By Moosa Hemani
In 1964, media and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the term “global village” to describe the “phenomenon of the world's culture shrinking and expanding at the same time due to pervasive technological advances that allow for instantaneous sharing of culture.”
But I doubt he could envision the extent to which the boundaries of the world would shrink and what it would mean in terms of managing and meeting consumers and their expectations. We live in a world of gadgets and gizmos, where we are immersed in our devices, apps and online experiences.
To have a successful marketing campaign in today's world means that marketing efforts have to be balanced between digital storefronts and positive human interactions. With the bombardment of information from news feeds to Tweets comes shrinking attention spans. The rise in ad blocking technology means that traditional marketing tactics are not that effective. Thus, customers need to be engaged subtly, in arenas that they are most familiar and comfortable with. Here are 4 killer marketing strategies for 2017:
1. Make the most of social mediaSocial media can make or break a product. From stories on Instagram to Facebook Live, social media is an integral part of everyone’s life. Whoever comprises your audience, they are there on social media and that is where you need to target them. You need to follow Google Trends and Twitter accounts, have Facebook pages and join LinkedIn groups to draw insights from your customers and others in the industry. Good content on social media will allow you to interact with your target market and sound off on what’s most important to them.
For example, there are more than 500 million active accounts on Instagram. Content on Instagram receives more than 4.2 billion likes daily. Natural supplement provider iHerb used Instagram to reach people who added products to their online shopping cart but did not purchase them. As per Instagram, their return on ad spend was 200X. Similarly, Swedish auto maker Volvo used Instagram for a video ad campaign to reach 8.7 million in-market shoppers.
In 2017, social media platforms may have an even deeper impact — for example, the ability to click on items in images and make a purchase in-app. This will make social networks even more significant, not only as means to reach customers but also as platforms to make sales.
2. Reach consumers on the goMobile phones and similar devices are the key tool for communication with consumers. Almost everyone owns a smartphone these days. This makes mobile marketing necessary for any type of business, so much so, that an inability to keep up with mobile marketing would put you at risk of losing against your competitors.
There are many factors to consider with mobile marketing. For starters, your website should be mobile-friendly with content and menu display catering to the small screen size and limited bandwidth capacity of different mobiles and networks. Remember that people tend to use their devices while on the go, so you have to create content that is easily readable on the move. Tabs, links and pages like About Us are not that essential or relevant for mobile content.
Keep in mind that tablet devices account for the highest add-to cart rates on e-commerce websites at 8.6 percent. If you are an online retailer, consider giving extra attention to the design and user experience of the tablet version of your website.
3. Talk to a botChat bots are a service that users can interact with via a chat interface, powered by algorithms and sometimes by artificial intelligence. There are two main kinds of chat bots: ones that are typically found in messaging apps such as the 1-800-Flowers chat bot on Facebook Messenger that helps consumers choose floral arrangements, and ones that are virtual assistants such as Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon's Echo and Microsoft's Cortana.
These chat bots help users with a variety of information and other needs instead of just helping consumers interact with specific brands. Bots with artificial intelligence use natural language processes of either text or voice to figure out what the user wants. Examples of this would be asking Cortana to play the latest news or requesting Siri to send a text message to your wife.
Siri gets over 1 billion requests a week, which shows the importance of chat bots in marketing. They not only save time by helping answer customer questions, they also gather data and create a point for marketing automation to engage with relevant content. Especially among younger consumers, chat bots are widely used to inspire purchases, increase the number of items in shopping carts and simplify shopping online. From ordering a ride on Uber to following fashion, chat bots are widely used to drive ecommerce.
Monitoring and tracking purchasing patterns provides data to companies regarding which products to market differently, which products to market more and which to develop for relaunch. Chat bots can be used to entice consumers to try different products.
Though the use of chat bots is becoming more popular, they cannot fully replace real human interaction, which is necessary for strong consumer relations. This leads to our fourth point of experiential marketing.
4. Emphasize the experienceStepping outside the digital realm to convince consumers to buy is part of experiential marketing. Events, virtual reality and in-person interactions can yield content that can be used on social media in the form of images, videos, commentaries, ratings and reviews.
For example, Microsoft introduced its Titanfall Xbox game with midnight launches where stores were completely transformed into Titanfall-themed spaces. There were 150 foot video walls which displayed ultra-high definition videos of Titans falling from the sky, missiles soaring across futuristic skylines and full action sequences mirroring Titanfall gameplay. There was also a dynamic countdown that built expectations before release to build up fan’s anticipation and excitement.
Experiential marketing events such as these allow potential buyers to connect emotionally with your product and services. Prospects gather hands-on practical knowledge of your brand while talking passionately about events and thus creating word-of-mouth in real life and social media platforms.
The marketing strategies of 2017 are a balance between exploiting the online world to the zenith while infusing confidence into customers by providing human interaction. All four marketing strategies are tools that work in tandem with one another.
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