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10 ways digital marketing will change in the next 10 years

AI, Marketing, Technology | One Comment

Digital marketing, by its very definition, is constantly developing. As new digital technology becomes available, companies are obligated to evolve with it. Companies unable to adapt will stand little chance of survival, so it’s vital they stay in the loop and embrace new technologies when they become available. But what new digital marketing technologies are on the horizon, and how will they change the profession over the next decade? We take a look at ten ways technology will change the digital marketing landscape forever by 2026.

AI influences everything

This isn’t to say AI will have completely taken over the role of the marketer by 2026. There’s still plenty of stuff that can only be executed with that most human of traits; discretion. Deciding exactly how much time, effort and ad-revenue to invest in a campaign is just beyond AI’s current capabilities. However, it is already taking a front seat in digital marketing. As the technology develops, AI will become essential to creating effective social campaigns, content curation, customer service and even website design. Deep learning is already allowing AI to develop a stronger understanding of the nuances behind marketing campaigns. By 2026, it will come to play an even more integral role and even open new avenues for the industry as a whole.

Mobile is the channel

This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in the real world, but mobile is fast becoming the number one channel by which people view content. Just as AI will be in just a few years, mobile is now a standard element of every marketer’s framework. The number of global users for mobile devices surpassed the number of desktop users back in 2015, and mobile digital media time now accounts for 51% compared to just 42% for desktop, so it’s easy to see why more marketers are ensuring their content has been optimised for mobile than ever before. Digital marketing is steadily shifting its focus to mobile, but by 2026, advances in technology will allow them to market directly to the consumer with custom-made content. Speaking of which…

Personalisation is mandatory

In much the same way that marketing content has to be optimised for mobile if it wants to reach the younger generation, content needs a personal touch to make a real impact. Despite being a relatively new aspect of marketing, it’s only set to increase as technology enables companies to understand more about their audience. Individual analytics and the rise of ‘small data’ are helping fuel a more personal approach to marketing, where consumers are marketed to in a way that suits them. Personalisation stems from understanding consumers, and marketers will be more geared towards engaging with consumers through non-traditional channels as more personal data becomes available. Just as the growth of Snapchat led to a variety of guerilla marketing techniques that weighed the user’s own predilections, new technology will ensure every ad a consumer sees is a case of ‘right place, right time’.

Branded content is a two-way street

In the same vein, the consumer will begin to play a more integral role in a brand’s identity over the coming decade. As the chief marketing officer for Taco Bell Corp, Chris Brandt, explained in a recent article for Co.Create, “User generated content will far exceed branded content and brands need to embrace this and accept they aren’t in complete control of their own brand.” As viral videos and citizen-led product placement give brands more exposure, companies will be consigned to ensuring their brand message is consistent and communicated effectively. The rise of social media has supplied companies with ample exposure courtesy of their audience, but it’s vital the brand ensures it’s the right kind of exposure.

Virtual reality is more than just a novelty

Let’s face it, virtual reality is fun, but its true potential as a marketing tool hasn’t yet been fully realised. Some intriguing examples aside, the medium has been largely limited to gimmicks and vague illustrations of specialist interests. But when it’s done well, VR as a digital marketing tool can be an immersive experience that takes a brand’s message into a new dimension. In Coca-Cola’s recent VR campaign, the packaging for a 12 pack could be transformed into a virtual reality headset, generating sizable online chatter and providing the soft drinks giant with a new in the process. Likewise, tequila company Patron gave their company history a charming visual element through a virtual reality set and a short film. As technology develops, VR will become a more recognised and versatile channel for brand advertising.

The traditional office is a thing of the past

As the internet redraws our concept of boundaries, companies are increasingly turning away from the standard office format. The growth in mobile technology, Cloud software and near-omnipresent internet connection gives us round the clock access to our workplace, even when we’re on the other side of the planet. As a result, the demand for office space is declining. The development of instant video messaging software such as Google Hangouts and content sharing platforms like Slack has made it easier than ever to manage a business from anywhere in the world. Digital marketing is already feeling the impact of this new virtual workplace. With geographic proximity no longer a consideration, employees can work together from across the planet, encouraging a more diverse approach to the traditional marketing campaign.

