The web agency Petra publishes an annual list of the 10 most important digital business trends. The list, published since 2012, focusses on the digital trends that drive sales and position companies in an increasingly competitive market.
In 2017, the following trends will have a big influence on your business opportunities:
1. Greater importance of data-driven marketing and analysis in the fight for customers
More technically advanced tools and platforms are offering the possibility to measure and collect large amounts of data on your online visitors’ and customers’ behavior. But as you’re collecting data, the demand is also growing for analysis that can gain the most important insights from the material. Properly performed analysis can show how your customers think, their opinions about your offers and brand, how they actually act, what they appreciate and what they don’t care about. Data and analysis is no longer a piece of the foundation for decision making, it is the foundation for decision making.
2. Mobile platforms drive the individual’s experience
You already know that mobile platforms are extremely important for business and marketing. Many of you are probably also aware that the number of mobile Google searches exceeds searches from computers, and that customers primarily use social media on their phones (by a large and ever increasing margin). Trade is also witnessing increased mobile traffic, albeit at a lower conversion rate. During 2017, you will see initiative here for further optimization of the mobile experience with the aim of driving that conversion. This means having a check on contact points in the customer journey for each segment, as well as how to make the best use of various factors that include screen, place, context and intent.
3. Customer experience increasingly decisive
The challenge is no longer having the best product, the highest quality or the lowest price. Today’s challenge is providing the best experience for your customer or visitor. If you succeed, it can mean having an engaged “ambassador” and likely a returning customer. But in order to succeed, you need to understand what is relevant for your customer and what they value, appreciate and find interesting right now. All interaction points count here, online as well as offline. That interaction needs to be consistent, inspiring and able to clear away any potential friction. In some ways, the customer experience is the end goal of the entire digital journey.
4. Customer communication, marketing and design are the new focus for management
It’s neither news or a trend to point out that the digital transformation is taking place all around us. But it’s a sign of a greater repositioning when traditional consultancies like McKinsey, EY, PwC and Accenture acquire companies specialized in design and digital expertise. This is about creating new digital tools and channels to strengthen their customer focus and customer communication, both strategically and in daily operations. As a business, it’s high time to review your organization and prioritize marketing and digital competencies within management and corporate leadership.
5. Inspiration from Augmented and Virtual Reality
2017 will likely be the year where we see that AR and VR aren’t just about gaming and entertainment, but also that the technology offers great business potential for industry and retail. The success of Pokemon GO was a wake-up call and a source of inspiration for many. However, it will be a few years before AR and VR are employed more broadly. Today, proactive companies have a chance to use unique and memorable interactivity to stick out and engage with customers. Examples of businesses that are way ahead include IKEA (AR catalogue that shows furniture in the customer’s home), Hyundai (AR car manual) and Virgin Holiday (VR experience of travel destination prior to booking).
6. Content marketing’s continued development
The importance of content marketing is growing as the customer journey changes. Today, the potential buyer does not want contact with the seller until much later in the purchase process, and they search for the information that leads them there on their own. For a number of years, the building blocks to success have been about creating, distributing and analyzing content along with optimizing the balance between quantity, frequency and quality throughout the customer journey. As more people become skilled, or even very skilled, at navigating this process, the demand for making an enduring impression on the customer increases. For the best effect, you need to add a building block – the experience.
7. Chatbots simplifying the customer journey
Digital assistants are a function that took hold among marketing experts in 2016. The technology is still under development, but the opportunities and capabilities are continuously growing. Until now, chatbots have largely performed repetitive, automated tasks. The new generation of bots, however, will become digital marketers and salespeople. Imagine e-commerce sites where chatbots help move potential buyers forward in the customer journey, through steps that could otherwise easily create friction. Apple’s Siri now has many cousins – and more are coming.
8. Social selling reaches potential customers
As the noisy media landscape continues to grow, it has become more and more difficult to reach and create relationships with potential customers. Social selling has therefore become an important tool for the proactive and solutions-focused seller. Through interaction and sharing of relevant and valuable content, social selling offers the possibility to use platforms like LinkedIn to identify and create a relationship with potential customers. In this way, the seller can build up the relationship before the purchase process has even started.
9. Native advertising engages the customer on their own terms
Native means an advertisement whose design gives the impression of being a regular article. Today, traditional display and banner ads have lost effectiveness due in part to ad blockers and “banner blindness.” Above all, what makes native advertising successful is that the format creates significantly greater engagement compared to traditional banners. According to IHS and Sharethrough, studies have shown 20-60% higher engagement, with an 18% higher purchase intent after the fact. Within five years, native ads will represent 74% of all digital advertising.
10. Optimizing conversion
It’s nice when a website gets a high number of visitors, but the key to success is what those people actually do when visiting the page. Today, it is often much more profitable to put resources into converting visitors from existing traffic than to invest in increasing traffic. Companies therefore need a clear image of (at least) two things: 1) straightforward goals for each individual website and 2) support of the potential customer’s aims in visiting the site. The better you know your customer, the better you can meet both your own and the customers’ objectives. It is a methodic process where measurement-analysis-understanding-improvement is constantly repeated.