What’s Different About Modern Marketing?

These 3 areas were very different a decade ago… and also just a few years ago

What’s Different About Modern Marketing?

Originally published on Medium.

Marketing is always changing. Thanks to the internet in our pockets, modern marketing is more fluid than ever before.

The idea is to stay on top of trends, take advantage of unsaturated opportunities, and leverage new media. But how do we choose the right new things to do on the right new platforms?

We can’t always. But we can be effective more often by understanding three key ways that modern marketing is different today than it’s been in the past: content, automation, and funnels.

Content and community

A lot of businesses write blogs. Some have podcasts. Some even do video. Some do live video.

As a business, you’re not educating or entertaining others *only* for fun. You’re doing it as marketing. You’re trading the attention of a specific audience for content they want.

The more valuable the content, the more attention you’ll get.

What you do with the attention is up to you, but the way you get attention is by providing value, interacting with people, and ultimately earning it. You earn it first from individuals and smaller communities, but as you get more attention and clout, your communities will get larger.

What’s changed from a decade ago?

Marketing used to mean convincing people that you or your product are the best for them. Today, though, we have a lot of unbiased ways to find that out, and people see marketing copy for what it often is… fluff.

Content is a way of showing your potential customers why they can and should trust you… instead of just telling them.

What’s changed from just a few years ago?

When content marketing was first popularized, it was all about quantity, not quality. Today it’s exactly the opposite, because we’ve been flooded with low quality content over the last few years. If you produce high quality content, Google’s algorithms will reward you, Medium’s curators will promote you, and people will share your thoughts and content on their own. If you make anything less than high quality content, however regularly, no one will care.

Two tips

  1. Commenting and interacting are just as important as creating.
  2. High quality content does not mean high production value.

Process and automation

Most businesses today use some form of marketing automation, even if they don’t realize it. We can automate our entire marketing machine end-to-end, or we can automate a single, time-consuming part of our process.

Modern marketing involves integrated systems that are built for automation. We just have to be smart about what we’re automating and to what extent. The last thing we want to do is come across as impersonal or… automated.

What’s changed from a decade ago?

Since businesses have been online, software-as-a-service marketing tools have evolved as fast as everything else. We can even use “no code” software to automate almost anything without hiring a developer.

More and more, it’s impossible to be competitive without a baseline amount of automation and services.

What’s changed from just a few years ago?

We’ve officially moved out of the Hootsuite era and into the Meet Edgar era. The focus today is on automating what should be automated, and only as a supplement to real, personal input.

Two tips

  1. Most worthwhile things require human input.
  2. People generally reward human work and aren’t impressed with things that don’t require it.

Funnels and conversions

With things like content and community falling under the marketing umbrella, we need to broaden our views on conversion optimization and sales funnels, too.

There are many traditional marketing funnels that have become irrelevant, but companies still track them. Modern marketing relies on funnels and conversions more than before, but in different ways.

What’s changed from a decade ago?

The obvious change that comes with digital everything is we can track and measure our funnels in a lot more detail. As such, we can monitor and tweak each step like never before.

What’s changed from just a few years ago?

Online marketing funnels have traditionally been based around measurable metrics instead of pure buyer behavior. Ad impression; ad click; stay for 3 seconds; add to cart; checkout. While that information is valuable, today’s funnels are broader and longer term. There are some loops now, too, so it’s actually more of a french horn than a funnel.

French Horn Marketing Funnel, credit

Funnels today are custom. They include conversions that are completely unique to their specific business. We also influence people in real-time at different stages of our funnels. Sometimes we sell, sometimes we listen, sometimes we participate… and it’s all part of the marketing funnel.

Two tips

  1. Start simple, be flexible, and evolve your funnel as you learn.
  2. You can’t measure every conversion with a simple metric.

Try to keep up with the… Kardashians, actually

If you look at individuals like Kylie Jenner and Gary Vee or companies like Squarespace, Mailchimp, Moz or Intercom, you can see this stuff in action. If what you’re doing doesn’t at least resemble what they’re doing, you’re not going to see results like they do.

Start exploring the content you’re offering and the communities you’re contributing to. Evaluate your processes and find a smart balance of automated work and human touch. As you look at everything you’re doing, design marketing funnels that are unique and involve feedback.

One of the most underrated things you can do is just look around. Watch what successful people and companies are doing (and not doing), understand their motivations, and then apply that to your unique business.


Cover Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash