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Will have to Robots Have a Face?

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When Tina Sorg first noticed the robotic rolling via her Massive grocery store in Harrisburg, Pa., she mentioned to herself, “That factor is a bit of bizarre.”

Programmed to hit upon spills and particles within the aisles, the robotic gave the impression of an inkjet printer with an extended neck.

“It wanted character,” mentioned Ms. Sorg, 55, who manages the shop’s beer and wine division.

So, right through one in a single day shift, she went out to a close-by arts and craft retailer, introduced again a big pair of googly eyes and, when no person was once shopping, affixed them at the most sensible of the robotic.

The eyes have been successful with executives on the world grocery corporate Ahold Delhaize, which owns the Massive and Prevent & Store grocery store chains. They’re now a typical function at the corporate’s just about 500 robots throughout the USA.

How this grocery store robotic were given its goofy eyes touches on a major query: Will robots with pleasant faces and adorable names assist other people be ok with units which might be taking up an expanding quantity of human paintings?

Robots at the moment are running far and wide from factories to residing rooms. However the advent of robots to public settings like the grocer is fueling new fears that people are being driven out of jobs. McKinsey, the consulting company, says the grocers may just in an instant cut back “the pool of work hours” by way of up to 65 p.c in the event that they followed all of the automation era lately to be had.

“Margin drive has made automation a demand, now not a call,” McKinsey mentioned in a file ultimate 12 months.

Shops mentioned their robotic designs weren’t explicitly intended to appease angst about activity losses. Nonetheless, firms of all sizes — from Carrefour in Spain to Schnucks grocery store in St. Louis — are making an investment in tens of 1000’s of friendly-looking robots which might be briefly upending human paintings.

Many of the retail robots have simply sufficient human qualities to lead them to seem benign, however now not too many to indicate they’re changing people completely.

“It’s like Mary Poppins,” mentioned Peter Hancock, a professor on the College of Central Florida, who has studied the historical past of automation. “A spoonful of sugar makes the robots cross down.”

Possibly no different store is dealing as intensely with the sensitivities round automation as Walmart, the country’s greatest non-public employer, with about 1.five million staff. The corporate spent many months running with the company Bossa Nova and researchers at Carnegie Mellon College to design a shelf-scanning robotic that they hope each workers and shoppers will really feel pleased with.

This robotic was once designed with no face, as a result of its builders didn’t need shoppers to suppose they may have interaction with the software. However most of the robots have names, given to them by way of retailer team of workers. Some additionally put on title badges.

“We wish the pals to have an attachment to it and need to offer protection to it,” mentioned Sarjoun Skaff, a co-founder and the executive era officer at Bossa Nova. Walmart mentioned it deliberate to deploy the robots in 1,000 shops by way of the top of the 12 months, up from about 350.

On the Walmart Supercenter in Phillipsburg, N.J., at the Pennsylvania border, workers named the robotic Wall-E — a call in part impressed by way of the Pixar movie that depicts a trash-collecting robotic on a abandoned planet.

The robotic can paintings 365 days a 12 months, scanning cabinets with high-resolution cameras tabulating out-of-stock pieces. It takes a brief wreck between shifts to recharge its batteries in a docking station.

Wall-E completes its direction with out a the aid of people, excluding when it turns into caught at the rug within the pharmacy phase. When this occurs, the shop supervisor, Tom McGowan, will get an alert on his telephone, every so often in the midst of the evening. He then calls the shop to inform somebody to loose the robotic.

Mr. McGowan mentioned that he referred to Wall-E as a he however that different workers considered the robotic as a she.

“I’ll say, ‘The place is he at?’” Mr. McGowan mentioned. “However they are saying, ‘The place is she at?’”

Tally, a robotic that cruises the aisles of Massive Eagle grocery shops in Pennsylvania and Ohio, has virtual cartoonlike eyes that blink however carry out no exact serve as. A blue visual display unit flashes messages informing shoppers what the robotic is doing: “Inventory test!”

Jeff Gee, a co-founder of Simbe Robotics, the company that advanced Tally, mentioned the eyes have been intended to assist shoppers really feel pleased with the software, in particular in spaces of the rustic “the place numerous other people have by no means skilled robots within the wild prior to.”

Simbe is brief for Simulated Being. A spokeswoman mentioned the corporate’s undertaking was once to “foster a harmonious courting between robots and people.” One among Simbe’s largest monetary backers is Venrock, a company which was once based because the challenge capital arm of the Rockefeller circle of relatives.

Some robots, the tech firms say, are mixing seamlessly into the shops. Walmart and department shops operated by way of the Simon Assets Staff are the usage of self-driving ground scrubbers that experience a guidance wheel, a soft seat or even a cup holder — options that give the influence that those scrubbers are intended for people settling in for an extended shift of ground washing with a espresso at their facet. The scrubber can also be pushed manually to set the routes it is going to take throughout the retailer. Then, a employee wishes handiest to the touch a display and the software takes to the air by itself. About 80 p.c of the time, there is not any human on the wheel.

