Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we dont catch up, we’re in trouble.
I can’t but totally agree. Marketing and sales are growing disciplines that evolve together with the consumer society. Every day we read about new marketing tools and how companies came up with new ideas. They are worth your attention because performance rates of new approaches drive modern trends.
Here are my predictions about what is going to rule eCommerce and marketing in 2018 based on analytical reports and experts’ ideas on upcoming trends.
Mobile. The extended use of mobile devices has directly influenced eCommerce. In 2016, 21% of online retail revenue came from mobile users, in 2017 it's 28%, Wolfgang Digital reports. And this number is likely to increase in 2018. Since 51% of sessions belong to mobile devices, users still prefer phones for searching and computers for buying.
Mobile payments started off with the introduction of Apple Pay, followed by Samsung Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, and Android Pay. All of them provide more pleasant shopping experience. If you want more satisfied customers, adapt your e-shop to these payment methods.
We can also expect more attempts for smooth check-outs, since it’s the page where most buyers leave if the process is too elaborate or time-consuming.
Fun fact – until September 12, 2017, one-click payment technology was patented by Amazon. Other businesses had to pay them to use it. Now that the function is open for everybody to use, it's time for you to implement it. One-click payments reduce the overall number of actions a user performs during the check-out. This simplification also includes the reduction of the private information users are to provide. It is more efficient than in desktop versions. As long as you can implement such an option, your customers will be spending less time for filling out some blanks.
Optimizing your e-shop for mobile devices is not enough, though. Since a lot of customers shop online, you are supposed to assure them that the payment process is secured. Integrating your app with some of the most popular mobile wallets will bring convenience to your customers. Online customers tend to browse a lot before picking what they like, so there's a lot of work to be done to satisfy them.
V-commerce. 2018 is the year of virtual reality and augmented reality, and they are already striking the eCommerce. IKEA's app places their furniture in your place to see if it fits. This is a glimpse of how VR and AR may work in the near future.
What can we expect from VR in 2018? A huge leap forward for hardware. Finally, manufacturers of mobiles and smart glasses have started implementing tools and features required for best VR/AR experience. Mass market is going to grow. ARkit, Oculus Go, and HTC Focus are only the first attempts of popularizing this trend. The good thing is that we can use them not only in entertainment. Major spheres that VR and AR can shake are medicine, education, eCommerce, and retail.
Managing Director at WeAR Studio
VR tours and 3D models provide a more detailed image of products and whatever it is you have to offer. It’s the main reason why online consumers prefer real-life shopping – they see all the details. The introduction of virtual reality in your eCommerce enterprise is a fancy way to deal with this issue to increase sales.
What is important to realize is that V-commerce is far more than looking at 3D models, but what customers may regard as a must in 2018. To make the best out of VR, e-shop owners must design a whole ecosystem where UX enhances the shopping process by combining common interface features with VR to create a more convenient and pleasant experience. Include it to your brand strategy, and promote it to make your customer have a positive expectation/reality feeling.
Another thing: virtual companions may finally replace virtual assistance. 2018 can be the year when Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant will finally have meaningful conversations with users.. It sounds more like Her (2013), but such advancements are possible due to the rapid growth of technology and cognitive psychology. Companion's extended functionality may take the relations with its user beyond online shopping. I.e., notifications of being close to a real shop of a brand the user has previously browsed online.
VR is still at a very early stage, but with AR (mixed reality) it could present more "down to earth" use cases. That will mean new solutions for existing industries, especially eCommerce, marketing, sales, education and other "experience" type products and services providing new immersive and engaging ways how to deliver value to the customer.
Real case: Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank, has already deployed their first virtual assistant. DigiPigi – is a smart money box that responds to most actions performed in the mobile banking app.
B2B eCommerce. Although eCommerce is more about the B2C industry, B2B also has some challenges to face in 2018. Apart from the omnichannel approach and the accessibility for mobile devices, there's one more crucial factor to consider.
B2B offers various types of payments: purchase cards, physical checks, and e-checks. Providing you can let your customers pay as it's convenient for them, you will prevent loss of sales.
B2B buyers are getting smarter, and they demand a more personalized approach to their shopping experience. They contain lots of personal information on their devices. Be careful with how you use it, as one undesired notification will make your potential customer leave your store, not love it. It's your job to manage that information to create more individual interactions and set recommendations. In this way, you will ensure that your customers get exactly what they want.
Hyper-Personalized content. It will rocket in 2018. Enterprises can tailor their strategies to target appropriate audiences. It’s possible due to the ability to gather lots of information about customers and create individual journeys for each one.
The primary concern here is customer's data privacy. Conditions regarding personal data are strictly governed and must be followed. iPhone X facial-recognition features will contribute a lot to that. I believe that biometric data will be the central medium between eCommerce companies and their customers.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), a British rail operator, is testing a new way of charging passengers. Their brand-new approach is fingerprint and iris scanning. If success, it will speed up the overall time of commuting. The same technology is already applied in some airports to accelerate the purchase and flight registration process.
According to Infosys, 59% of customers are more likely to trust a product should it have personal recommendations. A great example of how hyper-personalization works is none other than Facebook. Every morning you wake up, open the app and see suggested events near you, friendaversary, and pages that may be of your interest.
To manage personalization, there are trained people whose job is to set and launch such campaigns. Without special skills, you are more likely to irritate your customers rather than provide them with decent content.
