It is hard to believe that 2017 is already almost over. It seems like just yesterday that we were discussing how to amend our digital strategies, and client services, to align with industry advancements and technological changes and challenges for the year. Now we’re assessing the year that’s gone by and started to gear up for 2018.
First, we’ll assess what 2017 promised to deliver and what we actually saw in the digital marketing space. Then we’ll explore what’s in store for 2018- which promises to be a year of progress in some areas and rapid change in others.
Highlights of 2017’s Digital Marketing Trends
Marketing departments across industries reported in a 2016 poll taken by Smart Insights that content marketing and big data were the most important and digital marketing methods in 2017. 40% of businesses have found ROI in some kind of content strategy. However, right behind content marketing as a priority, which was top rated by 20% of businesses polled by Smart Insights, was big data. Why? Personalisation is one reason. Content is king, but personalisation is queen. When individuals feel that the content they consume is relevant and important, they’ll engage more often. But your personalisation can only be as good as the data you gather and utilise.
Another highlight of 2017 was the relatively new shift to mobile marketing. As more and more consumers use mobile rather than desktop, revising every element of your marketing and communications strategy, from making your website mobile-friendly to ensuring that you run mobile advertising campaigns, has been an increasing priority.
Speaking of mobile marketing, influencers including models, actors and relatively “normal” people with huge social media followings really made a mark in 2017. Although there were a few hiccups in how to regulate influencer advertising posts (such as the Fyre Festival), influencers are clearly here to stay, particularly as outbound marketing trends down for many brands.
Finally, virtual and augmented reality content (VR and AR, respectively), including advertisements, made a splash, particularly for mobile advertising and content platforms. 71% of customers feel that brands that use virtual and augmented reality are forward-thinking. In addition, the days when “engagement” was simply on a customer’s Twitter post have long gone. Brands have been looking at VR and AR as ways to bridge the engagement gap, but in 2017, according to Hubspot, many reported that a VR strategy would be too technically difficult (not to mention expensive) to implement. Thus, ideas were left at just that, and little has been done to move things forward when it comes to using virtual and augmented reality for most brands.
What to anticipate in 2018
2018 promises some exciting continuities with 2017, as well as several developments. The biggest continuity that we see? Mobile is here to stay. Planning your marketing strategy around mobile, or at least having a standalone marketing strategy, is now a must, particularly since Google continues full steam ahead with its index.
But as you think through your mobile (and desktop!) digital strategy, here are the big trends we see on the horizon.
1) Micromoments: think about the last time you wanted information, quickly. More than likely, rather than log in to your desktop, you reached for your mobile phone, as 96% of us do. This is known as a “micromoment” and these are becoming far more common. These moments can, in fact, become critical touchpoints with customers: you can already see it with Think with Google, customers expect brands to provide reliable information regardless of the time and location.
2) Augmented/virtual reality content: as we discussed above, more and more users perceive that companies that use AR and VR are cutting edge, even as companies only see these mechanisms as cost sinks. But some brands are really thriving at the VR game, and this will continue through 2018. For example, Ikea has created an augmented reality product catalogue and augmented reality app, Ikea Place. Users can now not picture in their minds how their new furniture might look in their living spaces, but experience it first hand, taking a photo of the room they want to furnish and seeing how different pieces of furniture would look in it. What a great way to convert sales, particularly online!
3) E-wallets for e-commerce: taking a cue from the government of Singapore, there’s a big push to go cashless, with e-wallets being a big trend for 2018. Not only will you see mobile card payments accepted in more physical shops, you’ll notice security mechanisms for e-wallets expand greatly. How does this help the marketer? More customers, primed to pay, with more ways to do it.
4) Beacon and proximity marketing: if 2015 was all about geolocation and geolocated advertising, 2018 is going to be all about beacon and proximity marketing. Bluetooth beacons allow marketers to transmit targeted and relevant messages and information to nearby mobile devices. Think about UberEats, which can send push notifications about restaurant specials to customers in a certain kilometre radius, or shops that can send special, targeted offers to customers as they enter, walk through or linger in specific departments American drugstore chain Rite Aid recently rolled out beacons to provide customers with targeted discounts and other specials.