Sooner than deploying the software in shops, Mind Corp, the San Diego company that advanced the software, examined buyer reactions to a driverless gadget. The people, the corporate discovered, weren’t overlooked.

“The largest response we were given” to the driverless gadget, mentioned Phil Duffy, Mind Corp’s vp of product control, “is not any response in any respect.”

Shops say the robots are just right for his or her staff. They unencumber workers from mundane and every so often injury-prone jobs like unloading supply vehicles to concentrate on extra pleasing duties like serving to shoppers.

On the Walmart Supercenter in Phillipsburg, some staff have put their private touches on automation that’s converting their jobs.

The shop’s newly put in FAST unloader robotically varieties packing containers arriving on the retailer, and lowered the selection of staff had to empty a supply truck from 8 to 4. The duty now takes workers about two-thirds the time it used to, springing them from the frequently sweltering confines of the again room to spend time ferrying stock out to the aisles and coping with shoppers. Walmart says the brand new unloader has lowered turnover within the again room.

The workers named the unloader Grover and positioned a luxurious blue pet on most sensible of it as one of those mascot.

“It’s the way in which of the sector,” mentioned Lori Vogelin, who works within the again room in Phillipsburg.

Automation has now not but lowered Walmart’s general paintings drive, however executives recognize that the selection of positions that can be purchased will ultimately decline via attrition. The corporate says it was once retraining lots of its workers to paintings in its e-commerce and well being care companies and even serving to them get ready for jobs outdoor Walmart.

“There’s by no means going to be this nice cataclysm of activity loss,” Mr. Hancock, the College of Central Florida professor, mentioned. “It will be dying by way of 1000 cuts, or dying by way of 1000 robots.”

All through historical past, Mr. Hancock mentioned, staff have attacked applied sciences after they really feel threatened, just like the 19th-century Luddites, who destroyed equipment in textile turbines.

“For those who push too laborious, too a long way, other people switch their anger to the era and so they rise up,” he mentioned.

Ms. Sorg, who has labored at Massive for 14 years, isn’t anxious.

In the beginning, she was once undecided how her bosses would react to the googly eyes. However the robotic’s builders at Badger Applied sciences beloved them..

A spokeswoman for Badger mentioned probably the most grocery store’s executives remarked that robotic reminded him of an worker named Marty, who was once “tall, skinny, reserved and now not very emotional.” Since then, the robotic has been referred to as Marty.

Whilst others may fear about robots taking jobs, Ms. Sorg mentioned: “I haven’t put a lot concept into it. I’m simply fascinated about the entire thing.” For Halloween, she dressed up as Marty to move trick or treating together with her grandchildren.

Remaining month, Prevent & Store celebrated Marty’s first anniversary with a chain of events at its shops across the Northeast.

The corporate mentioned the events have been in part a possibility for Prevent & Store to give an explanation for to shoppers how robots are making improvements to the cleanliness of its aisles.

Marty is supplied with sensors that hit upon spills after which cause an automatic announcement over the shop’s loudspeaker beckoning workers to wash up the mess.

On the many “Marty Events,” there have been sheet desserts adorned with the robotic’s signature eyes and goody luggage containing robots formed from juice packing containers and applesauce bins.

An older buyer in Newburgh, N.Y., introduced the robotic a can of WD-40 lubricant as a present. In Queens and on Lengthy Island, youngsters made playing cards, drew photos and composed poems for Marty.

“Wishing you a Glad First Birthday,” one younger buyer wrote to the robotic. “Might you may have many extra.”



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9 top digital marketing trends for 2021 – 99designs

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So far, the digital marketing trends for 2021 seem to revolve around two distinct, but almost contradictory concepts. First is a general humanization, addressing real issues and tailoring content to suit the individual (as opposed to mass appeal) for more personal engagement. Second is a much more mechanical and technical optimization, fine-tuning the behind-the-scenes areas like SEO and how you structure campaigns—the nitty-gritty that your satisfied customers don’t see.

Below, we’ll cover 9 of the hottest digital marketing trends of 2021, to give you a head-start over your competition. Take these marketing trends to heart and consider them when outlining your own digital marketing strategy for the new year.

Digital marketing trends 2021
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Here are the 9 best digital marketing trends of 2021:

  1. Inclusivity
  2. Featured snippets & no-click searches
  3. Sustainability: loud and proud
  4. Ad-blocker blockers
  5. Image and video SEO for visual searches
  6. Interactive content
  7. Customer segmentation
  8. Local SEO
  9. Oldies but goodies

1. Inclusivity

One look at the front page headlines shows the significance of inclusivity in our current time-and-place in history. Greater numbers by the day, especially younger audiences and marginalized groups, want to see a more optimistic depiction of equality in the content they consume and the brands they purchase from. Or more accurately, they don’t want to see the same homogeneous content we’re accustomed to from previous decades.

