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Top 16 Digital Trends Of 2016

Michael Brenner

Marketing has undergone a major transformation in the last few years, responding to new technologies and changes in consumer behaviors and attitudes.

Digital marketing and automation are just some of the new skills and technologies successful marketers need to learn today to better understand and help their consumers.

So what do marketers need to know to stay ahead of their competition in 2016 and beyond? Here are 16 marketing trends you can’t ignore. Respond to them now or risk extinction.

1. Relationship marketing

It is estimated that 2 billion consumers worldwide will own a smartphone by 2016. The opportunity and need to stay connected with customers and prospects on the go is more important now than ever.

Relationship marketing has shifted away from short-term customer engagement and individual sales to building longer-term engagement and stronger loyalty, to drive more meaningful customer connections, word-of-mouth promotions, lead generation, and ultimately sales.

Krispy Kreme has succeeded with this approach to improve customer engagement and loyalty. Through Krispy Kreme’s Red Light app, consumers can search for the nearest location and receive notifications on their smartphones whenever a batch of fresh donuts becomes available. Without spending a cent on marketing or advertising, Krispy Kreme saw nearly 7% boost in sales after the app launched.

2. Crowdsourced brand content

Creating and scaling content can be costly, time-consuming, and hard to do. Many brands are starting to realize the untapped opportunity in crowdsourcing free brand content as they see how effective it is in engaging their consumers and amplifying their marketing.

In recent research, Onalytica reported that of all the content on YouTube in which a brand is mentioned, 99% is created by brand fans. And that is just YouTube alone. Imagine all the free attention you can earn if you can get your consumers and fans to create and share content about your brand.

Minecraft is a great example of a brand that is doing this right. At the annual Minecraft conferences, attendees are offered free workshops on video-making rather than just on how to play the video game. Why? When these Minecraft fans go home, the first thing they do is create videos about Minecraft and start sharing them on YouTube.

These videos generate 2.5 billion views a month on YouTube for Minecraft, and Minecraft didn’t need to spend a dime on content marketing or advertising, other than providing their fans a few video-making workshops.

3. Location-based marketing technology

Today’s marketers are able to create interactive experiences and connect with customers at the point of engagement, thanks to new technologies like iBeacons and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).

iBeacons are inexpensive transmitters that can detect nearby devices and can be used in merchandising areas, point-of sale-displays, and at retail stores. RFIDs are small electronic devices that provide a unique identifier for a specific tag, such as a wristband, card, or app. These location-based technologies allow marketers and event organizers to connect with customers in real time, helping attendees interact and engage with the event and with other attendees in ways never before possible.

4. Marketing automation

Marketing automation platforms make it easier for marketers to manage content, schedule posts, segment contacts, and track customers through the sales funnel, helping them get more done without compromising on quality and effectiveness.

With greater pressure and focus on delivering results, marketing leaders will need to train their teams so they have the knowledge needed to use these automation tools and improve sales.

While marketing automation is nothing new, recent research indicates only 50% of companies are using it today.

5. Virtual reality and wearable technology

With big players like Google and Facebook investing in virtual reality, and with the upcoming release of Oculus Rift, marketers will have the ability to tell 360-degree brand stories and engage consumers through immersive marketing like never before.

Regardless of adoption rates, you can definitely expect leading marketers to take advantage of virtual reality technology to create even more interactive and personalized experiences for consumers.

Similarly, wearable technology, like the Apple Watch, will provide marketers with opportunities to experiment with exciting new ways of communicating with customers.

6. Ephemeral marketing

With more than 100 million users every day, Snapchat is becoming a standard marketing platform for many brands. Snapchat is no longer just a platform to experiment with fun marketing campaigns, but a place where consumers are flocking for content in real time.

In order to reach consumers, particularly the younger generation whose time is often split between multiple channels, Snapchat is one of the hottest marketing channels.

Ephemeral marketing is all about shorter, to-the-point communication that takes up a small segment of an audience’s time. With Snapchat, each piece of content lasts for only a few seconds, and once viewed, it disappears from the user’s stream. This fast pace is especially important to engage and connect with consumers who are pressed for time.

Looking for how to get started on Snapchat? Check out this advice from MarketingLand.

7. Social and digital content assets

In the new age of digital, the importance of creating quality content optimized for search engines will only increase. Digital content you create today, including your website, blog, and videos, will still be found on the web and in Google searches years from now. Digital content assets are an investment in your brand’s future success.

Another digital asset is your brand fans and advocates on social media. They are the ones who will help distribute and promote your content. If you’re not already investing in and growing your social network following, you need to start now.

8. Search past search engines

With Facebook already testing its own search engine, search capabilities are expected expand in 2016 and beyond, which will give brands an automatic boost. Coupled with the introduction of buy buttons and payment messaging on social, both marketers and consumers can expect an all-in-one-type platform in 2016.

These advanced capabilities will bring a more integrated social experience and buying process, as consumers will be able to purchase, share with friends, and post social proof of their purchases all in one place. Marketers who leverage this integrated social media search trend as part of their marketing efforts will clearly see a boost in their returns.

9. Paid social distribution

Social media may have been free five years ago, but things have changed. If you want to reach your Facebook audience, you will likely need to pay to access users’ attention and eyeballs. And if you choose to pay, you need to measure the results to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment.

This is why analytics and digital marketing automation software should be your best friend in 2016. The web provides us with the data we need to find out what’s working and what’s not. Instead of relying on guesswork and intuition, data-driven decisions will help marketers achieve the results they want.

10. Mobile

Mobile has now become the primary screen for most people. Look at Facebook: 75% of its revenue comes from mobile advertising, so it’s clear that mobile should be a key focus for marketers.

Since you cannot do everything you do on desktop with the limited screen space of mobile, you need to focus on what matters the most: easy-to-read content, easy-to-use calls to action, easy-to-find contact details, and the ability to capture email leads via mobile.

The same goes for mobile apps. They are no longer an option but a necessity for businesses, as more and more consumers go mobile with their research and purchases.

11. Personalization

Personalization is here, and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Relevance is key to capturing consumer attention and eyeballs. Effective marketers will leverage all the digital marketing technologies available today to deliver personalized marketing and content that engages and sells.

12. Return on marketing investment

For the last 7 years, marketers have been talking about vanity metrics like Facebook likes, traffic, and social sharing. In 2016 and beyond, effective marketers will need to focus on what really matters: the metrics that will show your execs the sales and return on investment.

That’s why Liz Bedor and I wrote the Content Formula. If you haven’t read it yet, get it now!

13. Advertising industry will experience a market correction

I shared this in my content marketing prediction for 2016: The leading marketing trend of 2016 will be the maturing of the age of ad blocking. I think we’ll see a massive correction in the advertising market.

As more and more consumers download ad blockers on their computers and cell phones, opt out of telemarketing lists, and cut their cable subscription cords, marketers will start to see the futility of spending so much of their budgets on ads no one wants; ads we are willing to pay an ad blocker to avoid.

This will drive an increase in content marketing budgets. It will force more marketers to consider how to create and publish content their customers actually want. And it will require content marketers to get pretty damn good at showing ROI.

14. Visual content will continue to explode

Yep, folks, this is still huge. I can’t believe how few marketers are creating Slideshares from existing executive presentations and videotaping them as they speak to customers.

15. Entertaining and funny content

Just check out my favorite new example of content marketing, mattress company Casper’s VanWinkles.com. This is a content brand from a company that understands a very tight niche of their market that was underserved. They use an amazing design, fresh content (literally), and a strong call-to-action (subscribe) to generate a list of consumers who might be interested to buy their stuff at some point.

16. Podcasting, media brand M&A, or ?

I asked my friends across the content marketing industry for their top predictions. An explosion in podcasting was predicted by Jay Acunzo. Joe Pulizzi thinks a major brand will buy a media company.

What do you think? Which trends have you adopted already or will be adding to your 2016 marketing strategy? Please share your ideas below!

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customer for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

Amazon And Whole Foods: The New Terrain Ahead

Jenn Vande Zande

We all felt the ground shake recently with the news that Amazon plans to acquire Whole Foods.

Similar to an earthquake, while living through the experience is shocking, there were ways to predict that it might have been coming, and ways to prepare for it. While the after-tremors of this surprise announcement are being felt far and wide (and will be for a long time), right now is the time to take a deep breath and realize that the landscape is changing, and that you can navigate through it.

Next week we’ll offer in-depth assessments of what this means for the long and short term, but for today, it’s time for reflection and a renewing of your strength and dedication to the market and the customer.

