5 Predictions For the Future of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a constantly shifting process. With the rise and implementation of innovative technologies, digital marketing has been getting better on a daily basis. However, with all these changes, modern businesses are constantly trying to keep up with the shifting medium for attracting potential customers.

If you want to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to digital marketing, you need to make well-informed predictions. Check out these five predictions for the future of digital marketing that businesses should expect in the near future:

Customized Websites for Unique Customers

Customization has become an integral part of quality marketing. Soon, website owners will setup their pages in a way that will be specifically tailored to particular users. These fully personalized websites may completely change how people interact with the internet.

These websites will be monitoring several factors about a visitor, like the previous web pages a visitor has been to, cookies, and time spent on such pages. All these factors will be used to make the visitor find the exact thing he/she is looking for. Websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google are already using personalization, so this prediction isn’t too far off.

Cost Increases

Current digital marketing costs are fairly low compared to other forms of traditional marketing like TV ads, which can cost you several thousand dollars if you’re lucky. But with social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, digital marketing costs are closer to free than anything else.

All this is set to change in the future as more and more business are beginning to embrace the concept of digital marketing. A big percentage of millennials, around 84 percent, claim that they don’t trust traditional advertising and this may be the shift businesses need to turn to digital marketing, which will ultimately drive up the costs.

More Video

Most online digital marketing platforms have embraced video ads to increase the efficacy of online advertising campaigns. This trend will likely increase as video is expected to completely dominate the marketing world in a few short years.

While video has become an integral part of marketing strategies across the country, the future is going to be a video paradise, filled with moving advertisements that are interactive, short, and incredibly entertaining.

Location Based Marketing

The rise of location based advertising has been an exciting ride for startups. Almost every app that is downloaded asks for location permissions and this for a noble reason. Many more business and brands are beginning to improve the power of their advertising efforts and location focused campaigns are next on the list.

Future digital marketing is going to certainly turn to be location based as technology improves and allows companies to use beacons to really engage their customers on the go.

Going Mobile

The number of people using smartphones to purchase and engage has increased tremendously over the past few years. Digital marketers, in their quest to reach as many people as possible, will craft ways of specifically targeting users of these devices. From mobile optimization to on-the-go apps designed for mobile, the smartphone revolution will hit digital marketing more than any other field.

This article was originally published on http://tech.co/5-predictions-future-digital-marketing-2017-02

How Online Shopping Has Become More Personal and Effective

More and more, we’re seeing online businesses add new features and services with the goal of replicating and even surpassing the personal ways we shop at brick and mortar stores.

A perfect example is how men’s fashion site JackThreads is revolutionizing online clothing shopping with a program called tryouts, which allows you to have clothes shipped to you where you can try them on for free before buying them. This isn’t the first time online shopping has become more effective or personal. Here are several ways online shopping has improved:

It’s Becoming More Like Shopping in Person

As for JackThreads, online retailers and ecommerce platforms are evolving to become more like shopping at brick and mortar establishments and in some ways are even better.

One way is the constant push to cut down on the cost and time of shipping. Amazon has always been the leader in this category with Prime free two-day shipping, but fewer people realize that Amazon now offers free two-hour shipping in several locations. Even one-hour shipping is available if you’re willing to pay a small premium.

These faster and faster shipping times are bringing us closer to the near instant gratification we experience when shopping at brick and mortar stores. For many, it’ll be more convenient and quicker to purchase something online than to go out and purchase it in person!

Another way online shopping is becoming like in person shopping is in the product descriptions and images. Gone are the days where retailers uploaded a few images of a product on a white background. Now, product dimensions and details are often more thorough than you’d find in stores. A few examples are the 360 degree product views, model size detail for online clothing stores.

Better Reviews

While some stores have attempted to implement some form of reviews, most don’t actually provide useful information. Best Buy for example shows how many stars a product has been reviewed online, but you aren’t able to actually see any of the reviews!

