoft recently did a study that measures the “dwell” of different digital marketing campaigns. According to a Regroup article, “dwell” refers to the amount of time people spend with a given piece of creative for a product or service and, “the higher the ‘dwell’, the higher the engagement and the more likelihood of purchase.”  The fact is that more creative, engaging online ads lead to higher “dwell” and, thus, more successful brand campaigns in terms of searches, traffic to the brand site and engagement at the brand site.

Targeting Consumers Creatively

As consumers encounter increasingly better-targeted messaging at higher volumes, it will become critical to strike a balance between technology-driven targeting and creativity to stand out. Marketing Land columnist Peter Minnium wrote in a recent article that marketers tend to “get so caught up in the potential of technology and data to optimize the delivery of an ad to the right person at the right time in the most efficient manner possible, that they often lose sight of a fundamental truth: the ad creative has to be good, or it’s all for naught.” His observation is spot-on.

Creativity will be critical when it comes to both how we target future audiences and what we display to them. According to ComScore, data show that half of a campaign’s impact on sales is due to the creative strength. By activating customer data and leveraging deep data insight like psychographic information, you can cut through the noise to provide real value to customers in the form of a highly personalized ad that is both relevant and useful.

Creating a More Compelling User Experience

Marketers are accustomed to targeting consumers by demographics, dividing them up using broad variable such as age, gender, geographical location or ethnicity. Although these metrics are important and deliver results, marketers can’t afford to rely on demographic data alone in the future, as they will miss a huge opportunity to increase audience engagement and risk delivering generic messages that appear irrelevant.

As targeting becomes more sophisticated, consumers expect the messages they receive to be increasingly tailored and personalized. From the marketer’s perspective, achieving success requires getting creative with targeting and understand the customer’s personality, motives and action-drivers at a deeper level. Targeting can go well beyond where your audience lives and what they do to become even more granular and specific. With social media, people share their common values and interests to create digital communities of interests that advertisers can leverage to creatively build advanced, personalized targeting the drives action.

Inform Your Marketing Strategy with Data-Driven Creative

With insights provided through analytics and data management platforms, you have the ability to more effectively reach different audiences by segmenting them into groups and tailoring custom creatives to increase the impact for each specific group, according to the Make Thunder blog.

Here are a few types of data that you can use to creatively segment your audiences and customize each ad’s messaging, according to Make Thunder:

Behavioral Data: Targeting based on a user’s previous web browsing behavior across the web. Placing a cookie on a user’s web browser allows you to collect various behaviors such as websites visit, pages viewed, clicks, downloads and videos watched. You can then group behaviors together into segments and target them with tailored messages.

Contextual Data: This related to the content viewed by the user. On-page content and keywords displayed on a page are captured. You can “use contextual data to target a consumer’s present web behavior and align ad messaging with the content they’re viewing.”

Psychographic Data: Psychographics provide insight on the “why”– what’s driving the purchase decisions of your customers. This includes personalities, beliefs, values, interests and lifestyles. Psychographics get into the “psychological aspects of consumer behavior, while helping to paint a more detailed picture of who your target audiences are and what motivates them.”

Geographic Data: Geographic data simply provides information on “where” your customers are. When you need to target specific regions, or tailor promotions for a local market, geographic data is key.

By combining numerous types of data, you can build unique audience segments based on data driven creative tactics such as retargeting and cross-channel.  The goal is to create one-to-one messages to consumers from when they first interact with your brand up until they are ready to make a purchase decision. Doing this requires data-driven creative, continuous monitoring and optimization of ads overtime to maximize ROI.

 With a creative and informed approach, digital markers can deliver more relevant experiences that offer more purpose and foster long-term brand awareness, loyalty and advocacy. If you’re interested in learning more about psychographics and how you can leverage them in your ad targeting, check out our last blog: Psychographic Marketing: Hypertargeting Your Customer’s Passions to learn more.

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Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson

Vice President, Digital Marketing at Parqa
Chris' career spans 14 years in the online marketing space and more than eight years of marketing within the executive search and recruiting industry. As the EVP of Digital Marketing for Parqa – A Versique Company, he's helped Versique receive daily call-ins from new, qualified clients amounting to over 40% of search revenue and thousands of resumes, as well as similar results for a variety of clients.
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