Feeling Down? Release Innovation!
Sometimes it's really hard being pessimistic about the future. Sure, the economy is still growing at a snail's pace and we're in the throes of uncertain economic times. But I've been watching several marketing related innovations that continue to evolve brand relationships with the customer at the center. Here's a shortlist of topics that's bubbled up to the top - each trend is changing how we perceive and interact with customers.
First up, social media. Nobody can deny the impact of social media which has changed marketing forever and is arguably the greatest innovation in marketing. People are no longer faceless data or customer numbers, and they are more connected than ever. Marketing is shifting from company-focused to customer-focused, resulting in more engaging, transparent, and targeted content. With marketing automation, sales and marketing departments can align by delivering digital campaigns to generate leads and nurture them down the sales funnel--all while measuring the ROI! Think 'share' marketing over 'tell' marketing: distributing quality content for free (blogs, ebooks, white papers, videos, webinars, infographics, etc) to establish a brand as a thought leader in its industry. Giving cred to the CMO, the prediction is that in the next few years the majority of technology investment will be in marketing.
We've seen how social media created chaos for marketers. The power shift to consumers is well underway and the customer voice has the power to exponentially boost or destroy brands. Innovation in customer service is taking off. Using cloud platforms for social listening and publishing, brands can now proactively monitor social networks to see what their customers are saying and take action in real-time. Loyal "superfans" are rewarded with exclusive access (new products and services) and recognition (personal branding), which converts them into advocates to their peers. Customer social data is also being appended into CRM databases, creating a new level of personalization for buyer preferences.
The market for social media platforms is consolidating, fueling an arms race for enterprise social marketing suites. This creates innovative, holistic platforms that are driving towards a convergence of social and BI. New platforms will incorporate internal social networks, data and insights, social engagement and monitoring, and social marketing. At Oracle OpenWorld, Larry Ellison provided a case example with Lexus. Using Oracle BI, Lexus starts by analyzing 5 million tweets, 27 billion relationships, and a million hashtags. Then narrow down to active athletes tweeting about the Olympics. Segmenting data by cars, Olympics, celebrities, sentiment, market reach, and brand, Lexus can determine who their next celebrity spokesperson should be!
The workplace is becoming virtual, and round-the-clock access to data, analytics and business functions aren't necessarily limited to physical offices. Extending applications to mobile devices empowers an on-the-go workforce by providing on-demand access to ERP/CRM, approvals, sales, service, expense reports, and projects information. This can enhance revenues (enhanced customer service), reduce costs (increased efficiency and less infrastructure), and increase customer satisfaction (improved responsiveness). Given the landscape of competing devices, platforms, and backend technologies, mobile strategy is a financial and development challenge for enterprises.
In the past, multiple websites had to be designed for different screen sizes, which was very resource intensive. Enter responsive web design, an approach to web design in which a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience--easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling--across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). Page layouts and media are coded according to a fluid proportion-based grid, and adapt to the viewing environment as the screen size changes. Innovative web design engages users to provide an optimal experience.
The physical world is also yielding to the virtual world and the boundaries are becoming more fluid as multi-channel marketing becomes takes hold. The virtual experience is becoming tightly integrated with the physical world as marketers knock down functional and process siloes to create rich customer experiences. Virtual channels are being used to enable new, more convenient shopping experiences. Augmented reality is being used to engage customers with entertaining games and activities that extend and differentiate brands. For a more in-depth analysis of this phenomena, read "Real. Virtual. Same Difference" by my colleague Samson David.
From social media to mobile, bridging virtual and physical worlds, these trends will continue to shape our interactions and provide rich opportunities. Like I said, it's hard not to be excited about the future. Stay tuned.