Online shopping has always been more effective than shopping in person because of the ease of accessing and reading reviews, and it hasn’t stopped improving. Thanks to time and programs that encourage reviews, products can have thousands of reviews, crowdsourced FAQs and more. This enables you to not only get a general consensus, but also to find people who are similar to you and see what they think of the products you’re considering.

The Ability to Find the Best Deals in Seconds

Almost everyone knows that you can find the best deals online much easier than in stores, but this has been taken to the next level in recent years. Many sites which focus on curating reviews and deals from across the web have sprung up. Some dive into a niche and only curate deals that appeal to a particular crowd such as HiConsumption (gadgets, architecture, design, fashion, art, vehicles and more for men) or Bring A Trailer (classic automobiles) while others highlight the best products and deals in specific categories like Best Deals Today.

Both types of sites will help you find the best deals and products in a matter of seconds — something that just can’t be done in several stores or even malls.

Customer Support Has Evolved

You expect excellent customer support at an in-person store and the same needs to be expected of online businesses. Many online retailers take pride in having speedy and friendly customer support representatives which make your shopping experience even more enjoyable. A lot of websites now have live chat available so that you can have responses faster than ever before.

A Hassle-free Checkout Process

Checking out online was long plagued by several steps from signing up, to filling out your address and billing information and more. Even if you had to wait in lines at stores, online shopping used to feel more burdensome. Today even that has completely changed since you can now save your card and shipping information. This way they can be used across several sites which makes checking out as easy as confirming your cart and pressing a single button to pay.

What’s Next?

Online shopping is quickly evolving and many can already buy everything they need (including fresh groceries) from the comfort of their home. We may be looking at online shopping as the main option sooner than we think.

This article was originally published on http://tech.co/online-shopping-personal-effective-2017-02

5 Trends That Will Change The Way Your Customers Will Shop In 2017

At first glance, the queues for 2016’s hot-ticket holiday item, Snapchat Spectacles, might not have looked all that different from the round-the-block lines that formed for the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 20 years ago. But a closer inspection reveals how the simple act of shopping has been quietly transformed during that time.

Rather than waiting at the mall to make their purchase, Snapchat’s hopeful customers were lining up to buy specs at Snapbot vending machines in exotic locales such as the Grand Canyon, the Rose Bowl and Big Sur.

From limited releases of hot products sold in the unlikeliest of places to personalized shopping experiences that meld the online and offline world, the world of retail is poised to get even more interesting in the year ahead. Here’s a look at what’s in store:

Stores are out, experiences are in

Ten years ago, walking into a cool boutique to see a DJ spinning was novel. Today, it’s about the least a store can do to keep up with the times. Brands that are standing out are pulling out the stops to turn shopping into a rich and immersive experience.

Back to Snapchat, for example: selling those specs via vending machines was a quirky touch, but the real genius was in putting them in oddball locations. By doing that, Snapchat turned the simple act of shopping into a treasure hunt and adventure — even for those who didn’t manage to snag a pair before they sold out.

Similarly, brick-and-mortar outlets are also upping their game. Now that anyone can buy anything online, stores that are staying relevant are offering highly curated and immersive experiences. Whether it’s yoga classes and running clinics at Lululemon or grabbing a haircut and an espresso at Frank + Oak’s flagship Toronto store, we’ll see stores become less about being a place to consummate a transaction than a place to immerse yourself in a lifestyle.

Forget faceless brands, connection is key

Back in the day, you had a personal connection with the shops on Main Street. Malls and big-box stores changed all that. These days, however, we’re no longer content to buy from faceless — even if well-known — brands, and smart retailers are using creative tools to build a personal relationship with would-be buyers.

Currently, nowhere is this trend more pronounced than in the world of celebrity. Last year, for example, the likes of Drake and the Weeknd extended their personas into popup shops and full-scale brand lines that give fans more of what they want: direct ways to connect with their favourite personalities.

