2020 Marketing Strategies Accentuate PR to Deliver Greater Value

Digital marketing experts predict online advertising costs will increase significantly in 2020.

The cost of search ads are escalating due to increased advertiser competition and a stagnating number search queries, digital ad professionals say. It seems consumers can’t spend more time searching online than they already do.

Several marketing experts polled by Social Media Examiner predict that social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn will boost advertising rates, forcing marketers to re-evaluate their strategies and find more cost-efficient methods to reach consumers.

Social Platforms to Boost Ad Costs

“The ever-increasing costs of ads across every major social platform will encourage marketers to dust off their content marketing playbooks,” says Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner. Smart marketers will produce helpful videos, publish more videos, on IGTV and YouTube, and regard time spent with content as a valuable metric.

LinkedIn advertising costs, already high, increased significantly when the platform introduced objective-based advertising and reconfigured its ad products in March 2019, AJ Wilcox, founder of B2Linked.com, a LinkedIn-specific ad agency, told Social Media Examiner. Wilcox recommends that companies bid only on CPC, bid low, ignore LinkedIn’s bidding recommendations, and disregard auto-bidding and audience expansion.

Some PR and marketing players recommend that brands respond to rising ad costs by concentrating on fewer social media platforms, perhaps only one or two. Mastering just a couple of networks will produce better results than mediocre performance across many.

Priced Out of Facebook

Some companies will be priced out of Facebook as deep-pocketed competitors prevail, predicts Charlie Lawrance, founder and CEO of Gecko Squared, whom Social Media Examiner also polled.

Lawrance offers three solutions: Brands can continually refresh and test ad campaign elements, increase their average order value (total revenue by the number of orders), and determine the true return on ad spend (ROAS) by considering customer lifetime value, not just first purchase ROAS.

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It’s All About Media Relations

“What will 2020 be all about? In a phrase, media relations,” writes Stephanie Jones, editor-in-chief of the Personal Branding Blog. However, winning media mentions is no longer enough, Jones warns. PR will need to:

Build trust. To build trust and emotional connections with audiences, PR can seek third-party mentions that cite educational content from the brand and help solve consumers’ problems, rather than just praise its product’s features.

Measure the impact of media relations. Brands can cross-reference social listening, CRM, and audience data to discover which audience groups are seeing and responding to their media mentions. “Data has always played a role in marketing, but it’s becoming particularly important for media relations,” Jones says. “Companies are looking for more knowledge around how their media efforts are performing and who their content is reaching.”

Research keywords. The most successful PR practitioners conduct extensive keyword research to determine what keywords drive traffic to their websites, and include those keywords in press releases, content marketing and consumer education materials. Surveys, focus groups and social media analytics can reveal insights into keywords that reflect consumer interests and sentiment.

Seek brief mentions. Long-feature stories about the company will still win kudos for PR, but micro-touches, or brief media mentions, will be more important in 2020, especially given increasingly short attention spans. Brief positive earned media mentions here and there can greatly increase awareness about the company and its products.

One more recommendation:

Produce consumer-centric information. Instead of creating product-focused press releases, develop educational materials that look at the topic through the consumers’ prism. Focus objectively on what the consumer wants to know about the topic and help the consumer make better purchase decisions. Such information often finds its way into feature articles written by journalists at major publications.

Bottom Line: As increasing competition drives up online adverting costs, more companies will view earned media as a preferable strategy for reaching customers. While few brands will completely abandon advertising, many will place a renewed emphasis on seeking third-party mentions.

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