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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 the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, former Head of Strategy at NewsCred, and the former VP of Global Content Marketing here at SAP. Michael is also the co-author of the book The Content Formula, a contributor to leading publications like The Economist, Inc Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to the Marketing Insider.

Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

When Good Is Good Enough: Guiding Business Users On BI Practices

Ina Felsheim

Image_part2-300x200In Part One of this blog series, I talked about changing your IT culture to better support self-service BI and data discovery. Absolutely essential. However, your work is not done!

Self-service BI and data discovery will drive the number of users using the BI solutions to rapidly expand. Yet all of these more casual users will not be well versed in BI and visualization best practices.

When your user base rapidly expands to more casual users, you need to help educate them on what is important. For example, one IT manager told me that his casual BI users were making visualizations with very difficult-to-read charts and customizing color palettes to incredible degrees.

I had a similar experience when I was a technical writer. One of our lead writers was so concerned with readability of every sentence that he was going through the 300+ page manuals (yes, they were printed then) and manually adjusting all of the line breaks and page breaks. (!) Yes, readability was incrementally improved. But now any number of changes–technical capabilities, edits, inserting larger graphics—required re-adjusting all of those manual “optimizations.” The time it took just to do the additional optimization was incredible, much less the maintenance of these optimizations! Meanwhile, the technical writing team was falling behind on new deliverables.

The same scenario applies to your new casual BI users. This new group needs guidance to help them focus on the highest value practices:

  • Customization of color and appearance of visualizations: When is this customization necessary for a management deliverable, versus indulging an OCD tendency? I too have to stop myself from obsessing about the font, line spacing, and that a certain blue is just a bit different than another shade of blue. Yes, these options do matter. But help these casual users determine when that time is well spent.
  • Proper visualizations: When is a spinning 3D pie chart necessary to grab someone’s attention? BI professionals would firmly say “NEVER!” But these casual users do not have a lot of depth on BI best practices. Give them a few simple guidelines as to when “flash” needs to subsume understanding. Consider offering a monthly one-hour Lunch and Learn that shows them how to create impactful, polished visuals. Understanding if their visualizations are going to be viewed casually on the way to a meeting, or dissected at a laptop, also helps determine how much time to spend optimizing a visualization. No, you can’t just mandate that they all read Tufte.
  • Predictive: Provide advanced analytics capabilities like forecasting and regression directly in their casual BI tools. Using these capabilities will really help them wow their audience with substance instead of flash.
  • Feature requests: Make sure you understand the motivation and business value behind some of the casual users’ requests. These casual users are less likely to understand the implications of supporting specific requests across an enterprise, so make sure you are collaborating on use cases and priorities for substantive requests.

By working with your casual BI users on the above points, you will be able to collectively understand when the absolute exact request is critical (and supports good visualization practices), and when it is an “optimization” that may impact productivity. In many cases, “good” is good enough for the fast turnaround of data discovery.

Next week, I’ll wrap this series up with hints on getting your casual users to embrace the “we” not “me” mentality.

Read Part One of this series: Changing The IT Culture For Self-Service BI Success.

Follow me on Twitter: @InaSAP

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How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

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qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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How Disruption Will Cause The Insurance Industry To Change

Joe Pacor

Digital transformation is changing our world, and the insurance industry cannot sit idly and avoid these changes. It’s expected that the digital customer experience will drastically drive insurance profitability in the years to come. Over 50% of insured clients won’t recommend an insurer that doesn’t have digital interaction options. An overwhelming 61% of customers prefer to track their claim status digitally instead of contacting the insurance company or agency through more traditional means. It’s estimated that 79% of insurance executives recognize the need for innovation, but are having problems with daily operations. Over 60% see both opportunities and threats in the digital transformation process. At the same time, 74% of insurance executives feel they don’t have the necessary skills to drive the needed changes.

How does your company adapt to such a changing landscape? One common way approach is updating existing business models. Many companies have already been successful in driving digital transformation through a wide range of channels. Online-only insurance solutions and faster approval times are emerging in some companies. Others are turning to e-aggregator platforms to  keep their business afloat while changing company practices and assets to the digital economy.

Here are a few examples of promising companies and how they’re innovating to meet disruption.

Esurance

Esurance started in 1999 as an online-only business. With over five million customers, it has seen rapid growth since its beginnings. And because the insurer started out with a direct insurance digital approach, it is ahead of the game in terms of digital transformation since many competitors are still struggling to move away from their agency-based model.

Though it’s not available nationwide, it has become available in 43 states, which is still significant growth for a company that is not yet 20 years old. Esurance offers much lower rates, due to its direct insurance approach that cuts out many middleman expenses. As one of the first direct insurance companies, it is still catching up to competitors for customer service, but may very well be an example of future insurance company operations.

Haven Life

When it comes to fast approval, Haven Life has Big Data science down perfectly. This MassMutual spin-off claims it can approve most customers for new term life insurance in about 20 minutes. The company bases its decision on motor vehicle records from the state, prescription drug information, a customer questionnaire, and other data available to the company. The quick decision process will make the company much more popular among individuals seeking insurance policies under $1 million. As the system is based entirely online, it reduces agency costs significantly.

Moneysupermarket

In the UK, a newer e-aggregator platform helps customers compare prices and purchase insurance online. Moneysupermarket provides fast access to other online services as well. It was launched in 1999 as a digital-only solution that compares mortgage rates. In 2003, the insurance portion of the platform began with a mission to save at approximately 10 million households at least £200 through competitive shopping.

The company streamlines the process by having the prospect fill out a single form. That information is then used to pull quotes from multiple insurance companies. The prospects can compare the different policies to see which one is the best fit for their situation. They can then either select and purchase at that time or come back at a later time to finish the process. The company benefits by seeing additional sales at a much reduced cost compared to traditional marketing channels.

The role Big Data plays

Insurance businesses are also forming new business networks to provide a more tailored product to clients. As an example, State Farm and ADT provide a paired offering that protects connected homes through a single service. This helps customers reduce the number of businesses they must work with. At the same time, both companies benefit with increased business as customers turn to the network for simplicity.

Meanwhile, the Internet of Things is creating a new level of hyperconnectivity and data harvesting behind the scenes. Insurance rates currently based on a doctor’s visit will instead draw information from wearable devices, workout records, and pharmacy records. Rate reductions for self-driving cars will be based on the percentage of time the car is driven by a human versus driven autonomously.

With all these changes disrupting the industry, remaining flexible and connected makes all the difference. Is your company ready to meet the changes digital transformation is causing? If you aren’t, it is time to look at options to become more agile.

Learn more about how we can help you meet the challenges of disruption head on today. Please download our Insurance White Paper “How Insurers Can Prepare for the Digital Revolution” today to see what SAP has to offer. We will work with you to develop an insurance business that’s ready to meet the needs of the digital world.

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About Joe Pacor

Joe Pacor is senior director, Industry Cloud Marketing-Insurance at SAP, responsible for driving the growth of SAP's value proposition as a technology provider, trusted business partner, and thought leader for the insurance industry.