Meanwhile, Kith NYC designer Ronnie Fieg recently used Instagram to create a real-time window into a product launch event in Aspen. What we’re seeing in all of these cases is online sellers leveraging technology to humanize and personalize a transaction — emphasizing the link between maker and user — which is a far cry from the kind of shopping experience you get in a big-box store.

Evolution — and democratization — of the flash sale

Flash Sales are a time-honored tradition in the world of retail. But enter the Internet and things get a lot more interesting.

These days, putting a time limit on a product or price isn’t just a means to unload overstock, it’s become standard practice for product launches. Celeb cosmetics queen Kylie Jenner has expertly employed this technique, with her limited edition birthday and holiday collections flying off the virtual shelf.

But, of course, bots and resellers have also infiltrated the online sales space, with everything from Kanye West’s Yeezy sneakers to Hatchimals winding up on eBay for several times the retail price. In the year ahead, you can expect smart companies to come up with ways to ensure the right people — actual customers and fans with a history with the brand — are being ushered to the front of the queue. (Shopify launched one product aimed at solving this problem this year, which allows buyers to check out with one tap and sellers to handle thousands of orders per minute.)

Direct-to-Consumer takes a bigger piece of the retail pie

This holiday season, US shoppers spent as much online as they did in actual stores. But behind that headline is an even more interesting story: the direct-to-consumer revolution. From Michael Kors to Oreo, more companies are sidestepping the middleman. Ditching department stores in favour of selling directly to consumers will continue to be a powerful force transforming the way we shop in 2017.

Why? Selling straight to customers creates an intimate and immediate feedback loop that leads to a better customer experience. Companies like AYR, Bonobos and DSTLD jeans are pioneering a highly responsive approach: using sales data and customer feedback to adjust their styles, cuts and size runs in real time. A reality where your favourite store is never out of your size or preferred style is right around the corner.

Shopping gets more social

Imagine browsing your social media feed and buying any product that catches your eye with the swipe of your thumb. In 2017 this will become a widespread reality. Social media platforms like Pinterest, Houzz, Twitter and Instagram are already breaking the browse/buy barrier with options for in-app impulse buying. Now add to that streamlined pay systems like Apple Pay, which is poised to go from a niche payment option to a mainstream expectation, and ordering that eye candy will become almost dangerously easy.

Meanwhile, online sellers are also teaming up with services like UberRUSH and Postmates to solve the delayed gratification problem posed by buying online. Teaming up with innovative services gets products into the hands of customers on the day they buy and contributes to a shopping experience that’s faster and more convenient.

With the retail world in the midst of a reinvention powered by technology, one thing’s for sure: the only limitation today’s merchants face is their own creativity. The bar for retail was raised in 2016 and it’s set to go higher in the year ahead. The good news for consumers: there’s never been a better time to be a shopper.

This articles was originally published on http://www.forbes.com/sites/harleyfinkelstein/2017/01/16/5-trends-that-will-change-the-way-you-shop-in-2017/#9334305387f0

Retailers use Omni-Channel Analytics from SAS to keep fickle Customers captivated

Connecting with consumers when and how they want is retail’s holy grail. Meaningful contact with customers translates directly into higher customer satisfaction, healthier profits and increased loyalty. How do retailers like 1-800-Flowers.com excel at customer interactions, in robust and lean economies alike? Chris McCann, President and CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com, and other retail leaders will join SAS at the 2017 National Retail Federation Big Show to reveal how omni-channel analytics makes a difference.

“Our ability to understand what our customers need and want is our competitive advantage,” said McCann. “Analytics help increase customer retention, shopping frequency and the average spend within and across our brands. In short, SAS helps us deepen lifetime relationships with customers, and that’s our lifeblood.”

During the last 17 years, 1-800-Flowers.com has trusted SAS Analytics to guide better decisions. The company recently expanded its relationship with SAS by establishing an enterprise platform for data management and omnichannel marketing. SAS helps the retailer retrieve, sort and analyze data to better serve customers and target product offerings. With SAS, 1-800-Flowers.com develops an insightful view of its customers across brands by orchestrating relevant interactions that enhance loyalty and strengthen customer trust.

