The year 2016 was an exciting one for digital marketers. We saw some incredible innovations take shape, innovations that transformed online marketing as we know it. Live streaming picked up steam, algorithm updates encouraged marketers to create engaging content, and social media marketing became a “must-have” rather than an option.
The good news is that these trends work. The bad news is that they have become the norm. Why is this bad? Everyone is following them. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Here are some ways how to improve your digital marketing efforts this year.
1. Augmented Reality
When Pokémon Go came out, no one thought that it would be as popular as it turned out to be. This augmented reality (AR) app raked in millions by the day and has marketers salivating for its marketing potential.
Augmented reality is a live or real view of a physical environment the elements of which are superimposed by computerized sensory inputs like audio and video. The ability to play with a consumer’s reality offers plenty of possibilities for marketers. Some businesses have already cashed in on the trend. AMC Cinemas, for example, launched an AR application that can interact with movie posters. Just point your phone at a movie poster and the app will bring up information about the film such as its trailer or cast details.
When Facebook gave businesses the ability to create chatbots for Messenger, it opened a universe of marketing possibilities for them. Chatbots have several qualities that marketers can use to their benefit. One of these qualities is the ability to start automated conversations with people. All a visitor has to do to is summon the chatbot to start a dialogue with it on a separate window in Messenger. With a chatbot, your customers won’t have to visit your business website or contact you personally. They can just summon your bot on Messenger directly and ask it whatever they want.
You can see how beneficial this could be for marketers looking to upgrade their customer service technology. Chatbots can save businesses time on useless requests that don’t lead to any sales and expedite customer requests that do. For example, a restaurant can increase the number paying customers if your Messenger chatbot can provide them with a menu when they ask for it.
3. Virtual Reality
Augmented reality keeps users grounded in their own reality. Virtual reality (VR) replaces their entire environment with another one. Think VR headsets like the Oculus Rift that can track head movement accurately and adjust images in a user’s view in ways that make him feel as if he was in another place entirely. Another VR headset, Samsung Gear VR, makes the experience more accessible to consumers, allowing them to engage in virtual environments with their Galaxy smartphones.
Before VR, there was no way for marketers to present consumers what they offered besides showing them content through their sales pages. While the technology hardly teleports users to real environments, it does give them a semblance of what those spaces would feel like if they were actually in them. You can see how big of an advantage this would give marketers. A real estate agency, for example, could make showings easier if buyers could see what the interiors of properties on sale look like without having to travel to them.
Some businesses are already reaping the benefits of VR. Coca-Cola, for example, used the tech’s 360-degree video capabilities to show people what a ride in Santa’s sleigh feels like.
4. Ephemeral Content
Considering that the attention span of the average smartphone user has been reduced to that of a goldfish, it is rather obvious that digital marketers should pay particular attention to this trend. Ephemeral content is basically short-lived content. It disappears from your social media newsfeed after a while. Snapchat was the first to use it and other brands followed suit.
There is a good reason why digital marketing should pay attention to ephemeral content. The primary aim of brand marketing is to make content stick in consumers’ minds. It must engage them and stop them in their track, something that ephemeral marketing does pretty well. Snapchat users, for instance, can dispatch photos or short videos that fade after a few seconds. This basically means that friends and family members have to scramble to view these files before they disappear.
For some marketers, this might look counterproductive. They would rather their content remain evergreen so that it stays on the web forever. But the idea behind expiring content does make sense if you think about it. It forces users to consume it immediately, otherwise they lose it forever, which is good for marketers.
It’s time for digital marketers to rethink how they can use current innovations in digital marketing to their advantage. The trends mentioned in this post should serve as a good start.