5 Trends Influencing Marketing Today and, More so, Tomorrow

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From marketing tools to customer behaviors, here are five developments that continue to gain steam—and what to do about them.

Reflections and Predictions From the Corner Office
5 trends marketers should look deeper into

Trendwatching is one of those activities that seems both fun and overwhelming. There are so many shiny objects, the challenge is to determine what's real and what's fluff. Anita Gandhi and John Fetto are pros at trendwatching and were tasked to bring their most recent findings to the stage at the Experian Marketing Services' 2014 Client Summit in Las Vegas. Gandhi, VP, strategic insights, consumer services, and Fetto, senior analyst, research and marketing, for Experian Marketing Services, assert that the five trends marketer need to watch now, and over the long term, are:

Mobile
Crowdsourcing
Programmatic
Internet of Things
Omnichannel consumer

Mobile

Fetto pointed out that mobile is “a transformational experience more than a trend.” He added that although a few marketers are making headway with mobile, many are still struggling with it and others are on the sidelines waiting to see what leaders do—an unwise approach, he said.

Within mobile, there are a few areas to consider. According to Fetto, we're entering the age of the phablet, and end of the laptop. Laptop shipments are down and phablets sales are up. By 2017 there will be more phablets than computers. Additionally, 91% of smartphone owners are mobile shoppers, and most millennials connect to the Net via their smartphone, versus other devices.

Also, “snackable content is up,” Fetto said, because so many people are reading on mobile in transit. As a result, there's an increase in visual social media like Instagram and Pinterest.

Fetto recommended three solutions trend for mobile:

Capture data – Companies need to collect and verify accurate mobile contact information during an interaction, and then maintain its accuracy.

Link – Know your customers and their preferences in terms of communication channels.

Profile – Determine what content will most engage customers,  as well as via what mobile interaction point (app versus mobile website).

Crowdsourcing

The amount of customers posting reviews is astonishing, Gandhi said. In fact, 82% of consumers post reviews and 81% read them, she said, adding that the reasons they do so include the love of community and addicition to a favorite brand.

What else is behind the trend? Customers enjoy answering the cry for help by providing information about products and services to other customers, Gandhi said, citing Yelp as an example. Also spurring it is the democratization of innovation through crowdsourcing. According to Gartner, by 2017 more than half of consumer goods manufacturers will receive 75% of their consumer innovation and R&D capabilities from crowdsource solutions, Gandhi pointed out. Additionally, companies are leveraging “customer creatives,” customers who love shooting picture and videos, by using that creative for ads—or having customers actually create ads.

Gandhi recommended two solution trends for crowdsourcing:

Profile – Learn what will motivate and engage your customers. “You have to understand what motivates them to do your work,” she said, adding that marketers should use data to create a rich picture of their customers.

Plan – Use the information you have about you customers to determine how to harness the power of the crowd.

Programmatic

Media fragmentation has forever altered the media buying landscape, making it nearly impossible to create an optimal media plan. The average person watches nine networks a week, Gandhi added; plus, there are millions of websites, along with all the other digital and traditional channels.

The result is that programmatic is no longer just for remnants; it's also for upfronts and other premium positions, she said. “In the age of addressability, you're not buying publications; you're buying a specific audience,” Gandhi said, citing as an example consumers who are coming off-lease with the cars in the next six months.

Gandhi's recommendations:

Target – Identify the right audience for specific initiatives or campaigns, whether that segment is off the shelf or pulled from an existing customer list. And then, when you use programmatic, make sure that you're getting the audience you paid to target, not just anyone.

Engage – Once you've selected that audience, buy it across all media to deliver consistent messaging.

Internet of Things

The millions of connected devices—such as cars and home automation—are beginning to

modifying search, and will continue to do so as more devises come online, Fetto said. This creates an in-depth profile of what we're doing throughout the day, he added. This potential for unique insight is resulting in acquisitions and a race for control; for example, Google buying Nest and Apple's upcoming launching of HomeKit. “Home automation is the leading edge of the sword,” he said.

Fetto's suggested solutions:

Link – Identify an individual customer or household's connected devices to get a holistic view of the data available; but do so while maintaining customers' privacy.

Enrich – Add layers of insight in such areas as consumer attitudes and brand preferences to any existing one-dimensional data you may have.

Omnichannel consumer

More than 60% of consumers use four or more platforms per day and 85% of U.S adults are now digital, Fetto said. “Consumers are blind to channels,” he said, except if brands get in the way by providing disconnected experiences. Consider as an example, Startbucks' omnichannel loyalty program, which allows customers to easily purchase via loyal card or mobile, as well as refill their card via mobile, POS, or Web.

Fette's recommended solutions for marketers:

Capture – Ensure that your customer data is correct and current; validate it at the point of purchase.

Link – Synchronize any customer identifiers across channels to create a holistic view.

Engage – Deliver consistent targeted content, messages, offers to customers across channels to create relevant, meaningful interactions.

Analyze – Track and measure customer responses and behaviors and then used that information to create a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement.

It's all about the customer, more than ever before, Gandhi said: “It's the data about your customer that will drive your ability to capitalize on these trends.”


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