In 2021, digital marketing includes media and subject matters that cover a variety of races, sexualities, religions, etc., as well as representation for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. This includes the content for your imagery and videos, but also the topics you discuss in social media and blogs, or even the line of products you offer.

example of progressive marketing with inclusivity
The research from Kantar’s #WhatWomenWant marketing campaign shows the growing number of consumers who support equality.

According to Accenture, this cultural shift is already affecting purchasing behavior: 41% of shoppers “have shifted… their business away from a retailer that does not reflect how important [identity and diversity] is to them.” The same study showed that 29% of consumers are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t showcase enough diversity—and that percentage just goes up for ethnic minorities and the LGBT+ community.

2. Featured snippets & no-click searches

For many, many years, the goal of SEO has been to get your listing in the “position number one” spot of search results. Now, going into 2021, the end-goal is continuing to shift to more SEO visibility in “position zero.”

Position zero refers to Google’s “featured snippet”, and 2021 SEO marketing trends are prioritizing it above all else. The featured snippet works differently than other search results entries—for one thing, it’s separated by a small box and located at the top. More importantly, it also displays extra, relevant information with the attempt at answering the user’s question without them needed to click on it, prompting the nickname “no-click search.”

Featured snippet of 99designs for “How to design a logo”
Our blog article wins the featured snippet for “How to design a logo.” Notice how it’s set apart from the other search results for better visibility.

Although it sounds counter-intuitive to forego someone clicking on your link, the recognition you get as a thought-leader outweighs a single click/visit. Moreover, featured snippets are sometimes read aloud with Google Assistant voice searches.

If you’re going to target a featured snippet yourself, there’s a few things to know. For starters, featured snippets are mostly for long-tail keyword phrases like questions (such as “how to design a logo”). They come in different forms, from step-by-step lists to straight-up definitions to even videos (and more), so match your content with the appropriate format.

In the content itself, make sure you answer the keyword question clearly and succinctly, preferably with bulleted lists or a table structure.

3. Sustainability: loud and proud

Just like the digital marketing trend of inclusivity, people in 2021 are similarly passionate about environmentalism. They want to make sure the brands receiving their money are just as concerned for planet earth as they are.

With 81% of consumers strongly feeling companies should help improve the environment, what we’re seeing is a popularity boost for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, especially for younger consumers. This goes well-beyond the market for green products—every brand can benefit by broadcasting their sustainable practices.

Branding for ecofriendly, green, and environmental companies
With the right digital marketing design, you can visually communicate your brand’s environmentalism without saying a word.

The key is communicating your sustainability through your branding and content to make environmentalism part of your identity. There are plenty of different ways depending on your branding style, such as displaying a banner prominently on your site, or discussing it repeatedly on social media. You can even opt for more subtle methods, such as branded reusable tote bags or conveying green themes through your brand’s visual identity.

4. Ad-blocker blockers

The digital marketing trends of 2021 aren’t all about positivity and progress—it’s also about overcoming obstacles like ad blockers. With 27% of internet users expected to use ad blockers in 2021, many marketers are having their primary stream of traffic automatically cut off at the source, including PPC campaigns.

First, you want to check how big of a problem it is for you—your ad data and analytics should tell you what you need to know. Depending on your target audience or where you post ads, the damage might be negligible.

System32Comics webcomic about ad blockers
The customer is always right. Via System32Comics

If your ads do fall victim to ad blockers, your best strategy is to adapt—don’t waste time trying to convince potential customers to change their own preferences. Readjust your advertising budget to suit other, more fruitful campaigns, like influencer marketing or sponsored content. Younger audiences don’t respond well to display ads anyway, but they do respond well to influencer marketing, so making the switch is advisable in any situation.

5. Image and video SEO for visual searches

You already know you can search for images and videos by typing in keywords, but did you know you can also submit existing images for a search, or even take original photos and search for context? As more users discover these visual search techniques, it changes the overall landscape of SEO in general.

Google Lens promotional image on find products
With Google Lens, people can take a photo of something they want to buy and receive search results that lead directly to product pages.

To capitalize on the increased amount of visual searches, you want to make sure your image and video SEO campaigns are in tip-top shape. For starters, apply the basics:

Moreover, familiarize yourself with Google Lens, especially if you’re an ecommerce brand. Handle your SEO techniques right, and you can take traffic away from competitors when shoppers conduct picture searches for products or barcodes.

6. Interactive content

Here’s a trend that’s technically been around for awhile, but it’s just now being recognized as a best practice. Interactive content doesn’t just promote more engagement, it also improves the user’s enjoyment.

Interactive content like quizzes, open-ended questions, surveys, contests, giveaways, polls, calculator widgets, etc., can do wonders for your brand. At the very least, they increase the length of time users engage with you, which helps your standing in algorithm-based searches and feeds. But more importantly, people want to be engaged, so interactive content almost always improves your user experience.

