Key Trends In Digital Marketing

Written by: Rob Lawson

There are significant trends occurring in digital marketing that will affect businesses and their key people in the coming year.The trends outlined below give rise to significant opportunities for those prepared to get across the knowledge and potential application to their specific organisation.

1. One Screen Matters – the mobile phone

Smartphones have revolutionised the way we use our phones. Screen sizes have increased, desktop apps like Word & Excel are now on mobiles and people carry their phones virtually all of the time. We are also on our mobiles whilst doing other things … watching TV, watching sport, in meetings and during travel.

Key questions for businesses marketing to the online mobile world include: Is your website responsive? Does it resize for tablets and mobile phones? Should you have a mobile app? If you should have a mobile app, then : Who will download it? Who will interact with it? What problems will it solve for customers? Is it connected to other information sources (software or hardware … sensors)? Why would someone want your app if there is one that connects all related outlets for them?

We should examine our own mobile phone habits, and those of our customers and friends. What apps are used the most? What advertising is most noticed? What purchases are people comfortable making via their mobile phones? How much email are you/they involved in? Do you/they access calendars and are these synced with work applications?

The growing capability and use of the mobile phone represents an opportunity for businesses that are astute enough to take advantage of them.

2. Connected Devices

A new term has been coined by the U.S. media … “sensoration”. It means putting sensors everywhere. So not only will we have smart devices like ‘fitbits’ connected to an app we will also have sensors in shops to detect our presence. They will soon be everywhere, all in the name of improving the User Experience. Will this be the case? With this comes “big data” … data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate in helping our customers, improving our businesses and staying relevant.

How does this relate to your business? What data can be gleaned by putting sensors on your products? How can your app interact with sensors to improve the way users use it? Do wearable devices make sense for your business?

One way sensors on some products are being used is to facilitate maintenance activities rather than waiting until ‘break then fix’ but there are many other ways businesses will be able to use them (for their own benefit as well as the customer’s).

3. Ai – Artificial Intelligence

Many people have iPhones and use Siri, the Digital Assistant. Not far into the future, as they get better, we will rely on these assistants to do more of the basic tasks we don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. As well, these assistants and their algorithms will help us to understand the big data and make suggestions on what to do as a consequence of things we have not noticed but they do. By 2017 eighty per cent of venture capital firms will use some type of Ai to help them select investment opportunities.

How can your business make sense of all the data you (can) collect and find insights to improve the way you do things? Can you reduce costs with Ai? Can you bring products to market quicker? Can you predict success from the data or design new/better products based on the data?

4. The Customer Journey has Changed

Consumers used to call a few sales reps and get them to present the latest and greatest products. Today we can get all the information we want after an hour on Google. We know what the best offerings are, what we should pay and who has the best reputation. We might ask a couple of them for a quote, then place our order, all done via email or ecommerce with no human contact at all. How will a business know if it was even considered?

Consumers may go to the local shopping mall and visit a few outlets. They may be armed with the latest fashion advice from their favourite blogger or instagram feed. Google have a term called ZMOT – Zero Moment of Truth. It’s the moment before we buy … we check online for a price comparison or a review to make sure we are getting a good deal and that the product or service has a decent warranty.

For a more complex purchase, consumers are spending a lot longer following key industry influencers (thought leaders) via their blog, twitter feed or Linkedin/professional profiles. We watch videos of product demos via Youtube. How will your business manage to become part of this process?

Consumers won’t put up with an ordinary experience online … they will just go to the next website. A business selling to consumers (B2C) had better have awesome graphics, compelling videos and be found very easily on a mobile device.

So the challenge here is to look good to your market, getting found and personalising the content. It’s difficult to work out what to do and how to execute with 1,000 + internet marketers promising the world; businesses need to get educated or get some expertise on their side.

So how might this all apply to your business? It will vary from industry to industry, as well as from micro businesses to SME’s and larger businesses. Each has a challenge to invest in the right level of technology and marketing for them to succeed. To do nothing is dangerous, since the pace of change is picking up. To make sure you do an exceptional job in whatever you do is still obviously important, so that you build a customer base who will buy from you again and recommend you to others – word of mouth has gone digital with social media; it can help or hurt you accordingly.

5. Digital Disruption

We are now experiencing the 3 rd wave of digital disruption. The first wave was the Dot Com boom. We saw a few industries affected – Postal services, Video rental, ecommerce (limited), Newspapers, travel agents, encyclopaedias disappeared, etc.

The second wave saw communities influence the disruption – micro payments spurned by itunes transformed the music industry, the app communities developed games we could play on our phones and communities developed open source software which dented Microsoft’s monopoly, Facebook transformed a community of friends into advertisers.

The third wave is Hyperscaling. This is taking all of this big data, changing the architecture of our businesses to a new stacked model (data from everywhere – every vehicle, traffic light, building, person, payment system, etc.) to make a big shift in all the remaining industries that have not been touched by the first two waves: Healthcare, electricity generation, manufacturing, 3D printing, automotive & insurance, transport (Uber … get a taxi, private car or rideshare from your mobile phone. Uber connects people with a driver in minutes ), banking (Apple wallet, crowdfunding) and entertainment (streaming services).

This next wave is hard to conceptualise. How will it affect you and your business? It might be subtle or major. One thing is absolute … the necessity to focus on the customer and making their life easier.

A Parting Comment:

A challenging question we could all ask ourselves every now and then is “ What is the digital business that will put you out of business and how could you own it?”

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