Written by: Jordan Buning, ddm President
There is a laundry list of innovations and trends impacting the future of how marketing works. The potential upsides to these emerging trends are enticing as they create new engagement opportunities and offer significant revenue potential. There’s also a healthy dose of ‘fear of being left behind’ if your company doesn’t adopt these trends.
But, before you take a leap of faith toward these opportunities, take time to weigh your options. While each of these trends is redefining customer engagement, each comes with high expectations to deliver tailored, personalized experiences.
- The pandemic completely changed the way people shop. E-commerce was already on the rise before COVID hit, but in March 2020, it took off at an astronomical rate as it became the alternative to closed brick-and-mortar environments. Shopify reported that e-commerce experienced 10 years' growth in just three months.
- By 2024, Shopify estimates that online shopping will be responsible for nearly 22% of all retail purchases in the world.
- Many brands are challenged with creating hybrid experiences that integrate the best of physical and digital worlds. Three-quarters of global executives surveyed say they will invest more in creating hybrid experiences over the next 12 months, with the goals of improving personalization (43%), customer connection (40%), and inclusive experiences (38%).
- The purchase journey is becoming increasingly hybrid. Sixty-seven percent of consumers believe the best shopping experiences in the future will incorporate both humans and digital channels.
- Marketers need to preserve human connection over digitized interactions. Fifty-seven percent of consumers want the option to talk to someone before buying a product or service, but that doesn’t mean they're going to ignore the convenience of e-commerce.
- Many new competitors are not equipped to compete on customer experience. Today’s consumer expects easy-to-use, intuitive digital experiences across channels and devices. Brands that can deliver on those expectations are seeing the greatest returns.
- Over the last three years, spending on social media ads has jumped nearly 70%.
- LinkedIn continues to be a rising star in the digital space. Each quarter, the company shows considerable gains in monthly active users and engagements on the platform. LinkedIn also continuously adds new features that drive better results for businesses and pages.
- You have the chance to engage directly and instantaneously with current and potential customers, employees, peers, and investors. Respond to their questions and clarify or amplify company messages.
- It’s glaringly obvious when you’re not being true to your personality and your personal values online. Every post you make doesn’t need to be perfect, but they should all be honest and provide a fair reflection of your position on the topic or issue at hand.
Big data + AI
- Businesses are quickly adopting big data analytics. According to one survey, businesses that use big data see a profit increase of 8% and a cost reduction of 10%.
- Netflix estimates that big data algorithms help it save $1 billion every year in the form of customer retention.
- Studies from Forrester and Deloitte demonstrate that customer-centric companies bring in 5.7X more revenue and 60% more profits than their counterparts.
- To be customer-focused, you need to understand your customers and their journey, empathize with them, anticipate their needs, and deliver products/services to help them improve their financial well-being.
- While AI can help ensure that the right offer reaches consumers at any touchpoint along their journey, it often isn’t sufficient in creating a dynamic customer experience.
- For instance, employing customer service agents and integrating AI into critical parts of the customer experience—from producing timely offers to providing service representatives with relevant information—can help brands deliver holistic customer solutions.
Digital process automation
- Digital process automation helps companies implement new offerings faster, scale up services efficiently, reduce errors, ensure consistency, adhere to regulatory compliance, and provide novel solutions to customers.
- Because it’s more powerful, intelligent automation allows for “hyperautomation”: the start-to-finish automation of entire business functions (hyperautomation was named by Gartner as the #1 strategic tech trend of 2020).
- Ninety-two percent of marketing agencies are now investing more time, resources, and budget into marketing automation integration.
- Be mindful of which processes you automate; apply automation to frequent, low-stakes tasks so your team is available for interpersonal interactions that require critical thinking, empathy, and creativity.
- By automating simple and predictable tasks, you create more valuable and personal connections between your brand and your clients.
- When approached thoughtfully and intentionally, automation leads to a higher number of human-to-human interactions and maximizes the quality of those interactions as well.
- Channels like Instagram offer powerful opportunities for influencer marketing, and TikTok has quickly built a reputation as a powerful platform for user-generated content.
- An increasing number of businesses are turning to social media influencers to market their products. More than 90% of marketers report using the strategy and it’s working. For every dollar spent on influencer marketing, the earned media value created is $5.78.
- Companies aren’t just relying on famous names. They’re also turning to influencers with small but targeted audiences. So-called “micro influencers” and “nano influencers” can have as few as 1,000 followers. Yet, they’re attracting brands as big as Coca-Cola, Google, and Sephora.
- There is no handbook for a successful influencer marketing strategy, so most of the time, brands learn from their hits and misses.
- If an influencer lacks the ability to create impressive content, they might fail to resonate with your target consumers. Worse yet, influencers have the potential to damage a brand if not executed appropriately.
- Measuring results can be a challenge.
- Hybrid events allow you to increase your reach and gain more attendees.
- A study found that nearly 98% of attendees at a hybrid event were not planning to attend live, providing more engagement opportunities.
- Hybrid events allow event professionals to combine in-person and virtual event experiences to reach a wider audience while providing ways for attendees to engage and connect.
- The urge to gather again is strong, but having experienced the immediacy of live events from the comfort of their couches, many consumers are happy to keep things virtual.
- Executing a hybrid event demands a seamless integration of technology to facilitate participation between a live and virtual audience.
- Be sure to provide exclusive in-person experiences for attendees. Consider hiring musicians and live entertainment to contribute to the physical aspect of the event.
- Any company that wants to own its industry will need to align its PR, thought leadership, and SEO to create overlapping visibility, credibility, and authority.
- Content marketing generates 3X more leads than traditional marketing.
- When marketing professionals develop campaigns that focus on relationships, tell a story, and promote thought leaders who educate rather than sell, it helps cut through the clutter and grab the attention of potential consumers by addressing specific needs. Of particular importance is storytelling.
- Companies across the spectrum have been forced to take a step back and recognize the essential role content marketing plays in an effective full-funnel brand to demand strategy.
- Search engines like Google have continued to prioritize quality content.
- Businesses that use content marketing see 6X more conversions over organizations that pass it over.
- Through storytelling, businesses can humanize their brand, impactfully communicate their message, and inspire stakeholders to take action.
- Some examples are from hearing you on a podcast or in the media.
- Consumers are looking to support companies that have a mission or give back in some way.
- About seven out of every 10 shoppers expect brands to stand up for social beliefs.
- A big advantage to walking hand-in-hand with a nonprofit is that you show that your company is committed to people.
- Companies can connect with individuals in areas they care about and can position this as a competitive differentiator, capturing a new kind of growth—one that reflects the values of all stakeholders.
- There are more than 1.5 million registered nonprofits in America, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Each one attracts a particular type of donor.
- Your marketing plan shouldn't end at simply expressing support for a charitable organization; it should include effective goals such as product placement, affiliate marketing, percentage of sales donations, and corporate sponsorship.
- Make sure the philanthropic mission of the organization you work with supports your company’s values.
- Your marketing plan should include actionable strategies for illustrating your philanthropic support.
Empathy is still the key
Don’t forget that even with all the powerful information and opportunities available at your fingertips, you are still engaging with humans. Customers expect empathy and human-centered engagement whether they're buying for themselves or their company.
Spend some time weighing the potential opportunities and considerations/accountabilities to reap the full rewards of each.