Does your brand want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing?
The game of online marketing is changing so rapidly that it can be hard to keep up. For most marketers, B2B and B2C brands this means that it is imperative to stay up to date with the latest trends, technology, statistics and data from online web use.
In fact, things are moving so rapidly when it comes to how people use and interact with online content that in the last 5 years there have been some considerable changes. These changes include-
- An increase in mobile browsing and online purchases on mobile devices
- A decrease in web browsing and online purchases on desktops
- An increase in content sharing and marketing
- An increase in the power of social media and social proof
- A decrease in attention span of readers and buyers
- An overall increase to the number of hours people spend online (estimated to be 4 hours per day)
- An increase to the number of connected devices and use of wearables
The number of people using the Internet is also on the rise around the world and as technology rapidly expands and evolves, so should our approach to marketing, SEO, e-commerce and more.
To help your brand stay ahead of the curve, we have researched and put together some advice from top marketers and advertisers in the business.
While research and metrics can be a great way to see the shift in trends, sometimes asking experts who are leaders in their field and are working day in-day out with a huge number of online customers can be the way to go.
Here are the top marketing insights from 10 of the leading brands around the world:
1. General Electric- Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing
Linda Boff believes that Virtual Reality is going to be the next big thing that marketers and brands need to watch out for-
“Virtuality reality has become real. It is a great storytelling platform, particularly for General Electric (GE), because it gives us another incredible way to show how our big machines perform in extreme conditions.”
While virtual reality is yet to make its way onto the mainstream market, the technology is becoming more and more advanced and it won’t be long before we start seeing it emerge in video games, computers and in mobile devices.
Boff also states that more and more devices in our home from our TV’s fridges, cars, lights and wearables are going to be connected to the internet and that this is going to increase the consumption of content.
Currently, there is an estimated 30,000 pieces of online content shared every day and this number is expected to rise as more devices are connected to the world wide web.
Boff believes the best way to navigate through the changes in the online world is to find ways to have more direct conversations with your users and customers.
“In a world filled with incredible new tools to cultivate community, customers, consumers and fans are more accessible than ever. Look for more direct conversations.”
2. Percolate- Noah Brier, Co-Founder
Brier believes that the job of being a marketer is only going to get more challenging as time goes on due to the rapidly increasing playing field. This includes an increase in channels, marketplaces and new arenas that were never accessible before, and this will challenge marketers to constantly come up with new ideas and new strategies.
Although this rapidly expanding industry can be difficult to tame, Brier feels that this is also a benefit to companies who know how to grow effectively-
“While this is a big challenge, it is also good problem to have, as over the next five years marketers will have an ever growing customer base who, thanks to the growth of smartphones, they will be able to reach directly. All of this will drive more complexity inside and outside organisations, but when accompanied by growth, that is not necessarily a bad thing.”
Brier also feels that the rapid expansion of technology is going to help marketers understand exactly what convinces and persuades a customer to purchase and what convinces them to abandon their shopping cart altogether. This type of information is of course invaluable to businesses who are looking to grow.
3. 72andSunny- Matt Jarvis, Chief Strategy Officer
Jarvis believes the future is all centred around having a brand that supports a greater cause or issue in the community. He also believes that people will shift their focus away from products and onto culture instead. He believes that this will be the driving force for most millennials, who in a few years are going to dominate the marketplace.
“Culture will still be king. People will continue to care more about culture than products, so brands that operate on a cultural level will be the winners of the future as they of the present.”
Jarvis also believes that personalised advertising and a personalised approach to marketing is going to not only become more important but also easier due to the increasing access to information.
Marketers who really use the resources around them in an ethical way to know their customers and who they are marketing to, are also going to see more profitable and pleasing results.
4. Taco Bell Corp- Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer
The average person checks their phone more than 150 times per day and research is also showing that psychologically, people are becoming attached to their phones and experience separation anxiety when their phones are not within reach.
As the trends have already suggested, Brandt believes that mobile use is going to keep increasing and will change the way that marketers appeal to customers.
“Mobile will enable more personal interactions between brands and people. The number one possession people have is their smartphone….Mobile is the way people interact with friends and brands. The way they look at content is shifting to small screen and successful brands will be able to create a more personalised experience with consumers.”