5) Chatbots: virtual assistants animated by AI help customers with their answers in real-time. Using customer data, these chatbots can offer customers and potential clients support, guidance, and can automate recurrent tasks so humans can focus on adding more value customer operations and other fields.
6) AI/Machine Learning: almost 100% of business leaders feel that the future of marketing will be forged by smart humans, but assisted by machine learning-based automation. Machine learning can help marketers who need to shift their strategy quickly to align with consumer behaviour; for instance, the healthcare industry has used machine learning software to patient medical data and provide recommendations and information in alignment with personal data. There are other AI tools available that can start to optimise when to send emails, post social media links and other marketing activities.
7) Dark Social: people no longer engage on social by posting links to articles, videos and sharing gifs and memes. Instead, they are also using less monitored channels including WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, email, etc. In fact, 84% of outbound sharing is done on dark social, rather than public-facing profiles, and almost 50% of consumers over the age of 55 share social material only on dark social channels. Thus, it is important to take these channels into consideration in 2018 as you plan out your social media strategy, lest you underreport how effective social really is.
8) Influencer Marketing: as we saw above, influencer marketing really is here to stay. We used to call this “word of mouth” marketing back before 2016 or so, but now if you can get people, particularly those with large social followings, to sing your company’s graces, you’ll definitely have better brand equity and more than likely have new customers.
Image courtesy of http://42works.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/influencer-marketing1.jpg
These trends are driven by market and thus could vary across regions. For example, QR codes trended in Singapore recently via WeChat. However, we believe that the basis for digital marketing trends in 2018, worldwide, will be pushed by mobile use and brand’s response to it, regardless of what the strategy details look like.
What other elements do you think we’ve missed? Please drop us a line in the comments below to let us know!
Often, we find ourselves thinking and talking about how we could improve our customer relationship. How can you build your relationship with your customers? For a start, what do you think they want? According to Author Scott McKain in his book “What customers really want”, they are:
1. Compelling experience – emotional connection, for a compelling experience transcending transactions, loyalty is assured. Customer satisfaction: reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy … Get it right, not make it right!
2. Personal focus – Customers don’t buy a product but what it will do for them. Focus on their unique needs, challenges – not your own products/services. Today’s mass customization – anything digitized can be customized.
3. Reciprocal Loyalty — Endless prospecting instead? Doesn’t matter how many new customers you bring if you are losing more. Customer retention – vital for ongoing success.
4. Differentiation – Customers buy value/benefit. What makes your product/service special? Strategy : create a compelling competitive advantage by developing through your product/service, a unique aspect of your connection with customers.
5. Coordination – Improper communication, inadequate experience with the product/service, discrepancy between the experience the customer expects and that actually delivered, info spread about you by competition – create uncertainty. Live up to the expectation that has been created in your customer’s mind through marketing!
6. Innovation – “Wow” factor. Efforts on improvements only, status quo or disregarding innovation – merely accepting the good, not taking a shot at becoming great. Good is the enemy of Great – Jim Collins, Good to Great!
Think about your most important customers and tell us (without revealing names) what you think they really want?
Any marketer should have heard of Google Adwords and its wonderful lead-generating capabilities. However, the advertising trends are rapidly changing and Google Adwords have already taken note of this with the plan of implementing a few changes (listed below) to its long-standing platform.
1) Change to expanded text Ads from standard Ads(Already implemented)
In May 2016, Google announced its reformatting of ads to help consumers and advertisers succeed in a mobile-first world. The new format, called Expanded Text Ads, allows for 23% more text. This new format is available on both the Google Search Network and the Google Display network. It features two headlines with 30 characters each, to replace the single headline of 25 characters. The new description also allows 80 characters and replaces the two descriptions lines of 35 characters each. The display URL has been replaced with two 15 character paths, and the characters do not include the root domain. Emojis, and other uncharacteristic characters, are not allowed and reviews can be requested.
