By SANDY CLARKE
At the advent of social media platforms in the early 2000s it was difficult to imagine the impact and influence that digital engagement and marketing would have in the coming decades.
According to the Pew Research Centre, e-commerce revenues reached USD$34.7 billion by mid-2007. By contrast, research by Frost and Sullivan predicts that B2B e-commerce sales will reach a staggering USD$12 trillion across the globe.
When it comes to businesses engaging with potential and existing customers online, it can be difficult to stand out from the noise. Once trends – such as longform content on Instagram – become mainstream, marketers need to find new avenues through which their message can be heard.
Depending on your perspective, the continual evolution of the digital space – and what it takes to get the most from it – can either be a headache not worth bothering about, or it can be seen as an exciting challenge that keeps an organisation sharp and ready to make use of the opportunities that are presented.
Since the dawn of all things digital, it has become increasingly challenging to keep up with new demands of business created by technology and customer convenience. It wasn’t so long ago that roles such as digital marketer and social media manager were thought of as part-time roles. Nowadays, they are recognised as crucial to an organisation’s success – and rightly so.
The good news for business leaders reluctant to embrace the new reality of where people choose to spend much of their attention (and their money) is that, with great challenges come great opportunities.
With 2020 just around the corner, there are a number of trends to watch out for over the next 12 months and beyond. Below we take a look at six of the most important trends that organisations should seriously consider if they want to expand upon their current customer base.
1. Personalisation is crucial
With nearly two-thirds of customers being turned off by generic advertising, the one-size-fits-all approach to drawing customers is fast losing effectiveness. Compared with 90 per cent of customers who find personalised advertising appealing, organisations will need to work harder for their customer’s buck. Personalisation has worked well for Starbucks, whose gamified mobile app enabled a more customer-centric approach to its marketing, bringing billions of dollars in revenue as a result. The message is clear: treat your customers like a priority and they’ll return the favour.
2. Monetising your product online
Over half of Instagram users say they’ve found new products via the platform, and almost three-quarters of Pinterest users say the site helps them to discover their new favourite purchases. People are not only spending more time on social media – they’re spending more money through social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have all made it easy to create posts through which businesses can sell directly to the customer.
3. Interactive content increases stickability
Want more people to spend longer viewing your website? Creating interactive posts that encourage active participation will keep visitors sticking around. Whether it’s fun quizzes, polls, or engaging “to-customer” videos that show the inside of a company’s culture, interactive content makes people feel more involved and, therefore, invested in what creative organisations have to offer.
Related article: The 5 Step Plan to a Winning Social Media Presence
4. Chatbots at your service
Until now, these pesky bots have been something of an annoyance. However, with improvements in the technology over the past few years, research studies have pointed to big wins for companies who utilise this resource. And it’s not just large companies who are set to benefit – any business with visitors and a product to sell can generate leads by having a helpful chatbot ready to answer common queries.
5. Video is (still) King
Producing video – and podcast – content was a must in 2019, and it will continue to rule in 2020. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of producing engaging and authentic video content to attract potential customers. And yes, live video – that terrifying beast – is underused, even though it’s one of the best ways to connect quickly and effectively with your audience. If you’ve yet to embrace Facebook Live or Instagram TV, you are missing out on more potential leads than a rookie detective.
6. And finally…voice search
It’s the latest trend and it’s growing, with more than a quarter of Americans owning smart speakers – a pattern that’s being reflected on this side of the world. Outside of America, Korea and Japan adoption rates for smart speakers in 2019 were over 130 per cent each. It’s estimated that, by 2021, smart speakers will exceed tablet use on a global level. Organisations will do well to optimise their sites for voice, integrating long tail keywords to accommodate vocal search (e.g. “How to build leadership skills” instead of “leadership skills”).
You may also be interested in: The Digital Age: Move Up or Move Out
Sandy is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, and previously enjoyed 10 years as a journalist and broadcaster in the UK. He has been fortunate to gain valuable insights into what makes us tick, which has deepened his interests in leadership, emotions, mindfulness, and human behaviour.