Digital marketing trends coming in 2015

Digital marketing is a fast-evolving industry, and companies wishing to stay relevant and competitive need to stay abreast of developments. Even better, they should anticipate rather than react to them. In looking forward, I feel that the following four, exciting marketing trends are going to come into their own in a big way in 2015: 1. Personalisation The advantages offered by today’s technologies and online data mean that companies and brands are going to increasingly make the move from blanket marketing to personalisation – from mass consumerism to mass personalisation. We’re not talking about customisation in this respect, which is tailoring products to individual client requests, but rather customising specific products to specific groups of clients. Customers want personal value and personal assurance. When they get this then we’re going to start seeing some really great marketing taking place. With the technologies that are in place now, we can actually start to create this personalised service, both in content delivery and service delivery and in a variety of different other factors. 2. Actionable analytics Up until recently all online data took time to analyse; statisticians had to turn data into graphs so they could then be consumed and actioned upon by companies. Now, however, with the introduction of real-time analytics as well as crunching and visualisation tools businesses can understand data far better and far quicker. What this means for the world of marketing is that companies are empowered to move more quickly in the marketing space – they can...

Designing a SMART Customer Experience

The digital world has disrupted our marketing worlds and changed the way business communicates with its customer. Social media has opened the door to two-way conversations, data gives us a better understanding of our market and mobile makes our message more accessible to the general consumer. Over the past few years we have placed much focus on developing digital channels to make the most of social media, mobile and data collection, however I believe that this focus has swung business to the opposite end of the pendulum. Focusing too much on digital channels and not the consumer themselves. Digital highlighted a primary shift that consumers wanted business to make. To become more relevant, personal, useful and thoughtful. To design products and experiences that are actually useful and exciting. In considering this challenge I have found that we need to redesign our customer experiences with these shifts in mind while still considering the person at the end of the experience. To find a balance between the physical and digital experience, to blend the two experiences into one serendipitous occasion that excites and intrigues customers. “SMART Customer Experience” is a framework that I have developed after research into a number of customer experience frameworks. It speaks to the technologies that matter and the need to find the right application in your experience. A simple acronym in SMART – Social, Mobile, Agile, Researched, Transforming. I would like to share three of these these briefly for you to consider in your customer experience design. Social ...

Using digital to delight your customers

Customer centricity in business the art of making the customer the centre of decisions and processes in your business. Steering away from a product focus which aims to produce and sell products, a customer centric business looks at the needs of customers and solves them. The product literally sells itself because it solves customers problems or speaks to their needs as a consumer. Obviously its key to understand consumers in order to meet their needs and over the last year we are noticing some very clear trends among customers which are opening the door to better digital customer experiences. Humanising the company or brand People are getting tired of corporate greed and the quest for profits. Not that they are against people making profits, they just want to understand why. It’s the why and how that’s making the difference today. People want to see the personality of the brand, speak with people in the company and see important values like honesty, transparency and vision lead to trust. Social media remains a major force in communicating to customers on a daily basis and has changed the business landscape for almost every single consumer industry. Sainsbury recently saw the power of a social media conversation sparked by a 3 and a half year old. The young girl wrote into Sainsbury to suggest that their Tiger Bread looked more like a Giraffe. After social media channels found the letter the public response was overwhelming and the company decided to listen to its customers...

