Entering the era of Zero-Click Marketing

Zero click marketing by digital channel, 2024.

Do you remember when all your digital acquisition efforts focused on driving website traffic?
Those days are fading fast.

After analysing recent trends emerging in major digital platforms worldwide, Rand Fishkin and other digital marketing industry thought leaders warned marketers to adapt their strategies and move away from the pressure to generate incoming website traffic. We’re entering the so-called zero-click marketing era (don’t confuse with zeroclick attack, which involves vulnerabilities of some digital platforms and it’s more a matter of cybersecurity specialists rather than marketers).

Look at these recent digital marketing trends

  • YouTube is now the 2nd largest search engine worldwide.
  • Already in 2020, more than 75% of Google searches ended without a click, and the platform is changing fast, offering immediate website extracts and AI-generated answers on top of SERP (search engine result page), for which users don’t even need to screen results and click one or more websites anymore. Consequently the SEO game must adapt too.
  • LinkedIn & Facebook: algorithms favour native content and penalise direct links to external web pages.
  • Instagram & TikTok: Video-first (and only). The two platforms are now similar as Instagram has given up its initial and much-loved vocation for photos to chase the Chinese competitor who dominates the market despite Western boycotts with the backing of politics. It is not allowed to click anything outside the profile description, which is often ignored given that the contents are mainly used in the user feed and not in the channel feed (remember that it is not possible to insert links in the description of photos or videos, and the link-in-bio mention, as well as being obsolete and ineffective, risks penalising views).
Zero click marketing by digital channel, 2024.

Zero click marketing by digital channel. Source: SparkToro, 2024.

Growing channel attribution challenges

  • Cookieless browsers, due to growing privacy concerns and regulations, limit user data.
  • Link sharing via private chats, either individual or group (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Discord, and more), makes tracking difficult, if not impossible, making analytics data and KPIs unreliable and, often, misleading.
  • Last-touch attribution models are outdated and, in most cases, unreliable. Why assuming that credit for a conversion goes the last-click if other touch points contributed too? If you expect effective actionable KPIs to drive your strategic adjustments, don’t trust what’s based on partial data and wrong assumptions, because your future success might suffer big time.

What to do to be effective in a zero-click marketing world?

Rethink your strategy. It’s not about clicks anymore, but attention.

  1. Go where your audience is: YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram.
  2. Partner with influencers/creators on podcasts and social platforms.
  3. Create engaging, inspiring, native content which is worth sharing for each platform, rather than just posting a link.
  4. Don’t forget to nurture your email list, a primary owned channel.
  5. Keep on building a memorable and trusted brand.

In a few words: stop chasing clicks and start capturing attention on platforms that matter. Adapt your marketing strategy now, or risk falling behind.

Even companies with a limited presence on social media platforms should remember that their marketing goal is reaching their audience.

Any company talks to people, wherever they are. And people are on social media – either through a direct presence or indirectly via testimonials, reviews, and overall word of mouth shared on digital channels by individuals, partners, press, and industry influencers. Therefore, traffic to their websites is a consequence of a positive, growing brand awareness rather than just a sequel of posts merely including boring calls-to-action and direct web links, which, if allowed by platforms, are still penalised by algorithms.

Moving to paid clicks, companies with low brand awareness still need to improve their click-through rate, proving that it’s wiser to move marketing investments towards effective organic inbound strategies.

Social media platforms turned into creator platforms with (social) benefits

Social platforms aim to retain users rather than making them exit to external websites (unless advertising clicks, aka PPC campaigns, compensate for these exits).

In fact, social platforms are greedy for our time: the more time we spend, the more advertising spaces they can sell (paid impressions).

Keep in mind that today social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Threads) are mostly media distribution platforms, like let’s say like Netflix, embedding social elements such as reactions (likes), comments, sharing. On these platforms, each user is a potential creator (or re-creator), and those who generate content most effective at retaining users are rewarded with greater visibility.

Therefore, it is necessary to minimise the clicks of the user journey, possibly allowing the user to achieve the objective we have set ourselves directly on the first acquisition platform, where, moreover, if what we propose is valid, there are more significant opportunities than visibility (reach ) is multiplied thanks to the actions of the user who reads us. User involvement (engagement) matters most, and measuring our content’s success and increasing its organic visibility (social reach) is essential.

We must always create and share (inspiring, meaningful, valuable, fresh, unique, captivating) content to encourage reactions such as likes and comments to which we can and must respond immediately, reposts to a presumably qualified audience, supported by the fact that the advice comes from a person and not a brand).