Omni-Channel analytics helps retailers interact in a timely fashion

Omnichannel analytics from SAS helps retailers gain predictive insights about a customer’s buying journey. It can improve the precision and relevancy of a retailer’s assortment planning and marketing campaign effectiveness plus allow the business to make data-driven decisions regardless of the channel involved. SAS Analytics helps retailers drive higher profits, lower inventory costs and increase customer satisfaction.

“Consumers expect relevant, timely, consistent interactions with the retailers they prefer regardless of how or when they shop,” said Lori Schafer, SAS Retail Executive Advisor and moderator of the session featuring McCann. “The only way to meaningfully act upon all the data retailers capture is to apply analytics that reveal insight and predict outcomes that increase overall customer lifetime value. Data management and analytics are a necessity to modern retailers.”

This article was originally published on http://www.sas.com/en_us/news/press-releases/2017/january/nrf-2017.html

What do Online Shoppers really want?

What do online shoppers really want?

 Understanding and keeping pace with what drives people to shop and buy online is critical to succeeding in the digital world.

In response to demand for greater insights regarding the online customer, a new report by KPMG International analyses the online shopping preferences and behaviours of more than 18 000 consumers in 51 countries, by geography, generation and product category.

“Today’s consumer no longer goes shopping, but is shopping, all the time and everywhere. And in a truly global online marketplace, competition is no longer limited to local shops during regular business hours. Consumers can easily buy from retailers and manufacturers located anywhere in the world – or from those with no physical retail locations at all,” comments Dean Wallace, industry leader for consumer markets and technology at KPMG in South Africa.
“Increased competition, combined with consumer demand for richer experiences, means that retailers need to rethink their online strategy. For many retailers, creating an online shopping experience enhanced by technology such as augmented and virtual reality or 3D is becoming at least as important as providing convenient and personalised ordering, payment and delivery options.”

Behaviour Basics

The number of online transactions made by survey respondents averaged 17 purchases per year, or 1.25 per month. Generation X consumers (born between 1966 and 1981), averaged nearly 19 transactions per person per year, and they made more online purchases in the past 12 months than any other age group. In fact, Generation X consumers made 20% more purchases than the ‘tech-savvy’ Millennials (born between 1982 and 2001).
Wallace comments: “Stage of life and income levels are certainly primary factors driving both online and offline shopping, and Generation X consumers, many of whom are more established in their careers and may be building homes and families, are likely buying more consumer goods than the younger Millennials overall. As Millennials continue to enter the workforce and adulthood, however, their online shopping activity is expected to surge and even far surpass the levels currently exhibited by older generations.”
And while it may be presumed that the more traditional Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) are less inclined to shop online than younger generations, the survey revealed that in fact they shop online just as frequently as Millennials. Furthermore, Baby Boomers were more likely to spend more per transaction than the younger consumers (average purchase for Baby Boomers was $203, US$190 for Generation X and $173 for Millennials).

Online or offline?

When comparing the impact of online versus offline touch-points that create the first trigger moment, of note is that 52 percent of consumers cited at least one offline channel as a source of initial awareness, and 59% cited one or more online channels.
Retail websites or online shops were the most common source of initial awareness, cited by nearly a third of consumers, and online advertisements were cited by 15%. At the same time, physical shops were the second most popular source of awareness, cited by 22% of consumers.
Millennials were not only more likely than the older generations to be influenced by online sources such as social media or peer reviews – they were also more likely to be influenced by offline channels. Millennials were 25% more likely than Baby Boomers to have seen their most recent online purchase in a shop, nearly 50% more likely to have talked to a friend about it, and more than twice as likely to have seen someone with it.
Wallace comments: “E-commerce is not an online-only affair. Both online and offline channels are effective in creating consumer awareness and demand, especially when used together. Furthermore, despite the rise of online shopping, e-commerce still makes up a relatively small percentage of total retail spending. Retailers’ brick and mortar strategies need to continue to evolve to attract customers into their stores, and to compete with online retailers opening their own physical outlets. Increasingly, we are seeing innovative marketing strategies, as well as new technologies such as smart shelves, robots, self-checkout, and interactive and virtual reality, being deployed in stores, as retailers strive to compete on all fronts.”

