When people hear the word innovation, they tend to think of product innovation or disruptive innovation but rarely marketing innovation. Marketing innovation can be just as powerful and many companies are using it to give themselves an edge in competitive marketplaces. Anything that you do that improves reach, effectiveness in converting customers, taps new markets, decreases cost, and increases efficiency can ultimately give your company a competitive edge. In fact, marketing innovation can lead to product differentiation. Imagine a company like Nike, for instance. That company’s marketing clearly helps set them apart. It helps them have price leadership and charge a premium. Marketing innovation can be a lot of things, but here’s some examples that are most commonly used:
Marketing Segmentation and Personalization
This has become the holy grail of marketing, being able to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Personalization usually comes in the form of direct mail or email marketing, using data kept on customers. In the case of email marketing this comes through using an automated email service that tracks users and can integrate with purchase data so you have truly segmented data of customers. Imagine you run a financial services company. Your customers are everything from grandmas who have a retirement account to sophisticated investors, with amounts ranging from a couple hundred bucks to hundreds of millions. Instead of doing what companies have always done and sending a single message to the entire group, you instead tailor those messages to the audience. With the sophisticated investors it’s about a special service you offer and foreign exchanges. With the retirees, it might be a simpler message and an offer to help. Data has shown a huge increase in click rates and conversions as a result of tailoring messages.
Any innovation geared towards advertising gives you an edge, saves money, and reaches the right people. Many companies have been moving into digital advertising and deeply analytical systems that allow them to calculate ROI to better allocate resources and focus in on sites that give them the highest return. In the old days advertising was always something you just had to believe in, but that isn’t necessarily true anymore. If you sell online you can track conversions and you can always track how many people see your ad, how many people clicked on it, and what they did on your site. If your company is not involved in remarketing, you should definitely talk about it. Remarketing allows you to target the right ads, at the precise moment a customer is interested. For instance, if you own a sunglass company and they visit the page for one of your models as they research what to buy, you can continue showing them ads for that model and for the company in general all across the web until they convert. Done right, remarketing can sometimes show upwards of a 1,000% ROI. This is especially true if your product is on an ecommerce site and available nowhere else as you will get the full data. You can remarket directly on Facebook or Google or use a service like Adroll.
Imagine there are two companies out there who have similar products and similar prices. In a completely even distribution channel, they would also get similar revenues. But now imagine that one company has a very active social media department, constantly posting product info, touting the quality, features and design, engaging with customers and answering questions, posting video demos, and informing potential customers of new products. Now which company do you think would be in the lead? An active and innovative social media program can not only help fuel sales; it can actually create a competitive separation, product differentiation, and even increased price permission. Just by being active and engaging you are perceived as different, but the messaging and style can also increase this. How businesses interact with social media, how often they post, what they post, the kinds of messages they post – all of this is ripe for internal innovation.
New Products Launch Process
Anyone who has spent their lives in marketing knows that the new products launch process is the most time consuming, involving dozens of steps from packaging, press releases, images, upload to the website, social posts, videos, etc. It also involves working with other departments to make sure it all comes together and can be a consuming process in time, slowing down the organization’s ability to move more quickly. This area is ripe for innovation and there are many companies out there now who exist to help make marketing project management easier. That’s why tools like DaPulse, WorkZone, and even Trello have built their suite of project management tools. Efficiency is one aspect, but there is also just improving what you do and there are more tools than ever to help you organize multiple social platforms and gauge the effectiveness of everything you do.
Analytics & Research
At the core of who marketers are is the ability to understand who the customer is and what they need. In order to accomplish this marketers need data. Some of the world’s leading companies set themselves apart by how well they are able to analyze data and correctly segment and understand their customers. For a marketer this comes in many forms: surveys, focus groups, social media analytics, website analytics, ecommerce analytics – all allowing you to better fine tune your messaging and channels. CapitolOne set itself apart by becoming a deeply analytical company, constantly testing, segmenting, and measuring the results. Without analytics the effectiveness of anything can’t be determined and marketing becomes just a shot in the dark. But with strong metrics and the capacity to understand them, you gain the ability to try anything, measure the results, and incorporate the idea into the enterprise. It’s easier than ever to innovate here with a suite of tools available like Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, FanPageKarma, and others that provide you limitless data. Having innovation in marketing research and analytics improves the information of the market and customer need to the new products department.
Optimization done well has the highest ROI of any marketing activity and any company that is not currently doing it should consider it, especially if you are actually selling something or trying to get signups on your website. Digital optimization involves changing an element on website page and using two statistically significant samples of people who visit the page. You record the engagement, conversions, and button clicks, and can determine whether the new change led to an increase. Successful companies like Amazon are the result of thousands of these experiments, where the buy button is, the color of it, the reviews, the font size, all of that was determined by A/B testing. Services like Optimizely allow you to do this quite easily nowadays. Optimization itself isn’t limited to the digital realm. Companies like Walmart have been doing this for ages. They would change an endcap with a different product and see how it affected sales (both sales of the products on the endcap, revenue, and total sales per customer).
Search Engine Optimization
Any method by which you improve your rankings can give you a positive advantage. There are still many midsize companies out there that do little to optimize their rankings. Bringing in the skillsets and tools that allow you to identify those low competition, but valuable keywords, and make content for them will bring more customers into your site.
How To Increase Marketing Innovation
There’s no shortage of methods by which any company can increase marketing innovation. Chances are many of your competitors are behind the curve and you have plenty of opportunity to get ahead of them. In order to help bring innovation into your marketing department there are a couple important elements: a testing culture that promotes measuring effectiveness of everything marketing does, some level of independence that allows employees to feel comfortable trying new things, and constant encouragement and recognition for those who seek to innovate rather than just to maintain what already is.
Which companies stand out to you as being the most innovative for marketing?