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12 Marketing Trends Every Top Brand Needs To Know In 2016

Michael Brenner

If there’s one thing we learned in 2015, it’s that in 2016 marketers are increasingly moving away from a “Mad Men” advertising era to a digital marketing age focused on the customer experience and journey. So what strategies, technologies, and tactics do marketers need to understand and learn to better engage, entertain, and delight their consumers? According to Andreas von der Heydt, a senior executive at Amazon, these are the top 12 trends marketers need to know to build a stronger brand in 2016:

1. Personalization and simplicity

Today’s consumers have more choices and information than ever before when it comes to making a purchase. But they also want to spend as little time as they need to when choosing what fits their needs and wants.

That’s why many top brands today are implementing lead nurturing programs that are personalized to the needs, interests and actions of different prospects, so they are sent off to the appropriate nurture paths.

An example of personalized marketing approach is dynamic pricing. Subscription models like Amazon Prime Video or Spotify, and “Pay What You Want” strategies like Humble Bundle, are effective marketing tactics to deliver a customized, simplified and improved customer experience.

2. Big Data and analytics

Using big data and analytics, brands can uncover new insights on their existing and new target groups, and better understand and predict consumer needs and wants to improve their sales and marketing strategies.

Data-driven tools and CRM solutions like Hubspot, Salesforce Pardot, Oracle CRM, and Nimble are helping marketers collect, organize, and analyze their data; generate new insights to incorporate into their marketing strategies; and make better recommendations and predictions for future actions. Whether you’re a small, mid-sized, or large company, you’ll want to consider taking advantage of these tools to gain a competitive edge.

3. Social selling

Today nearly two-thirds of American adults use social networking sites, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center. Another Pew research found that 62% of all American adults are Facebook users, with 31% on Pinterest and 28% on Instagram. User engagement for these social media sites has also increased significantly, with 59% of Instagram users, 27% of Pinterest users, and 22% of LinkedIn users visiting these sites on a daily basis.

It’s clear that social media is an effective tool for driving site traffic, and top brands are taking social media to the next level by using it to drive sales. For those who are looking to develop or improve their social media strategy this year, having the right metrics and social listening are key.

Regardless of the channels your brand is on, you need the right metrics to define and measure ROI and success. Going beyond vanity metrics like “views,” top brands are tracking engagement and other metrics like comments, shares, and even quality of comments (i.e. Klout score of users, leads and sales generated from comments, etc.).

Social listening is also critical to your marketing and sales success. Andreas suggests brands to keep social “social.” Use it to listen to your audience, understand their needs, answer their questions, and gather feedback and ideas from them. You also want to set realistic expectations for your social activities, and not over-stretch too much too fast.

4. Generation Z consumers

Generation Z is here. Defined as those born between mid to late-1990s and 2010, Gen Z grew up with digital technology and a world with easy, constant access to the web. Their comfort with technologies will represent both an opportunity and challenge for brands who want to reach them.

Generally speaking, Gen Z is more financially conservative than their Gen Y peers. They are also very entrepreneurial, independent-minded, and socially responsible. They embrace diversity and differences. Compared to Gen Y, Gen Z is much harder to interact with and they have much shorter attention spans.

But one important thing marketers need to understand is that they are no different than any other generations of consumers, in that they are looking for brands who they can trust and relate with, and can add value and help with their needs and wants.

5. Mobile and location-based marketing

According to Google, more searches are now performed on mobile devices than computers. This means leading marketers will be investing even more on mobile. Marketers can use location-based marketing technologies such as iBeacons and Radio Frequency Identification (RFIDs) to connect and interact with consumers in real time and to promote more sales.

313 Somerset, for example, is the first mall in Singapore to implement location-based marketing technology. Shoppers can use the mall’s app to get sales alerts and coupons on their mobile devices when they are near the shopping center. Retailers have reported 46% sales conversion as a result of the app.

6. Messaging apps

36% of smartphone owners use messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger on their devices in the U.S. Globally, this number reaches billions of users. For brands and marketers, messaging apps represent huge opportunities to drive more sales and revenue.