Why and Where they shop online

The number one reason that consumers said they shop online is for the convenience of shopping at any hour on any day (cited by 58% as a top reason). This is followed by having the ability to compare prices (54%), or to find online sales or better deals (46%). All age groups reported the same top three drivers. However, when it came to locating harder to find items, Baby Boomers reported having a higher motivation for shopping online (26% of Baby Boomers versus 20% for Gen X, 17% for Millennials, and 20% overall).
When asked what is most important when deciding where to buy an item online, consumers were most likely to buy from the website with the lowest price they could find (57%) followed by websites with enhanced delivery options (43%) or easy return policies (40%). There was a notable difference between generations when it came to the importance of being able to see online whether a product is in stock. Millennials were the least concerned about being able to see real-time product availability (cited as important by 28%) versus 36% of Gen Xers and 37% of Baby Boomers.

Earning Trust

When it came to earning trust, consumers said that protecting their data and information was most important (63 percent). Although Millennials were the generation least concerned about data protection, it still ranked high as a priority for earning their trust (cited by 56% of Millennials, 66% of Gen Xers and 71% of Baby Boomers).
Wallace notes: “While most companies are of course making a concerted effort to protect their customers’ personal information, frequent media reports on data breaches around the world continue to make consumers anxious and keep the issue top of mind.”

Keeping Consumers loyal

Excellent customer support was the number one loyalty-earning attribute, cited by 65% of the respondents. The second-most successful loyalty strategy was providing exclusive promotions and offers (cited by 45 percent), followed by loyalty or membership programmes (37%). These top three loyalty drivers were consistently effective across all generations, with Baby Boomers placing a higher importance on customer support (74%) than Gen Xers (66%) or Millennials (59%).
Taking a deeper look at the differences by generation, younger consumers tend to be more loyal to companies that offer personalised interactions (customised promotions, anticipation of needs, having a sense of community, one-on-one engagement in social media, online games and other interactive experiences, as well as concierge services).
Wallace notes: “The more traditional attributes like excellent consumer support, loyalty offers and membership programmes will remain important for all companies to consider as part of their mix. The challenge will be for companies to find ways to also offer more personalised services to satisfy Millennials who, in 10 years, will be the mainstream consumer. One-on-one engagement will become an expectation for the majority of the market.”

Rise of sharing Feedback online

Overall, 31% of the consumers responding to the KPMG survey said they shared a product review online. The Millennials were the most likely to post a review (34%) followed by Gen Xers (29%) and Baby boomers (28%). Furthermore, nearly all (92%) reported reviews were positive.
4Wallace observes: “The growing trend for consumers to post positive reviews is driven by factors including the rise of social media, where consumers subtly compete with their peers by publicly sharing their latest purchases and experiences, the rise of bloggers, whose business models are based on providing product reviews that drive affiliate clicks, and sellers, who proactively solicit ratings from happy customers.”
Consumers responding to the survey said they were most likely to post feedback directly to sellers’ websites (47%) followed by posts on Facebook (31%) then on a manufacturers or the brands websites (18%). This was consistent across all age groups, with Millennials also frequently posting on WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.
“The implication for companies is that user-generated reviews are being posted on sites that are increasingly out of their sphere of control or influence. Companies need to integrate these social media sites into their marketing and customer strategy,” Wallace concludes.

This articles was originally posted in http://it-online.co.za/2017/01/17/what-do-online-shoppers-really-want/

Technologies That Will Revolutionize Online Retail

Customer Experience quality triggers eCommerce trends. It is the most competitive area through which eCommerce brands are trying to distinguish themselves from the lot and earn brand loyalty for a longer and stronger business run.