Here are the facts as we see them:

This is a game-changer

How many times has the term “game-changer” been used with Amazon? Countless. However, Amazon has been ramping up their entry into the grocery retail market. “Amazon has been steadily breaking into grocery, the largest segment of retail, with AmazonPantry, AmazonFresh, AmazonGo, and most recently their AmazonFresh Pickup pilot. Just yesterday they released a Dash Wand that can not only be used to scan products into a shopping list or cart, but also includes Alexa for find recipes, get product recommendations, and place orders,” said Stephanie Waters, retail industry principal with SAP Hybris, “And now, today, this.”

Stephanie noted, “Some grocers haven’t been overly concerned about Amazon, saying they don’t know how to do fresh and they don’t have stores. That all changed today when they acquired one of the world’s experts in fresh and 465 stores across North America and the UK. The grocery industry will never be the same. We are on the cusp of a quickly moving environment and I think we will see the acceleration of supermarket chains innovating their business models and modernizing their organizations.”

Price wars are coming

Experts in the industry have been aware that a battle was brewing when it comes to pricing and grocery retail, but today’s announcement brings grocery retailers to the front line.

Cutting prices isn’t the answer. You need to deliver an outstanding customer experience and maximize operational efficiencies.

Data: the not-so-secret weapon

Many grocery retailers partnered with Instacart to provide fulfillment services, thereby turning over their customer data to a third-party vendor rather than retaining and using that data. Today should mark a shift in how grocers proceed with this process.

It remains to be seen what impact the Amazon acquisition will have on the Instacart and Whole Food partnership, but taking back control of both the customer experience and data derived from it will be a key element in getting through this disruption in the industry.

Fewer customers walking into stores and ordering online from the retailer equates to lower slotting fees, which means a significant crack in one of the foundations of grocery retailer bottom lines.

Online is the new frontier

It’s hard to believe that there are grocery retailers who haven’t made the leap to online, but they exist. “The news of this acquisition today only accelerates the online grocery forecast which is estimated to grab 20% of grocery by 2025,” said Waters, “retailers who are not online risk losing market share. Period. Full stop.”

Prepare to fight for your customer

Today is a day to recognize that a long battle lies ahead. You have to be prepared to fight for your customer, and you need the tools and strength to do it. It’s time to take a deep breath and assess where you are and where you need to be.

It’s been noted before, but bears repeating over and over: If you evolve your business model to include online retail but you ignore the customer experience, you have gained nothing, and could even lose customers.

What’s next?

Watch this space next week, when we’ll do some deep-dives into what all of this means. In the meantime, know that you can still thrive, and that SAP Hybris can help.

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How Mobile Apps Power Up On-Demand Startups

Granner Smith

On-demand is set to transform the mobile commerce entrepreneurial space. Whether you’re looking for taxi bookings, food orders, healthcare services, home maintenance, business info, or more, the app store has a solution for practically every service you can think of, and smartphone owners are more than willing to use these mobile apps. While innovative startups are already trying to take the market by storm, there are still countless opportunities available for people looking to make their mark. This means there’s a phenomenal growth outlook for e-commerce startups that provide unique services on-demand. On the other hand, there are equally big challenges to overcome, as the competition is daunting.

Understanding the basics of on-demand business

Many opportunities and challenges of on-demand service startups are similar to the those of conventional e-commerce businesses. The difference is how services are delivered – as the name suggests, on-demand businesses deliver services to the buyer when, how, and where they need them.

The unique selling proposition of on-demand (compared to traditional e-commerce) lies in its convenience and spontaneity. To be successful, on-demand startups are tasked with creating a unique business idea that has sustainability, scalability, and profitability over a period of time.

