The Top 3 Trends to Watch in Digital Marketing

Let’s take a look at some of the Top 3 upcoming trends in Digital Marketing and their expected impact:

1. Voice Search

It is expected that by 2020, almost half of all online searches will be voice searches. This calls for businesses to adapt their digital marketing strategies accordingly as unlike traditional online searches which offer pages of relevant results, users typically ask their devices a question which will only yield the top most-related response. Consequently, businesses will need to optimise their content to suit voice searches and to utilise more natural conversational phrasing and language.

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2. Personalised email marketing strategies

While email marketing has been perceived to be no longer relevant, organisations should not completely discount it from their marketing strategy. Rather, businesses should take the extra step of personalising their emails through specifically targeting different segments, promoting relevant products for these segments and creating engaging and memorable content.

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3. Interactive Chatbots

The global chatbot market is estimated to reach $1.25 billion by 2025. The reason for this success is indicative of the consumer need for quick and accurate information and the ability to streamline processes such as booking appointments. While there have been instances of poor chatbot use, marketers should be discerning in the ways in which they implement chatbot technology as they are not intended at replacing the human conversational element.

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While we’ve only discussed three upcoming digital marketing trends, it’s important to note that there are many more out there. Businesses should take note of what is relevant to them and what they wish to achieve through their digital marketing strategies in order to incorporate appropriate technological tools.

With so much to look forward to especially as future marketers, what are some of the new digital marketing trends you’re most excited to see in the future?

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Mobile Marketing – Webrooming and Showrooming

Webrooming is the process of researching a product online before going into a physical store to make the purchase. Showrooming is basically the opposite of this and occurs when consumers try out products in a traditional brick-and-mortar store before ordering them online, usually at a lower cost.

Webrooming vs. showrooming | Shopify Retail blog
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These practices have essentially evolved as a result of the growing accessibility of product information and reviews due to the use of mobile phones.

Some of the key reasons that customers engage in webrooming are:

  1. To avoid paying shipping fees
  2. The ability to touch and feel a product
  3. Checking for product availability
  4. Ease in Returns and Exchanges
  5. Price Matching
  6. Delivery Times

It also helps mitigate any post-purchase regret.

Showrooming and webrooming, Nielsen study | Shopify Retail blog
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Have any of you purchased something online only to find that when it arrived, it was not what you expected or ordered?

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Online Shopping Fails gain quite a bit of amusement online with hundreds of hilarious instances of purchases going wrong. However while these are amusing, they do present a challenge for e-commerce businesses as situations like these can dissuade customers from directly purchasing online and instead encourage them to engage in alternative methods such as webrooming and showrooming.

This trend is especially applicable to millennials with research indicating that while they do appear to spend most of their time online, when it comes to shopping 89% of shoppers born between 1989 and 2000 prefer heading to a physical store to make a purchase.

The growth in webrooming is only expected to increase over time which indicates that there are still facets of online and offline shopping that customers are still not completely satisfied with. This presents an opportunity for businesses to boost their webrooming experiences and to subsequently create value for consumers through in-store product testing, actively engaging with customers on social media and offering in-store perks such as discounts, price matching and in-store pick up for online orders.

Have any of you experienced your own personal online shopping fail? Would this have encouraged you to engage in webrooming or showrooming?

Effective Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can be a tricky concept for businesses to navigate and while it is playing an increasingly important role in digital marketing, businesses need to ensure that they are using it in an effective manner. Social media marketing requires constant monitoring and upkeep to ensure that the brand is working proactively in engaging consumer interest.

A recent example of a brand that effectively utilised social media is ASOS. Some of you may have heard the story about a woman who was shamed on Tinder for her choice of dress.

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Thea Lauryn Chippendale decided to share a screenshot of the exchange on Twitter where she effectively went viral with thousands of users tweeting responses to her post along with news articles written about the exchange. ASOS – who was the brand who made the dress – reached out to Thea directly and made her one of the models for the dress on their website and shared the link on their own social media. Social media users were thrilled with ASOS’ response with their post attracting over 20k likes and thousands of comments.

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Through the effective use of their social media channels, ASOS was able to connect with customers in a meaningful way and leveraged the responses they received as a way of creating effective relationships with their customers and generating positive brand awareness. Some of the comments said that they were more likely to shop at ASOS simply as a result of this exchange.

With the growth of social media, exchanges like these are not uncommon for businesses as consumers are able to directly engage with brands and receive responses. It definitely solidifies the strength of social media marketing as a tool that when used effectively, can generate returns for businesses.

Can you think of any other examples of businesses that have used social media marketing effectively?