How to protect your kids from cyber bullies

Countless children around the world are desperately unhappy and many have committed suicide because of cyber bullying and online blackmail. Just last month 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick jumped to her death in Florida because a barrage of online hate from two fellow schoolmates left her feeling worthless and despised. Her mother had closed her down her Facebook account in response to the bullying but it later emerged that Rebecca had continued to be hounded on other social network sites like Kik, Ask.fm, Instagram and Voxer. Her tormentors repeatedly told her she should kill herself and were also threatening physical harm. In July another American, 17-year-old Daniel Perry, took his life because the girl he’d befriended online and sent nude photos turned out to be an extortion gang who were blackmailing him for thousands of dollars. Fear and shame are common emotions tipping kids over the edge, or at the very least motivating them to keep their misery private from family and sometimes friends. This seems to have been the case with Daniel. The world children and teenagers inhabit is highly digital and therefore much of what they experience can be kept hidden, leaving parents and teachers in the dark as to what thoughts and experiences are really dominating their lives. Since youths are often more brash, experimental and indiscreet than adults in their interactions in general, they often unwittingly open themselves up to cyber bullying and online blackmail by befriending strangers on social networks, sharing sexually provocative photos of themselves,...

Digital Trends in 2014

2014 should be a very interesting year in digital marketing. Businesses are beginning to show more mature digital mindsets which are driving their agencies towards innovation, new media platforms are changing the landscape and the past few years of experimentation should lean toward major advancements and changes in effective digital communication. In my research I have found the following trends that should become evident in 2014. 1. The rise of short video People hate wasting time. I find myself, like many others, looking at the length of the video before deciding to watch it. Anything more than three minutes and I am not usually interested. Short video is making waves in the marketing world with popular networks like Vine building around the concept. Instagram’s video upload has added popularity to this trends and brands are already experimenting with video to share brand experiences. Check out the Yuppiechef Instagram profile to see how they are using video to let customers into the everyday life of their business. A great educational YouTube channel is Minute Physics, which shares physics lessons in one minute. With a little over 2-million views it’s proving a very successful education channel. 2. B2B will find more success through education rather than conversation In the past B2C (business to consumer) companies have had success in social media channels by creating conversation and inviting the consumers to join them. B2B (business to business) organisations saw this success and decided to adopt the same strategy. Over the past few years...

What does it take to succeed in a Digital World?

One of the biggest game changers in business (and life) this century has been the introduction of the internet. The internet created a world of connection, a world where its easier to connect and faster to connect. We’re connected to information and people which has lead to business moving quicker, consumers changing faster, messages spreading easier and business launching in less time than ever before. Today is the age where a new innovative competitor can rise within a year by tapping into the power of these connections, changing the way you do business tomorrow. We have seen this with Amazon, Zappo’s, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, eBay and many other digital businesses. The connection economy, succeeded the information era about eight years ago with the invent of social media. Social media showed us it was possible to create and manage relationships online. In fact, it not only showed us we can but it helped us realise that this is something people have wanted for so long. A better way to connect. So its fair to say that any business that has utilised social media to connect with customers has done well recently, but many have been burnt by the social media world. Many business have declined using social media to connect with customers and have focused on providing strong mobile channels to deliver services and improve customer satisfaction. Almost every business will see benefits from digital connections between themselves and their customers and/or employees, but not every business needs to engage with...

Technology innovation that is changing lives

Technology is only as valuable as value that is perceived by its user. The technology that impacts the future are technologies that people adopt and use. These are the technologies to watch. There are many of these technologies on my list at the moment but I only have time/space to share two with you. 3D Printing The next step in printing: 3D printing allows you to print any object with various materials from a digital model. This innovation is fast becoming one of the biggest game-changers in the industry today. Prototypes to Production Previously this was primarily used for creating prototypes of projects that would later go into production. According to Forbes, in the next few years we will start to see 3D printing become mainstream. You will be able to fly on aeroplanes that are made up with 3D printed parts. Overall the volume of 3D printed parts (especially where specialised designs are necessary) will increase in the motor, aero and appliance industries. In addition to changes in the manufacturing industries, we will soon see medicine changing with 3D printing to new bio-materials. This technology will allow medical professionals to design bone replacements exactly to the shape needed to a limb or joint. Organ donor shortages could be eliminated as experiments in soft tissue are underway and printing organs may be a real possibility. A shift in product customisation Consumers worldwide are becoming more difficult to please, as they are starting to desire more custom solutions, fashion, and technology....