Startups mean a static market

With the huge increase in digital startups, the market will be a far less predictable place. The invasive rise of the internet has allowed tiny startups to grow rapidly and advances in API are making anticipating the success stories of the future increasingly difficult. Digital marketing, as a result, is in a constant state of flux. This isn’t necessarily a bad omen for your own startup, however. With more companies establishing themselves through non-traditional channels, investors are more open to new opportunities, and the entire process of finding funding has become more democratic as a result. By the mid-twenty-twenties, startups will rely less on major investments from banks, if at all, and more on generating scalable revenue from democratised investment platforms.

More channels mean more opportunities

Marketers have more options for the channels through which to market their content now than at any other point in history. Whilst automation may have made it easier to reach more people with less physical work, the proliferation of different mediums to reach an audience means marketers have to consider much more carefully the way in which they engage with consumers. With so many different channels to use, by 2026 marketers will have to think very carefully about the right mediums to use for their brand.

Transparency is paramount

In a world where corporate responsibility is increasingly under the microscope, companies are under pressure to ensure their business practices are transparent and ethical at all times. Most people, it’s safe to assume, like to think they are fairly ethical people. Therefore, guaranteeing your business operates in a humane and sustainable way gives your brand a relatable brand identity. With public scrutiny of major businesses now commonplace and social media enabling anybody to voice their concerns at a company’s behaviour, digital marketers will have to ensure their content communicates their commitment to ethical business practices at all times.

Marketing attribution ends the spam generation

With more and more companies being able to track exactly how a consumer has arrived at their site, not to mention what they did when they got there, the age of the random, unsolicited ad is almost over. We’re already witnessing companies move towards more targeted campaigns, where consumers only see content their previous web behaviour suggested they may be interested in. As technology improves, companies will only get better at anticipating what a consumer may be interested in, and when the best time to suggest it is.

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Why companies need to embrace the future of email marketing now

AI, Ecommerce, Innovation, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Much like the human race, marketing is in a perpetual state of evolution and adaptation. Unlike the human race, marketing is also in a constant game of catch-up to the tech world’s own evolutionary process. Electronic mail has come a long way since the first ever mass email (sent by Gary Thuerk, a Marketing Manager at Digital Equipment Corp, back in 1978, in case you were wondering). During the 90s, email marketing first began to take shape, but the lack of widely available internet meant mass digital marketing didn’t take off until the next decade. Unfortunately, when it did, companies soon realised they could send ‘digital junk mail’ to both potential customers and total strangers with less expenditure than traditional marketing channels.

The dawn of the ‘spampaign’

New legislation was introduced to stem the tide of unsolicited emails but to little avail. The Data Protection Act, introduced in 1998, added a clause that meant every company had to offer an opt-out from their mailing list. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations act was  introduced to Europe in 2003 to draw up a clearer list of email marketing decorum, but even this failed to make a dent in the mass of daily junk mail. It wasn’t until 2004 and the introduction of the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) that users began to gain some control over what landed in their inbox. The SPF was designed to identify the IP address of a sender, making it easier to qualify if the mail was spam. Since then, new technologies have been incorporated allowing users to identify and block spam with just a few clicks, but even this hasn’t deterred everybody.
In 2009, Return Path reported nearly 30% of commercial emails sent to users didn’t even reach an inbox. The internet was changing, but marketers were reluctant to give up on already entrenched email marketing habits. So companies continued to send out mass emails in the hope the scatter-gun approach would yield at least a few new customers based on odds alone. The days of blanket advertising should be over, but marketers still persist in the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Not only does this make opening your inbox in the morning a chore, it makes it harder to trust brands that have been guilty of an indiscriminate marketing campaign in the past.
AI for email marketing

Say goodbye to spamming

Not all the arguments against blanket marketing are based on how it will affect your brand image. Most email services now have comprehensive spam blockers in place to prevent this kind of aimless advertising making it through. Applications like Gmail are continually updating their spam blocker to keep inboxes free from unwanted mail. When this technology was first introduced, marketers had to figure out a way around these spam filters. So far, the results have been mixed. Many companies have struggled to retain an appropriate brand image while still making it past the filters. That’s in large part down to the sheer amount of time required in personalising each email, and that’s where modern technology can help. With Clemmie, users only receive the content relevant to them, and each new interaction with an InSite brings an even greater level of detail specific to the client.