WeChat, a popular messaging app in China, is already leading the way in mobile commerce and marketing. It’s had great success as a mobile payment platform, allowing users to purchase movie tickets and taxi services, for example.

Slowly but steadily, messaging apps have also begun experimenting with advertising. WeChat has successfully integrated ads into users’ timelines already, and we are starting to see this with popular apps in the West as well like SnapChat Discover, which allows brands to directly reach consumers in creative ways.

7. Wearable technology, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence

Virtual reality and wearable technology will hit the mainstream. Wearables and VR headsets like Oculus Rift will present marketers new ways to tell their brand stories and communicate with consumers through immersive 360 experiences.

In 2016, we’ll also see improved artificial intelligence capabilities (see the RoboWatch project) and more sophisticated “Chatbots.” In a few years, we may see AI-powered robots and personal assistants searching the web to help consumers find what they want, and making personalized recommendations based on their needs.

8. Video and moving images

2015 has already been an incredible year for video, and its popularity will further increase in 2016. With shorter attention spans, video is here to stay and won’t be going away anytime soon. In fact, according to Cisco, consumer Internet video traffic will make up 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014.

We are already seeing brands re-prioritizing their traditional advertising budgets for digital video. For many marketers, branded video content has already become an essential component of their marketing activities, and soon it will become the center.

Leading marketers will also focus more on live-stream video platforms like Periscope and Vine videos. Red Bull, for example, is known for live streaming behind-the-scene views of its snowboarding contests on Meerkat.

A newer video streaming app called Blab is also growing in popularity. Blab allows up to four people video chatting simultaneously with the audience watching and commenting live. Blab video chats can easily be shared on Twitter, which helps with social sharing and viral growth.

9. Data security

Hacking, in Michael Dell’s words, has become a “multi-billion-dollar industry.” For top marketers, cybersecurity is an essential focus to ensure customer data is protected. Leading brands are hiring specialized companies like Social-Engineer to test and identify weak points in their security both online and offline.

10. Meaningful, real-time communication

As consumers increasingly expect more personable and real-time interactions with brands, top marketers will need to focus on strategies that deliver such experiences, such as video streaming, blogging, and webinars to get people’s attention and engagement.

As well, finding “moments” that matter to consumers where brands can build authentic emotional connections will be key for top marketers. These moments, for example, may be the Olympics, Super Bowl, or blockbuster movies like Star Wars. But it’s not enough to just show up with real-time messages. You need meaningful, bold, and inspirational content to stand out from all other competing brand messages.

Smart marketers will also develop an influencer plan to identify top bloggers, relevant experts and influential leaders they can collaborate with to help amplify their messages to the relevant audiences.

11. Employee advocacy

To build a strong brand, you need a fan base of highly engaged and committed brand ambassadors who can help share and promote your brand messages through their networks.

Content shared by employees gets 8 times more engagement than when shared by official brand channels. 90% of consumers also said that they trust social media and word-of-mouth recommendations by family or friends more than other advertising, and that’s where your employees can come in.

According to the 2015 Edelmann Trust Barometer, 63% of consumers surveyed refuse to buy products or services from a company they do no trust. On the other hand, 80% of respondents will buy from companies they trust, and 68% will recommend them to a friend or colleague.

That goes to show how important it is for top brands to build trust and honest, authentic relationships with their audiences. By empowering your employees to take an active role in telling and sharing your brand stories, they help improve your company’s personal branding efforts, as well as increase their own engagement and commitment to your brand.

12. Customer and content-centric organizations

Leading brands are thinking and taking their digital strategy beyond marketing, to everything from sales, HR, finance, R&D, legal, and business planning. Many companies have introduced the new role of chief digital officer (CDO) to lead the digital transformation for the entire organization. Others are building their digital capabilities by improving their business models and processes, then building leadership capabilities across the organization to drive change.

Forward-thinking brands are also rethinking their key departments and functions and reorganizing based on customer experience and innovation. As well, they will work hard to recruit hybrid marketers who have both strong analytical and tech-savvy skills as well as an aptitude and passion for marketing. These next-gen marketers will help top brands evolve, compete, and win in the modern marketing era.

What do you think? Which of these trends have you adopted already or will be executing this year? Please share your thoughts below!

For more marketing strategies to boost your company’s growth this year and beyond, see Digital Tactics That Help Acquire, Convert, And Retain Customers.

The post 12 Marketing Trends Every Top Brand Needs To Know In 2016 appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

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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.

What Are The New Rules For Engaging An Online Community?

Scott Steinberg

Marketing and public relations’ role within professional organizations has shifted drastically with the advent of the online community. Now there’s a greater emphasis placed on storytelling. Traditionally, organizations would simply broadcast news or channel it through the media – observe the reaction, then respond on a flexible timetable. Today, branding isn’t simply about beaming out a message. It’s about building trust with end users, telling a compelling story, and creating two-way social streams of dialogue.

While the media matrix and consumption patterns have irrevocably shifted, the value of powerful communication strategies has only become more vital. In an online community and multitasking world, companies must first find ways to connect with increasingly fragmented audiences and build empathy and awareness. They must create channels for customers and influencers to help organizations engage with brands and products in exciting new ways.

Customer impressions carry increasing weight, with brand impressions now traveling greater distances in less time. Users increasingly look to their personal networks for expertise and validation as opposed to traditional media channels.

Traditional marketing and public relations principles now play an increased role. Practitioners can excel in the modern world – provided they adapt to changing markets and best practices.

The book Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital World offers several tips as you nurture positive conversation in an online community.

Establish a social media policy

Make it clear to employees what is okay to share online, how and when to do so, and the most appropriate manner in which to conduct outreach efforts. With every employee serving as a brand ambassador, training should begin the first day on the job to reinforce the importance of these organizational values. Detail formal rules of engagement with the online community and explain what’s expected from hires.

Develop an internal program to teach social media literacy and aptitude, provide continued education efforts, and reward employees for successfully practicing these skills. You may wish to consider regular skills refreshes, training sessions, certifications, and gamification-based programs to reinforce these maxims.

Be specific about what’s expected in terms of tone, attitude, end results, and output from your social media pros, and regularly monitor and assess how well they align with and meet these goals. Providing running feedback and commentary to help them grow and improve is vital to bolster performance in these areas. To this extent, you may wish to have team leaders provide sample tweets, posts, or updates to provide a sense of how to better shape these communications efforts.

For sake of clarity and assurance of appropriate conduct, post formal guidelines for communication within your own blogs, communities, and online venues, public-facing or otherwise. Having guidelines in place sets expectations upfront and helps you address any issues that may arise, such as having to ban argumentative users or remove inappropriate posts.

Set clear guidelines for interacting with the online community

Social media’s immediacy allows you to interact with customers without filters. However, policy and protocols set in place beforehand ensure professional and productive interactions. Understanding that some room must be given to operate between formal guidelines, make it clear to employees the appropriate rules of conduct when speaking directly to end users or customers, whether exchanges are B2B or B2C in nature.

Provide ongoing development and training to your team regarding these policies, especially for employees who manage social media efforts, outreach, and campaigns. Pass on learning and knowledge gained from direct frontline interactions with customers and promote positive transfer and enhance best practices.

Marketing campaigns and branding efforts should adhere to consistent guidelines. This ensures the right messages are sent and that your company is portrayed with the image and professionalism you desire. Outside of formal guidelines, practice basic rules of politeness, professionalism, and business etiquette online just as you would when engaging with customers face-to-face.

Identify which influencers to reach out to, and brief employees on the best methods for doing so. Through social media, you will likely also interact not just with individual customers, but also entire communities. As in real life, virtual group dynamics can differ greatly from one-on-one interactions.

Express your brand’s online personality

Be less formal, but adhere to your company’s rules and guidelines about your brand, message, and tone of voice, thus creating value for your online community. When people visit social media sites, they expect exchanges to be more personal, immediate, and engaging.

