Most marketers, even those with academic credentials, are too busy implementing corporate marketing strategies and working with the products they need to sell. We write copy, we blog, we post, we distribute, and we learn how to use the latest marketing automation tools. We waste endless hours on pointless meetings with clients who want us to understand their product and follow corporate guidelines. We chase likes and shares and retweets and spend hours trying to figure out how to best measure ROI, for that crucial final presentation with the boss.

We sacrifice our private time, time for the family, relaxation, or sport, in order to meet ridiculous KPIs and misguided client expectations.

None of that makes us better marketers, it just makes us busy, overworked, marketers. We do not have the time to look at marketing data, social studies, the psychology of the consumer, and hard evidence. That’s a bit like a doctor trying to cure your ailment without ever consulting the latest studies on a specific disease.

Spend More Time Studying

Studying marketing and then doing marketing just isn’t enough. You need to know the latest trends, facts, and figures. You need to know the usage patterns and the changing landscape. In order to become a smarter marketer, you need to spend less time marketing and more time studying.

Did you know for example that almost 80% of social media users on average use Facebook, but only 29% use LinkedIn (September 2017 data)? Most use Facebook daily but LinkedIn only 2-3 times a month? Why have a daily post content schedule if users only check-in once a month?

And then you spend all that time making a nice website and Facebook page for your shoe business, but forget that most people under 30 get their food, fashion and travel ideas from Instagram? Instagram on the other hand just released IGTV – which will disrupt not just Youtube but ever live broadcasting app influencers are currently relying on. Within hours of the launch, some videos on IGTV had over a million views, just as Instagram’s total user base has grown to over a billion people.

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Know Your Stats, and Adapt

Digital marketing is not about what worked, or what works, but about the next things on the horizon. Brands need to understand how users in different markets and industries use different digital platforms, and the changes these platforms are about to make in the future.

You make that WhatsApp group for your Asia marketing without knowing that a messaging tool called Line is the weapon of choice in your target market. We’ve had a client asking for a Facebook strategy for China, where it is banned.

And then everyone tells you that video content is king, whereas in many Asian countries, in particular, Chinese or Japanese speaking ones, there is still a great demand for informed long-form content in the local language. Or that marketing automation without human contact just doesn’t work in Asia.

And then you make that campaign for a computer server manufacturer on Facebook and special tech blogs, before you realize that 92% of IT professionals get their latest product news, tech news, server maintenance tips and tricks from Youtube. Or you have that fantastic website for your beauty products, hosting your own make-up videos, forgetting that over 90% of cosmetics are now launched on Instagram?

Or that 75% of Instagram users in a specific country are women? Or that in country X people will never engage with health websites or Facebook pages in fear or public shame? Or that over 60% of Facebook profiles in Indonesia use fake names and pictures? Or that customers in country Y hate to enter their credit card details and prefer payment on delivery?

You can get a lot of data from studies by local academic institutions and marketing agencies. One of the best for global marketing is emarketer, one of the most informative publications comes from wearesocial

36% of Instagram users want to find out what you or our brand are doing.
10% to document their own lives
8% because they want to be seen as popular

There is some useful data for you. And it changes from month to month.

Psychology First

Understanding the psychology of social media users is the basis of becoming a smarter marketer. Only 2% of users go to LinkedIn to “learn about new IT products or product updates”, yet we continuously see IT companies pushing their latest Notebooks and Smartphones on the platform. Not smart.

LinkedIn itself is promoting learning modules and solutions, yet in most countries, the platform is still seen only as a tool to find a new job, not a networking website or an online university. Google never made Google+ a success, despite its clout and insight, and Snapchat is struggling with every strategy it has tried: even the platforms themselves have a hard time remaining relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape.

Competition Chaos

Facebook just rolled out their “Jobs” function globally, making it easy to post job openings, apply for jobs, filter and follow up with candidates. Which should lead to more authentic CVs on Facebook, where too many profiles are incomplete or even fake. The move is of course intended to take on LinkedIn, whose HR hiring functionality is still so buggy few companies use it with complete satisfaction.

62% of users go to social media to get news, about 80% of them regularly (Source: Pew). That means that marketing content in news form gets more attention than spammy ads. 44% of Americans get news from Facebook and 10% get their news form Youtube. (I know, weird, isn’t it?) But not all news sources are traditional journalism outlets. Increasingly, users are following alternative news sources, brands, and influencers, rather than a Reuters or AFP.

In Germany, even though 30% go for news to Facebook, only 2% actually trust the news they read on Facebook. People in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong click more on ads and have fewer ad-blockers installed that Europeans or Americans. Asian users scroll from post to post, while Europeans are much more likely to search for keywords.

Users on LinkedIn are 3x more likely to actively seek news. Sharing relevant content about your brand on your PRIVATE LinkedIn profile is the best way to engage users and create a following. The same is not true for Facebook. (Source: Buffer)

Consumers who actively engage with products online are much more likely to advocate your brand. But how many marketers know how to find and target those consumers? What’s the difference between a like on Facebook and one on Instagram? Why do people click like? Because of the picture? Or the accompanying text? Users in certain countries are much more likely to like something, in other cultures, it is common to only show dislike but never active approval. Psychology is behind everything we do in marketing, and even more so in digital marketing.

Digital-Marketing-Agencies-Can-Keep-Up-With-The-AI-Times

AI and Homework

Two things will make you a better marketer. The first is Artificial Intelligence, which will continue to invade the marketing space and allow to better filter content and understand trends.

However, even the best AI will not eliminate the need for marketers to do their homework. Content production cycles will continue to shrink, type of content and the way it is produced will continue to change. Smartphones now have cameras that rival professional equipment – startups and established firms alike can do their own content with a bit of creativity and will rely less and less on professionally created content. Micromoments on video platforms like IGTV will replace image and text posts, to the point where perhaps only long-form, in-depth content for the few, and user-generated short video content for the masses, will remain? And when AR and VR take off, everything will change again.

The only thing you can do as a marketer is learn, learn, and learn some more.