Speedwell’s Director of Strategy, Brett Wiskar, recently participated in a round table panel discussion on digital trends Brisbane Businesses can expect to see more of in 2014. The following article delves deeper into some of the topics discussed and other popular trending themes featured in articles looking at predictions for what will be important for businesses in the digital landscape over the coming year.
Mobile domination has gone from being a future prediction to reality. 2014 will see mobile internet usage outrank desktop.
Today’s multi-tasking consumers will often have their mobile device within arm’s reach. It’s their first go-to for product research, which ultimately plays a key role in the final purchasing decision. Businesses need to understand the importance of having content compatible on multiple-browser and multiple platforms (Android, iPhones, Smartphones and Tablets). Time-poor customers will move on to the next available option if content is presented in an unfriendly, hard to read format.
Responsive design is an ideal solution for allowing websites to be compatible across mobile, tablet and desktop browsers. Speedwell’s lead developer, Lachlan has worked on numerous responsive websites during 2013. His recent blog on responsive design notes the trend towards users being more mobile and expecting information in a format that is digestible and has divergent resolutions, gestures and bandwidth.
B2C organisations can expect to see a shift in sales, enquiries and engagement in 2014 if mobile doesn’t play an equally important role in their platform strategy as other top performing channels.
Video is a powerful marketing tool that can deliver large quantity of information in short, easily digestible bite sized pieces. Combining the use of visual and verbal cues can create rich, highly engaging, emotive and entertaining pieces of media.
Increase in bandwidth, screen resolutions and the ability for videos to render on all devices are substantial factors contributing to the rise of video consumption, allowing masses to share and access such content.
Vine is a serious contender for the most influential and successful new media channel for 2013. The popularity of users sharing micro formatted videos has changed how companies view the use of video content. It’s no longer acceptable for companies to repeat their brand’s 30sec or 1min television commercials.
Whilst there’s an increased demand for shorter length videos, WestJet is a fantastic example of the massive opportunity and potential video content holds. The Christmas Miracle video is over 5mins in length yet has been viewed by over 27 million people in the first week of being published. Definitely recommend taking the time to watch this great example of a unique experiential marketing idea that proves investing in a great content idea can pay off.
Remember no video is worth watching unless it holds substance. People are incredibly selective with their time, so always keep the targeted audience in mind when producing the video. A simple instructional video with minor edits can still be a more effective piece of content than a page of plain text.
Convenience, trust and comfort are traits that influence purchasing decisions. These barriers to online purchasing are being broken down by eCommerce sites utilising profiling tools that provide consumers a personalised and custom shopping experience.
Sitecore is a CMS platform offering businesses the ability for their website to display specific and personalised content based on data driven profiling. The site stores data around a user’s previous interactions with the brand’s digital marketing activity such as EDMs, digital banners and website page links. The customer’s data profile instructs the website what content, products or categories to display, creating a unique and highly engaging experience. A customer can land on a homepage and see their name written in the website’s ‘Welcome’ copy, with an image of a specific product they’d previously looked at now appearing on the primary homepage panel.
Netflix is another company using profiling tools to deliver data driven content. A customer’s interactions on the site, such as scrolling behaviours and the types of links clicked, feed into a database that analyses which categories are being selected. The website uses this information to determine what videos are recommended to the user, and which categories to hide.
Providing a custom and personalised content to consumers creates a very convenient and highly engaging shopping experience that can deliver remarkable increase in conversions. Businesses leveraging this technology will meet consumers’ needs far quicker and more easily than standard non-customisable content driven sites.
For years now there’s been a high emphasise on companies to produce quality content, and quite rightly so. There’s numerous benefits when done right. On the flip side consumers have drowned from an overwhelming amount of quality-compromised content. Companies need to become innovative to break through the noise to reach their audience.
Consumers are emotionally driven people. Businesses need to understand the motivations driving their audience to purchase. Uncovering these motivational behaviours will allow companies to tap into sub cultures and tailor content strategies to drive sales and engagement through earned trust and recognition.