Twitter polls used as a digital marketing trends for 2021
Twitter Polls are quick, easy and effective—just be sure to stay on brand with topics. Via @Social_Hire

Interactive content is part of the greater trend towards personalization; by allowing the users to answer for themselves or have their opinion heard, they feel a more personal connection to the brand. Don’t forget it can also be used to collect data on user preferences, such as for product or site improvements.

7. Customer segmentation

Another trend that’s not new but rather newly popular is customer segmentation. The idea is simple: instead of a small number of large marketing campaigns targeting general audiences, it’s better to have a large number of small marketing campaigns targeting specific audiences.

Customer segmentation means grouping your target audience by certain traits or behaviors, such as demographics or shopping habits. This allows you to more accurately tailor your content to suit their preferences; for example, having two separate email lists for big spenders and small spenders, and sending different newsletters to each that feature different products.

graphic explaining customer segmentation
You’re free to choose how to segment your customers, but the most common divisions are by demographic, psychographic, geographic, behavioral and customer journey. Via Intercom

This strategy works best for personalization and customer engagement, as your followers receive content hand-picked for them. Beyond email lists, you can apply customer segmentation to specialized ads on different sites, categories of blog content and social media content for multiple communities.

8. Local SEO

Google frequently updates their local SEO algorithm, so if you’re a local business, you should continuously update your business’ appearance in local results too. In a way, local SEO is even more powerful than broad SEO—people searching for a specific type of business with their geographic location have more intent to purchase, so it’s easier to convert them.

For starters, you have to get verified by Google. You can do this by signing up for Google My Business and either claiming your listing or creating a new one. This helps you rank higher in Google SERPS, and also gives you the chance to offer additional information about your company to online searchers.

Screenshot for Google My Business
Registering through Google My Business is easier than it sounds.

Additionally, you want to incorporate local keywords prominently into your SEO strategy. Obviously, prioritize the name of your city or town as a top keyword, but you can go the extra mile by also incorporating related keywords. If your location has a famous landmark or quirky claim-to-fame, mention it once or twice.

9. Oldies but goodies

Not all of the best digital marketing trends of 2021 are from 2021. Plenty of marketing trends from last year or the year before are still going strong, and will continue to be game changers throughout the next year as well. And if you still haven’t implemented them yet, there’s more urgency now than ever before.

In particular, don’t forget about these ongoing digital marketing trends from 2020:

  • Shoppable Posts: social media posts that directly connect users to product checkout tend to increase conversions by streamlining the payment process. See if you’re eligible for Checkout on Instagram.
  • Gen Z Marketing: last year saw the eldest of Gen Z turning 18 and entering the workforce. If you want to infiltrate this young market, first understand the best practices for marketing to Gen Z.
  • Microinfluencers: as opposed to premier influencers, microinfluencers are more like average people who have a larger-than-average social media follower. If you attract enough of them, typically through social media contests and giveaways, you can achieve the same numbers as top-level influencers at a fraction of the cost and effort.
  • Voice Search SEO: since voice assistants first hit market a few years ago, voice searches have been upending traditional SEO tactics—people don’t use the same keywords when they talk as when they type! Try altering your SEO strategy to incorporate speech keywords.

Keep checking back with the 99designs blog throughout the year to stay up-to-date on all the latest digital marketing trends yet to come!

Need an email, ad or infographic designed?
Our designers can help you create just about anything.

Continue Reading

Sin categoría

9 top digital marketing trends for 2021 – 99designs

Published

on

So far, the digital marketing trends for 2021 seem to revolve around two distinct, but almost contradictory concepts. First is a general humanization, addressing real issues and tailoring content to suit the individual (as opposed to mass appeal) for more personal engagement. Second is a much more mechanical and technical optimization, fine-tuning the behind-the-scenes areas like SEO and how you structure campaigns—the nitty-gritty that your satisfied customers don’t see.

Below, we’ll cover 9 of the hottest digital marketing trends of 2021, to give you a head-start over your competition. Take these marketing trends to heart and consider them when outlining your own digital marketing strategy for the new year.

Digital marketing trends 2021
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Here are the 9 best digital marketing trends of 2021:

  1. Inclusivity
  2. Featured snippets & no-click searches
  3. Sustainability: loud and proud
  4. Ad-blocker blockers
  5. Image and video SEO for visual searches
  6. Interactive content
  7. Customer segmentation
  8. Local SEO
  9. Oldies but goodies

1. Inclusivity

One look at the front page headlines shows the significance of inclusivity in our current time-and-place in history. Greater numbers by the day, especially younger audiences and marginalized groups, want to see a more optimistic depiction of equality in the content they consume and the brands they purchase from. Or more accurately, they don’t want to see the same homogeneous content we’re accustomed to from previous decades.