With players like Amazon setting benchmarks in customer experience, right from same-day delivery to drone-delivery testing, there are a lot more trends that could become a norm for eCommerce players by the end of the decade. Here are some of the interesting eCommerce trends that will come our way by 2020.

1. Virtual Trials will replace Showroom Experience in Fashion

Augmented reality-based trails will become common in retail fashion outlets, limiting stock only to warehouses or stocking rooms. The pleasure of going for a garment trial will be turned digital with the help of AR.

Result: Space saved but not at the cost of conventional retail shopping experience.

2. In-App Messaging will help Brands connect with Consumers in a more personalised manner

A majority of online retailers have already turned or are turning to mobile apps to reach out to customers but, the fact is, user engagement across apps is still a major challenge even for companies that have adopted a mobile strategy earlier. In-app messaging is one of the eCommerce trends to follow for multi-vendor marketplace websites and apps.

Result: A closer understanding of customer behavior helps in knowing what’s important to them to leverage on successful opportunities.

3. Beacons to connect the dots in Omni-Channel experience

Suppose you have both a marketplace website and a retail store. Customers who jump across multiple mediums are likely to use online medium for placing orders and pick up products from the retail store. Such customers can be targeted with additional offers during their retail store visit as a part of extending their omnichannel experience.

Result: Seamless brand experience, personalization and opportunities to upsell and cross sell.

Now, let’s move on to the practices and adoptions which heavy duty eCommerce websites like multi-vendor marketplaces and exclusive eCommerce stores will have to implement by 2020.

4. The rise in number of Customer Touchpoints

With the emergence of multiple devices like wearables, Smart TVs, connected appliances, and much more, the touch points through which customers can reach an eCommerce brand have increased.

Result: An increased level of shopping convenience and brands can study which channel is effective in driving sales.

5. The sharing and renting trend in Travel will infiltrate other domains

One of the top eCommerce trends will be the sharing and renting idea that has been globalized by some players like AirBnB into other domains, mainly hardware. This will have a negative impact on the hardware manufacturing and selling business but the fact is, businesses will have to face this stiffness soon.

Result: Shoppers can save money by renting or swapping instead of owning.

6. Online Stores will get physical with showcases for winning Customers’ trust

Shoppers have more than enough options from exclusive web stores and marketplace websites but you must first earn their trust to garner healthy conversion rates. The question is how?

Physical stores created by online brands for the sole purpose of providing a glimpse of the product face-to-face will be one of the top 10 eCommerce trends by 2020.

Result: Win customers with your showcase stores and turn them into brand evangelists forever.

7. Pop-Up stores to help Manufacturers better

Popup stores are set to catapult sales and brand reach of manufacturers. As popup stores demand less storage space without a need for maintaining and managing it for long-term, manufacturers and private-label retailers can improve their sales through this practice.

Result: Added advantage for manufacturers in the retail eCommerce market in the coming years

8. ‘Click and Collect’ will help in facing order fulfillment challenges

Order fulfillment challenges of online retailers, especially hefty multi-vendor marketplace websites will be taken care by a ‘Click and collect’ model. With a few players like Amazon leading by example, it will become a one of the highly adopted eCommerce trends by 2020 with more brands perfecting the art. However, same-day delivery will also become a must-have factor for brands.

Result: Less investment of logistics and deliveries with increased order fulfillment.

9. UX improvements will help in better conversions

User experience will be a deciding factor for brands to cash in on a customer’s mood to buy. Web and mobile apps with great user experience will play a significant role in reducing cart abandonments and app uninstalls. Mobile apps that lead to products and carts with swipes, drags and taps actions will be the breadwinners.

Result: The smoother and more connected the screen transitions are, the better conversions will be.

10. The Social world will probe commerce

Social media platforms where users are available in abundance, will come up with their own marketplaces to leverage their rich user bases. Additionally, their insights over user behavior and preferences will help social marketplaces provide more personalized suggestions.

Result: Online retail brands have a highly equipped channel to help them reach their potential customers.

Originally published in SiteProNews