The world of digital marketing is changing faster than ever. As the pace of change accelerates, so too must marketers who want to avoid looking archaic.

A great way to stay ahead of the game is to always break your efforts down into the two different schools of marketing. Branding is how you get your clients to know you and direct marketing is how you get them to act.

During our visit to the DIG South Tech Summit in Charleston, we learned a great deal of ways to improve and maintain the quality of your branding and direct marketing efforts.

Building a better brand

Branding isn’t just about presenting the look and style of a company to customers. It’s now much more personal than that. Your brand is who you are, what you do, and why other people should care.

Similar to a personal reputation, your brand needs to be protected and upheld. Without proper care and direction, you can potentially tarnish that reputation.

Make sure you always remind yourself of your end goal when making branding decisions. For example, if you want your brand to evoke positivity, always use that as a guide when branding yourself.

Be realistic about how your brand can represent positivity. Be honest and don’t push a tone that doesn’t always fit. And be consistent, so that your audience will never forget your values.

Keeping your brand agile

If your resume is what you do, your brand is how you show how you do it. In the same way that a resume is constantly updated to reflect new achievements, your brand needs to evolve with the constant changing of digital marketing strategies.

Even though change is the only constant in branding, you still need to stay true to your values. How does a brand maintain its core values while also evolving? The answer is to always listen and respond to your customers.

As long as you spend more time listening than talking to customers, you will always stay in touch with what they want out of your business. Your core values and products attracted them in the first place, so staying aware of customer desires ensures that you can combine your reputation with successful new digital marketing plans.

Some good ways to stay in tune with your customers are surveys and analytics. Though not widely accessible, eye tracking technology can be utilized to find the most compelling aspects of branding elements like logos.

If you want the image portion of your logo lockup to stand out more than the typography, eye tracking tech can show where someone locks their eyes. If people rarely look at the image on your logo, try to use leading lines in your text to point the eye toward your image.

A truly agile brand is able to identify when evolutionary or revolutionary processes are needed. Identifying this is made easier when collaboration is a part of your company culture. Collaboration between coworkers and between the business and consumer are both necessary in deciding on major branding decisions.

We picked up on a few strong tips for improving your direct marketing as well. Automation is becoming more expansive than ever. It’s finding its way into all aspects of marketing and advertising. Videos, traditional ads and even smart speaker content are all driven by machine learning and automation.

Utilizing native video

Native video has a unique role in the world of advertising. It grabs attention quicker and easier than traditional ad spots. But it has a hard time holding that attention. People end up reading more video headlines than they do for native advertisements, even though the completion rate of a full video is typically low.

The power of native video is its ability to lift a brand better than more traditional video advertisements. Through machine learning, in the time it takes to load a web page you are able to get your video ad in front of the right person and have higher conversion rates.

So what content makes a native video ad effective? The following are key factors to consider when creating and structuring your video.

  • Grab attention
  • Keep it short
  • Mention brand in first five seconds
  • Get to the point
  • Lead with the headline
  • Add text to the video
  • Create mobile-friendly video

Remain straightforward with your messaging. Say what you need to say and it will help people convert. Ad recall and purchase intent happens in the first 7 seconds of the video. So put your most important messaging and visuals right up front.

Keep direct marketing on the right path

Automation is a key pillar of every single marketing platform available. There is practically no way you aren’t using some form of automation already. But are you getting the most potential out of that automation? Are you pointing your efforts in the right place before leaving them to handle themselves?

Without proper planning and management, automation can distribute bad ideas at scale and end up annoying your audience. While automation can ensure that people who opt out of emails get removed from your list, that’s not going to be enough.

Take this further by using automation to segment your audience based on their interests. Utilize the analytics of where and when they click on things to group out mailing times and topics.

Automation can get your ads in front of the right audiences on websites, but research shows that a greater emotional response is tied to direct messaging, such as email marketing. Nothing creates a stronger response than physical mail, but through automation, we can trigger more emotion in digital mail than ever.

You can make individuals that you market to feel more valued, even without sending them a postcard in the mail. Instead, create multiple versions of your emails that are customized for how someone engages with your brand. Target a previous customer that bought the closest thing to your new product and tell them that they’ll love your new product based on their purchase history.

When someone feels like they’re getting a different message than the other thousands of customers on your list, they’ll feel valued. And in a generation where inboxes are flooded with dozens of messages daily, it has become essential to make your messaging stand out before it gets deleted.