Social Media and Recruitment

Finding a job has never been a simple process and finding the right person to join your company is like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately the rise of social media is making it easier for companies and candidates to court each other. Those candidates that use their online presence to ‘beef up’ their CV are benefiting from companies that have begun screening candidates social profiles before making a hiring decision. Those businesses that are communicating their business values and employment environments are benefiting as they attract higher quality candidates who are keen to join the company. Social media offers three primary solutions to the recruitment industry. 1) Headhunting The first and most obvious shift that social media presented was that people began to profile their professional career online. This is the most prevalent on LinkedIn, which has grown to 2.2 million users in South Africa in 2013. People have taken to the internet to provide the world with a view into their professional careers. Access to a database of online, up-to-date and well designed CV’s has now made it possible for recruiters to search for candidates online before advertising a job spec and approaching the right candidates directly. LinkedIn has launched LinkedIn Recruiter to help business make use of the network to find the right candidates for the job. These talent services make up over 50% of the revenue that LinkedIn generates, showing that the social network is providing business with valuable and useful services in this area....

Retail and Technology

There is a unique relationship between retail and technology. Retail chains have long been adopting technology as a means to track customers and gather valuable data. Some retailers have also leant on technology to provide more interesting window displays and shopping experiences. There is however a new element to this relationship, consumers and technology. Consumers today are bringing technology into retail outlets and using it in the purchase experience. An experience that we are no longer in control of. Technology’s relationship with our consumer has empowered our consumer in much the same way that it empowered our retailers. Two new phenomenons in retail have risen to the fore due to the impact of technology being used by consumers. 1) Showrooming With the rise in availability of products now online, consumers are able to purchase almost anything using an internet connection. Although this is primarily a developed economy concern, right now it is clear that the rise in e-commerce services in developing economies are creating the same purchase patterns. Showrooming is the behaviour of testing, touching, experiencing a product on the retail floor and deciding to purchase the product online. According to the Business Insider consumers are showrooming for the following reasons, in order of preference: Price is better online Planned to buy the product online but wanted to see it first Item was out of stock in-store Would rather have the item shipped to them directly It was not convenient to purchase the product in-store at the time 2) Blended...

Three Strategies for Digital Marketing

Over the past few years, I’ve been working at refining a number of digital marketing strategies. We’ve found three fundamental strategies that can be used in isolation or integrated. I speak about these strategies in some detail in the video below and will also share an excerpt below the video of the original article on my digital marketing blog. Inbound Marketing This is a tried and tested strategy that has been adopted across many industries and businesses. Hubspot marketing have probably done the best work at making this a popular marketing strategy. In essence, inbound marketing techniques aim to drive interested people to your website through interesting and informative content. Read more… Social by Design A big part of digital campaigns is designing social concepts that build communities of interest around the work you’re doing. Understanding Social by Design is key to designing social media strategies. A strategy becomes social when it leverages the social aspect of life rather than merely using a social network. There are three primary social elements that we should be thinking about when we develop a social media management strategy. Read more… Mobile First  We’ve noticed that digital strategy needs to be re-thought in many ways. The challenge is not to include mobile in your existing strategy but rather to “mobilise” your strategy. To lead with mobile, to make sure your platforms, ideas, creative, and social are all mobile. Read more…

Mobile Marketing and Social Disruption

I am currently in the middle of a simple series exploring mobile and the impacts it has in life, work and society. When asked to look at the future of mobile I believe that you need at look at three main aspects: The internet of things Social Disruption Infrastructure In my last post I presented the concept of “The internet of things,” a look into how mobile technology is being use to enable machine to machine communication. Today I will explore Social Disruption. The impact of social technology on a mobile consumer market and employee base. Social Disruption Roughly seven years ago social media thrust our world into a brand new digital dynamic. I believe that this technology helped us break into a new era, out of the information era and into the connection economy. In the information era data helps us build competitive edge providing better value to our customers with custom solutions to custom problems. Data enables us to act quickly with the right information to meet a customers needs. Many industries have been working hard to make this a reality and this ‘data service’ in many cases has almost become the norm. Ecommerce is a great example of tracking purchases to provide customised future purchasing suggestions. Retail data has been used extensively to take the stock management power away from the supplier and place it firmly in the hands of the retailer. A better understanding of purchase patterns has helped retail outlets stock correctly and branch out...