In 2021, digital marketing includes media and subject matters that cover a variety of races, sexualities, religions, etc., as well as representation for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. This includes the content for your imagery and videos, but also the topics you discuss in social media and blogs, or even the line of products you offer.

example of progressive marketing with inclusivity
The research from Kantar’s #WhatWomenWant marketing campaign shows the growing number of consumers who support equality.

According to Accenture, this cultural shift is already affecting purchasing behavior: 41% of shoppers “have shifted… their business away from a retailer that does not reflect how important [identity and diversity] is to them.” The same study showed that 29% of consumers are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t showcase enough diversity—and that percentage just goes up for ethnic minorities and the LGBT+ community.

2. Featured snippets & no-click searches

For many, many years, the goal of SEO has been to get your listing in the “position number one” spot of search results. Now, going into 2021, the end-goal is continuing to shift to more SEO visibility in “position zero.”

Position zero refers to Google’s “featured snippet”, and 2021 SEO marketing trends are prioritizing it above all else. The featured snippet works differently than other search results entries—for one thing, it’s separated by a small box and located at the top. More importantly, it also displays extra, relevant information with the attempt at answering the user’s question without them needed to click on it, prompting the nickname “no-click search.”

Featured snippet of 99designs for “How to design a logo”
Our blog article wins the featured snippet for “How to design a logo.” Notice how it’s set apart from the other search results for better visibility.

Although it sounds counter-intuitive to forego someone clicking on your link, the recognition you get as a thought-leader outweighs a single click/visit. Moreover, featured snippets are sometimes read aloud with Google Assistant voice searches.

If you’re going to target a featured snippet yourself, there’s a few things to know. For starters, featured snippets are mostly for long-tail keyword phrases like questions (such as “how to design a logo”). They come in different forms, from step-by-step lists to straight-up definitions to even videos (and more), so match your content with the appropriate format.

In the content itself, make sure you answer the keyword question clearly and succinctly, preferably with bulleted lists or a table structure.

3. Sustainability: loud and proud

Just like the digital marketing trend of inclusivity, people in 2021 are similarly passionate about environmentalism. They want to make sure the brands receiving their money are just as concerned for planet earth as they are.

With 81% of consumers strongly feeling companies should help improve the environment, what we’re seeing is a popularity boost for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, especially for younger consumers. This goes well-beyond the market for green products—every brand can benefit by broadcasting their sustainable practices.

Branding for ecofriendly, green, and environmental companies
With the right digital marketing design, you can visually communicate your brand’s environmentalism without saying a word.

The key is communicating your sustainability through your branding and content to make environmentalism part of your identity. There are plenty of different ways depending on your branding style, such as displaying a banner prominently on your site, or discussing it repeatedly on social media. You can even opt for more subtle methods, such as branded reusable tote bags or conveying green themes through your brand’s visual identity.

4. Ad-blocker blockers

The digital marketing trends of 2021 aren’t all about positivity and progress—it’s also about overcoming obstacles like ad blockers. With 27% of internet users expected to use ad blockers in 2021, many marketers are having their primary stream of traffic automatically cut off at the source, including PPC campaigns.

First, you want to check how big of a problem it is for you—your ad data and analytics should tell you what you need to know. Depending on your target audience or where you post ads, the damage might be negligible.

System32Comics webcomic about ad blockers
The customer is always right. Via System32Comics

If your ads do fall victim to ad blockers, your best strategy is to adapt—don’t waste time trying to convince potential customers to change their own preferences. Readjust your advertising budget to suit other, more fruitful campaigns, like influencer marketing or sponsored content. Younger audiences don’t respond well to display ads anyway, but they do respond well to influencer marketing, so making the switch is advisable in any situation.

5. Image and video SEO for visual searches

You already know you can search for images and videos by typing in keywords, but did you know you can also submit existing images for a search, or even take original photos and search for context? As more users discover these visual search techniques, it changes the overall landscape of SEO in general.

Google Lens promotional image on find products
With Google Lens, people can take a photo of something they want to buy and receive search results that lead directly to product pages.

To capitalize on the increased amount of visual searches, you want to make sure your image and video SEO campaigns are in tip-top shape. For starters, apply the basics:

Moreover, familiarize yourself with Google Lens, especially if you’re an ecommerce brand. Handle your SEO techniques right, and you can take traffic away from competitors when shoppers conduct picture searches for products or barcodes.

6. Interactive content

Here’s a trend that’s technically been around for awhile, but it’s just now being recognized as a best practice. Interactive content doesn’t just promote more engagement, it also improves the user’s enjoyment.

Interactive content like quizzes, open-ended questions, surveys, contests, giveaways, polls, calculator widgets, etc., can do wonders for your brand. At the very least, they increase the length of time users engage with you, which helps your standing in algorithm-based searches and feeds. But more importantly, people want to be engaged, so interactive content almost always improves your user experience.

