Recent Trends in Marketing

  1. Virtual Reality

Technology is on a mission to blur the lines between real and virtual. Virtual Reality (VR) is a huge leap in this direction. VR takes engagement to the next level by making it emotional i.e. by dropping the user in an environment created by you. This is used in a bevy of ways. A few examples of VR in marketing are Samsung: Do what you can’t do, Volvo: A Swedish Moment and Thomas Cook: Try Before you Fly.

VR is used to convey a strong message through immersive and telling visuals, case in point, “The Displaced” a VR piece by the New York Times which gives readers a startling insight into the horrors experienced by refugees in war-torn areas. Other notable examples of VR in marketing are McDonald’s Sweden: Happy Goggles, Ford: Fasten your seatbelts and Haagen Dazs: Save the honeybees.

  1. Voice Search

50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020. Marketers now need to tweak their approach to attract devices rather than humans with the arrival of Alexa, Google Assistant et al. This is can also bring changes in the SEO process. As voice search gets more popular, it’s become more important to use conversational, long-tail keywords to boost your SEO.

It is more important now than ever to use content to address common questions posed by users. The reason? Voice search results are now snippets from the source article. Context and action intent also play a huge role in voice searches, for eg. there’s an increased incidence of “What’s the nearest X?” queries in voice searches. In such instances the user is primed to take prompt action, here SEO can be used to drive foot traffic.

  1. Interactive Content

81% of respondents of a survey conducted by CMI(Content Marketing Institute) agreed that interactive content grabs attention better than static content. There’s a trend towards more personalized and engaging content. Ergo the content balance is shifting in favor of videos, stories, polls, and quizzes. This is changing the face of content marketing. There are a lot of examples such as NYT dialect quiz.

Interactive content is a way of quickly answering common customer questions in a more engaging way than static content. Many brands are making interactive content a part of their marketing strategy.

  1. Personalisation

75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name and recommends options based on past purchases. This is the reason why Amazon has the best customer retention rate due to its superior personalization algorithms.

An ad campaign that has grabbed a lot of eyeballs due to personalization in recent times is Coca-Cola’s #Shareacoke campaign where common names were printed on to Coke cans instead of the brand name. Consider this, in a country with a population of 24 million (Australia) Coca-Cola sold 250 million personalized coke cans. This shows the power of the simplest form of personalization, just adding the name.

Apart from personalized video campaigns, quizzes are also used as a medium to deliver personalized content. Thus, the values of personalization and increased engagement can be easily imbued in marketing campaigns through interactive content.

Personalization can be as simple as a personalized email or as elaborate as Marketo’s personalized video invite to the Marketing Nation Summit. Remember when you think of personalization, the sweetest sound to any person is his/her name.

  1. Chatbots

They provide instant responses and handle FAQs on social media sites such as Facebook. The primary objective of marketing is always to deliver the right product to the right customer. However, before this process is consummated, a series of interactions take place between both parties.

Chatbots handle such interactions now. They can provide instant responses to queries that can improve customer experience pre and post-purchase, thus playing a pivotal role in sales and marketing.

Here are two examples: The Starbucks chatbot within the Starbucks app makes it very easy to order snacks and beverages through text and voice commands. Ben is another fine example, this chatbot helps beginners learn about bitcoins and sell them online. Unlike their human counterparts, chatbots won’t call in sick or ask for a hike even though they work 24*7*365.

  1. GDPR Compliance and Data Rights

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica brouhaha and GDPR, there is a louder claim to institute data rights. This will impact data collection and the use of data to craft custom experiences, campaigns et al in a huge manner. Under GDPR, you need to obtain customer consent before utilizing the data to run campaigns.

  1. Reviews and Word of Mouth

Customers trust the words of other customers more than the words of celebrities. More than 55% of consumers under the age of 60 read reviews on shopping websites and social forums before purchasing a product. Reviews still play a huge role in giving the final push in Decision phase of the buyer’s journey. Another trend that favors reviews is voice search, which we’ve talked about earlier. Google will give more preference to results with more reviews for voice-based searches such as, ‘what is the nearest hotel?’, ‘the best salon near me’ etc.

To conclude, the top trends in marketing signal a renewed focus on personalization and engagement. This blurs the distinction between real and virtual by providing increasingly immersive experiences.   At the same time, limited data will be available in the future due to the introduction of data rights data rights. GDPR is a precursor to this trend. Thus, marketers should quickly adapt to these rules while taking advantage of the increasingly powerful advances available.

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