Be cognizant of post quality, taking care to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors. Note that kindness, courtesy, positivity, and empathy should be reflected in every post. Casual and fun doesn’t equate to flippant, glib, or self-centered. Think about how you or your brand may be perceived, and present yourself as affably and respectfully as possible.

Humor is appropriate to use, depending on context. Consider using only the same sort of humor that is appropriate for use in an office or business casual setting. Unless it is part of your brand’s marketing strategy, proceed with caution when using risqué or controversial statements.

Every employee is a brand ambassador in today’s socially driven world. Learn How to Weave Social Media Into the Fabric of the Business.

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How To Master Social Media Marketing In 2017

Michael Brenner

Social media is a constantly evolving medium, from which sites are trending within your industry to the latest Facebook features and Instagram influencers – let alone the development of completely new social media platforms every time you turn on your laptop. How can modern marketers expect to keep up?

The secret is to embrace the change. After all, it is the rapid advancements and constant stream of innovations that have provided digital marketers with so much to work with in the first place. So, no, your social media marketing campaigns this year are not going to look the same as the ones you used in 2016—at least, not if you want to generate more leads and stand a chance against your competitors.

If you want to make an impact with your social media efforts, it is time to give your strategy a refresh. Here is what you need to know to master your social media marketing and to stay ahead of the trends in 2017.

Customize your use of major and niche social media sites

Facebook is still number one, and that isn’t going to change in 2017. In fact, Facebook itself is a world in itself to keep up to date with – in this year alone, it is predicted that Facebook Live will be monetized and that the Call to Action buttons for local business pages will be updated.

Currently the top five social media sites in terms of reach and impact are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Twitter
  4. Pinterest
  5. Tumblr

While these networks are important, there is also value in niche networks for many businesses. For example, DeviantArt is geared towards illustrators, designers, and other artists, as well as art enthusiasts – and has a huge network of 26,000,000. While this site might be useless for, say, an insurance brokerage, it would be incredibly powerful for a photography school. Other examples include eToro for finance professionals, Wayn for travel and tourism, 43 Things for health and wellness brands—and the list goes on as more networks are created and gain active users.

This year, instead of trying to have your brand on every major site and spreading your resources too thin, create a strategy that makes sense for your industry – and your business.

Start with the biggest. With 1.79 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a wise choice.

Next, choose one or two other major networks. Visual industries like clothing and apparel, food, and travel are well-suited to sites like Pinterest and Instagram, while service-oriented industries may gain more leads from LinkedIn and Twitter.

Finally, consider a niche social media network. Many have several million active users and may offer a unique way for you to reach out to leads and to build brand awareness.

Make your video more sophisticated

pixabay

Throughout 2016, the use of video on social media grew, but its impact exploded. A recent survey by Wyzowl found that 84% of consumers said they have been convinced to make a purchase choice after viewing a brand’s video – and 91% claimed to have watched a video to learn about a product or service they were interested in. Now consider that only 63% of businesses taking advantage of video right now.

Videos that engage with viewers tend to be very effective. While customer testimonials and demonstration videos will always have their place, add challenges, puzzles, games, and surveys to your video content, along with informational videos, to keep people interested and talking on social media. Buzzfeed’s Tasty does an excellent job of this.

For some businesses, live streaming can make a strong impact. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all being used by social media savvy brands to engage with consumers in real-time with interviews, Q&A sessions, and brand events.

If you haven’t already branched into video, 2017 is the year. If you are already using promotional videos on your social media channels, then this is the year to make them better. The use of video for social media marketing is no longer new. This year, it’s about coming up with creative, fresh ideas that will capture your audience and inspire leads.

Focus on the influencers

A business could run eleven different social media accounts, with Twitter updates every two hours, Facebook postings twice a day, vibrant Pinterest boards, and an active presence on LinkedIn. But they still would not make the same impact that a couple of mentions by one major social media influencer would create. The big influencers have legions of followers who often look to their voice as a sort of industry guiding force.

