There’s no shortage of online articles about marketing trends. I know because I’ve read many of them, and between you and me, they’re not great.
There is just one trend worth focusing on and it’s the one this article covers.
Here’s the brutal reality: consumers don’t like being tracked. As you’re reading this laws are being drafted that will make tracking much harder.
This means marketers will find it increasingly
difficult impossible to use tools they’ve come to rely on to analyze user preferences, movements, and price sensitivities.
Over the last 4 years, access to this type of powerful data has given brands asymmetrical advantages. Tools like Facebook’s Lookalike Audience help brands precisely target users. Here’s how it works: Facebook’s system leverages information such as demographics, interests, and behaviors from your source audience to find new people who share similar qualities. When you use a lookalike audience, your ad is delivered to that audience of people who are similar to (or “look like”) your existing customers.
This gave brands a huge leg up.
Then, in 2022, Apple decided this wasn’t good for their customers and changed the rules. Apple customers are prized by advertisers because they shop more online. These rule changes (by brands like Google, Apple, and others) are making a difference. Facebook’s 2022 ad revenue is down.
My prediction is that moving forward brand advertising will be closer to old-school ads.
To be fair, you’ll have more power than the old-school ad. You’ll be able to track behavior while ad clickers are on your site. And if these visitors drop their email addresses you’ll even be able to track them via email outside your site. But beyond that, tracking will get fuzzy.
Why This Is a Problem
We’ve built complicated if-then-else logic systems that place site visitors into neat segments.
These systems are super effective when the data is accurate. But with consumers using data-blocking privacy tools like AdBlock Plus and with legislation designed to protect consumers the data your system relies on is very fuzzy. And that fuzzy data doesn’t just make the marketing strategy a little wrong, it makes it completely wrong. As Nassim Taleb would say, the system is fragile.
Quick story: we once noticed a really high number of shoppers attempting to use an expired coupon code at checkout.
The invalid code was causing shoppers to exit, which was hurting sales. But we didn’t know where they were getting it.
Eventually, the client realized the expired code was being given out in one of their complicated automated email flows.
Because the issue was a checkout error message we were able to catch it. Had it been a subtler break like a broken link or showing a price that doesn’t match the current product page price, it would have been 10x harder to detect.
Losing this ability to track— the way we’ve come to rely on— can feel like a handicap. But it isn’t. Tracking allowed us to use technology to squeeze profits. Now we’ll rely on creativity.
Creativity may lack the surgical precision of technology. But what it lacks in cold logic it makes up with fence swings.
You can be sure the ad below wasn’t the result of technology. It came from the creative mind of David Ogilvy.
What This 2023 Marketing Trend Means for Brands
It means the stock value of direct response copywriters is about to go up.
Direct-response copywriters cut their teeth perfecting the art of closing the sale on the first visit. They don’t have the luxury of a second shot. So they’ve developed techniques to convert shoppers on the first visit itself. Genius ideas like slippery slides, seeds of curiosity, awareness-level pitching, and involvement devices were invented by direct-response marketers.
With the new tracking restrictions, each DTC site visit is effectively the first and last since we don’t have much confidence about the data accuracy of future visits. So, pick up the copywriting book that’s collecting dust on your shelf. If you need a book recommendation, run and buy this:
The 🐘 in the Room
You’re probably wondering that if copywriting is king then AI (artificial intelligence) tools like ChatGPT (the shockingly human-like software that can take a query like, “imagine the tour guide is Samuel L. Jackson” and spit out a remarkably good script) should sit on top of 2023’s marketing trends. I believe AI is really good at taking existing content and presenting it compellingly. And with the explosive growth of AI, 2024 may be very different. But for now, at this moment, we humans are still better at framing questions. So for now, you’re better off betting on a human buyer psychology copywriter.
Do you agree?
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The Whole Story
Knowing a marketing trend is one thing. Leveraging it to massively improve your online sales is entirely different. Luckily this is something I’ve been thinking about for the last 14 years.
My strategy is to ignore 83% of site visitors and focus on a very specific type.
If you think about conversions as concentric circles the innermost circle represents your current conversion rate— people buying today. Whatever resistance these folks may have had your current sales pitch has successfully overcome.
Adjacent to this innermost circle is an area that represents shoppers influenced by your pitch’s gravitational pull, but the pull just wasn’t strong enough to get them over the finish line 🏁.
We call people in this circle Healthy Skeptics.
Healthy Skeptics have 4 desirable qualities:
We have a copywriting framework to convert healthy skeptics. Interested? The 9 Truths About Online Shoppers.