Twitter polls used as a digital marketing trends for 2021
Twitter Polls are quick, easy and effective—just be sure to stay on brand with topics. Via @Social_Hire

Interactive content is part of the greater trend towards personalization; by allowing the users to answer for themselves or have their opinion heard, they feel a more personal connection to the brand. Don’t forget it can also be used to collect data on user preferences, such as for product or site improvements.

7. Customer segmentation

Another trend that’s not new but rather newly popular is customer segmentation. The idea is simple: instead of a small number of large marketing campaigns targeting general audiences, it’s better to have a large number of small marketing campaigns targeting specific audiences.

Customer segmentation means grouping your target audience by certain traits or behaviors, such as demographics or shopping habits. This allows you to more accurately tailor your content to suit their preferences; for example, having two separate email lists for big spenders and small spenders, and sending different newsletters to each that feature different products.

graphic explaining customer segmentation
You’re free to choose how to segment your customers, but the most common divisions are by demographic, psychographic, geographic, behavioral and customer journey. Via Intercom

This strategy works best for personalization and customer engagement, as your followers receive content hand-picked for them. Beyond email lists, you can apply customer segmentation to specialized ads on different sites, categories of blog content and social media content for multiple communities.

8. Local SEO

Google frequently updates their local SEO algorithm, so if you’re a local business, you should continuously update your business’ appearance in local results too. In a way, local SEO is even more powerful than broad SEO—people searching for a specific type of business with their geographic location have more intent to purchase, so it’s easier to convert them.

For starters, you have to get verified by Google. You can do this by signing up for Google My Business and either claiming your listing or creating a new one. This helps you rank higher in Google SERPS, and also gives you the chance to offer additional information about your company to online searchers.

Screenshot for Google My Business
Registering through Google My Business is easier than it sounds.

Additionally, you want to incorporate local keywords prominently into your SEO strategy. Obviously, prioritize the name of your city or town as a top keyword, but you can go the extra mile by also incorporating related keywords. If your location has a famous landmark or quirky claim-to-fame, mention it once or twice.

9. Oldies but goodies

Not all of the best digital marketing trends of 2021 are from 2021. Plenty of marketing trends from last year or the year before are still going strong, and will continue to be game changers throughout the next year as well. And if you still haven’t implemented them yet, there’s more urgency now than ever before.

In particular, don’t forget about these ongoing digital marketing trends from 2020:

  • Shoppable Posts: social media posts that directly connect users to product checkout tend to increase conversions by streamlining the payment process. See if you’re eligible for Checkout on Instagram.
  • Gen Z Marketing: last year saw the eldest of Gen Z turning 18 and entering the workforce. If you want to infiltrate this young market, first understand the best practices for marketing to Gen Z.
  • Microinfluencers: as opposed to premier influencers, microinfluencers are more like average people who have a larger-than-average social media follower. If you attract enough of them, typically through social media contests and giveaways, you can achieve the same numbers as top-level influencers at a fraction of the cost and effort.
  • Voice Search SEO: since voice assistants first hit market a few years ago, voice searches have been upending traditional SEO tactics—people don’t use the same keywords when they talk as when they type! Try altering your SEO strategy to incorporate speech keywords.

Keep checking back with the 99designs blog throughout the year to stay up-to-date on all the latest digital marketing trends yet to come!

Need an email, ad or infographic designed?
Our designers can help you create just about anything.

Continue Reading

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6 essential marketing trends for 2020 | Smart Insights

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Examples of digital marketing tools and techniques to give you an edge in the year ahead

Well, we’ve nearly made it! For years I’ve been looking to the future, predicting how innovations in digital media, platforms and technology will shape marketing in 2020. The cutting edge examples certainly show the exciting opportunities available – there is almost too much choice…

In this article, I’ll explore six key marketing trends based on examples and research on the adoption of the latest marketing techniques and technology marketers can use.

For recommendations on tapping into the innovations in different digital marketing channels, including email, social media and search engine marketing, see all the other posts from the Smart Insights team covering channel-specific digital marketing trends for 2020.

Need a plan to create a winning marketing strategy?

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In 2020, we can see the huge impact that digital marketing has had over the last decade, and more. Looking at advertising alone, these eMarketer predictions show how the duopoly of Facebook and Google dominate paid media investments online, although offline media buys remain important for many larger brands.alfred

Trend 1. Lifecycle marketing

Although it’s often said that the ‘funnel is dead’ since consumer follows non-linear journeys, regardless of the product or service you’re involved with marketing, it will always be the case that to grow a business, your primary focus is growing awareness, closely followed by increasing customer leads and prospects.

This focus is shown by the latest Altimeter / Prophet State of Digital Marketing report, which shows a primary focus on increasing awareness.

The role of digital in creating a unified customer experience is also high in the response, but it’s shocking that digital marketing isn’t seen as a driver of boosting revenue from existing customers. It’s an artefact of the question since digital marketing is effective in achieving all of these goals, including customer retention.