Looking into the future of mobile – the internet of things

There is no doubt that mobile technology is shaping our future. The mobile device has achieved market success and is currently more accessible than running water around the globe. In the last few years we have seen a massive increase of businesses offering services in the mobile arena with mobile banking probably one of the biggest services creating the most interest. When asked to look at the future of mobile I believe that you need at look at three main aspects: The internet of things Social Disruption Infrastructure Over the next three weeks I will take a look at each of these aspects. To start lets take a look at ‘the internet of things.’ The internet of things Wikipedia says it best “Today computers—and, therefore, the Internet—are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings—by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet … leave out the most numerous and important routers of all – people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that’s a big deal. We’re physical, and so is our environment … You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information...

Digital Publishing shows promise of finding loyal customers

Most printing companies and print media houses are trying to work out how to find there rapidly disappearing customer base. We are all aware that the declining customer base in print medium are moving to the digital realm but we are unsure how to meet them there. Customers exposed to online media are wanting more from publishers The online consumer is changing because of the value the internet offers. Their expectations in the digital medium are much higher than in print and its simply because they have been exposed to richer media online than offline. Digital publishers need to begin to focus on how to create rich media experiences in the digital realm. These experiences would need to transcend social connections, personalising content, combining image and video content, and should not be device dependent. New digital publications are already seeing good retention rates from smart phone users. The Wall Street Journal has this to say: While print circulation continues to decline, news publishers have some good news in the Localytics report. News apps like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal saw the highest retention rate, with 44% of users. Gaming (e.g., Angry Birds), Entertainment (e.g., Netflix) and Sports (e.g., ESPN ScoreCenter) all had retention rates between 33% and 36%. Lifestyle apps, which include both e-commerce and life event planning tools, had the worst user retention, with just 15% opening an app 11 times or more and 30% opening an app just once. So with rich media digital...

Mobile and Social Strategy for African Development

Over the past year or so I have been working with a number of companies looking to expand their business into Africa. This is probably one of the most exciting areas of business growth because of the uniques challenges and breadth of work involved. The return, without a doubt, is great for any business who can gain a strong foothold in the next few years. One of the biggest challenges I have seen has been the lack of infrastructure in Africa to support existing westernised business systems and processes. An example of this is if you would like to distribute in Africa, you will need to build the road to your customer in many cases. I have also noticed that the digital engagement in Africa, especially in mobile is growing stronger and stinger everyday. In February this year I spoke at a conference win Nigeria and received one of the best twitter responses I have ever received. More people followed , engaged in conversation, retweeted and promoted my presentation on twitter than any South African conference I had spoken at. This fascinates me and suggests that a keenness and desire to adopt mobile digital technologies could mean that Africans will be ready for digital distribution way before we think. So often a market takes time to mature into one ready to purchase online. It takes a consumer time to trust the reliability of a digital product and the company providing it. I believe that Africa will be ready far sooner...

The loyal iPhone customer gets a boring upgrade experience

I bought my first iPhone about three years ago. It was a 2G phone. They were the best phone on the market at the time and it was a wonderful experience to use it on a day to day basis. Needless to say I became a fan and convinced many of my friends to buy the phone for themselves. I have however upgraded my iPhone three times since then and every time I get a little less impressed and a little more bored by the latest iPhone technology. I believe that this experience I have is not unique. I think many people, when they upgrade their iPhone will feel the same. What makes the iPhone great on a technical aspect could become its customer experience downfall. I am talking about the ever-so-smooth back-up and restore function between iTunes and the iPhone. Let me explain. When you get your new iPhone you follow this simple process: Back-up your old phone to iTunes Take your sim card out the old iPhone and slide it into your new iPhone Ask iTunes to restore the new phone from the old back-up The iPhone is then restored to the new iPhone exactly the way you had it on your old iPhone. Personal setting and all. This is seriously a fantastic feature because managing my data as an iPhone user has become so easy and there is almost no risk in losing information. In addition the setup time of my new iPhone is an hour or...