Along with the increasing use of mobile devices to engage with brands, Brandt also believes that social media will continue to dominate and offer marketers keen insights on who their customer base really is.
Social media sites like Facebook, currently receive millions of hits every day from millions of users from all around the world and are collecting data about how their users interact with the site at a faster rate than ever before.
With the increasing points of data being collected from social media and mobile use, collecting statistics will get easier over time and brands will be able to track their customers in real time.
As more information is available online, brand transparency is also going to become paramount. As Brandt points out-
“Consumers expect more information from the brands they use and they expect brands to do good. They want to know who they are and what they stand for. They reward companies that have similar values and ask- Is the brand good for me, the consumer and good for we, society as a whole? Brands have to be more transparent in a genuine and authentic way…If they do, they will win both the hearts and minds of consumers.”
Transparency is a huge issue of concern for most millennials, so being honest and communicative about your brand is going to become increasingly important in the future and will help to build trust between your brand and consumers.
5. The Content Wrangler- Scott Abel, Content Management Strategist
When it comes to the future of content marketing, Abel believes that it is all about personalisation and creating a story that resonates with your readers-
“Without personalisation, we are just spraying content around the web and hoping it will stick to someone…”
As online content increases, business who don’t tailor and personalise their content are going to get left behind. In order for your content to remain relevant in the future and relevant amongst all the emerging technologies, brands have to find a way to speak to their audience on a more personal level.
As Abel continues-
“The future of content marketing relies on laser-focusing the message on the individual, not some fictional persona. Personalisation is about delivering the right content (relevant) to the individuals who need it (and not those who don’t), at the right time (when they need it), in the language they prefer (their own) and on the device of their choosing (not one that we imagine them using).”
This also ties into SEO and ensuring that your content uses targeted and specific keywords in order to attract the right questions and dilemmas that your customer base faces.
As we all know when it comes to the future of SEO, it is all about creating valuable content and less about manipulating text to be a certain way.
6. Adam&EveDDB- Alex Hesz, Director of Digital
Out of many key changes that Hesz sees for the world of online marketing, he believes that measurement of campaign success is going to significantly improve, which will help marketers to target their audience more effectively.
With the growing number of platforms from Google Analytics to Facebook, it can be difficult to accurately track your audience base and how they are moving from one lead magnet to the next.
As Hesz explains-
“Metrics are all over the place. We had page views (which is essentially like tracking escalator use at a department store), Facebook Likes (which are now of no lasting utility), video views (now an indicator primarily of paid investment) and click through rates (which still fail to discern quality traffic). We are still yet to settle on a metric that is fit for purpose; one that is easily repeatable, undeniably valuable and demonstrably linked to ultimate effectiveness…Surely it is going to happen soon.”
It will only be a matter of time before marketers work out a new way to assess and evaluate campaign effectiveness and how their audience is reacting with their website. In the same way that unique visitors and page views are fairly obsolete statistics today, a lot of the techniques that marketers use currently are going to change and evolve.
As many other experts have pointed out, a lot of these new statistics are going to come from observing how customers react when using their smartphones and other devices such as wearables. As mobile device analytics become more detailed and more popular, marketers who pay attention are going to have a clear advantage.
7. Vice Media- Spencer Baim, Chief Strategic Officer
Baim believes that one of the biggest changes and challenges affecting marketers today is the rising influence of millennials and how they respond and resonate with different brands.
“Many of today’s brands will become irrelevant after failing to recognise that the millennial consumer is a generation of people, not just a niche “youth” market. Millennials will not turn into generation X when they turn 35, but will take with them all the brand preferences and media habits they have today.”
Marketing to millennials requires brands to get more personalised and to have a bigger, broader message that impacts the community or world on a positive level. Millennials want to support brands that stand for something that they believe in and will turn their backs on brands that are unethical.
As Baim correctly points out, in order to appeal to the growing and ageing population of millennials, brands really need to have a story that is going to speak volumes to its followers-
“Great marketers will find a brand story that is worth following and will create chapters to this story that evolve over time. They (millennials) will embrace brands that evolve.”
