It’s not just about surviving, but also about winning in the digital economy. The challenge is real and competition is stiff. So “How to win?” is a question that marketers would ask. That being said, here are the top six winning ways, where innovation takes centre stage, for marketers to explore and act on this year:
AI-first, not mobile
Mobile will no longer be the focus this year, not because it’s gotten less significant but because it’s already the norm. Campaigns and activities should also by default, already delivered over a first-class mobile experience. This explains, why we are moving on to become AI-first (admittedly, strongly influenced by Google’s stance to make AI a priority with the launch of its home products last year). If bandwidth is not a problem, we are looking at 20.4 billion of connected “things” that will be online by 2020.
Agencies will now need to figure out how to leverage on this intelligent eco-system to ensure effective delivery of marketing intentions. The whole idea of being AI-first is to be able to assist consumers better by helping to facilitate their intentions quicker and more accurately, by leveraging on what we have learned from the user (or many other users) before. It seems like we’re not very far off from having our own Alfred Pennyworth at home, at work and everywhere in between.
E-commerce and automated marketing
Alibaba clocked in US$7 billion sales in the first half hour on Singles Day, while its precious Southeast Asian investment, Lazada did a record sales of US$123 million, up 171% from previous year. Online availability of products and services to the upcoming generations, especially Gen Z will not be a “good to have” but a “must have” instead.
Digital marketing will eventually catch up by being able to automate targeting and buys according to analytics, as well as, warehouse inventories. This analytics capability will run through the marketing division and connect with sales and product planning departments. The “Always-on” will take on a new level of efficiency where advertising will go on bursts, according to either stock or service availability. Automated marketing can direct consumers to idle branches and retailers, improving overall customer experience in chockablock destinations.
Millennial-first products and services
Many marketers talk about targeting and prioritising Millennials in their campaigns, yet still miss the mark because they couldn’t understand that in this day and age, brand and experience can no longer be separated. A missed product cannot be salvaged with brand promises of yesteryears and a hit product, doesn’t need heavy investment support. Air France created Joon and Uber’s partnership with Visa for next-generation flight travel and payment method last year will make way for more product planners to truly consider who they are designing for.
The Millennial generation now has a much greater purchasing power, yet they do not have homes, cars, financial and insurance services or even consumer goods for that matter that are truly catered to them. This generation is also the most time-starved one – 64% of them believe their biggest challenge in life is managing time. They are literally running on 26 hours a day! The first step in attracting them is to understand the entire process of how they interact and experience the whole journey from pre to post-purchase, and find ways to deliver maximum experience at minimum cost. Products and services that make life simpler will serve to attract the Millennials market more.
The reversed-search behaviour and single ID
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is synonymous to performance marketing because search is the strongest evidence of intent. However, search is also just the beginning of this intent. The journey is now chronicled – sometimes it ends beautifully on a check-out site. And the journey will begin again, after sometime when the product needs to be replaced. With the collection and arduous analysis of journeys, marketers will be able to preemptively connect with consumers, by anticipating their need-state. Advertising is most accepted and welcomed, when the messages match the exact need. For instance, a consumer will appreciate advertising on detergent the most, when he or she is looking for a chemical-free option, but not sure which brand to choose.
It is time for marketers to invest on designing a truly integrated customer strategy, that’s really beyond the conventional CRM methodologies. But also one with the aim to be truly single customer-centric, because we believe today’s data technology has finally come up to speed with the vision of Single ID.
Voice activation on interactive platforms
Not all platforms will find this piece of technology relevant but there are the ones where voice-driven activation will be second nature, such as smart home products and location apps (such as Waze). The technology behind is admittedly far from perfect, especially in this part of the world where colloquial language is a huge part of a multilingual culture. But that won’t stop the advancement of expertise in this area.
Social marketing already has one big challenge when social went “dark”, from open social platforms to closed chat apps such as Whatsapp. And then comes the preference of sending recorded voice messages rather than typing them, driven by the need for convenience while multi-tasking. When the consumer’s hands are full, then a hands-free solution might be the way to go. Imagine a step-by-step voice guide that can respond to the user when setting up a new appliance, a new car, et cetera. The future is truly an opportunity when there are those who cannot wait.
Clicks and bricks
Traditional businesses which unsurprisingly include large corporations are going through huge digital transformation, either starting or in mid-stream. Truth be told, digitising operations is a non-option for any company who wishes to continue conducting business in the next decade. This is definitely an opportune time to ponder on enhancing brick and mortar experience and optimising business processes using data and technology.
Smart homes and smart cities are not new, even though, owners and stakeholders might find it either an expensive investment or a daunting task. The value in return may not look like a viable enough carrot to put forth such investment and effort. But due to the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT), the idea of “smart” be it a factory, retail, office, clinic, or dealership will make a lot more sense today.
The writer is Sue-Anne Lim, chief data and strategy officer at Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia.