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With the new year just started, it’s an ideal time to look back, as well as to the future. In previous posts, we discussed what the new year will hold, concerning both email marketing trends and our digital marketing forecast for 2018.

In this post, we will examine some lessons from the previous year: specifically, marketing myths that have been disproven in 2017. Whether your firm does B2B or B2C selling, make the new year an occasion to re-think these commonly held misconceptions.

Marketing Myth #1: Millennials are a Demographic Monolith

Much ink has been spilled in the last decade on the age cohort popularly known as millennials, usually defined as people born between 1980 and 2000. The “common sense” consensus has held that millennials are a distinct marketing group homogeneous enough to consider a bloc.

In, 2014 the Dutch research company Motivaction surveyed nearly 50,000 respondents in 20 countries and found that millennials had a very broad range of concerns, interests, and buying habits. Several years have passed since then, and firms that approach this age group with a non-specific, general marketing plan have surely had this research confirmed the hard way. In 2017, Deloitte conducted its annual millennial marketing survey from 8,000 respondents with full-time jobs in 30 countries. The firm similarly found a wide variety of concerns between respondents in each country, and furthermore concluded that “there are distinct differences as to what concerns millennials in each group.”

If a firm didn’t consider this going into 2017, they should surely consider this going into 2018.

Marketing Myth #2: Social Media is Free Advertising

The advent and rapid spread of social media in the 21st century is a development in social communication that has few precedents in history. For years, countless firms have signed up in order to take advantage of the connectivity and seeming personalisation that social media platforms offer. They’ve done so with good cause: any company that’s not conversant in social media etiquette and protocol risks being ignored (at best) or incurring a PR disaster (at worst).

However, social media channels have long been considered a form of free advertising. This has been less and less true as the years progress, and it’s time to fundamentally re-evaluate this misconception.

Once upon a time, a company could post content to their Facebook page and it would show up in the feeds of all their followers—for free. Then, Facebook instituted its ads, and posts reached fewer eyes. Companies gradually saw their posts reach fewer and fewer people, to the point that in 2014, Facebook’s VP of advertising technology had to address the chorus of complaints from advertisers. However, Facebook’s organic reach (the number of users who can be reached via Facebook without paying for ads) continued to drop. By 2016, companies could expect to reach 2% of their fans without paying, and a change to the algorithm in mid-2016 caused organic reach to drop by another 52%. In 2017, a page with tens of thousands of fans could speak to only a few hundred without paying.

We only highlight Facebook because it’s the biggest player in social media. In 2016 and 2017, Twitter either implemented or proposed major changes to its algorithm. Given the trends on Facebook, it’s safe to reason that other social media platforms will follow suit.

Social media remains essential to a company’s brand identity, but it should no longer be considered free.

Marketing Myth #3: Complying With the GDPR Will Be Easy 

We have spoken before about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a wide-ranging legislative measure which aims to secure customer data and will go into effect in May 2018. Some of the consumer rights the GDPR seeks to protect include: the right to erasure (a.k.a. ‘the right to be forgotten’), the right to be informed, the right to object to certain corporate uses of one’s data, the right to obtain access to one’s personal data, and other measures.

These measures cover quite a lot of territory, and they will drastically expand the responsibility that many companies will have to have over their customers’ data. However, many companies both outside of and even within Europe don’t realize how much work they will have to do in order to comply with the GDPR.

Complying with the GDPR isn’t just an academic exercise. The penalties for non-compliance will be stiff: a maximum €20 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is higher. Still, despite these enormous penalties, a 2017 YouGov poll found that an alarming number of businesses even within the EU were unaware of their responsibilities under the GDPR. A majority of British firms were unaware of the GDPR will entail, and only 34% of businesses surveyed were aware of their responsibilities under the GDPR. More alarming still, YouGov claims that nearly three-quarters of marketing and advertising companies are unaware of the new fines and 17% say they would go out of business if they received the maximum punishment. May is less than half a year away, and many companies risk going bankrupt due to a major legislative initiative of which many are unaware!

These are some of the major marketing misconceptions that firms doing business online should not carry over into 2018. Are there any major myths that your firm has debunked this past year? Let us know in the comments below!

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