A more practical way to plan to integrate online marketing into marketing activities is to consider communications from a customer point-of-view through the customer journey. I call this always-on lifecycle marketing and recommend you review your use of online AND offline media across the customer lifecycle.

An example of an audit is shown by this example of the use of marketing activities by a B2B company, which although strong at the top-of-funnel in terms of activities used, is less strong in the middle and bottom-of-funnel nurture and re-targeting activities. Many businesses are adopting marketing automation and account-based marketing technology to implement these touchpoints. See the article linked to above for all of the potential activities that can be audited.

Trend 2. Conversational marketing

For me, this is the most exciting trend in marketing today, bringing together rapid consumer adoption of smart speakers and innovation in search query processing, conversational interfaces and messaging.

Conversational marketing was highlighted as a key innovation in the latest Gartner hype cycle alongside Artificial Intelligence, which often fuels it.  You can see that of the technologies on the Innovation Trigger slope, many aren’t expected to become mainstream for 5 to 10 years. Of those forecast to hit the mainstream within the next 2 to 5 years, the three most significant for marketers to consider are personification, real-time and conversational marketing.

Gartner explains:

Conversational marketing technologies enable interactions between companies and customers that mimic human dialogue and do so at scale. This category is near the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase”.

Personally, I think the hype about smart speakers to support the purchase journey is just that. While some products lend themselves to purchase, where a choice is to be made amongst complex products, they just won’t cut it until we have truly intelligent comparison bots. However, the research suggests I may be wrong. A study of 2,000 British adults commissioned by Artefact UK, an AI and data-driven agency, reveals that:

“Six out of ten smart speaker owners (60%) have used them to make a purchase in the past year. In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) said they have done so within the past week”.

I believe that building in more relevant to web, email and mobile-based conversations can have a bigger impact by boosting relevance and speaking in a more personal tone. Persado is an interesting tech here.

Persado uses a copy impact classification applied to existing copy, which is used to tailor copy and calls-to-action on an individual basis.

For example, using Persado Natural Language Generation to run an experiment, Air Canada sparked a higher response using Anxiety language getting a 3% engagement lift, compared to a 5% drop using Exclusivity language, and a 3% drop using Safety language.

Another example of  AI application is nutrition and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett using AI to provide better-targeted emails. This Machine Learning approach from Tinyclues goes beyond optimizing copy using a tool like Persado, instead, it also involves targeting based on the behaviour of individuals to create more micro-targeted campaigns.

Speaking at a session I chaired at the Email Innovation Summit, Richard Lallo, Head of Digital Marketing, described what he calls ‘strategic promotions and mono-product pushes’ in a campaign. The business was able to drive campaign revenue and increase re-purchase rate while sending emails. Campaign revenue increased by 27%, open rates increased by 19%, while email send volume decreased by 23%, which also gives cost savings.

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Trend 3. Insights-driven marketing

At Smart Insights we’re huge fans of using analytics and insight to drive business performance and optimize the results from digital marketing. It’s why we’re called what we are.

Improving their data-driven marketing is an aim of many businesses indicated by the most desired skill amongst digital marketers revealed by the Altimeter/Prophet State of Digital Marketing report.

Data-driven marketing

Businesses using this approach are trying to gain the benefits reported by Mckinsey research that suggested that:

Intensive users of customer analytics are 23 times more likely to clearly outperform their competitors in terms of new customer acquisition than non-intensive users, and nine times more likely to surpass them in customer loyalty.

In addition to advances in customer analytics supported by CDPs described in the next section, new Voice of the Customer (VoC) techniques, such as online-hosted customer communities, can improve customer preferences for future products and how they are delivered.

For example, Red Bull used insight platform Vision Critical to launch a community of consumers passionate about the energy drink category. By providing a deeper understanding of consumer preferences, the community challenges widely-held assumptions. The company, for instance, learned who consumes Red Bull drinks — and how and when they buy — were changing. Data from the community provides insight on the competitive landscape, revealing channels the company can enhance to improve growth. The community also helps Red Bull deliver more value to retailers.

Trend 4. Marketing technology

Today, Marketing Technology (Martech for short) presents a bewildering choice of software services for businesses looking to improve their management of digital media, experiences and supporting data. If your business and your agencies adopt the right blend of Martech, it can help give you an edge against competitors, but if not, you may be missing out on the insights and automation processes they are using.

The latest 2019 Martech supergraphic from Scott Brinker, a specialist who hosts Martech conferences and has advised on technology for HubSpot, has created this somewhat scary map of all the potential categories and services that companies can use.

To highlight the range of great services available and to simplify the options a little, we designed this essential digital marketing tools infographic to recommend the categories of tools you should consider across the Smart Insights RACE Planning system and highlight the most popular, most capable tools.

We will create the annual update for this in early 2020, discussing it recently on LinkedIn has highlighted some of the latest trends that aren’t evident from this version of the wheel. Raviv Turner, Co-Founder, of B2B service @CaliberMind said:

“No MarTech stack is complete these days without the third leg of CRM, MAP & CDP. The only way to map, store, analyze and act on the complete end-to-end customer journey is having all the data in one place using a Customer Data Platform (CDPs).”