Social by design: Good advice to take

Facebook believes in “social by design.” In other words something is not social unless your deigned it to be social. Social needs to be a core part of what you do and not just utilizing social websites. Understanding this concept is key to designing social media strategies. A strategy becomes social when it leverages the social aspect of life rather than uses a social network. There are three primary social elements that we should be thinking about when we develop a social strategy. 1) Personalisation A social strategy will look to customize a campaign with a personalized interface for the user that enhances their experience by highlighting what’s important to them. The users identity then defines a large part of what their experience becomes. This is easily achieved by integrating with existing social networks, and by designing space on your online platforms for personalised content. 2) The reason to share Viral campaigns become viral because they have something that people want to share. The trouble is that people don’t always share content in the same way all the time. People are more complex than that. Sharing is dependent on the content, the emotional context of consuming that content and so many other uncontrollable factors. When designing for social, we should not ‘hope’ that people share content. We should design the strategy to encourage the sharing action. I recently consulted a company who was showing me their ‘social’ application on Facebook. Yes, it was on Facebook. Well done. The app however...

Email is where knowledge goes to die

I am no DIY professional, in fact I am the opposite. The other day I found myself tring to rewire a household plug using a kitchen knife as a screwdriver. Half the problem with my DIY skills is that I don’t have the right tools to do the job so I end up ‘making a plan’ to get the job done. In much the same way I have begun to recognise that in business we often are found making a plan with tools that are not right for the job. Email is a great communication tool, partly because its simple enough to use and partly because everyone uses it. Just because everyone is using it does not mean that it will work for every type of business communication. Email is perfect for communication an idea in a single direction and getting feedback, for handling official conversations and to forward our friends inane humour (please note my sarcasm in the last point) The challenge is that email is so often used to distribute and store useful information. This is where email fails, it does not have an organisation structure, or search tool flexible and intuitive enough to manage this information correctly. Have you ever wondered what happened to that link you were sent on email, or to the proposal your agency sent through a few weeks ago? What about the first concept business plan that has changed so many time your entire team is using multiple versions of the wrong document...

Stats about LinkedIn in Africa [infographic]

After the demand for our LinkedIn in South Africa infographics we decided to extend our research into Africa. Nearly 6 million people are using LinkedIn in Africa. Proving that LinkedIn is becoming a great resource to connect with people in Africa. As international investment into Africa grows we are seeing great potential to connect with Africa’s brightest minds through this professional social network. If you are not on LinkedIn yet or would like to improve your professional profile we have created a free guide to help you get the most out of your business on LinkedIn. Below you will find an infographic we did that visually describes the state of LinkedIn usership in Africa Created by DigitLab the digital marketing agency Download the FREE LinkedIn Guide for Business  

LinkedIn in South Africa 2012 [infographic]

Over the last few years the DigitLab team and I have been tracking the growth of LinkedIn in South Africa.In 2011 we saw an 83% growth (600 000 professionals) from this year and in 2012 a 45% increase (500 000 professionals )with a total of 1,6 million people. Its also interesting to note that the top growth sector are Manufacturing, Agriculture and Medical with growth rates of between 57% and 70%. These stats have shown that LinkedIn in South Africa has become the place to be in order to network with other business professionals. So if you need help getting your online profile organised on LinkedIn take a look at our free Definitive Guide to LinkedIn.   Created by DigitLab the digital marketing agency Download the FREE LinkedIn Guide for Business  

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