Adopting AI & marketing automation

More and more marketers are turning to AI to engage with potential customers on a more personal level. We’re not yet at the point where it’s impossible to tell if it were sent by man or machine, but AI has made real inroads in enabling companies to contact large groups with personalised marketing content. With email marketing technology now used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies, it’s imperative that companies embrace advances in technology, such as the AI automation of sending times. A 2013 Marketing Effectiveness Study by the Lenskold Group found that companies who send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle. So just how far will AI go? In fact, the days where marketing can be tailored to meet the needs of an individual are already here; AI technology is slowly taking on the role of content creator, courier and feedback connoisseur.
AI in email marketing

Dynamic content

Email automation has enabled a much more precise approach to marketing, but it still requires a human touch to add ensure the content isn’t too clinical, and that’s where dynamic content comes in. Dynamic content aims to create a more reciprocal experience for the consumer through constantly editing HTML content based on the user’s previous interactions with marketing material. So, if you search for a product on a B2C website like Amazon, subsequent emails received from Amazon will feature similar products. Thankfully, more marketers are beginning to realise the static, ever-changing nature of consumer’s requirements and are tailoring email correspondence to suit these needs.

Making the most of the metrics

It’s not just a person’s browsing history that can influence the content they see. By using analytics tools like Google’s, marketers can see a recipient’s location and tailor the email to include local events, or alert them to the nearest collection points. Tech-enthusiasts and marketers alike are predicting that one day every interaction we have with organisations, no matter how innocuous, will be completely tailored to an individual’s metrics. Analytics are fast becoming the most valuable asset to company revenue, so it’s vital firms understand how to utilise the data effectively. In the meantime, marketers are waking up to the need for content that is relevant to each specific user, and quality is finally taking centre stage over quantity.

Transactional emails=brand loyalty

Transactional emails are one of the best ways to engage with consumers because they are triggered to be sent out when an individual performs a pre-selected action on your site. Most marketers are only just beginning to appreciate the value of these emails to customer loyalty and the high conversion rates they inspire. After all, the open rates for transactional emails are 8 times higher than other emails. They’re easy to implement, highly personalised, drive revenue and they’re sent not as spam but in response to a request on behalf of the recipient. What’s not to like?
AI in email marketing

Moving into mobile

According to a study by Campaign Monitor, about 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. The number of emails opened on mobile devices increased by 30% from 2010 to 2015, and around 60% of online adults in the US and the UK use at least two devices each day. With email also bringing in the biggest ROI for marketers, it’s clear the future lies in engaging with a mobile population through their email with personalised content. It’s vital that marketers hit the right note instantly, particularly when you consider that 87% of clicks come about when a recipient opens the email for the first time. With 75% of Gmail users accessing their accounts via mobile devices, marketers can’t afford to not optimise their content for the mobile generation.

The Clemmie revolution

As technologies evolve, so too do the needs of the marketer. The hot ticket for anyone working in tech today is assimilation. Just as the mobile phone has slowly integrated other technologies, software capable of merging multiple functions is now becoming a must for marketers. Clemmie works as a marketing tool, allowing you to create personalised mini websites that can be sent instantly to a prospective client, shareholder or colleague. Clemmie’s real value, however, lies in the metrics it provides after your chosen recipient accesses their unique mini-site. This enables the marketer to gather all the necessary information needed to improve client communication, such as how long clients spent on site, how many times they shared it and what content stood out. We’ve talked before about the value of small data when it comes to platforming new content, but it can apply to almost any public aspect of a brand. With personalised email messages improving click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%, marketers need to seize every possible opportunity to personalise their content.
New Clemmie Header image

The simple truth of email marketing is there is no one way to implement it effectively, but there are a thousand ways to do it wrong. The current pace of technological change means the only way marketers can hope to stay on top is to constantly adapt their campaign methods according to what works best at the time. The methods may change, but the goal will always stay the same; to understand what clients want and how to give it to them in the simplest way, engage with them and ensure you’re meeting their needs that will encourage them to come back again and again. Advances in technology are allowing us to do this in ways we previously never thought possible, but it’s down to the marketer to use this technology to give their brand the platform it deserves.

AI in marketing

What does AI mean for the future of digital marketing?

AI, Feature, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

If you believe the blogs, magazine features and tabloid news stories, AI is a revelation, and it’s going to change everything. From op-eds predicting an end to humanity at the hands of superior intelligence to scientists feverishly discussing the future of medical care, AI is on everyone’s lips. Reporting on AI tends to largely focus on the worst case scenarios, but AI can also change our lives for the better and revolutionise the way we interact with technology, the world, and even each other.

The ways in which we perceive the world around us is already shifting as technology develops. A recent study from Stanford and Cambridge Universities claimed that a computer can know more about its human owner than their friends and family. Artificial Intelligence was used to analyse 10 Facebook ‘Likes’, which then enabled the AI to to predict and study a participant’s personality. Even Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has got in on the AI action with his pledge to create an AI assistant.

This is just the start, with Machine to Machine (M2M) and Machine to Consumer (M2C) interactions on the rise every day. In marketing, AI will touch on every aspect of the profession, from the means by which campaigns are conceived, run and measured to the very definition of marketing itself.

Taking the guesswork out of marketing

AI can be more focused on delivering ads to people, with less guesswork. EMarketer predicted that some 55% of all digital advertising dollars will be driven by programmatic initiatives in 2015 as machine learning takes precedence over human analysis. The figure is predicted to rise to 63% by next year, which represents $20 billion in programmatic ad buys.

With AI, marketers will be able to understand consumers on an intricate level. The entire experience will be tailored to the recipient to ensure every ad is relevant, a far cry from the days of blanket coverage and disruptive marketing techniques. Just like billboards on roadsides, pre-AI ads relied on a disruptive advertising strategy, designed to distract and conquer.

Unfortunately, these efforts translated to little more than guesses about what consumers may want to buy based on the few details the company could glean from their IP address. This approach to advertising, however, failed to understand the context of individuated customer searches, an issue AI overcomes through ‘intelligent learning’.

AI in marketing

Creating connections & developing a dialogue

Thanks to AI, marketing will no longer be a one-sided conversation. George John, writing in The Drum, explains “Currently, with the possible exception of social media, marketing is a one-way channel. As AI technology improves and evolves it will progress beyond selecting the right message and design (crafted by humans) to deliver to the right person, over the right channel, at the most opportune time, to actually having a two-way conversation in real-time.”

AI won’t just personalise content, it will allow consumers to provide instant feedback, ask questions about products and take advantage of special offers through interaction with the AI. AI has already progressed to the point where it can tailor customer interactions through increasingly sophisticated language processors and visual perception tools

Personalised advertising becomes truly personal

When it comes to programmatic ad buying, the current process is largely dependent on a machine’s ability to make decisions. Variables like location, previous search history and search text syntax are taken into account when selecting the ad, but these are still largely impersonal generic ads. With AI, ads can be personalised to a far greater degree and instantly delivered to users based on a qualified profile shot of their entire browsing history.

AI can ‘learn’ to avoid users who have never interacted with a specific type of advertisement. Each time a similar campaign is run it will know who is likely to engage and who isn’t, only targeting the most relevant users. Of course, the technology behind this kind of ultra-personalisation is still being refined, but so far all signs point to a new era in personalised marketing.

AI in marketing

Websites become easier for everyone

With AI ensuring ads are now precisely targeted, user engagement will improve, saving brands significant advertising revenue while ensuring higher conversion rates and eCPMs. This is good news for the firms placing the ads, the sites hosting them and the user viewing the site.

Because firms are earning more revenue through fewer ad placements, sites can trim the number of ads to only those which are relevant to that particular user. Not only will this improve the onsite experience for users, but it will increase the likelihood of people engaging with the advertising they do see.

Human input takes a back seat

Companies are now employing big data analysts and data scientists in marketing departments to uncover insights to drive business decisions, but the introduction of AI will eventually transform the very role of humans in marketing. CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officers) at several tech-savvy firms are already witnessing the influence of AI on daily operations. The difference being that, whilst today the role of CMO’s is to create and source content that increases brand visibility and continues to generate revenue, AI will tackle several of these responsibilities.

No longer will CMO’s have to adjust media campaigns according to new trend progressions. AI’s ability to adapt to changes in real-time means the implementation of marketing campaigns will require less and less human interaction.

AI doesn’t have to be all-controlling, however. Some companies are already using it to provide updates to changing market trends which can then be taken into account by a CMO and applied at their own discretion for subsequent campaigns.

The more artificial intelligence is used the more efficient it becomes, meaning it will be able to adapt to, and even anticipate, new trends as they happen. Instead, marketers will be tasked with establishing guidelines for the AI to ensure interactions with consumers remain within the appropriate brand context.

AI in digital marketing

Working hours could become a thing of the past

With most mobile traffic occurring over the weekend, when marketers are out the office, artificial intelligence comes into its own as an optimisation tool. AI optimises campaigns in real-time, taking the manual labour aspect away from the marketing team who can then concentrate on other, more subjective aspects of the marketing campaign. A study by analytics firm IHS and video inventory management platform SpotXBy found that by 2020 more than half of all digital video advertising revenue in Europe will be programmatic.

A whole host of new roles will become fundamental to the continued marketing strategies of companies around the world. Working hours themselves will become less restrictive, with AI doing much of the work a human would have to do outside of work time. For instance, most mobile traffic occurs over the weekend, but for most companies, this is the time when workers will be at home. AI can track interactions, schedule updates and optimise content according to what people are searching for, regardless of when or what time or where the search is made.

Embracing the increase and development of AI is crucial to future marketing efforts. Despite all the scare stories, AI is a human creation that can be harnessed in a multitude of ways. When used intelligently and responsibly, AI can enrich our lives in a multitude of ways. By leaving the most mundane, time-consuming and logic-driven tasks to AI, we free ourselves up to think more creatively, to focus our time and effort on more subjective matters and, if we’re lucky, come up with the world’s next big innovation.

Marketing & technology

The month in Marketing & Technology: April 2016

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This month we take a look at the big stories from the worlds of marketing, technology and marketing technology (a minor distinction, but a distinction all the same).

Cold call firms now have to display number, rules government

In a move that will be welcomed by households across the UK, companies that cold call customers will now have to display their phone numbers, according to new government regulations. In a bid to crack down on nuisance calls, the Department for Culture Media and Sport announced the new measures earlier this month. The amendment to the existing legislation will force firms registered in the UK to display their phone numbers, even if the call centres are based overseas. The news will be a relief to many UK citizens, who have come up with a range of interesting and original ways to make cold callers regret ever picking up the phone.
Marketing & technology

‘Sweaty billboard’ aims to tackle Zika in Brazil

Marketing agencies in Brazil were lauded this month for their bid to create a billboard that attracts and kills mosquitos. The billboards, which emit a combination of lactic acid solution and carbon dioxide (found in human breath), are intended to attract mosquitos that may be carrying Zika, a virus that can cause birth defects like microcephaly (a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development) in babies. The billboards have been praised for providing a novel solution to a serious issue in South America right now, although critics have pointed out they may result in more mosquitos gathering in populated areas.
Marketing & technology

Taco Bell steps into the AI arena with ‘TacoBot’

First, it was Watson for IBM, then Go for Google followed by Tay for Microsoft (although they would probably rather forget about that episode), but now there’s a new AI bot in town, and this one is dedicated to the noble cause of helping you get your taco. That’s right, the signature fast food chain Taco Bell has moved into the illustrious world of AI with the introduction of a Slack bot capable of taking orders and providing the occasional riposte to drunken diners. Developed alongside Taco Bell’s agency Deutsch, the ‘TacoBot’ has been described as ” your own personal Taco Bell butler,” something you probably never realised you needed.
Marketing & technology

Topshop start-up program seeks fashionable tech pitches

High street fashion retailer Topshop this month announced a new initiative to find the next (or should that be first?) big thing in wearable technology. The four-week event will allow fashion and tech startups to come and pitch their designs to the start-up program, Top Pitch. Despite a growing demand for technology-integrated fashion items, nobody as of yet has offered up a garment any right-minded individual would choose to wear in public. A spokeswoman for L Marks, Topshop’s partner for Top Pitch explained, “So far, wearable tech has remained more tech than wearable, which is why we want to discover more wearable technology that could be transformed into something fashionable.”
Marketing & technology

Artificial intelligence March 2016

The month in AI: March 2016

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This month we take a look at the world of Artificial Intelligence and its growing presence in daily life.

Google’s AlphaGo wins big

As technology pervades every aspect of our daily life, the role of artificial intelligence is becoming the hot topic for gadget-evangelists and technophobes alike. ‘Computer-learning’technology has been around for decades now, but it’s only now that we’re really beginning to understand the potential impact it could have on society.

In a startling example of how far AI has developed, a Google artificial intelligence programme won a resounding victory over the renowned Go master Lee Se-Dol. Famed for its complexity, the 3,000-year-old board game requires intense concentration and the ability to see several moves ahead at all times. But Google’s AlphaGo programme bested Mr Lee by 4-1, suggesting that algorithms and complex software are developing at a rate that could render many intricate human skills obsolete within a few years. AlphaGo points not only to how far AI has progressed in the past decade but to how quickly it can improve its own understanding. A game that has been honed by the human brain for almost 3,000 years was mastered by AlphaGo over the course of just a few years, with no end to this mechanical evolution in sight.

The success of AlphaGo represents the most significant breakthrough in computer programmed learning since 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer conquered the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov. Demis Hassabis, Chief executive of the company behind AlphaGo, Google DeepMind, was quoted as saying “one day [these algorithms] can be used in all sorts of problems, from health care to science.”
Artificial intelligence March 2016
Go master Lee Se-Dol looks on as AlphaGo takes the upper hand

‘Tay’ sets a dark tone for the future of AI

A less encouraging milestone achieved by AI, Microsoft launched its AI chatbot earlier this month. ‘Tay’, as the programme was affectionately known, was designed to learn from the humans it interacted with through Tweets and DM’s. Microsoft launched ‘Tay Tweets’ claiming the account became more intelligent the more it was used: “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets”.

The software did indeed show a remarkable ability to mimic language structure and adapt to human influence. Sadly, Tay’s digital education wasn’t necessarily a cause for celebration, largely because the teachers she interacted with chose to feed her some extremely questionable material. Within 24 hours of going live, the AI software had turned from a rather rigid, albeit friendly, automaton, into a ‘Hitler-loving sex slave’ with a penchant for Donald Trump quotes and deeply disturbing 9/11 conspiracies. The chat robot, which was modelled to speak like a teen girl, had to be deleted after her replies became increasingly un-PC.
 Artificial intelligence March 2016
Tay, the easily led genocidal robot

Incredibly, Tay isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt at a teen-girl chatbot. Xiaoice was intended as a friendly female companion to provide advice to people using Chinese social networks. With around 20m users globally, Xiaoice has been met with significantly less criticism than her younger digital sibling, although that may be because she has yet to resort to alarming displays of xenophobia and troubling sexual innuendos.