Digital marketers are frequently subjected to the constant changes and innovations of the digital arena. The pace can be brutal and is often relentless. If recent business history is anything to go by, the only way to thrive in an ever-changing environment is to evolve and adapt.
2016 was a year when digital trends continued to redesign the landscape of marketing. The onward march of mobile domination has reached a point where it is set to eclipse desktop traffic. Platforms from Snapchat to Pinterest continue to grow and attract users, and live video streaming is becoming increasingly viable on a global scale. These recent developments have provided valuable insights on what digital consumers and customers expect.
Having worked with a number of small and medium-sized businesses, we’ve ridden the wave of change over the years – anticipating new challenges and unlocking new opportunities. Adapt or lose: For us; this saying is continually proven true. With this in mind, we always keep one eye on the horizon to see what lies ahead.
Moving into the third quarter of 2017, we’ve rounded up a list of trends that make digital marketing what it is today — and how digital marketers can leverage these new developments:
Mobile Is Shaping Modern-Day Consumerism
Every year for the past four years, every digital marketer has said, “It’s the year of mobile,” and this saying becomes truer with each passing year. A survey from Pew Research Center revealed that in 2016, 77% of Americans owned a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011. This year, we will see the emergence of the smartphone as the consumer’s most valued shopping partner.
Searching for a product, checking product reviews, making product recommendations, looking for the online store that sells the product, even directly purchasing – all these actions can now happen on a smartphone, either through a browser or increasingly on mobile specific apps. These devices are becoming more ingrained in our daily shopping patterns as part of our connected culture.
A review of Google data shows that shopping-related searches on mobile increased 120% in 2015 and 2016, and 82% of shoppers consult their phones for items they are about to buy in a store. It makes perfect sense that brands and marketers put their orchestrated effort into reaching customers on the devices they use most and keep tethered to their side.
Live Video Streaming Continues To Gain Traction
When Meerkat, one of the earliest live streaming apps, was released in 2015, it was considered a novelty. A year or so later, the biggest social media platforms have jumped on the wagon: from Twitter (via Periscope), Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
In the inundated world of content, live streaming offers a good way for marketers and brands to stand out. To put the volume of viewership in perspective, the most viewed Facebook live video in 2016, “Chewbacca Mom,” has garnered more than 166 million views since it first streamed on May 20, 2016. Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20 drew the biggest Twitter live-streaming audience ever, peaking at 377,000 concurrent viewers and over 6.8 million unique viewers.
When live streaming fully takes off, it will be a valuable tool for marketers across the board to enrich the customer experience. What live video does best is enable brands to build transparency, create organic interaction and allow users to partake in brand storytelling. It’s a kind of digital connectedness that has never been offered before.
Big Data Empowers Personalization
Big data has been instrumental in enhancing the personalized customer experience. Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify are just some of the biggest brands today that use data to provide users with a high level of personalization. For brands, more data means better predictions, better targets and thus, more users.
Marketing Automation Is More Present
What used to be a buzzword in 2016 is gaining a stronger foothold. Marketing automation, which the majority of marketers consider crucial for success, is now used to streamline several aspects of content marketing, including social media marketing. For marketers, this may cut down the overall sales cycle. It also paves the way for improvements such as engaging and nurturing prospects, and more effective communication with existing customers.
Immersive Marketing Enhances Content Marketing
Content marketing has created an avenue for good (and bad) content. The overwhelming volume of existing content has led innovators to find better, more creative ways to engage their audience and develop technologies to immerse users in various experiences.
An example of this tool is the 360-degree video format, available on both Facebook and Youtube. Star Wars: Rogue One took advantage of the tool for its promo last year and got favorable responses from eager fans. Other examples, which used augmented reality, include Pokemon Go and a Pepsi campaign released in 2014.
The most successful companies, large or small, don’t stand still. They innovate, evolve and leverage new discoveries for their continued success and the overall growth of the industry. Paying heed to, if not anticipating, the trends mentioned above and adapting to them is an indispensable step to unlocking marketing potential and opportunities.
Companies adapt and take opportunities at different speeds, depending on their agility, but innovation in digital marketing doesn’t wait, and it will be interesting to see which companies can both ride and influence the changes that are coming.