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Shopping on the Internet is here to stay! It’s not only an option for the casual customer looking for a bargain or the latest gadget, it is rapidly moving to the forefront of consumerism—shopping will never be the same again. As the 2017 digital shopping experience grows, so must the marketing effort.
Digital marketing is the promotion of products and services using electronic media, including, but not limited to the Internet. In its early days, digital marketing was all about advertising—promoting products and services to potential buyers.
That tactic has changed. Now, digital marketing is about cultivating relationships with consumers through engagement. The number one method of engaging customers is through content. Content serves to educate or entertain people. And, rather than pushing people into taking action, content pulls them in and lets them connect with your brand.
Another shift in tactics is engaging consumers in social media channels. Social media as a platform for direct digital marketing has grown exponentially since its inception.
The third shift in strategy is in the effort to make shopping a more personalized experience and the ability to target specific needs for each customer.
Four trends that will help marketers win at the 2017 digital shopping experience
1. Mobile devices are emerging as a shopper’s best friend.
An evolution in electronic device technology and the creation of apps for mobile devices is allowing the shopper instant access to the best bargains, whether it be online or in a store.
Recent statistics show that internet searches from mobile devices have surged ahead of desktop searches with Americans spending eighty-six percent of their online time using smartphone apps.
It is also estimated that by the end of 2017, 44% of the world’s population will own a smartphone. That number is expected to rise to 59% by the year 2022.
Mobile devices are, indeed, leading the way in on-the-go consumerism.
2. New Product Brands continue to roll out.
In marketing, Branding is creating a name or design that identifies your product. This brand not only identifies you, but it will set you apart from others.
According to entrepeneur.com, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it distinguishes your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.
As digital marketing continues to evolve, branding will become more attuned to the needs and wants of the consumer. It will understand the priorities, and products and services will be molded to meet these expectations and will represent the latest trends in modern lifestyles.
As a side note, intrusive marketing will begin to disappear as consumer resentment grows. Today’s consumers do not like brands that consistently “push” conversion tactics. Pop-ups and banners are on the way out. In fact, Google believes, “pop-ups do not provide a good user experience”, and are taking action to limit their use, if not eliminate them completely.
3. The search for Instant Responses will help create more social media platforms.
Today’s new consumers are part of Generation Z and they have grown up in a digital world. They were weaned in front of a television and by the age of five, had their first electronic device. By the first grade, they knew how to log on to a computer.
They are accustomed to instant responses. They don’t know what it’s like to wait. They push a button, click a mouse and they have what they’re looking for. As digital marketing progresses, the current platforms will not be enough to meet their needs. As a result, new social media platforms will be developed in the near future to meet these demands. In turn, they will greatly impact the 2017 digital shopping experience.
4. Artificial Intelligence will be a big player in Digital Marketing
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Simply put, it’s a branch of computer science that attempts to build machines that think and respond intelligently, just as a human would.
When AI is brought up in a conversation, it often invokes fear of machines taking over the world, like in the movie, The Terminator. Others see AI as a means to provide intelligent solutions to complicated problems.
In digital marketing, one of the complicated problems is in analyzing statistical marketing data. Every customer is a collection of data. As the customer proceeds through the digital space, more data is created. It’s not difficult to imagine the massive amounts of information created in today’s digital world.
A term used to identify extremely large sets of data is Big Data. Traditional methods of processing data don’t always work well with Big Data. But, AI will not only provide a means to delineate all these statistics, the great hope is that it will also provide solutions and responses. Think of the Virtual Assistants, Siri and Alexa: You talk to them and they talk back.
So, does digital marketing need AI? In a very competitive digital marketing world—time and accuracy are crucial. Marketers have long depended on tools and technology to help analyze consumer trends, but intuition often plays a role in decision-making. AI will be able to crunch the data and then provide a solution, almost in a single action.
Some key areas of digital marketing where AI has potential is in Customer Service, SEO, and Website Design.
Virtual Assistants, like Siri and Alexa, are good examples of AI’s potential in Customer Service. Known as chatbots; the idea is to train them to understand not only content but context as well. Once proficient, they can then converse with the customer to provide the answers and solutions needed. Thus, creating a flawless customer experience and a must have in the 2017 digital shopping experience.
However, the jury is still out when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization) and Website Design. The analytics is obviously a positive factor. Vast amounts of data can be helpful in determining the best methods in SEO practices and designing websites.
But, on the other hand, is the human factor. People like to tinker with things. In website design, owners like to be creative with their design and move things around based on personal feelings. A machine has no feelings, or creativity for that matter.
In SEO, it could come down to AI versus AI. In 2015, Google rolled out an algorithm known as RankBrain. It is a machine-learning AI system used to process search results and rank sites. One could almost envision one machine picking the brain of another machine.
Certainly, AI has a role to play in SEO, but the SEO world tends to chase algorithms and changes in technology to determine best optimization methods. They often lose sight of the fundamental principles.
There was a time of keyword saturation and Black Hat tactics. But, SEO has come along since those days and is aligning itself with Google in that it is all about the customer experience: Content is the name of the game, and many believe that AI is not yet there.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is customer experience. As business owners work to prioritize their marketing efforts, connecting with the customer is priority number one. Creating a consistent and seamless process for engaging each shopper in your business requires an understanding of the trends and actions of today’s digital marketing world. Understanding how devices are used, how social media plays a role, and what both online and offline data analytics indicate is vital in staying competitive.
Studies reveal that over the next five years, companies will focus on optimizing their customer’s experience and will strive to engage them at their level.
Having a team of experienced and dedicated professionals is a proven way to keep your business in the game. No business owner can stay abreast of the rapidly changing and growing digital marketing industry alone. A successful business is a partnership of like-thinking and hard-working individuals.
This is the role Chelsea and Rachel play in your business. Call us today to see how we can help your business capitalize on the 2017 digital shopping experience trends: 303-808-1934.