2) Able to bid uniquely based on device
You would be able to set mobile bids, desktop bids and tablet bids individually or make them connected to each other. This would allow more control based on each device that you wish to target.
3) Responsive display Ads
Google would be able to figure out automatically what format is best for your ad depending on where it is displayed. This would save the hassle of creating multiple formats of the same ad.
4) Ads to appear in Google maps
Google maps has a huge user base and they plan to leverage on that and show ads, for example a company logo and if someone clicks on the logo, they can see the offer or promotion that company is offering. This could be a big boost for businesses as if a consumer searches the vicinity in Google maps, they would be able to see your ad if they are nearby and could come physically to your store.
Gig Economy is an environment in which temporary and flexible positions are common and organisations tend to engage with independent workers or freelancers for short-term contracts.
The Gig Economy is creating new economies that didn’t exist before, encouraging innovation and bringing suppliers and customers together. The concept of work is changing as we know it and could give you an alternative revenue stream or greater flexibility in how you work.
Giants such as Uber and AirBnB are giving people a platform where they can drive or rent out their homes for money.
Freelancing platforms are readily available as well, such as AceLancer Bay.
The Gig Economy allows your job to fit your lifestyle and allows you to chose when to work and when to focus on other matters. Gig-ing can be very tempting to those who can only work part-time, or wishes to earn more on top of a full-time position.
Taking part in the Gig Economy would suit those who don’t wish to report to another boss and are able to be their best salesmen and creators of professional work, thou with freedom does comes risk of irregular income.
Using freelancing platforms can be a tricky issue as well as you would be competing with others looking to complete the same job. It’s always tough at the start but as you continue to do professional work and receive positive ratings, the incoming work would start to get more regular as you build up experience.
The really awesome part of the Gig Economy is that it is not bounded by any age limits and anyone can take part and achieve something for themselves.
The sky’s the limit so if you are already freelancing or yet to start, don’t give up and keep on going!
Handing out paper Business Cards with someone you just met has been a tradition for centuries, although it is seeing a decline as we advance towards a modern and digital age. There are various ways to exchange your contacts now thanks to various platforms and here, we share with you what are the alternatives to paper Business Cards.
1. Phone Number
Clicking on that green icon on your phone to save their contact number is fast and easy. However, them forgetting the services you offer is also fast and easy without much information being available through that simple contact list.
2. Email or Website
This method is mostly used if you are conferencing with a big group, and you don’t have the time to attend to them individually. Telling them to drop you an email or visit your website is a bold move, and would only work if you are really famous for them to remember, or if they are really interested in what you are selling.
3. Social Media
There are so many Social Media platforms nowadays, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc., and i’m sure you have tried at least one of them. They are fun and interactive, and you can add each other with a simple search on a name or user ID. It’s one of the more popular methods, but could come as intrusive or too personal to share to some people.
4. Mobile Applications
With the rise in mobile users, developers are riding on the trend of mobile applications. There are many mobile applications that encourages the exchange of Business Cards digitally, and one such example is AceConnectMe. It lets you input your phone number, email, website as well as link your Social Media accounts (optional). Your e-Business Cards are also stored in one organised space for easy searching when needed. The major downside is that you require mobile network to use the app, but I would’t complain with the many conveniences and benefits it offers.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users, and these visitors can be converted into customers. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
Benefits of SEO:
1) Drive Interested Traffic To Your Website
Customers who visit your site via your SEO strategy, for example through unpaid results such as organic search are already interested because of the keywords or descriptions you have used.
2) Content On Website
With a strong SEO strategy, content on your website should match what people expect to see when they read about your product/service and click to visit. This in turn would reduce bounce rates for your site and increase your chance for a sale.
3) Brand Awareness
With SEO, if your brand appears higher in Google search than your competitors based on keywords relevant to your industry, would go a long way in placing your brand at the top of people’s minds.
Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.
With these search volumes, businesses can’t afford to NOT have a SEO strategy and miss out on a share of the pie. Contact us here for a no obligation discussion.
Freelancing is becoming the norm in the new economy where people are connected to on demand services at the touch of a button.