Before you venture into this space, it’s important to understand the on-demand service business model, which is based on the following components:

  1. Identify a pain point (demand): Identifying and solving a pain point is the basis of any business model. The more unique your idea, the better its chances of survival and success.
  1. Determine whether your service is instant or scheduled: Once you have a business idea, you have to work on how you’ll provide the service you are promising. One consideration is whether the service is instantly delivered or scheduled. For instance, food delivery is an instant service with the customer expecting a short wait time. Scheduled service could be an airline booking for a future point of time. Startups providing instant services must have adequate capacity and supply to meet excess demand as needed.
  1. Find a reliable staff supply: Meeting that latter point requires a steady and reliable source of staff and supplies. On the staffing side, startups may choose between contracted workers and freelancers. While contracted staff provide reliability, freelancers may be more cost-effective. Startups should try to strike an equilibrium. Begin with more stable contractual supply on a small scale and gradually add freelance support to scale to your growth.
  1. Strengthen the core: Once the operational side of the business is taken care of, you need to strengthen your core with the right technology, meaning the mobile app that links you with potential customers.
  1. Planning and patience: Finally, when you have all the processes in place, it’s time to streamline them. The integration between offline (operations) and online (app technology) is a complex task, an art that’s mastered with patience and precision. Be prepared to invest a good deal of effort and money to make your business a success. At the same time, be realistic in your expectations, as overnight success is unlikely.

On-demand startups must be prepared for slow-paced growth, but the results can be phenomenal if they can sustain themselves through the testing phase. Creating a sound business strategy and adhering to it is the best way to proceed.

Mobile app: the lifeline of on-demand business

The entire concept of on-demand business is woven around mobility. Its services must be available anywhere and anytime, making the mobile app an essential ingredient of the business. An app is the platform by which the business accesses the market, provides services to users, and retains loyal customers. Here are the mobile app features needed to give users a great experience and bring business to the startup:

  • Convenience: On-demand service is synonymous with convenience. Convenience is not confined to delivering the service, but encompasses the entire performance of the app. The app should load quickly and have an excellent user interface. The entire checkout process should be quick and smooth, completed with a minimum number of clicks, and have few forms. Simplicity can be a deciding factor in engaging users, converting them, and bringing them back.
  • Live tracking: Real-time tracking that sends location-based offers to customers and enables them to track their order or service ensures customer satisfaction and helps build long-term loyalty.
  • Seamless payment: Customers prefer mobile apps that enable cashless transactions through the most popular, secure, and seamless payment options.
  • Reviews and ratings: Customer ratings are a key element in an on-demand business’ growth, as potential customers are more likely to have confidence in reviews and ratings provided by actual users. Real-time customer feedback is also an effective way for a business to continuously evaluate its performance.

A mobile app is a lifeline for an on-demand startup. It matches supply with demand to enable the business to deliver the service at the right place and the right time. For startups providing services on demand, the main driving force in growth is not money or inventory, but technology in the form of mobile apps.

For more on digital selling, see Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.

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About Granner Smith

Granner Smith is a Professional writer. His skill set is vast, his greatest expertise revolve in the worlds of interactive design, development, UX, social media, brand identity design, content creation. He works with reputed company, Orange Mantra that provide web and mobility solution. Follow us on Twitter @Orangemantraggn Facebook @OrangeMantraindia

Taking Learning Back to School

Dan Wellers

 

Denmark spends most GDP on labor market programs at 3.3%.
The U.S. spends only 0.1% of it’s GDP on adult education and workforce retraining.
The number of post-secondary vocational and training institutions in China more than doubled from 2000 to 2014.
47% of U.S. jobs are at risk for automation.

Our overarching approach to education is top down, inflexible, and front loaded in life, and does not encourage collaboration.

Smartphone apps that gamify learning or deliver lessons in small bits of free time can be effective tools for teaching. However, they don’t address the more pressing issue that the future is digital and those whose skills are outmoded will be left behind.

Many companies have a history of effective partnerships with local schools to expand their talent pool, but these efforts are not designed to change overall systems of learning.


The Question We Must Answer

What will we do when digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence eject vast numbers of people from their current jobs, and they lack the skills needed to find new ones?

Solutions could include:

  • National and multinational adult education programs
  • Greater investment in technical and vocational schools
  • Increased emphasis on apprenticeships
  • Tax incentives for initiatives proven to close skills gaps

We need a broad, systemic approach that breaks businesses, schools, governments, and other organizations that target adult learners out of their silos so they can work together. Chief learning officers (CLOs) can spearhead this approach by working together to create goals, benchmarks, and strategy.

Advancing the field of learning will help every business compete in an increasingly global economy with a tight market for skills. More than this, it will mitigate the workplace risks and challenges inherent in the digital economy, thus positively influencing the future of business itself.


Download the executive brief Taking Learning Back to School.


Read the full article The Future of Learning – Keeping up With The Digital Economy

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

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Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

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