Lorna Jane and Dove are prime examples of brands that were early adopters of this form of marketing. Their company values form the foundations of their business decisions that drive the marketing and content strategies. In conjunction with consistently producing quality content, Lorna Jane’s ability to sell the notion of healthy living has returned constant high engagement and an ever-increasing community following.
A brand without a purpose will struggle in today’s competitive content and consumer engagement driven world, unless there’s a clearly defined emotive value and meaning associated to the brand that their audience will want to connect with. When done right, Businesses can expect to retain existing customer’s loyalty whilst attracting new customers.
The brand essence needs to be at the core of any business strategy, seeding into all marketing activities including customer experience, product development, design, web and sales to ensure quality and consistent messaging is successfully executed. This multi-channel approach will see the fusion of cross-department budgets and teams. Joe Gardiner, head of content strategy at Wardour Exclusivity, comments that the format, channels, platforms, devices and timing of how that story is told will be dictated by what you want your audience to feel.
Pure online business models are ideal for entrepreneurs wanting to avoid substantial CapEx investment costs a start-up business with a physical retail store presents. Challenges online stores face is the lack of customer engagement and interaction. Creating a real world experience is a trend the big digital players such as Amazon, Google, Ebay, Etsy and Net-a-Porter have been approaching over the last five years. Ebay opened their first till-less store in New York November 2009.
A physical shopfront allows companies to set up an extension of their online store where staff can provide quality real-time service. A consumer’s real-world interaction with the brand is invaluable as they can touch, feel, see and try the company’s stock, a large barrier to online shopping until after the stock has been delivered. The interaction between brand and consumer allows opportunity for feedback and product improvements.
Pop-up shops are becoming a common popular trend overseas, especially in New York where savvy fashion buyers are chasing the latest and greatest one-off buys to stay ahead of trends. This type of retail experience is a low-risk and low-maintenance way for online stores to test the waters without having to commit significant resources to a physical presence.
Guideshops are a variant from the traditional retail store set up. Customers can interact with the product before purchasing from the store online. Sydney based online start-up Shoes of Prey allows women to design and purchase a completely personally customised shoe. Their first physical store opened in Sydney earlier this year. Founder Jodie Fox commented to Tech Crunch’s Eliza Brooke about the guideshop saying, “It’s not a traditional store at all. We built a retail store out of everything a shoe is made of. In the middle of the table, there’s a two meter high sculpture of shoes. I wanted people to see the product but it’s not about pulling it off a shelf. It fosters creativity so people feel inspired and open up their minds a bit.”
Bonobos is a well known example of a clothing brand targeting male shoppers setting up guideshops. Customers book an appointment with a stylist who provides the necessary one-on-one service to guide the male shopper with what suits him, providing the information and the tools for future purchases on the site. It’s a smart tactic to capture new customers that are highly likely to remain loyal with repeat purchases.
Incorporating emerging trends into business practices can become overwhelming when forward planning future activities. It’s important not to attempt to tackle everything at once and get caught up in the hype. Be sure to create a plan in advance to ensure each execution point is thoroughly and carefully considered.
Sometimes it is worth going back to basics when forward planning. Here is a short list drawn from our own experience:
- Objectives: Set your business objectives. Document them, and identify the best way to measure success
- Alignment: Align your digital strategy with your business objectives
- Plan: Define short, medium and long-term plans with measureable KPIs
- Measure: Automate your KPI collection as part of your implementation
- Review: Regularly review the metrics you have chosen to see if they are still relevant
- Reset: Don’t be afraid to change direction if you are not meeting your KPIs or objectives
Any change or innovation, be it incremental, exploratory or disruptive in nature needs to make financial sense. Risk needs returns.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a digital specialist. Industry experts often have plenty of recommendations to put forth or know of some valuable case studies. Also consider setting up a monthly strategic or consultation meeting to discuss the marketing agenda over the coming month to ensure it’s aligned with the digital activity.
The digital landscape is becoming more of a specialised practice as it continues to mature. Businesses should see their digital suppliers are a long term partnership.