While in the past, consistent regular posting was the way to go, make sure you aren’t overextending your marketing efforts with too many platforms – and too many posts. You may not just be draining your resources, but these resources may be better spent with a more concentrated focal point, like an industry influencer.

Furious Pete (TV, food, and fitness) has more than 5 million YouTube followers. Kristina Bazan (fashion) has more than 2.4 million Instagram followers. Jake Paul (millennials) has more than 17 million social media followers. A social media mention from an influencer, or better yet, a video post that mentions your product or service is going to reach a profoundly broad and engaged audience.

Many major companies are now partnering – and paying – the big influencers to promote their product. If you want to master social media, pay attention to who the influencers are in your market.

They don’t have to be the biggest names around, but with a few hundred thousand followers you can make an impact if you can get these people to share, like, tweet, or feature your content in some way. Use resources like BuzzSumo and find the top blogs in your industry to get a better idea of who the influencers are that you may want to connect with.

Examine your social media ads – a lot

Ads continue to be a popular social media marketing tool as they offer marketers a cost-effective way not just to build brand awareness, but also to test their products and messaging and to get important feedback for building future campaigns.

Facebook ads still offer the best ROI by far – 95.8%, compared to 63.5% on Twitter and 2.1% on Snapchat. However, these numbers can shift quickly, especially as the newer networks like Snapchat and Instagram blossom in 2017.

Managing director of Traktek Partners Cyril Lemaire warns that Twitter will see a double-digit decline in active users this year. While this may or may not come to pass, it is important to be agile and to switch gears midstream if your ads aren’t working.

Make sure you are consistently measuring the results of your advertising campaigns, and track changes over time. This will help your team make smart decisions when it comes to social media advertising.

Take a fresh approach to your social media marketing efforts in order to take advantage of the opportunities that are available right now. No longer does it make sense to just chug away with your accounts and follow general trends. Your marketing efforts should be both more sophisticated and much more creative. The brands that can master these qualities will leap ahead in 2017.

For more insight on social media strategies, see How To Weave Social Media Into The Fabric Of The Business.

Image: pixabay

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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.

How Emotionally Aware Computing Can Bring Happiness to Your Organization

Christopher Koch


Do you feel me?

Just as once-novel voice recognition technology is now a ubiquitous part of human–machine relationships, so too could mood recognition technology (aka “affective computing”) soon pervade digital interactions.

Through the application of machine learning, Big Data inputs, image recognition, sensors, and in some cases robotics, artificially intelligent systems hunt for affective clues: widened eyes, quickened speech, and crossed arms, as well as heart rate or skin changes.




Emotions are big business

The global affective computing market is estimated to grow from just over US$9.3 billion a year in 2015 to more than $42.5 billion by 2020.

Source: “Affective Computing Market 2015 – Technology, Software, Hardware, Vertical, & Regional Forecasts to 2020 for the $42 Billion Industry” (Research and Markets, 2015)

Customer experience is the sweet spot

Forrester found that emotion was the number-one factor in determining customer loyalty in 17 out of the 18 industries it surveyed – far more important than the ease or effectiveness of customers’ interactions with a company.


Source: “You Can’t Afford to Overlook Your Customers’ Emotional Experience” (Forrester, 2015)


Humana gets an emotional clue

Source: “Artificial Intelligence Helps Humana Avoid Call Center Meltdowns” (The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2016)

Insurer Humana uses artificial intelligence software that can detect conversational cues to guide call-center workers through difficult customer calls. The system recognizes that a steady rise in the pitch of a customer’s voice or instances of agent and customer talking over one another are causes for concern.

The system has led to hard results: Humana says it has seen an 28% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 63% improvement in agent engagement, and a 6% improvement in first-contact resolution.


Spread happiness across the organization

Source: “Happiness and Productivity” (University of Warwick, February 10, 2014)

Employers could monitor employee moods to make organizational adjustments that increase productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction. Happy employees are around 12% more productive.




