Marketing has undergone major changes in the past couple of years. With innovations like social media, YouTube, and instant research capabilities, businesses have had to adjust their advertising to fit a consumer that has ceased to respond to traditional techniques. This change has resulted in many new ideas that utilize emerging technology and focus on building lifelong relationships rather than transactional sales. This is marketing in 2017.
The basis of these new techniques focus on the ideas of value and loyalty. Rather than tricking customers to make a purchase, the goal is to transform customers into mega-fans in the same way that people follow musicians. Perhaps the most successful company to develop this strategy is Apple. For those who purchase their products, they often use the company as their sole provider of technology. Forbes cites a study in which 59% of Apple users admit to, “blind loyalty,” meaning that they only purchase Apple products regardless of the competition around them. That means Apple isn’t selling their products, they are selling their company.
Before a company can show these values, they need to have a way to connect to their customers. It is apparent that traditional advertising has flatlined, so businesses are using the interconnected reality of the digital world to approach customers on their own terms. By leveraging technology, businesses can interact in new and exciting ways.
Marketing Through Mobile
Let’s start with the facts. Over 36% of mobile subscribers use iPhones or iPads to read email and 34% of subscribers only use mobile devices to read emails. 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine. Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites. According to the Pew Research Center, the average consumer is plugged into their smart phone almost every hour that they are awake.
A marketing trend that we should start to see more of in 2017 is small businesses creating mobile applications for their customers due to the rise of affordable DIY app makers. An easy to use app builder can dramatically simplify the process of mobile app development. This sort of technology allows businesses of all sizes to connect with their customers where they are and that is on their mobile devices.
The opportunity for businesses to market to their customers or users through mobile has never been bigger and shows no signs of slowing down. We are now entering an era where we are truly living in a mobile-first world.
Artificial Intelligence Integration
Artificial Intelligent software is designed per a simple principle, ease the effort required to complete a task. The best AI programs can predict what a consumer will want before they realize they want it. Mobile software leverages this technology to tailor individual marketing efforts that are contingent on a consumer’s previous habits. Facebook has implemented this type of practice by only showing promotions that are relevant to an individual.
An additional benefit of AI programs is their ability to automate specific aspects of a business. The most well-known example of AI automation is the development of chatbots. These programs pose as an individual and can handle text-based communication with potential customers. Beauty brand Sephora uses AI chatbots to help find the appropriate shade of makeup by uploading a picture of themselves. This allows Sephora to engage with potential customers on a personal level, help guide them towards a specific product, but all without having to pay for a salesman to close the purchase.
Experiences With Augmented Reality
In addition to the innovations in artificial intelligence, augmented reality will become driving forces in the marketing world for 2017. Apps like Snapchat use software to enhance the world around the user. Though this is primarily done through adding filters to a picture, augmented reality goes beyond editing a photo. Business can purchase their own filters so customers can take pictures and show the world who they support.
Niantic is an app developer who creates games that focus on augmented reality. By combining digital environments and GPS location, they are able to provide virtual advertisements that lead customers directly to business locations. Starbucks uses this advertisement to draw customers to their locations based off the in-game incentives they receive from Niantic.
Content Marketing & Customer Loyalty
Consumers have wised up to the advertisement-based marketing strategies. In an experiment conducted by Mike Koenigs, he used a commercial to solicit emails for an opt-in newsletter. To become enrolled, the audience simply had to text their email to a designated number. Even though he had an estimated 6 million total viewers over the entire campaign, he only gathered a little over 3,000 emails. This represents a 0.05% conversion rate.
Blog posts are one of the most common forms of content marketing. The difference between content marketing and traditional advertisements is that one tries to instantly get a sale, the other offers unconditional value to the audience. Since content marketing offers value, its goal is to develop a relationship with an audience rather than to close a transactional sale.
This alleviates the pressure on the consumers and allows them to build trust. Over time, this turns the audience into fans who want to support the business rather than being manipulated into making a purchase. Though it might take some time to gain momentum, blog posts have an average of 3% conversion rates. That is 60 times higher than television commercials.
Using Your Process to Provide Value
Content marketing revolves around providing value to an audience. This takes time, effort, and passion and for some businesses, these limited resources are needed to run day-to-day operations. To provide content to an audience, businesses can use the same day-to-day operations as the basis for their marketing. The content created this way is used to educate your audience and helps to position yourself as an expert in the industry.
After a while, businesses who do this will become the leaders in their industry simply because they have the most prominent material relevant to their work. In a way, content marketing is developing the business into its own product rather than a producer of a good. James Patterson is one of the bestselling authors in the world, and his name has become a product on its own. It has become so powerful, that he does not have to write all his books anymore. Instead, he hires ghostwriters to mass produce his stories and then uses his name to brand them. According to the Telegraph, “since 2002 just 20 percent of his novels have been entirely written by him (Patterson).” Despite this fact, he is still the world’s bestselling novelist.
Social Media to Build Relationships
Social media has been used in marketing for the last few years, but recently businesses have shifted the strategy in which they use the platform. Rather than treating it like an advertisement medium, they have begun using it to engage with their customers to help create relationships.
This engagement forms the basis of long lasting loyalty because consumers enjoy interacting with those that they support. In a way, social media be a form of customer service. Would you want your salesmen constantly yelling, “Buy this!” every time a customer walks in the door? Social media is a similar beast. By treating potential customers like people, even if it is through social media, businesses generate goodwill that translates into conversions and loyalty.
Social media is a double-edged sword. It allows consumers to give direct, public feedback on your services, so it is more important than ever to give the best quality possible. If it appears that every other post on your businesses Facebook is a complaint, it will look like your business produces shoddy products and will hurt your sales.
Comcast is a case study for a business that has a hard time controlling the negative feedback on their social media accounts. The first several posts on their Facebook page are all negative and talk of horrible experiences. As of January, 16th 2017, they have an average of 1.2 stars out of 5 over almost 1,000 separate reviews.
Marketing transforms and adapts to fit the needs of businesses and consumers. In 2017, these changes are being driven by adopting powerful technologies that allow engagement in realms that have never been accessed and understanding how to apply micro-level relationships techniques to macro-level platforms.
Successful marketing in 2017 will not be characterized by a quick sale that results in buyer’s remorse but life-long relationships built on trust, value, and communication.