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Top Trends in Digital Marketing

September 30, 2014 by Theresa Böhme 1

From wearables and Big Data to personalization and multichannel – the digital economy is transforming business and our everyday lives. Innovations in technology enable new business models and companies can’t risk being left behind.

We’ve taken a closer look at what the new “digiconomy” means for the future of marketing:

Multichannel and crosschannel

More and more consumers are now using a combination of channels. Gone are the days when they would use just one. “Of all media, video is driving the future,” says Matthias Ehrlich, president of Germany’s Federal Association of the Digital Economy. Advertising on mobile devices, linear TV moving online, and new, innovative devices offer a wealth of opportunities for using completely new formats. “A recent Omnicom Media Group study reveals that 80% of Germany’s population expect to be online 24 hours a day by 2025,” says Manfred Kluge, CEO of media and communications agency OMD Germany. There is a clear trend toward display and mobile. In 2011, Facebook didn’t have a single app. Now, most of its revenue is from apps. “More than a billion people a month access Facebook on their mobile device,” says Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook.

Smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, video, and TV — there are more communication channels than ever before, and their variety is growing. At the same time, consumer behavior is changing. Among those aged 16 to 45, the cell phone has replaced the television as the dominant format. Consumers now use technology in combination: They check their e-mails or read messages while the TV is on. When we shop online, we use a number of different channels. Not only do we buy cross-channel, but we use different channels to compare products. So marketers need a single view of the customer and a multichannel strategy.

Personalization

Companies have to tailor their offerings more closely to their target markets’ needs and wishes. Software and real-time data analysis tell companies now what content will grab consumers’ attention tomorrow.

Creating emotional connections

“Passionate customers, not satisfied customers, are the key to success. Only passionate customers will write you a rave online review,” says Jonas Thein of Cintellic Consulting Group. Fewer and fewer shoppers go to the store for advice. Instead, they read online reviews in social media. Enter the social customer. This means, though, that companies are no longer able to fully dissect consumers’ purchasing decisions. Before you can have passionate customers, you need a product that generates an emotional connection and does more than meet their expectations. And you need excellent customer service.

Content marketing

To attract and retain customers, the content has to be of high quality. Well-presented articles with valuable and useful information instead of empty phrases boost a company’s credibility and consumer trust. Content marketing is here to stay. After all, search engines list Web sites by relevance.

Data-driven marketing

Companies collect vast amounts of data on how consumers purchase and use products. Special algorithms analyze this data and turn it into useful insights. This is the domain of marketing automation.

There is a clear trend toward the digital showroom. One example is Nina, a virtual assistant that offers personalized customer service. Users can ask it for their credit card balance, book a flight upgrade, or check whether they can catch an earlier plane to their destination. Nina shows how virtual and real worlds are merging, opening up completely new opportunities for marketing.

Customer journey

What are tomorrow’s challenges for marketing? Marketers will still rely on data. They will need the right tools and software to analyze and use that data. To reach customers, they will have to define target markets more precisely and fine tune their interactions. The customer journey has to become their vision. “Technology reveals consumer preferences,” says Jessica Joines, chief marketing officer at Rakuten Marketing. She adds: “The customer journey is the best way of understanding what the customer wants. Consumers are becoming savvier and better at knowing what they want. They have embraced technology and are more demanding.” The marketing of the future will use past data to predict which products customers want and when. This is where predictive analytics and big data play a key role, with the automation of digital channels as another major trend.

Wearables and nearables

Smartwatches, wearables, nearables, and the Internet of Things are the next big trends. They offer users a multisensual experience. Nearables are embedded sensors that, when combined with apps, connect objects to your smartphone. They are small enough to be attached to anything. For instance, if you stick one on a flower pot, it can remind you to water your plant. You can use one on your bicycle to tell you where you left it, or how fast you are going. The opportunities for marketing are endless. The National Football League uses sensors to tell fans in the stadium when their steaks are done. Wearables bring users the right content at the right time. “Yet they will never replace traditional media, especially print,” says Dirk Schart, corporate communications manager at RE’FLEKT GmbH.

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