A recent study in America showed that from 2014 to 2015, there was an increase of 700,00 new freelancers entering into the new economy. 60% started freelancing by choice and see it as a viable career option.
1 in 2 freelancers would not stop freelancing and switch to a full time job with an employer no matter how much they were paid. This represents a change in mindset that working a full time job is the only way to carve a career.
In 2016, 60% of freelancers surveyed earned more doing freelancing and 3 in 4 earned more within the first year.
The brightest days for freelancing are yet to come, according to 83% of respondents.
On the local scene, NTUC has set up freelanceXchange to provide support services that help make freelancer life’s easier and more sustainable. They hope to create a better future of freelancing for everyone.
According to their Facebook page:
“There are about 200,000 freelancers and self-employed workers in Singapore and this number will continue to grow. Passion, flexibility and industry norms are reasons why an individual choose freelancing, as a professional, part-time or project basis. To support and empower freelancers in nurturing viable careers, and represent their collective interests as one united voice.”
From PM Lee of Singapore:
“And in light of the changing workforce, Mr Lee called on the labour movement to not only rally the workers, but to widen its reach to cover not only PMETs but also new economy jobs.
“If we keep the labour movement to the old formulation, which is the bargainable blue-collar workers mainly, I think we are just going to represent fewer and fewer people, and that’s bad for the labour movement; that’s bad for Singapore.
“We need you to be representative, to be strong, to have a vibrant base, to be able to do good things,” Mr Lee said.
“And that means you have to widen, you have to expand, from the union movement, to the labour movement, to cover the professionals, to cover the new economy jobs, even Uber drivers, even those who are doing freelancing. We have to find ways to bring them in.”
With the rise of social media such as Facebook, there is an ongoing debate as to whether Email Marketing is still a viable marketing tool. Businesses now share information faster through social media with updates that customers can immediately view via their social media accounts or notifications on their mobile phone.
Email marketing is not dead, and here’s why:
1) 2.5 Billion email users around the world (Source: Lifewire)
This represents a huge opportunity for email marketers hoping to connect with these users around the world and the number of users can only grow with the advancement of technology.
2) Being able to customise messages to customers
With email marketing, businesses can send out customised messages via monthly newsletters and the such. They can send information which is relevant to their customer base and thus creating higher customer satisfaction as customers would receive only information which they are interested in reading.
3) People prefer to receive product offers via email
The chart below shows how 2,057 American adults answered the question, ”In which of the following ways, if any, would you prefer companies to communicate with you? Please select all that apply.”
Over 70% of the respondents choose email as their preferred mode of communication from companies.
4) Email beats social by 40x for customer acquisition
Based on info from Mckinsey, when you want to grow your business, offer a promotion or acquire new customers, you should chose email as it is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
Definition: New Economy is the result of the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy.
We are now living in a hyper-connected world where we can easily communicate and work with anyone in the world right now, even in our own homes if we chose to. Gone are the days where it would be mandatory to go to an office to work and build a career. Freelancing is becoming a viable career option in this age due to the advancement of technology and communications which is making this possible.
On the business front, with uncertain economic conditions looming, more employers are driven to in a way, to “share” an available pool of independent contractors and freelancers to fulfill their project delivery obligations and stay competitive and afloat in a global economy to ride out storms. When the going get tougher, more people might be displaced and freelancing may become an option grown out of necessity for some individuals to better cope with their loss of jobs. They may seize the opportunity to turn the situation around to make it a sustainable career option.
AceLancer Bay aspires to be the platform, a home of sort, for serious and well-respected professional freelancers whom we call AceLancers rather than be vulnerable individuals with limited resources. We do not just provide mobile apps platforms in ios and android but importantly a web portal with a forum to engage and build a community of freelancers and independent contractors who can market their services, network, make contacts and even collaborate to leverage on synergies of their various skillsets to take on more challenging projects that one in silo would otherwise not be able to take up. This forum is in fact one of the more significant aspect of our integrated online platforms with members sharing their challenges such as payment issues or setting of prices instead of being exploited when less informed. Equally important is the positioning of freelancers as professionals as they must also up their game, no less.