Ethical Influencing

Influencer Marketing – something we are all aware of and witness through social media – is increasingly gaining traction, and so are the ethical concerns surrounding its use. Since it is a relatively new form of marketing, there are a lot of grey areas surrounding what is and isn’t allowed. It’s not all bad news though as legislation is starting to catch up to ensure that influencers are communicating honestly with their audiences

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Transparency is one of the key ethical concerns in influencer marketing. Generally, influencers are paid a certain amount of money to promote a brand or product sometimes without disclosing that they are being paid for their opinions. In order to combat this, the Australian Association of National Advertisers updated the Advertiser Code of Ethics in March 2017 to include a statement that ensures all advertising is clearly distinguishable to the relevant audience, even influencer marketing.

While this does alleviate some of the ethical concerns, it does also present additional challenges. For example, Zoe Foster-Blake faced major criticism after posting a pic of her fridge stocked with food from YouFoodz without saying it was a sponsored post. In actual fact, the company gifted the food to her for free and she wasn’t even asked to post about it, nor was she paid for the post. The Code of Ethics states that the company has no control over whether a promotion happens following the receipt of a free product or gift meaning even if it is posted about by an influencer, it is not considered to be advertising.

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While platforms are evolving to ensure transparency to their audiences such as Instagram’s introduction of the Paid Partnership feature, it is ultimately up to the brand and the influencer to ensure they are complying with regulations and are as transparent as possible with their consumers which will undoubtedly mean increased credibility for them in the long run.

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What are your thoughts on Influencer Marketing and can you think of any examples of unethical influencing?

QR Codes – Are They Still Relevant?

QR (or Quick Response) Codes are square barcodes that allow information to be stored in a machine-readable label. The patterns that make up a QR code are able to be read and understood by smartphones and can provide more information about a product or service directly to your device. Because of the increasingly important role of mobile devices in consumers’ lives, marketers can leverage this to further encourage consumer engagement with their brand through the use and placement of QR codes.

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Some of the key advantages of QR codes are that they can store up to a hundred times more information compared to a traditional bar code, can be scanned from any direction and that they have a unique appearance. They can also be used by businesses for a variety of purposes from directing potential customers to their website and social media pages to downloading apps, shopping and notifying customers of discounts and promotions.

On the other hand, many feel as though QR codes are no longer relevant and that their time has passed. This is likely due to the decreased popularity of smartphones during the initial introduction of QR codes compared to today, which may have potentially impacted on their use and accessibility. There is also a significant challenge in that organisations need to consider the appropriate placement of the QR code as it needs to be easily accessible by consumers in order to fulfil its intended purpose.

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Despite this, QR codes have experienced a resurgence and this is largely due to companies like Apple who have streamlined the process for consumers. There is no longer a need to download a third-party app to scan codes as Apple has embedded this technology into their iPhone camera, which means all consumers need to do is to point their camera at a QR code and they are automatically able to access the intended information.

What are some of your thoughts on QR codes and do you believe that they are still a relevant tool for businesses?

Cookies… But Not The Kind You Eat!

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Have any of you ever felt as though you are being stalked by an ad? Recently I was looking online for a pair of boots and no sooner had I found a pair of that I liked, I later saw an ad for the same pair of boots pop up on an article I was reading with suggestions for similar boots that they thought I might also like to purchase. This feeling of being stalked by an ad is becoming increasingly common as a result of online ads gradually becoming more targeted and personalised.

And this is all thanks to cookies!

Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer when you visit a website. They contain identification tags that allow trackers to identify your activities as you move from site to site. In order to deliver tailored ads, companies are able to synchronise these identification tags to pinpoint specific individuals. These are then used by marketers to target you across your devices and accounts.

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While cookies can be helpful in some instances, more often than not they are viewed as a nuisance and an invasion of privacy. This mindset has led to some speculation that cookies are no longer relevant in digital marketing with an increasing number of people employing specific cookie blocking technology to mitigate their privacy concerns. Additionally, internet browsers are also making it simple to delete your cookies after closing a window and can also prevent them from being set when you access a website. You may have seen some warnings alerting you to the fact that the website you are on is using cookies and requesting your permission to continue. Furthermore, the growing number of devices per consumer has made it challenging for organisations to trace behaviours as cookies are unable to track across devices.

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So what are some of your experiences with being stalked by ads, and do you think cookies are helpful or are they just an invasion of privacy?

Chatbots – Can They Improve Customer Engagement?

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Chatbots are typically run by artificial intelligence and can be used by businesses as a means of responding to customer queries through a formalised process. They allow for the improvement of customer service through enabling consumers to read and receive information almost instantaneously. The increase in the use of chatbot technology has also seen businesses offering customers the chance to ask queries and even make purchases from their own personal social media accounts, such as Facebook.