User-generated content (USG). Reviews by your customers have more value for potential customers than any paid ads. Nielsen reports that 83% of respondents say they trust the recommendations of their friends and relatives. USG doesn’t boil down to texts. It includes photos, videos, and even viral memes. The reason for USG’s popularity lies in its nature – customers want to see a more realistic appraisal of a product. Engaging your users into indirect promotion of your product can bring you unexpected, positive results.
Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke is a great model to follow. It went viral in the 2010s. Coca-Cola included popular names on bottles and cans. Consumers would unconsciously strive to find the one with their or someone's close name. This simple way of interactions led to millions of posts on social media with the #ShareaCoke tag. After the initial success of the campaign, Cola relaunched it in 2015 adding other nicknames like bro, favorite, and ‘bestie’.
Social media help enterprises turn customers into active promoters that stimulate others to try out their product. Encourage your customers to provide a more creative feedback and give them a broader choice of how to interact with your product.
Service providers should have the same approach. As soon as you find your ways to create tailor-made solutions for each client you will start getting higher conversions. Yes, it takes resources, but you anyway spend quite some resources to draw attention of a lead from an alrealy saturated market. Make sure your presentation, offer or meeting is about the client and his needs and problems.
International Business Development Director at LENAL
Videos. The popularity of videos as marketing tools has three reasons: they are eye-catching, easy to recall, and are the easiest to perceive. Tools for creating videos are becoming more accessible. The main channels for promoting products using videos are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. Fun fact: all these platform support live streams.
Live streams are perfect to show a human side of your product. After all, it's people who create products. My favorite example of nailing live streams is how music festivals announce new headliners. When I got my ticket to Open'er Festival 2017, there was no full list of artists. They posted on their page that they will reveal new artists live. As a result – 219K views. They didn’t spend much to make that video; it’s not 4K quality and it didn’t take them weeks of shooting and editing. isn't all bright and colorful. Live videos are great because they show real people, in real situations, interacting with real users or at least create such feeling. Here are some examples of what you can do in live videos:
- Announce new products/features/sales etc.;
- Give a behind-the-scenes look at your company;
- Stream an event.
Your opportunities with live streamings are unlimited. Whatever you do offline, you can share live. Try streaming live to engage your customers in real communication. They will love it.
Influencers. They are people who have a strong impact on masses through their social accounts. These are the new celebrities and they are more trustworthy than the traditional ones. They earned their credibility because they are real people who, just like you and I, have opinions and ideas to share. The good side is that you don't have to engage audiences. Moreover, the audience you can reach will expand to your influencer’s followers.
Micro-influencers are those who have up to a 100K followers. Their audience is particularly interested in the information the influencer gives. The narrower the content, the better. Here are some benefits of micro-influencers:
- Their audiences are targeted. A person who specializes in kids nutrition with 95K followers is better than a blogger who makes funny videos with a million of followers. Find the right person who fits your niche, then use it to your own advantage.
- They have high engagement rates. Markerly reports, that the engagement rate of Instagram account with 1000 followers is 8%, 1K-10K – 4%, 10K-100K – 2.4%. The more followers an influencer has, the more difficult it is to engage them. Picking the right person can ensure the audience will somehow interact with the influencer, thus your product.
- They are cheaper. Since your micro-influencer doesn’t have millions of fans, they won’t charge you a lot. Add here higher engagement rates, and you get a balanced ROI.
Include influencers into your campaign to create a more people-oriented advertising. Your customers will trust them more than common celebrities and socialites.
Facebook Ads. I asked James Samuel York, Founder and President of Oscar Diggs Digital, to share some thoughts regarding this point.
‘Social lead generation can really be thought of as demand generation and should be a mandatory component of every company’s marketing mix going into 2018. Unlike Google AdWords and Bing, Facebook provides a nearly limitless pool of interested and relevant customers - if you know how to reach them and convert them.
By the time Q3 of 2017 rolled around, Facebook had grown to see more than 6 million advertisers on the platform, more than doubling since the year before. New algorithms make it harder for businesses to organically reach their audiences. It makes the Facebook advertising landscape increasingly more competitive. Facebook has established itself a proper pay-to-play platform for businesses looking to reach their ideal demographics.
This trend is sure to increase in 2018, as Facebook has even been testing an option to completely wall-off organic business page posts into a separate tab.
To win in 2018, you’ll need to get up to speed and spend a significant amount of time understanding how to best leverage the changes in the technical aspects that drive your marketing.’
Apart from basic marketing skills and knowing how to use Facebook ads manager, you must find out how to coordinate Facebook ads together with other paid ad services. It is the only way to stand out among thousands of advertisements we see in our newsfeed every day.
James Samuel York,
Founder and President of Oscar Diggs Digital
Now that you know about the big changes coming, you have time to improve your app, website, and branding strategy to suit new models of users behavior.
Research how you can implement AR and VR in your enterprise for better engagement rates. If possible, find a team of professionals who have already done it and know how to avoid common problems. It will save your time, but be ready to pay.
Focus on your customers rather than on your product. Live stream, UGC, hyper-personalization, and influencers – all these are about consumers and real people. Such means will ensure that your product is live.
Remember always to stay tuned for the latest trends and advancements.
- Include one-click payments and various mobile wallets to your e-shop;
- VR and AR will become the new must-haves for better visual representation;
- Personalized content is what customers expect from you;
- User-generated content always has and will be the most effective type;
- Create live streams to communicate with your customer directly. As a bonus, Facebook always gives preference to live streams;
- Involve micro-influences to engage more targeted audiences.