Yesterday, Mary Meeker’s annual report on the Internet was released, and it has extremely valuable nuggets for marketers. The report’s impressive 333 slides, (available for download here) comprise a “State of the Internet” if you will, giving public a 30,000 foot view of the current trends that are shaping the internet, with some penetrating insight as to where the next big trends will be coming from in the next year. Below are a few key takeaways from the eCommerce section of the report.
It’s eCommerce’s World, We’re Just Living In It
eCommerce is now 15 percent of retail sales. While the growth has slowed, it doesn’t show any immediate signs of stopping. The bottom line is this: people are on their phones, and that is where they are shopping. Brands that have a significant online presence, particularly on mobile sites, stand to gain the most from this eCommerce trend. But if your company is not quite there, don’t panic (at least, not yet.) Everyone doesn’t have to be Amazon to stay in business. But everyone, especially brands and vendors, should be online in a proactive way.
Personalization is Here, Perhaps to Stay
What’s the reason for this new influx of internet customers? Ads. Lots of them. Targeted, personal, and relevant ads. Ads to click on. Ads that ask questions. Ads that offer tempting discounts. This trend has been slowly encroaching on the B2C space, and now it’s here in full force: consumers are becoming demanding, and brands are scrambling to meet those demands. An ad that promises a frictionless, efficient experience and then delivers one when the customer interacts with the brand is going to secure more customers than ones that don’t. The proof is in the pudding. So get to know your customers! What do they want? Where are they in life, and where do they want to go? The business arc of the marketing universe bends toward the customer. Make the journey worth their while.
Digital Ads are on the Rise
So long, TV. Americans have been cutting the cord on television for the last few years, mostly because of exorbitant cable prices, but also because fewer people are watching TV at all. Next to couches, they’re difficult to move, and more people are consuming content on their phones and tablets. I’ve included a photo from the report that includes some samples of digital ads. As you can see, they are all different from one another in terms of color scheme, style, and content. People aren’t cookie cutter, and they don’t expect their ads to be, either. In a sense, ads are becoming three dimensional: instead of broadcasting a flat one-size-fits all message, brands are tailoring it to the audience they wish to acquire. And it’s working.
How to produce this result, of course, is easier said than done. It requires digital tools, data, and a focused, yet flexible strategy.
Customers are Becoming More Expensive
On average, marketers are spending more to get fewer customers. This, as the report correctly states, is unsustainable. It’s good to have an ample marketing budget, but use it wisely. The ROI has to be enough to justify the expenditure! In the future, to keep the books balanced, marketers should look for ways to guide customers to the brand without shelling out too much up front. Maybe customer tiers, longer free subscriptions, or sweepstakes can be ways to draw the customer in. At the end of the day it’s not just data that needs leveraging, but also human creativity.