The world of marketing is moving at lightning speed. In just a short time, brands embraced big data, personalization, and customer experience as must-haves in their marketing mix. The adage about serving the right content, to the right person, at the right time, on the right channel, is no longer exceptional — it’s expected.
Fast forward five years from now and online marketing will evolve into a largely immersive experience powered by mixed media — including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences — and immersive channels like 3D installations. Consumers will inevitably “live” marketing, rather than be “targets” of it.
And, just as it has in the past, digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) technologies will continue to facilitate and move digital marketing forward. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the trend every marketer should have on their radar — immersive omnichannel marketing and how it’ll change the future of storytelling.
Top trends for the future of digital marketing
Great marketing is, and always will be, great storytelling. However, as new digital marketing trends emerge and technology advancements take hold, the ways in which we tell our stories will change. Let’s explore the trends that should be on top of every marketer's to-do list.
Alongside the rise of e-commerce, social media, and mobile devices, we’ve witnessed the democratization of publishing tools. What was once only accessible by publishing houses, film studios, and ad agencies is now available to the masses. And although the tools for distributing our marketing stories will continue to change, the central role of content in storytelling will remain the same.
Interactive storytelling allows consumers to “choose their own adventure,” letting them determine which channels and content types they engage with. Their engagement — largely digital — will determine which subsequent channels and messages they see and therefore interact with.
Leading brands must figure out how to involve customers in their brand story by capturing their consumers’ interest and retelling their stories across the communities they participate in and follow. This circle of engagement builds brand trust and feeds more personalized experiences.
Furthermore, the methods, environment, and purpose of storytelling will evolve, but again, we’ll continue to rely on content as the vehicle for these stories. The same holds true as we look into the future and consider the storytelling impacts of immersive marketing.
In a few short years, we saw an explosion of audio storytelling, such as podcasts and audiobooks. We witnessed the rise of raw, short-form video, which now dominates social networks and digital advertising. We’ve also seen the consumerization of VR, AR, and 3D.
All these mediums reflect a desire for immersion — an innately human need to be deep in the conversation, at the scene, and out in the world. People feel personally connected to podcasters, social influencers, and the virtual environments they explore. Consumers want to be (or feel like) participants, not observers. So, by tapping into these experiences to get our audiences to take a desired action, we are in fact engaging in immersive marketing.
Immersive marketing will continue to evolve with audio/visual media at its core. Top consumer brands already lead with a visual content strategy because it pays to engage first and explain later. Their next step is to turn visual media into immersive experiences.
Immersion will also take personalization to the next level, which, at present, is just an effort to make content more relevant. Immersive personalization will put consumers in the creative driver’s seat because this is where they want to be. They want to choose the channels promoted to them on Hulu. They want to speak with Alexa and Siri, not type into an impersonal keyboard. They want to see what a chair will look like in their own living room. And ultimately, they want to tell the story by being part of it.
In short, people want a better integration between physical life and digital experience. Online marketing will go beyond the screen to serve people who wish to look, talk, listen, do, move, touch — and taste before they buy. Immersive marketing will, eventually, serve content for all five senses. This is already underway, as seen through mobile-social environments and the rapid onslaught of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Omnichannel customer experience
While interactive stories and immersive marketing content can provide the engaging, relatable experiences consumers today are looking for, if that content isn’t delivered on the channels your audience cares about, your efforts could lack the impact you desire. With a cohesive omnichannel marketing strategy, your content is presented to your audience consistently no matter where they are or where they go.
Imagine a customer being wowed — and warmed — by a stellar immersive ad from Caribou Coffee while waiting at the bus stop on their way to work. Or tempted to try a new “curious” flavor from Hendrick’s Gin when they catch the scent of rose and cucumber in the Underground corridor on their way home. These experiences may inspire a passerby to make a purchase, but if they’re not able to easily identify the products in-store or online through the use of consistent visuals and messaging, that amazing marketing experience ends in disappointment for the consumer and the brand.
And what’s more, being able to manage your visual content from concept to consumption not only impacts the bottom line, it also fuels workflow efficiencies and team agility.
The role of DAM in immersive omnichannel marketing
Every piece of marketing content is a digital asset (also referred to as visual content). Creating and managing digital assets takes talent and time. And, since brands continue to lose efficiency, sanity, and value to disorganized, underutilized assets, they often turn to technologies like DAM systems to organize, find, and repurpose their visual content.
At Widen, we believe the challenges of content management will only grow as immersive omnichannel marketing continues to take hold. Given its massive content demands, it will prove prohibitively expensive, chaotic, and ineffective without a DAM system in place.
Our mission is to be the content hub of digital marketing — the center from which brands can deliver all content. To fulfill this mission, we must enable and power immersive marketing. Thus, our flagship enterprise DAM system, the Widen Collective®, helps organizations manage the six phases of the digital content lifecycle:
- Plan: Review and evaluate your current efforts. Understand the performance of your existing assets, initiatives, and channels to inform new content and campaign plans.
- Create: Creative teams gain the efficiency and accuracy that comes from connecting their favorite tools, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, with the Collective. We offer integrations with enterprise systems from web content management (WCM) to e-commerce, marketing automation, work management, PIM, and more.
- Manage: The Collective empowers system administrators to establish an organized and scalable content library and central source of truth. Many brands choose our enterprise DAM system for their Fortune 100 and 500 clients, as it helps them tame an otherwise massive, unwieldy collection of visual content.
- Distribute: Through integrations and automation, the Collective delivers digital assets to any channel, including e-commerce platforms, social networks, and mobile technologies. The Collective plugs into all platforms that facilitate immersive omnichannel marketing experiences. It also makes it easy for people — internal teams, partners, distributors, and more — to access and distribute brand content.
- Optimize: The Collective’s analytics app, Insights, helps marketers measure and improve content performance across their entire digital ecosystem. It gives teams the transparency they need to understand who uses their digital assets, where, and how they perform. Through asset-level metrics like views, shares, downloads, video playtimes, and more, we’ve elevated analytics beyond a single channel.
- Preserve: An often overlooked step in the content lifecycle, archiving old content allows it to be safely preserved and easily recalled if needed for inspiration or reimagination in the future.
We're here to help you prepare for the future of digital marketing
It’s exciting to look at how far the world of digital marketing has come in just a short time — and where it’s going. With the mass adoption of immersive marketing on the horizon, we, as marketers, must once again adapt the ways in which we tell our stories. We must push our content creation to new limits and empower ourselves with the tools and technologies needed to connect our valued audiences with our powerful stories.
At Widen, we continue to power the content behind our customers’ marketing experiences — no matter where the world of digital marketing takes them. We have the team, technology, and culture to help companies thrive now and into the future.
Want more info about our combined DAM and PIM platform, the Widen Collective, and what it can do for you and your company? today.
Note: This article was originally published in February 2017 and has been regularly updated to remain current.