I’m not sure ‘the only-way’ is accurate, but that is the sentiment.

Kristen Obaid, Always On digital marketing campaigns manager for an international Education company, added:

“The Salesforce and Adobe MAPs are underrepresented here (eg Pardot can be used for email, social, CRM, CMS, audience management, analytics. Krux is now SF. They can both be used as DMPs if the data is configured properly.) BI with simple data integrations (like Domo, Tableau) are also missing, plus Intercom for service CMS eg FAQs, and Drift for automated service chat”.

Trend 5. Consumer Privacy and KYC

Repeated privacy faux-pas by Facebook, Google and security breaches at other brands leading to the release of customer details have highlighted to consumers that their data isn’t as safe with online brands as they may have once thought. Privacy regulations like GDPR have been enacted to improve data privacy with increased fines.

Record fines have arisen in 2019 from the maximum penalty for contraventions increasing under GDPR to up to €20m (£17.5m) or four percent of global turnover – whichever is the greater.

British Airways, was issued with a proposed fine of £183m for a breach of customer data and a £99 million fine on hotel chain Marriott for failing to protect personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records.

While these may be more the concerns of the CIO or CFO rather than the CMO, it shows the need for marketers to work with colleagues to mitigate the potential impact of security breaches and reassure customers.

At the same time, we have seen a decreasing effectiveness of traditional identification methods such as cookies for tracking, which makes media ROI determination – supposedly one of the key benefits of digital channels – more difficult.

Emerging technologies can potentially help with both of these challenges.

New Identify Management or Know Your Customer solutions are being developed that can both improve security, reduce fraud and improve insight about customers across multiple devices.

For example, UK startup Hooyu blends traditional methods of customer verification such as database checks (where available) with ID document validation, digital footprint analysis, geo-location and facial biometrics. While this is most relevant for banks and other gambling applications, it indicates the range of data points that are now available.

With these consumer concerns and new legislation such as the EU ePrivacy legislation about to be launched and the inaccuracy of tracking online with increasing restrictions built into browser like Chrome and Safari it seems like the days of the cookie (and particularly third-party cookies) and digital fingerprinting may be numbered. This means that businesses should be considering other alternatives if they aren’t already.

Discussing Unified ID – Why Identity becomes a key success factor in the post-cookie era era – Alwin Viereck, Head of Programmatic Advertising and Ad Management, United Internet Media estimates that

More than 20% of all cookies in a desktop environment do not live longer than a day and a further 15–20% do not survive a month. For vendors in a third party context (which are typically all participants of the programmatic ecosystem), the problem might even be worse.

Multiplatform consent solutions like Sourcepoint and Identity and Access Management integration solutions like Auth0 and OneIdentity will be adopted more widely. Within AdTech new solutions will have to be found in response to Google and Apples Ad-targeting limitations.

Trend 6. Digital transformation and Marketing Transformation

Our managing digital marketing research revealed many challenges in terms of how digital marketing is run in companies today. Problems included a lack of focus on integrated strategy, testing, and optimization and structural issues like teams working in silos or a lack of skills in integrated communications.

To counter these types of problems and to make the most of the opportunities for growing a business through digital marketing, many businesses are now putting a digital transformation programme in place.

Digital Transformation research

The aim of digital transformation is to develop a roadmap to improve digital capabilities and skills, while at the same time, integrating ‘always-on’ digital marketing activities with brand and product marketing in the business.

This chart from the research shows that many businesses are active in transformation to try to achieve this aim through the success factors covered in this briefing.

Despite some talk that we might be in a post-digital world by 2020 and some traditional marketers suggesting that “it’s time to shut down digital marketing for good” the reality is that many specialist digital job roles and are needed to run digital marketing activities as my post ‘10 reasons you still need a digital team‘ shows.

A common practice that we can expect to continue in the future is a move to a hybrid approach to managing digital marketing with digital marketing skills being developed in marketing teams as suggested by this structure.

Digital marketing governance modelHowever, the label of a ‘digital department’ is outmoded, since the creation of large digital teams has caused silos to develop with other marketing and product teams. Instead, we can expect a continued move to a digital/marketing Centre of Excellence model. The DCoE will be smaller ‘digital services units’ that track the latest developments in development, advising on new digital techniques and technologies.

Through the year, we’ve been adding to our tools to help all members assess how well their businesses are adapting to using digital media and technology as part of Digital Transformation. To review your digital readiness, either for integrated digital marketing or individual channels, download our benchmarks or take our interactive capability graders.

All the best for grasping the opportunities from digital marketing in 2020 and beyond! To help you on your way take a look at our benchmarking templates, each of which will give you a quick review for digital marketing governance and the key channels like search, social, email marketing plus analytics, content marketing and experience.

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