There’s a lot of speculation out there about what will take over as the next BIG THING in advertising. The fact of the matter is that there is never an unforeseen shift in consumer marketing trends and advertising. You can trace the roots of most seemingly overnight successes from years of build up over time. The same can often be said for trends in the market, in fashion, and even in society.
Things build over time and then seem to explode into being when you aren’t looking out for them. Luckily, FatChix is here to stalk marketing trends for you!
So, what do we see on the horizons for marketing? There are three major components taking shape right now: Artificial Intelligence, Data Flows, and Virtual Reality.
AI and Data Flows often work together, so we’ll be discussing them as one point. But first, what exactly are data flows? This is a shorthand term we use to refer to cross-border data flows, the flow of data literally across borders. While some countries are trying to mediate or even stop this flow of data either for protective or mercantile reasons, the flow of data, frankly, will not be stopped. It has become more valuable than ever. And with a changing economy and trade wars on the horizons, it is no surprise that consumer information is at a high value.
But how do you, as a business, use this data to expand your reach?
The answer is in AI. There are a lot of ways to use AI for small to large businesses, but the number one focus that we’d recommend for businesses wanting to expand is in analytics. You can use AI-powered analytics in almost any channel for growth: CRM, chatbots, demographic tracking, retargeting, you name it - there’s robot for that.
AI uses all that data floating around in the world to synthesize conclusions based on a set of parameters that you and your developers, teams, or hired specialists can use to convert into growth. Typically, AI is most often used in research so that companies can better target their consumers. It’s even brought in during the course of product development before a business decides to make a product just to ensure they’re making something people are definitely going to buy.
Is it creepy or is it progress?
A little bit of both.
But how can we use AI when it comes to marketing? Well, first you have to have a goal that you want to achieve while executing a marketing plan. A company of any size needs to keep the end goal in mind, so think of it as ‘my company wants to achieve x with y for an ROI of z’. To fill in those blanks, you as the business owner or marketer must get specific before you even begin. This can clear up a LOT of communication issues with a growing shift toward these practices that aren’t yet ultra common.
Let’s say you run a theatre company in New York City and want to get butts in the seats. You know that you need 120 audience members at $25 a pop to make a decent profit while running your theatre and paying your artists. A decent conversion rate is between 2-5% for FB ads and Google ads, so let’s stick with the minimum your ad should be converting at 2% (plan for the worst and hope for the best, right?). Ideally, you’d be breaking 10% on conversion, but this is a brand new marketing strategy for a non-expert practitioner - a theatre owner/director. Manage those expectations!
You need to reach a minimum of 6000 people per performance with your choice of advertising platform to achieve a potential 2% conversion rate for tickets. In order to get people to buy, you’ll obviously need to target people in the NYC area. And in order to increase the conversion of your ads, you’ll want to employ AI to RE-TARGET people that have shown interest. A lot of platforms have the ability to do this built into the system already; you just have to go through a minor learning curve to master it. To make better use of every dollar you spend, however, it would be a good idea to increase your engagement with the use of video and/or 3D or VR ads that will catch the viewers’ eye as they’re scrolling past or clicking through to another website.
But let’s say that your target audience for this new play is a younger audience, between 14 and 26 years old. This generation is largely unreachable by traditional methods. They do their own peer-to-peer research and do not usually scroll through the newsfeed on FB. They employ ad blockers on their phones. They don’t listen to public radio or watch traditional cable television. How do you reach the unreachable?
The age is quickly approaching in which chatbots will be platform free and targeting prospects on their own. Instagram stories and photos are the new newsfeed. To reach a younger audience, marketers are going to need to step away from old school tactics and get ahold of new practices before they hit the market. Consumers don’t want to be sold to any longer; that school of thinking is dead. They want to be persuaded. And persuasion takes time; it takes building a relationship rather than a hardcore, hit-you-over-the-head-with-it sale.
If there is one major takeaway here regarding the future of marketing, it is: get rid of classic sales pitches and think like your prospect.
If your potential customer cannot be reached through traditional channels and cannot be bothered by traditional ad-spec marketing, you need to get creative. The modern consumer wants to buy based on their interests; you’re not persuading them that your product is right for them because the product is so great. You’re helping them identify that product as the one that matches their lifestyle and overall desires. If your prospect wants awesome lingerie and you sell lingerie, you need to identify whether or not your lingerie is the type that your client would buy based on their other shopping habits. That is the power of data and AI when targeting your customers.
And it is not, contrary to popular opinion, difficult to do. If you want to grow your audience on Instagram, for example, you can employ AI programs to target followers of similar accounts to your own. You’re not trying to grab the attention of people that are way outside your realm of interest. You’re trying to capture the eye of those that are already interested in the same aesthetics and topics as you; they simply haven’t heard of you yet.
A lot of marketers and business owners fall into the trap of believing that a greater following and more likes will translate directly into sales, but that is not the case if you have a poorly targeted audience or one made up entirely of bots. Bots can be used for good or for evil in marketing. You can fool your clients as a marketer by increasing your client's following, but what is the point of that if your engagement continues to drop due to an ever-increasing number of fake accounts confusing Instagram’s algorithm? If your audience doesn’t pass Instagram’s algorithm test (which protects users from the onslaught of fake followers), then you are out of luck on both counts.
You want organic growth and organic engagement. Third party sites that boost outreach and enhance impressions aren’t bad for businesses as long as they are using their AI to find and target audiences made up of real people that share an interest in what they are promoting. Anything else is a waste of money, and frankly, data.
So, what can you do directly that will benefit your social growth, thereby benefiting audience awareness? Awareness is what affects sales directly, not marketing per se. But marketing is what breeds awareness, so the two go hand in hand.
In order to grow your brand awareness, you’ll need a heavier up front investment in content production for your feed, ads, stories, and different types of content for different platforms. You’ll also need the ability to send your products out for free, or offer a few free services in the beginning to build a pretty sick portfolio of work. Sending out freebies or doing free work is nobody’s favorite thing to do, but you have to build organic outreach one way or another. This is one of the fastest ways to grow your business, albeit, not the cheapest or most satisfying.
Make use of your data by targeting individuals that would best benefit from your products or services. Tap them for ambassadorship. Cross-promote with complimentary brands and businesses. Growing together is better than stagnating alone.
And use AI to simplify your life and enhance your user experience. Automate as much as you possibly can for your consumers. Need a customer support team, but don’t have the budget? Minibots are easy to program in Facebook messenger and on major hosting sites like Wix. Pre-programmed responses to frequently asked questions can rapidly reduce unanswered emails in your inbox. Need to get seen by consumers faster? Boosting your SEO or designing FB ads that target and re-target your market is all part of AI that holds minimal costs for your business and maximal benefits.
Marketing seems intimidating when you’re new to the game or on a budget, but with a few minor adjustments, you too can master the future of marketing with a few clicks of the keyboard.
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