Digital marketing is a constantly evolving art and keeping current is key, so here are five trends shaping how consumers interact with brands.
1. Connecting the Physical and the Virtual
Previously, the only connection between tangible products and virtual marketing was that you could buy products online and have them delivered to you. However, now the two are more intricately entwined and becoming more so every day.
Not only can you can buy physical cards redeemable for virtual goods, such as Microsoft points or Facebook Dollars, but you can shop for physical goods from almost anywhere as QR codes make it easy to connect a physical item with a virtual location.
In the UK, supermarket Tesco recently experimented with a virtual grocery store in a subway based on this idea.
This trend is only going to grow as augmented reality apps and products, such as Google Glass, will add a digital layer over the physical world for many.
As a result, finding interesting and exciting ways to connect the virtual and physical worlds will be crucial for marketers in the coming years.
Gamification means the use of gameplay mechanics in non-game activities. For example, a company that rewards the salesperson with the highest earnings is using gamification to motivate their employees.
Gamification has long been used in marketing as well, usually in a fairly direct way such as the McDonald’s Monopoly game or punch card reward programs.
However, gamification is becoming much more subtle. Services like Foursquare and Yelp can help offer deals to consumers who come by the most and many companies are offering rewards to those who like or share their pages on Facebook.
Consumers are expecting rewards for actions they take, online and off, that benefit the companies they support and smart companies are delivering it and encouraging further action through game elements that make customers want to get more involved.
3. Going Mobile
Mobile usage is on the rise especially with the increased uptake of 4G wireless, in particular by younger consumers.
Savvy brands have already begun to optimize for mobile devices, releasing custom apps, offering deals to mobile users and even taking advantage of location-based technology to help customers find and purchase from them.
Whether it’s mobile menus for restaurants, ATM finders for banks or mobile shopping for stores, the demand for on-the-go connectivity is only going to increase.
4. Giving Rich Visuals
Ever since the Web first allowed webmasters to add jpgs to web pages, images have been growing in importance on the web and in web development.
However, images have grown past just being photographs and have become an important means of displaying information. In the past few years, infographics, fact-heavy images that display a lot of information quickly, have become incredibly popular.
Videos have taken a similar turn, with most new startups featuring a short 1-2 minute demo of what their product is and what it can do, pushing any text marketing further down the page.
In short, when it comes to marketing online, people don’t want to read, they want to see and that desire is only going to grow.
5. Message Streamlining
For many, the Internet has become a clutter of white noise and a sensory assault of news, facts and marketing. Cutting through that noise and getting consumers to focus on your message is increasingly involving targeting your message to a fine point.
Because of this, it’s crucial for marketers to find ways to help consumers focus the message they hear, including apps that only deliver tailored recommendations, market segmentation that only delivers relevant messages and social tools that highlight only what those around them already enjoy.
The idea is that it’s better to get one solid message across than to have 12 be lost in the mess. Marketers are increasingly growing savvy to this and are condensing their messages as far as possible and getting consumers to help them do it.
For example, Buyosphere is a fashion suggestion site that encourages users to upload things they find online and build their “taste profile” so that retailers, as well as other users, can make better recommendations for them. The result is that, while a retailer may only have one contact with a potential customer, they can be fairly certain that the recommendation will be relevant to their interest.
All in all, consumers are just now beginning to understand how the digital revolution will affect their day to day lives and marketers, in turn, are just now starting to see how to use it to their advantage.
With the technology involved being so young and so rapidly-evolving, it’s likely that there’s going to be a long period of rapid change ahead of us.
Marketers are going to have to do everything they can to stay organized in the chaos and keep on top of these changes. This will mean they have to keep an eye years in the future so they can be ready to implement new technologies as they become viable.
In that regard, digital marketing is more about investment in the future than anything else. That, sadly, is a premise many marketers don’t fully understand.
This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for pre shipment inspection companies around the globe, and who also consults for a custom neon sign store.