17 Oct The biggest current trends in digital and why you need to know about them
The Internet of Things (IOT)
It’s been well known that for some time now there’s been a consistent growth in recent years in using mobile devices e.g. smart-phone and tablets, to access the web. Most sites in most regions see more than 60% or more of their traffic from portable devices and yet, it is predicted that mobile traffic will further increase three-fold by 2021 (source: http://www.statista.com).
However, it’s not just with mobile devices that an increased number of people are accessing the web but with more devices altogether. Many new cars are now fitted with sophisticated mapping and communications features including the ability to link with other devices. As well as cars the internet of things (IOT) includes the various home-based devices such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Wink Hub 2.
The impact of all this on businesses is and will be huge, particularly in digital marketing. More devices mean more touch points as well as significant changes in behaviour, as we have already seen during the rise of mobile usage in the last few years.
The increase in mobile usage has spawned more of what Google defines as Micro-moments. These occur during the multiple times a day when people reach for their devices, due to a need or want, e.g. ‘I want to know’, ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to do’, ’I want to buy’. (source: http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com )
The idea for businesses is that when their customers or potential customers have these micro-moments and act on them, known as signals, that the companies are visible to their customers or potential customers digitally and in the real world due to technology such as geo-location.
It is now clear that there is a substantial overlap between what people do in the real world and what they do online. For digital marketers, this provides opportunities to monitor the so-called ‘customer journey’ from first touch point to the sale and post-sale to improve the customer experience throughout this journey.
Along with all the increase in device usage, has been the growth of voice-search. (source: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018). According to Google, 71% of people who own voice-activated devices say that they now use these as part of their daily routine. To businesses, this means that making themselves the most visible when their audiences are using voice search has added new challenges. When using voice search, people tend to use standard spoken language when interacting with their devices during the previously mentioned micro-moments.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
While AR and VR technologies have been around for years, it’s only now with improved bandwidth, faster processing and better graphics that these are coming into their own. As well as using these for virtual experiences in games, training, education and virtual tours, astute marketers are using these to engage with their audiences in ever more creative ways, both in the business to business and business to consumer sectors. The financial sector, professional services, hotels, travel companies, car manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies have all used some form of AR or VR as part of their marketing in the last 12 months, and its usage continues to grow.
These activities have defined those who have used these technologies as innovative, creative and bold and some of the more successful campaigns have produced large ROIs.
As more people now interact with businesses online, there has been a drive towards increased efficiency and cost savings. One of the ways this is being achieved is through the increased use of Chatbots to interact with customers and prospective customers.
Chatbots use artificial intelligence (AI) to learn from interactions they have using what is called machine learning. They take the information provided and analyse this to provide audio or text-based responses and through machine learning continually improve their responses.
Chatbots offer businesses many advantages through being available for 24 hours seven days a week and many companies are deploying them across a wide range of functions. The Chatbot market is predicted to grow to $1.23 billion by 2025 which is a compound growth rate of 24.3% (Source: https://www.valuewalk.com/2018/04/the-rise-of-chatbots-infographic/ )
Progressive Web Apps
According to Google Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) ‘Progressive Web Apps are experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps. ‘ Basically, they work like apps but can be loaded from and are used like web pages thus avoid the need for App stores. PWAs offer multiple advantages and to the user behave like apps and offer all the functionality they have with less development time and can be used across different browsers. (Source: https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/codelabs/your-first-pwapp/ )
Data-Driven Marketing, Predictive Analytics and Security
With all these touch points, a large amount of data is now being generated about customers and the customer journey. This has led to the rise of what is called Data Driven Marketing with the major players such as Google, Amazon and Facebook using this data in multiple ways. At the same time there are increasing concerns about how this data is used and who own this data leading to a wide range of new laws and regulations being introduced such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a suite of rules brought in by the EU to protect individuals from businesses misusing their data or not keeping it as securely as it should be.
For businesses who do not comply with these rules, the penalties are severe with heavy fines which can be as much as 4% of their annual turnover. There is more legislation to come and it vital that all businesses know these rules well and implement them.
Social media has evolved, and it’s now recognised that for a business to compete it must consider using influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is like traditional PR, but different in that small groups of individuals can now influence entire markets either positively or negatively through the influence they have on their audiences. This occurs both in the B2B and B2B sectors and should not be ignored.
For businesses to be successful online, they should be both measuring the positive and negative sentiment their brands have as well as working to minimise negative sentiment and maximise positive sentiment constantly. This can only be done by actively engaging with their customers and particularly the influencers in their markets.
Since Facebook began to change its algorithm, the challenges faced by businesses who want to grow their communities organically have become greater. This has led to wider use of paid social media advertising. At the same time, the various social media networks have increased the number of options by which advertisers can advertise and sometimes the number of options and choices that need to be made to set up and manage paid social media campaigns can be overwhelming. However, when done well paid social media advertising can be highly effective due to precise targeting, the use of good content and accurate measurement.
No article about digital trends would be complete without mention of the Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies. While most of the attention recently has been on Cryptocurrencies looking at both the good side and the not so good side, less attention has been paid to the technologies that sit behind Cryptocurrencies known as the Blockchain.
The Blockchain is basically a ledger maintained across multiple servers online which is added to sequentially in such a way that it cannot be tampered with and an added transaction must be added in a way as to not change a former transaction. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain)
Because of this distributed ledger being maintained in the way it is, it is said that there is no major controlling entity which while seeming utopian to some seems anarchic to others. But the Blockchain is here to stay and it is said will change the way we all do business. Cryptocurrencies are one of the earliest and most extensive areas of applications of the Blockchain, but it is predicted that many businesses who need or want transactions logged securely without a controlling entity will move their activities onto it.
Greater Investment in Training
Many businesses globally now know that good effective training on digital is vital and that the more their personnel know about digital transformation, digital strategies and digital marketing the more successful they will be.
This new drive towards more improved training on digital typically comes from the top and is initiated by the C-Suite with the knowledge that it’s no longer enough just to ‘do digital’ but rather the need is to ‘be digital’.
It is now widely understood that to succeed in the marketplace today, businesses and their personnel need to have a digital mindset, skillset and toolset.
This article was written by Jeremy Spiller, internationally-renowned subject matter expert and associate of the European Institute of Management and Finance (EIMF).
Watch the below video to view Jeremy speak about The Dangers of Stereotyping in Business on TEDx.
To view EIMF’s upcoming Digital Marketing Strategy and Tactics for the Financial and Professional Services Sectors delivered by Jeremy Spiller, please click here.