The Top Ten Trends in Digital Marketing Technology for 2017
This is the first of a two-part blog entry by Ron Shulkin, VP North America, 3radical.
There were a lot of digital marketing trends worth documenting and sharing this year. The remaining sections cover Data, Artificial Intelligence and New Forms of Media. Today’s entry covers a list of Digital Marketing technologies not everyone may be familiar with, but the leadership brands are all using.
About these top trends
I write this list every year. My Top Trends of the year blog entry gets the most blog visits, likes, shares and comments than anything else I post. This year the list of identifiable trends engendered six pages of notes, which I think is too long for a blog…no one will actually read it to the end. So, I’ve broken it up into three parts and today’s posting is part 1. I’ll post another section regularly until finished. A review of my previous year’s trend observations will be found at the end of the last post.
Many of the folks that read these trend observations have their own great insights about digital marketing technologies. Maybe they’re happy to see me do the actual work of writing down.
It also depends on perspective. I’m guessing if you’re in the venture capital business and seeing where VC money is getting invested, you see very different trends.
How this list happens
To do my day job well, I study, curate and introduce the latest in emerging digital marketing technologies. I help marketers understand how these new technologies can be useful to their business plan. I work with very smart, seasoned marketing professionals. In the process of discovering the specific requirements of these marketing teams, we collaborate and refine the vision of how today’s available marketing tools map to their challenges and goals. Often during a week of dialogs the same few topics can come up repeatedly.
When you learn of a requirement for “interactive, real-time engagement” three times in a day from different marketing experts, it is easy to note a pattern. So, using this informal crowd sourcing method, certain digital marketing trends become apparent. This is my third year in a row noting and writing about these emerging trends in digital marketing.
Here’s this year’s list.
This year’s Hottest Trends, Approaches & Tools
- The rise of Mobile as a significant channel has occurred. It’s coupled with Real-time monitoring of consumer behavior has become a requirement and is facilitated by the consumer’s choice of mobile or a smart phone as their “channel of choice”. A consumer’s past purchases and aspirations are coupled with their current location. Using this dynamic set of consumer information enables brands to deliver highly personalized, contextually relevant messages.
- Automated and Programmatic Interaction. With an understanding of which steps a consumer takes yielding the highest likelihood of a purchase, brands can map out and enable ideal consumer journeys. Brands can design unique, variable consumer journeys with predictable responses to unpredictable actions. Desirable consumer behaviors can be rewarded…all without human intervention.
- Contextual Relevance. Modern consumers are happy to support their favorite brands. These busy people have no patience for brands who waste their time by sending irrelevant calls to action. With a smart phone always in their hands, the mobile phone is likely the typical consumer “channel of choice”. Tech-savvy consumers expect consistent, relevant, real time, interactive digital stories.
- Personalization. To make digital communications personal, brands need to understand their consumers’ behavioral information. Armed with the knowledge of consumer past purchasing behavior, what the consumer is interested in, what they aspire to, real-time monitoring tells them where the consumers are and what they’re doing at any given moment. All this combined information informs a very personalized message.
- Mobile App Launch Success from Interactive Engagement Support. Most new mobile apps never gain acceptance. The apps may get tried, but are most likely deleted. Real-time, shopper marketing applications create a fun, exciting, interactive app experience. The audience finds immediate (and long term) value, breaking through the first encounter barrier.
- Email Best Practices. Email continues to be a significant marketing channel. When the hoped-for coupon, the answer to a puzzle or the announcement of contest winners is delivered through an email, consumers are likely to subscribe and click on links. Simple-to-embed, interactive engagement experiences boost email response rates. Click through rates go up, while recruiting tens of thousands of new email subscribers to the marketing database.
- Ongoing Consumer Journeys. Most brands acknowledge how valuable it is to have an ongoing relationship with consumer audiences. Using interactive outreach (vs. passive messaging) keeps consumers engaged for the long term.
- Anticipatory, Frictionless, Intimate Engagement. We know each consumer is unique. Each consumer will take their own original journey with the brand. We also know the brands with the most consistent, intimate, and relevant messaging will enjoy consumer relationships that produce the most loyal advocates. Interactive, real-time engagement can assess each consumer and enable brands to nurture intimate relationships.
- Interactive Content. Passive messages are easily swiped away or ignored. Brands use interactive digital marketing platforms to provide engaging experiences that grab each consumers’ attention. Improved response rates prove this premise: “Only Interactive Content Makes Consumers Drop Everything”
- Shopper Marketing. A combination of all the above technologies enables brands to learn about their consumers and send them the right call to action when they arrive in a certain detected location.
- Digital Companions. Digital technologies have the ability to engage with consumers in an intimate and long term way. Because of this, brands are likely to incorporate a digital companion to most non-digital campaign efforts. An in-store experience, a live event, an offsite promotion… all are enhanced by having digital, interactive engagement with the consumer before, during and after. *
* OK, I know there are eleven, but a top ten list sounds much catchier.
All of these technologies are available to marketers today. In fact for a certain class of brands, these are mandatory parts of their tool kit.
Shopper Marketing at its finest
Here’s an example of these technologies combined and executed by a brand’s marketing team.
- A bank launches a new credit card and uses a Digital Companion, a mobile app, to support the campaign.
- The bank brand wants the credit card to be used and the Mobile app downloaded, engaging the consumer with a variety of Interactive Content like games, surveys and the like. Consumers can play the official game by downloading the mobile app and they get engaged, driven by the chance to win a fabulous trip (long term), as consumers bank partial win points and badges for eventual submission when levels are achieved. There are chances to win instant discounts for short term gratification.
- This is a multi-channel campaign; the same consistent experience exists on the brand’s web site and reward announcements come by email.
- The bank only needs the consumer’s email address to kick things off (and keep track of their participant’s contest progress), but the app gradually accumulates more consumer data using Progressive Profiling.
- The bank brand wants to nurture an ongoing relationship with the consumer. Prize entries are earned by playing the official game every day, by answering surveys, and rewarding the consumer when they act on other desirable behaviors. The brand is aware of what steps are usually taken that lead to the use of the credit card. Marketers design several consumer journeys based on the different known types of customer that exist and might participate.
Armed with a knowledge of the consumer’s past purchase history, and knowing the consumer’s aspirations, learned from a program survey, the bank monitors the consumer’s activity and location in real time.
- When a consumer wanders by a store or restaurant using the bank’s credit card reader, the brand is aware of this geolocation because an iBeacon is embedded into the device. Knowing this consumer wants a new pair of blue tooth headphones, the consumer gets a very personalized offer through the mobile app asking if they want to participate in a value exchange to “spin a wheel” to earn a fabulous discount on those headphones, available in the store right in front of them. Later, during the dinner hour, and knowing this consumer eats dinner out around this time of day a couple of days a week, when the consumer walks past the restaurant with the credit card reader’s iBeacon, the bank sends a wheel spin opportunity to earn a “free drink” with dinner.
- All these messages from the brand to the consumer are Contextually Relevant, Personalized, and Interactive.
- The collection of consumer data and behavior is frictionless, anticipatory, immersive, fun, interesting, and exciting.
Stand by for part 2 of this year’s top trends in digital marketing technology.
Ron Shulkin is the Vice President of North America for 3radical – Helping brands design, monitor, and manage their consumer audience’s journey in real time.