Innovation has been a strong buzz word for a very long while now, and the term was attributed multiple definitions based on the context it was used within. You have probably seen a lot of company communications – for example in the Digital Marketing agencies space – focusing around the term.
However, unless you really had the chance to look in-depth to understand exactly how digital innovation is affecting the Digital Marketing space and how it can really be implemented in a business scenario, it might have just remained a vague term, getting you to think of new technology, AI, automation or some other tech-y, “sexy” stuff that “would probably be far from reach”.
This article brings insight into how innovation, when it comes to Marketing, is open to anyone – you, us, a young start-up in a disadvantaged area or the latest, disruptive tech business – and how you, too, can get on this side of the fence without allocating hundreds of thousand of dollars in the process.
Firstly, let’s look at the definition of innovation:
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Innovation” is defined as a new idea or method, or the use of new ideas and methods.
Now, let’s expand this into marketing and see what, and how, it applies: Firstly, what’s notable is that the marketing space is constantly changing at a very fast pace – being driven by 3 core factors: The internet, the changing customer behaviour & needs as a whole, and technology.
All these three elements are interconnected and interdependent – if one is changing, the others do too. The rise of the Digital world – and subsequently, Digital Marketing, has been a big driver of innovation in Traditional Marketing, as it has added a lot of additional communications channels such to the classical mix.
This has allowed brands to innovate firstly by exploring tactics and strategies on the new channels, and by integrating them into a wider communications mix, bringing innovative approaches to marketing campaigns – integrating channels such as Social Media Marketing or Google Ads & Search Engine Marketing.
Today, innovation happens a lot at a detailed level – where technology is being developed and where big data & automation is being processed / enabled in the first instance.
However, what we aim to bring forward through our approach and definition of Marketing Innovation, is – apart from just introducing new technologies into the “mainstream” – helping with the adoption of these technologies within organisations, and helping brands make use of them, in an effective manner, to increase their campaigns’ efficiency and ROI.
Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Google Ads or Email Marketing still are some of the main and most important marketing channels – this is surely undeniable, and they are some of the biggest online revenue drivers within organisations.
Innovation just for the sake of innovation is definitely not something that should be promoted.
However – Innovating in the way Social Media Marketing – or specifically Social Ads are being run, ways of integrating Google
Ads campaigns in order to deliver better conversions, automating email sequences and designing messages that engage with customers better – these are the more specific innovations we should look for as marketers, and strive to integrate into our daily practices.
Only developing from here, there are the “sexy”, feasible tech innovations which can be implemented into a modern marketing campaign – the type of practice that growth hackers, fast-growing industry leaders and successful Start-ups apply.
These start from creating omni-channel journeys for customers that integrate multiple touch points on different channels, and automate communications specifically based on their interaction with the brand.
Diving deeper into this, it means – based on the bespoke customer journey characteristic to your business – creating messages that build rapport, scheduling them in an effective manner, delivering them in such a way they are being consumed and processed best – ultimately helping you become a memorable, loved brand.
To achieve this, technology plays a very important role, indeed – there are multiple platforms used to deploy advertising on each channel as well as tools used to close analytics loops that deliver insight or the reporting & delivery optimisation software – to name but a few.
Further – we have the organic, “non-paid” side of Social Media & Content Marketing – including Influencers (which actually have always been around, but their reach has massively grown due to new technology applications / channels – and ultimately the internet – that has allowed them to make the transition from “trusted people” to marketing vehicles).
The way that Content is being integrated in the customer journey, followed by marketing activities, is the second angle to innovate from. There are of course tech integrations that can go into this – such as automations based on which and how much of the content a brand puts out is being consumed by a prospective customer – but where there really is a continuous opportunity to manifest is in the very creation of the content.
What subjects are being explored, how a brand tackles the chosen topics and distributes content through different channels, what values are being brought forward through the content and the actual impact they have in the marketing process – here is where growth hacking meets marketing innovation, and where “magic” happens.
How to bring marketing innovation into your business?
There is really no better place to start, than your current “status quo”. Begin by looking at the marketing channels you are using, and your tech stack. Are they working well for you? Have you built your processes and campaigns around your actual customer journey and the way they behave in today’s world, or are you applying processes that used to be best-practice years ago?
Are you integrating well your data points from different platforms and channels you are using to gain insight, or are you still basing decisions on incomplete information or assumed (non-verified) hypotheses?
After you do run such an audit, begin by innovating small. You do not have to assess and compare yourself to the most innovative and powerful companies in the market yet, at this point – this process, as any other – is one that should be done in steps.
Are you bringing improvements every day in the way you look at marketing? Are you always challenging your practices and looking at ways of using technology & creativity to design and deploy better campaigns?
As long as you do this, you are innovating and growing from your “yesterday”s self – appreciate this, and when you are sure you are ready to make the next big step, then look for disruptive technologies or tools that can further transform your business.
Integrating a business podcast into a Content Marketing strategy can be a marketing innovation for you; or using influencer marketing to drive brand awareness & engagement; using TikTok to grow your follower base; Running Spotify Ads instead of (or in parallel with) Youtube, Radio or Instagram for promoting a new product towards your customers through Audio.
Whatever it is, ensure it is an innovation that you test and works, being aligned to the way in which your public engages with your brand. Everything should be delivering results that are better than the previous ones – not only implemented for the sake of it.
Summing up, remember Marketing Innovation does not only mean using disruptive or expensive technologies within your communications strategy. It also doesn’t limit to only using Digital channels or to doing things in a certain way.
It often simply means discovering ways of doing things better, integrating messages better to deliver towards your end result, and being consistent in becoming better and better every day in terms of your communications activity.
There is plenty of knowledge, information and inspiration out there – we are just bringing it together and delivering it to you – and if you feel the need for external help, there are Marketing agencies that specialise in helping brands push the boundaries and amplify marketing ROI too.
Stay inspired, make a difference and dare to venture outside traditional marketing boundaries – this can often be the catalyst for success you were looking for.
About the author
Andrei is a founder of the Digital Marketing Agency Marketiu – specialising in helping brands tap into the power of integrated online marketing communications delivering disproportionate results. He is also a podcast host of the “Marketing innovation Show”, where together with leaders from the industry, he brings the latest trends and strategies to the Professional Marketers & Entrepreneurs communities, as well as #1 Amazon Bestselling author and a fan of passionate people following their dreams