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Some of you might remember Boost Juice’s ‘Find Your Perfect Matcha,’ campaign that was run in 2017. Accessible through the Messenger app, the chatbot intended to match users to their perfect fruit and offered them the chance to win free Boost vouchers and potentially a trip to Japan. The Matcha Bot campaign saw an unprecedented rise in customer engagement with a total of 117,000 users engaging in 370,000 chatbot conversations. Boost Juice’s Head of Digital stated that “brands get caught up in trying to sell to customers, when really [Boost aims] to create engaging experiences.”  

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Chatbots have faced some criticism as while they do appear to be the future of brand opportunities, others believe that they diminish the need for a human element.

Personally, I think that chatbot technology has effectively changed the way in which businesses can engage with consumers as they offer a whole new way to create meaningful customer experiences. However, businesses should still be cautious when adopting chatbot technology as there have been instances of ineffective use which can potentially lead to frustrated and dissatisfied customers.

So throwing it out to you now – what are your thoughts and experiences with chatbots?

Artificial Intelligence in the Beauty Industry

Artificial Intelligence (or AI) is revolutionising the digital marketing sphere by allowing businesses unprecedented ways in which to connect with consumers. The way in which AI can be used is essentially limitless with the global AI market estimated to reach $89.74 billion by 2025.

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One of the industries that has embraced AI is the beauty industry, something that I was able to witness recently whilst wandering through Singapore with some friends. We came across the Future X Smart Store by skincare brand SK-II. What initially drew us in were the large digital screens out front known as ‘The Art of You’ that recognises facial expressions and reacts accordingly to mimic your movements.

SK-II’s Future X Smart Store arrives in Singapore: Consider our minds blown
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Once you step into the kiosk, your personalised skincare journey begins. A Smart bracelet records your progress throughout the immersive experience beginning with a thorough skin analysis in which a machine simply scans your face and uses AI to identify key concerns you may have.

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On the second level of the kiosk, the Results Wall displays your results from the comprehensive analysis by simply tapping your Smart bracelet.

Finally, the Beauty Bar allows you to browse suitable skincare products based on your main skin concerns with SK-II consultants on hand to help you understand your results.

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I personally found it to be a very immersive experience that allowed me to engage directly with a brand that I wasn’t too familiar with in an interesting way.

With the growing influence of AI expected to increase, I think it will potentially create a whole new dimension of customer engagement along with the ability for businesses to connect with their consumers in a more personalised and unique way.

What are your thoughts on brands using Artificial Intelligence to create more meaningful engagements with consumers?

Enhancing the Customer Experience through Big Data

The concept of data and its use is something that comes up quite frequently in relation to digital marketing. Every picture you like or ad you click on facilitates the collection of data that in turn builds a profile of your online presence and behaviour. This information can prove invaluable for businesses who have come to recognise the importance of data and technology in generating trends and insights intended to enhance the customer experience.

In an increasingly competitive landscape, more and more businesses are searching for unique ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from their competition. One of the ways in which businesses can achieve this is through Big Data – large sets of data that can be analysed to understand consumer trends and behaviours. Organisations can gather copious amounts of data from consumers through a variety of avenues such as social media and use these to build a more enhanced consumer profile. The harvesting of this data can be extremely beneficial for organisations and can lead to an increased competitive advantage through enhancing the customer experience.

One of the ways Big Data can be beneficial for businesses is through targeted advertising. An example of this is Netflix. With over 100 million subscribers, Netflix has no shortage of data available to analyse and improve upon their customer experience. Through the use of this data, they are able to make personalised recommendations for you based on your past viewing experiences as well as organise your recommendations based on your profile through their Personalised Video Ranker.

What are your thoughts on Big Data in enhancing the customer experience?

Defining Digital Marketing

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Digital Marketing involves the use of information technology by businesses to promote their goods and services to deliver value for both themselves as an organisation and to their customers. It is considered to be the fastest growing area of marketing due to its ability to transcend geographic boundaries and has effectively disrupted the traditional ways in which organisations would conduct their business activities. Digital marketing encompasses a wide range of technological tools such as SEO, social media and email marketing among many others, some of which will be explored in more detail in subsequent posts.  Due to the speed of information gathering and the development of new technologies, digital marketing is in a state of constant evolution, allowing for the development of increasingly smarter technology in the future capable of further enhancing and optimising the consumer experience.

At its core, digital marketing helps streamline the marketing process through the use of technological tools. These enable the business to specifically target certain consumer segments through channels that are most applicable to them. Email advertising is a great example of this, having worked for me just the other day. I was looking online for a birthday gift for a friend when an email popped up in my inbox notifying me that Mimco had released their new winter collection and inviting me to browse it online. Having clicked through the email, I was able to find something that she’d really love within minutes.

With digital marketing technology creating new ways for businesses to engage with consumers, it is becoming increasingly important for organisations to have and maintain an online presence.