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Online retail trends in 2018

It’s a new year,with its new challenges and novelties and brands are finding new ways to infuse technology into the customer experience to satisfy the demands of the 24/7 connected shopper and be closer to him. From self service product discovery tools to augmented experiences and in the-moment connectivity, brands are adopting innovative solutions to enhance the human element across all channels.

Moreover, according to Alliance Data’s “Now, New, Next” trends report, “brands are using strategic alliances to adapt in an evershifting retail landscape. By moving beyond one-off collaborations and in-the moment engagements, they are forming unexpected partnerships to create unique value and exclusive benefits for demanding customers”. At the same time, the study shows that using advanced listening tools and product customization, brands are empowering customers to feel like they are a part of the brand. Engaging customers in two-way conversations, brands are encouraging feedback, dialogue, and participation to drive product interest and deeper brand connections.

The key words of the conversation are now: personalization, tailored services, “curated” offerings, ready to answer any client’s needs,based on the valuable data gathered online and from the consumers’ interactions with the brands.

Alliance Data offers here two pieces of advice for marketers: to test  opportunities to pair various devices and technologies (voice commerce applications like Google Home and Alexa, RFID, beacons, mobile applications, Internet of Things and wearable devices), in order to offer “rich moments of connectivity that envelop the customer in real-life 4D brand experiences” and to identify which devices the customers are using most commonly, and integrate “emerging technologies into moments and immersive experiences that complement and enhance day-to-day life”.

More you can read here.

Top marketing trends for 2018-part I

Content marketing will bring the biggest commercial impact for the brand

After years and years of talking and writing about the power of storytelling and its huge impact on the brands and businesses, it looks like business people and marketing representatives are starting to put bigger emphasize on it and see its full potential. On a study conducted by Smart Insights, content marketing is the most important trend (20 % of the respondents recognizing it), content marketing being seen as the ‘engagement’ fuel that powers all digital communications from search to social to email marketing to creating website experiences which convert.

Businesses are getting serious about treating content as a strategic resource, that means developing a customer engagement strategy using different media as shown in the lifecycle diagrams above, and at a practical level, developing content for different audiences using techniques like Personas and Content mapping.

Personalization takes the extra mile

“A key tenet of account-based marketing (ABM) is providing content tailored to specific accounts or account types. As ABM principles go mainstream, look for content personalization to proliferate. Platforms provided by Adobe and Optimizely make it possible for marketers to recommend specific pieces of content similar to the way Netflix suggests shows,” wrote entrepreneur.com.

Moreover, according to AdWeek, personalization also takes other forms on mobile and through AI. According to Robert Garf, vice president of industry strategy and insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud, a technology like AI can help guide a consumer to better product recommendations or remind a consumer of their size for an item. “Over on mobile, personalization will manifest itself in the checkout process, the navigation to show you the right products or reminding you of past purchases and the sizes you used to buy for those items, adds AdWeek.

In e-commerce most of all, creating unique customer experiences will be an important part of the industry, and product suggestions based on past purchase history, geographic location and personal information will be key to success.

“If you aren’t in the business of saving your customers their precious time, making their lives easier and better, you risk being disrupted by a newbie who will. Personalization is the best marketing investment you could make. People want experiences that are actually relevant for them. Customers today demand the hyper-personalization of everything. Personalization is what happens when the company leverages a deep understanding of customer preference, structured and unstructured customer data, conversations in and across all channels; when companies can preemptively anticipate a customer’s needs,” wrote Forbes.

Integration. Integration. Integration

You might say, what is new about that? Experts have been talking all the time about integration in the last years. But integration is about so many factors: integrating machine learning into marketing automation, integrating social messaging apps into communications, integrating video into the customer journey, integrating content marketing into the customer journey using a customer engagement strategy, integrating search marketing into your content marketing activities, integrating marketing technology, etc.

One can read more here.

Personalization online shouldn’t be too personal

We don’t like to be looked at in groups anymore. We hate the idea of being seen as one and the same as others around us. We want to brands to find a way to address us and our desires and issues with a personalized message, with an as clear as possible idea of whom we really are, each one of us. It’s a reality that more and more quantitative and qualitative researches show. For example, according to eMarketer, 80% of users find emails with personally recommended products helpful – but can be turned off by display ads that follow them around the internet as they read the news or check Facebook.

“Users like it when they feel like you’re helping them, not when you know where they live or publicise your purchases.Essentially, it’s important to find that sweet spot where personalisation doesn’t feel too personal. This personalisation works because it adds value to their experience. It helps them find what they want. It’s streamlined and doesn’t follow them around as the browse elsewhere. It’s personal, but the user itself controls the action. If that email converts, it’s because the user themselves opened it and decided they wanted to buy. It’s a reminder as opposed to a salesman following them around a store, asking “do you want this now? How about now?”,” said Gurmeet Lamba, chief operating officer at Sentient Technologies, for Campaign UK. 

According to Econsultancy’s Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2016 Digital Trends, the priorities that sit atop marketers’ lists are tied together by their focus on the individual: personalization (31%), content optimization (29%) and social media engagement (25%) are overlapping capabilities with the customer at the center. Moreover, nearly half (46%) of respondents rank the process of creating a cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives as 4 or 5 on the difficulty scale.

In terms of marketing, personalization is when content is tailor-made with an audience segment or individual user’s characteristics or preferences in mind. This is typically based on previously collected or readily available data, such as website browsing behavior and interests on social media.

By doing so, marketers have a better chance of meeting consumer needs more effectively and efficiently, as content will be written about particular subjects or with a certain tone of voice, published on appropriate platforms, and promoted through relevant channels. This also results in easier, faster and better interactions with online audiences, which can contribute to user satisfaction, strong relationships, and brand loyalty.

 study conducted by Yahoo finds that most consumers are not only aware of online personalization, with 78% of those surveyed expressing a desire for some type of personalized content. And, according to Piers North, strategy director at Yahoo UK, quoted by The Guardian, the greatest opportunity for marketers today lies in managing personalization on mobile devices. He admits, however, that this is not easy and he points out that access to data is the key.

Therefore, personalization should be done with a lot of attention in order to be relevant and bring true value to the table. Despite all the opportunities that might occur in the online business today, for increased personalization,  it’s important not to personalize for personalization’s sake – nor to become fixated on the latest tools or techniques.

In fact, Michael Smith, marketing leader for mobile and social business at IBM, quoted by Lucy Fisher for Marketing Week, warns it is easy to chase after personalization strategies “just because you can”. He says: “Customers want engagement with some brands, but not others. Whatever we do, it has to be with the customer in mind”.

We leave you here , with a psychological explication about why people love and crave for customized experiences.

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