Business planning for 2019 begins: Here are our six marketing must-haves

June 2018

Digital advertising can only successfully win over customers if it offers them real added value, saves them time, and makes shopping as easy as possible. This form of advertising can include mobile ads that help customers find brick-and-mortar stores or show them the availability of individual products in store. Companies must therefore ask themselves how they can reach their customers in a targeted manner and how they can optimally prepare for the challenges of digitization. Advertisers should keep the following areas in mind: the mobile web experience, data-driven and omni-channel marketing, automation, digital transformation, and creative excellence.

1. AMP, the Lighthouse tool, and co.: Boost sales with Internet tools

Fast loading times and websites optimized for mobile phones and tablets: these have long been must-haves for companies. Mobile websites that take less than five seconds to load have a 53 per cent lower bounce rate. A delay of one second also means a seven per cent reduction in conversion rates. This means that lower speeds can have a negative impact on revenue. There are a number of tools available to better prepare advertisers for the challenges they face, for example the Chrome UX Report, which gives companies an important overview of their current position. Additionally, the Lighthouse tool and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) allow websites to be optimized easily and quickly for the mobile web.

2. Be where the customer is: The importance of omni-channel marketing

The online and offline worlds are becoming more and more integrated. While 90 per cent of retail sales are still recorded in brick-and-mortar stores, “offline” customers are becoming increasingly active in the digital space—and not just in the retail sector, either. For example, while 37 per cent of customers in the “household appliances” sector researched online before making their purchase in store, the proportion of ROPO (research online, purchase offline) customers in banking (61 per cent) and telecommunications (53 per cent) is considerably higher. One company that has long recognized the importance of omni-channel marketing strategies is Conrad Electronics. In its strategy, the company takes into account its customers' key touchpoints and also uses local advertising formats such as location extensions, which are used on all platforms that inform users about local store branches, or Google Store visits, which measure the impact of Google ads on store visits.

3: Use customer information intelligently and in accordance with the law—and increase sales

For any company's business plan, it's important to obtain a complete picture of the customer journey. This process provides important information. The key to this is attribution. For example, advertisers can use Google Attribution, which works across multiple channels and devices. Companies can see which touchpoints they use to reach their customers effectively, whether these take the form of advertising, newsletter articles, or product comparison pages. This enables them to gain important insight into which keywords, ad groups, and campaigns are particularly important for their business goals.

4: Reach the customer more efficiently with automation

Automation has also become indispensable in marketing. It allows advertisers to spend more time on strategic issues in order to efficiently drive growth. Automation brings particular advantages in the area of online advertising. Smart Bidding is an automated bid strategy based on Google's own machine learning technology. Smart Bidding determines the best offer by taking millions of signals into account. Companies can use Smart Bidding in even more intelligent ways by taking target group data into account and, for example, reaching in-market target groups with Google Audiences. These are customers who have already researched the company's product and are seriously considering buying it. Advertisers can now also appeal to their target groups even more selectively by setting up 3–5 ads per ad group and optimizing the ad rotation.

5: Transformation and growth: Get your company ready for the future

The digital transformation has turned the business world upside down. Want an example? While it took the Hilton hotel chain 24 years to gain a foothold outside its home market, Airbnb accomplished this within one year—and the company is incidentally now the largest provider of accommodation, without owning any property. For companies, this means that in order to continue to be successful, they need to keep pace with digitization and ever-changing user behavior. Google tools can help with this during the different phases of business development: with tools such as Google Analytics, Consumer Barometer, and Market Finder, companies can discover areas with untapped potential. Google can also help with operational challenges such as translation, payment, customer support, and logistics. Last but not least, Google properties help to measure and scale up the growth of international business. Growth is only one factor in achieving success for the future; another factor is cultural transformation. Companies that want to be successful in the era of digitization must also create an appropriate corporate culture that is capable of bringing about rapid and sustainable change. At g.co/rework, you'll find interesting information on the areas we consider important for continuous transformation, such as team building, the recruitment process, and innovation in the workplace.

6: Creative excellence thanks to data

How can I, as a brand, make potential customers decide to look at my (video) ad? In addition to the right choice of advertising format, the creative is crucial for winning over users—80 per cent of the return on investment (ROI) depends on it. Data can help us to find out what works. Framing, pacing, and the right narrative structure can lead to a significant increase in performance, especially in the mobile sector. Do intensive cuts, close-ups, contrasts, or organic branding do the trick? Through advertising impact and campaign data, quantitative behavioral data, and qualitative descriptive insights, companies can find out how well and why their video ad is working. You can find a host of tips in our YouTube Playbook for Creative Advertising, for example.In addition, companies should experiment extensively to find out what leads to the most effective video ads. Our conclusion: Never before have customer expectations been so high. Advertisers must keep pace with this development in order to remain successful. These six points provide a good starting point for your 2019 business planning.