As we near the end of 2018, it’s only natural to look forward to a number of emerging trends in digital branding and marketing for the new year and beyond. Many of these were dismissed in their early development as gimmicks, yet have now proven to not only have staying power but to be important elements in a brand’s engagement arsenal. Ignore them at your peril.
We’re all familiar with responsive design when it comes to website displays on smartphone and tablet devices. In fact, it’s rare now to see a full-sized web page on a small screen as more and more brands have made mobile their default web platform. Recently, many globally recognized brands have extended mobile optimization to their logos as well. Coca-Cola, Disney, New Balance, and Heineken are just a few of a growing number of brands that recognize the impact of logo design on SEO and have created simplified, mobile-friendly versions of their graphic identity.
Marketers are having more fun with their logos today, with video, apps, and online channels providing ideal opportunities for animated presentations. Adding motion and transformation to a logo can help tell and expand a brand’s story when done well. Google has long been a leader in animating its logo and now there are many more brands following suit.
Let’s face it—people don’t trust advertising and marketing. No matter how arresting or emotionally moving a message might be, consumers will always take the word of a real person over that of a marketer. Authenticity is more valued than ever among consumers, especially millenials. That’s why user-generated content (often videos) has become increasingly featured in brand presentations. A perfect example is GoPro, makers of the ubiquitous compact video cameras. As of this date, there are over 39 million posts (with the vast majority being user videos) with the #GoPro hashtag on Instagram.
Furthermore, when you commit some serious corporate no-no’s and/or are exposed for being snakes to your employees and customers, it is expected nowadays for you to ‘fess up to the world. Witness the recent apology tours by Wells Fargo and Uber in their marketing. If you screw up, you better own up to it if you have any hope of recapturing any customer goodwill.
Here’s a shocking fact: out of the 3.5 billion searches Google performs each day, nearly one third of them are voice searches. A big reason for this can be seen in the exploding popularity of personal assistant apps like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, and smart speaker devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. As voice recognition technology improves, the reliance on voice search will continue to rise. Not surprisingly, marketers may soon be purchasing voice ad space, much like Google AdWords but in audio form. Consumers will be getting answers to their questions and searches that will be accompanied by a message from their device’s sponsors.
Another aspect of voice search that will impact marketers will be—you guessed it—the importance of SEO. When you perform a typical search in a browser, you usually get dozens of pages of search results and can quickly many returns that fit what you’re looking for. But when you ask Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant a question, you often get only a few results, and frequently just one. Accordingly, it will be more important than ever for marketers to tailor their SEO strategies for voice search if they want to be included among the top search returns.
While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been on the periphery of consumer technology for a number of years and is still in its infancy, it is now becoming an accepted component of customer engagement. The most widely used form of AI nowadays is the chatbot. It’s a staple in customer service and is oftentimes more efficient in providing data-related answers and fielding personalized requests than a human. They are programmed to be courteous and pleasant at all times, available 24/7, and can be incorporated into websites, apps, and social media.
Here are some eye-opening figures that highlight the importance of using video in your marketing strategies:
-72% of businesses say that video has boosted their conversion rates
-70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video
-52% of consumers say that watching a product video gives them more confidence in making an online purchase
Clearly, video usage in marketing has been around for a while, but it continues to be an invaluable tool for bringing prospects and customers closer to purchase decisions. Smartphone video recording quality today rivals that of high-end professional equipment, making it easy and convenient for almost any marketer to create a video that showcases its product in a compelling manner.
Remember what we said about people distrusting advertisers and marketers? Consumers are far more likely to believe a third-party opinion on a product or service—hence the rise of bloggers, journalists, and YouTube and social media personalities as key influencers on purchase decisions today. Instead of marketing directly to end-users, growing numbers of brands are putting their products into the hands of well-known online influencers and letting them review the product and spread their opinions to followers. The tradeoff is that brands will have to be okay with influencers pointing out potential flaws in the product. But in this age, where authenticity and honesty are expected, it’s a price that marketers are willing to pay in giving customers the peace-of-mind they need to buy their product.