This is important to understand as brands that don’t evolve or update the way they do business will get left behind. This is exactly what happened to big brands like Blockbuster and Border Book Stores. They failed to keep up with the emerging trends in online use and subsequently went from being huge corporations to out of business in a matter of years.
To avoid this being the fate of your company, your brand has to constantly remain evolving and growing in accordance to your customers needs, wants and desires.
8. Alliance Link- Debra, Mastaler, President
When it comes to SEO, Mastaler believes the Google is going to become far more specific when it comes to teaming up the question that is being asked with the appropriate content.
“What “real” people search for and what’s important to them is what Google makes a note of and strives to return. Their algorithms appear to be evolving to better understand relationships between content, the question asked and the person asking it.”
It is only a matter of time before Google starts tailoring their search results for the specific person based on their search history, rather than on the ranking of the page itself. In fact, marketers are already starting to notice this and this could impact the way in which readers and customers access your content and webpages.
Mastaler does remind marketers however, that no matter what, creating good content that answers specific questions and offers value to readers will always be held in high regard by popular search engines like Google.
9. Agata Celmerowski, Former Campaign Monitor VP
As technology advances, Celmerowski believes that it is going to become more and more important for marketers to know the basics of coding and how websites function on the back end.
This will also help marketers to have a certain level of job security as most up and coming marketers who have grown up with computers, know the ins and outs of coding almost naturally. In fact, there is debate that coding is expected to be taught as a subject in school along with English and Maths in the not too distant future.
As Celmerowski points out, while markers don’t have to become expert coders, they do need to have a basic knowledge of the language-
“You don’t need to know how to code your entire website to be a great digital marketer. But when your CMS defaults your clever animated gif to sit right on top of a paragraph of text, you’ll appreciate being able to adjust the padding directly in the code.”
Having a basic knowledge of coding also allows you to have more creative control and allows you to easily explore the best ways to optimise and tailor your website for maximum conversion rates.
10. Salesforce- Dan Darcy, SVP Product Experience
Creating a unique and unparalleled experience for your customers is going to be the only way your brand can stand out from the crowd and beat the competition.
Today, customers have access to multiple devices where they can compare products, read reviews and compare prices with a touch of a finger, and this is going to continue to change the way people shop and look for products and services.
As Darcy points out-
“We are in the midst of an app revolution. Customers can easily compare products and services online for price and quality for any device…It will be more important than ever for marketers to differentiate themselves by creating an unequaled customer experience.”
Part of creating an experience that your customers will grow to love is to also encourage the creation of user generated content, which essentially turns your customers into advocates for your brand.
Marketers who encourage consumers to create content that features their brand through the sharing of a hashtag or a photo on Instagram are really ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing and this strategy is only going to become more prominent and therefore more crucial to finesse.
Through the 10 experts that we found, it seems that there are a few common threads when it comes to the future of marketing and what it means for brands.
It seems that most experts agree that marketing is becoming a bigger playing field and as more devices and more channels are introduced, it is really going to change the rules and force marketers to stay as innovative as possible.
Along with the increased number of devices that are connected to the world wide web, marketers are also going to have access to more information about their customers and what makes them motivated to buy or abandon purchases. In fact, as mobile use and wearables become more popular, it is likely that new technology is going to provide a more sophisticated look at how users interact with their portable devices.
This increase in customer information is going to be important for marketers to observe as more and more, customers are going to seek out brands that can offer them a tailored experience. This means that brands need to share a story with their customers about who they are and stand for something outside of just their products and services.
As millennials grow older and continue to dominate the market, having a brand that also helps to support the community or a bigger cause is going to be important as well. Millennials especially, want to align with brands that have common interests and a common message, so be sure that as a marketer, you know and can effectively communicate what your brand stands for.
Virtual reality may also be the next big thing and will change the way that users are able to respond and interact with your brand and content. Virtual reality technology has been advancing for years and it is only a matter of time before it is welcomed onto the market and consumers start to embrace it.
The world of technology is always changing and as it changes, so too do the ins and outs of marketing. Keeping ahead of these changes are important for marketers from both B2B and B2C brands, however it need not be a tiresome process.
At the end of the day, good marketing and business practices will never change. If you can offer your customers real solutions, easy to use options, lots of value and a smooth purchasing process, this will definitely increase your brands chances of staying ahead of the curve.