Walking on emotional eggshells

Whether customers and employees will be comfortable having their emotions logged and broadcast by companies is an open question. Customers may find some uses of affective computing creepy or, worse, predatory. Be sure to get their permission.


Other limiting factors

The availability of the data required to infer a person’s emotional state is still limited. Further, it can be difficult to capture all the physical cues that may be relevant to an interaction, such as facial expression, tone of voice, or posture.



Get a head start


Discover the data

Companies should determine what inferences about mental states they want the system to make and how accurately those inferences can be made using the inputs available.


Work with IT

Involve IT and engineering groups to figure out the challenges of integrating with existing systems for collecting, assimilating, and analyzing large volumes of emotional data.


Consider the complexity

Some emotions may be more difficult to discern or respond to. Context is also key. An emotionally aware machine would need to respond differently to frustration in a user in an educational setting than to frustration in a user in a vehicle.

 


 

download arrowTo learn more about how affective computing can help your organization, read the feature story Empathy: The Killer App for Artificial Intelligence.


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About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing. Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.

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In An Agile Environment, Revenue Models Are Flexible Too

Todd Wasserman

In 2012, Dollar Shave Club burst on the scene with a cheeky viral video that won praise for its creativity and marketing acumen. Less heralded at the time was the startup’s pricing model, which swapped traditional retail for subscriptions.

For as low as $1 a month (for five two-bladed cartridges), consumers got a package in the mail that saved them a trip to the pharmacy or grocery store. Dollar Shave Club received the ultimate vindication for the idea in 2016 when Unilever purchased the company for $1 billion.

As that example shows, new technology creates the possibility for new pricing models that can disrupt existing industries. The same phenomenon has occurred in software, in which the cloud and Web-based interfaces have ushered in Software as a Service (SaaS), which charges users on a monthly basis, like a utility, instead of the typical purchase-and-later-upgrade model.

Pricing, in other words, is a variable that can be used to disrupt industries. Other options include usage-based pricing and freemium.

Products as services, services as products

There are basically two ways that businesses can use pricing to disrupt the status quo: Turn products into services and turn services into products. Dollar Shave Club and SaaS are two examples of turning products into services.

Others include Amazon’s Dash, a bare-bones Internet of Things device that lets consumers reorder items ranging from Campbell’s Soup to Play-Doh. Another example is Rent the Runway, which rents high-end fashion items for a weekend rather than selling the items. Trunk Club offers a twist on this by sending items picked out by a stylist to users every month. Users pay for what they want and send back the rest.

The other option is productizing a service. Restaurant franchising is based on this model. While the restaurant offers food service to consumers, for entrepreneurs the franchise offers guidance and brand equity that can be condensed into a product format. For instance, a global HR firm called Littler has productized its offerings with Littler CaseSmart-Charges, which is designed for in-house attorneys and features software, project management tools, and access to flextime attorneys.

As that example shows, technology offers opportunities to try new revenue models. Another example is APIs, which have become a large source of revenue for companies. The monetization of APIs is often viewed as a side business that encompasses a wholly different pricing model that’s often engineered to create huge user bases with volume discounts.

Not a new idea

Though technology has opened up new vistas for businesses seeking alternate pricing models, Rajkumar Venkatesan, a marketing professor at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, points out that this isn’t necessarily a new idea. For instance, King Gillette made his fortune in the early part of the 20th Century by realizing that a cheap shaving device would pave the way for a recurring revenue stream via replacement razor blades.

“The new variation was the Keurig,” said Venkatesan, referring to the coffee machine that relies on replaceable cartridges. “It has started becoming more prevalent in the last 10 years, but the fundamental model has been there.” For businesses, this can be an attractive model not only for the recurring revenue but also for the ability to cross-sell new goods to existing customers, Venkatesan said.

Another benefit to a subscription model is that it can also supply first-party data that companies can use to better understand and market to their customers. Some believe that Dollar Shave Club’s close relationship with its young male user base was one reason for Unilever’s purchase, for instance. In such a cut-throat market, such relationships can fetch a high price.

To learn more about how you can monetize disruption, watch this video overview of the new SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud.

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