The times they are a changin’. As always, Mr. Dylan was pretty prescient about things.
Just a few months ago, we were collectively going gaga about nearly every major technology company foraying into wearable optics. Then suddenly, the pioneer of them all – Google Glass – was shutting up shop, or at least going into cold storage for now. Similarly, after years of vehemently refusing to enter the mobile gaming segment, legacy game maker Nintendo announced in March that it would make its own foray into the mobile space in collaboration with DeNa Co. You get the drift.
Planning your marketing based on yesterday’s trends is like celebrating your birthday based on last year’s calendar. Don’t miss out on the marketing party. When it comes to the future of marketing, here are some trends to plan for:
Gone are the days of pray and spray. With the array of tools and technologies available to marketers today, hypertargeting is finally a reality. You can now identify your perfect customer and communicate with them when they want and how they want, to ensure conversions.
Take retargeting, for example. This technology has been around for a few years now. However, retargeting is not simply about search and display ads anymore. You can now retarget users within their social media networks using rich social profile data. Content distribution platforms like Taboola can serve up laser targeted content to users based on their reading habits. Even email campaigns can be built to target users based on an action they took on a brand’s website just minutes ago.
Programmatic advertising ensures that advertisers can target their ads down to each individual impression. Real-time bidding ensures that every cent from a brand’s marketing budget goes toward targeting the right user at the lowest price possible – something that was unheard of in the days of bulk-buying ad space on individual sites.
Here’s how MyBuys targets potential buyers with customized ads:
We are all familiar with big data and all it can do. From tracking users who are idle on your site and knowing exactly what page they’re idling on, to figuring out where they came from and even knowing where they live, big data can tell you so much about each user that most businesses don’t even know what to do with most of the information that they mine.
That’s where smart analytics comes in.
Thanks to tools such as Google Analytics or Clicky, even a “non-numbers” person can now crunch numbers and figure out the basics about their website – such as how many visitors visited the site, how many bought something, and what path they took during the course of their purchase. Basically, we now know exactly what people are up to on our websites and where we stand with respect to our conversion goals.
However, smart analytics does more than simplify analytics for the layperson – it helps you understand why a user behaves the way they do. You can now work backwards and discover purchase paths even outside your website. Users can be targeted outside your site with precise communication, thanks to innovations like Smart Lists from Google Analytics. It automatically creates lists of users who are perfect targets for your brand, based on their activities on your site such as session duration and the types of products they clicked on, as well as which stage of the purchase cycle they are in, and so on. You can then import these lists into a PPC program like AdWords or DoubleClick and target these users with appropriate advertising once they leave your site. Rebekah Schelfhout shared on Search Engine Land how text ads using Smart Lists got nearly three times the average ROI for a luxury client. Exciting numbers!
The payments industry is in a state of massive churn right now. From trying to fix credit card fraud and identity theft to accepting payments across multiple devices and platforms, there’s so much innovation happening in this space that it’s going to dictate a big part of marketing efforts in the years ahead.
Today an up-and-coming band can record their music, edit, mix, and finish it on their laptops, upload the song on their website, and allow fans to download it for a fee, all in a day’s work. A consumer no longer has to have money in her wallet or bank account, or even a valid credit card to make a purchase. With a peer-to-peer money transfer mechanism like Venmo or Snapcash, she can just text a friend to loan her some money. In seconds, the money can be sitting in her account, with transactional confirmation in the form of a text message.
Scannable QR codes that allow apps to process payments to the merchant’s account from a user’s account, and POS machines that transfer cash from the consumer to the seller with just the wave of a mobile phone are already a reality. Visa has been experimenting with biometric payments, taking the security of your financial data to the next level. We’re definitely not far from the time that a simple iris scan or a fingerprint scan allows us to buy groceries at the local Walmart.
A return to the simple life
Technology can be complicated, confusing, and seriously difficult to manage at times. However, at the other end of this tech-heavy list stands the very real movement toward simplicity. If you expect your users to fill out a seven-page checkout form and be happy doing it, you’re kidding yourself. Make it easy for your users, or they won’t be your users for long.
Brands that realize this and satisfy users’ need to simplify are the ones that will succeed. Amazon has simplified shopping to the point of pushing a button with its Amazon Dash Button concept. Ran out of laundry detergent? Simply press the Tide Dash button and you’ll have a fresh box of detergent sitting on your doorstep in a few hours.
The Global Brand Simplicity Index for 2014 lists Ikea, Google, and Netflix – which have made waves in simplifying buying furniture, search, and entertainment, respectively – among the top ten simplest brands as voted by consumers around the world.
Have you spotted any trends that will mark a sea change in the way we market brands? Let’s discuss in the comments. Share your thoughts and spread the love!
For more on simplification strategies, see The Time For Simplification Is Now: Why It’s Important And How You Can Get Started Today.