New Year, New Marketing Trends (Kent Middleton Commentary)

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For many Arkansas companies, 2019 will be remembered for its successes: new plants, expanded facilities, innovative technologies and the creation of thousands of good-paying jobs. There’s good reason for us to feel optimistic about the year ahead. 

But with whispers of a recession on the horizon, some businesses are hedging their bets by re-examining their overhead costs so they can operate smarter, faster and better in 2020. To help them trim their budgets, we’re culling through the latest marketing trends to see what’s really worth their time and money:

This is an Opinion

Personalized emails: Gone are the days of generic email blasts. To stay competitive, companies must segment their email lists and personalize digital marketing content to specific customers’ shopping preferences and purchase histories.

  • What it’s good for: Increasing customer open and click-through rates, particularly if it’s combined with tailored content like personalized landing pages (i.e., PURLs) or QR codes.
  • Yay or nay: Yay. While email marketing is extremely affordable, companies would be wise to invest in advanced tracking and real-time reporting tools to ensure their email campaigns are reaching the right inboxes.

Virtual and augmented reality: Despite common misconceptions, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content has entered the mainstream market. According to ARtillery Intelligence and Thrive Analytics, 32 percent of U.S. consumers have used an AR app, with AR-related revenue expected to balloon from $975 million in 2016 to more than $14 billion in 2021.

  • What it’s good for: Creating experiences for consumers to test products, services, destinations and more, either through complete VR immersions or AR-enhanced real-world scenarios.
  • Yay or nay: Toss up. With the high upfront investment costs for VR, it may be better for businesses to test AR first, which has readily available tools on Apple, Google and other smartphones that tech industry outsiders can easily navigate.

Print embellishments: According to Printing News, digital printing finishing technologies — from clear and textured coatings to specialty UV inks — help significantly “improve response rates and make more print more appealing for marketers.”

  • What it’s good for: Adding interest, dimension and longevity to traditional print pieces, no matter companies’ budgets.
  • Yay or nay: Yay. To fully hone in on their target audiences, businesses may want to use embellishments as part of a multi-channel marketing campaign, which includes personalized print, email and other digital content.

Direct mail: Despite naysayers, direct mail remains the second most used marketing medium. In fact, the Small Business Administration recently noted customers are more likely to feel valued and to trust brands that invest in physical mail advertisements, as well as in digital outreach.

  • What it’s good for: Building credibility and instilling customer loyalty, if properly personalized with variable data printing.
  • Yay or nay: Yay. Businesses can now take advantage of Informed Delivery, a free U.S. Postal Service automated tool, and add interactive elements (e.g., promotional codes) for increased consumer engagement.

Economic forecasters are still uncertain about what 2020 may hold. That’s why it’s essential for companies to consider their marketing spends wisely. With these tactics as their guide, businesses can ensure they’re getting the most bang for their advertising buck.

Kent Middleton is co-owner and chief executive officer of Magna IV, a more than 40-year-old print and marketing business in Arkansas. For more information, visit magna4.com.