Trends are born when a changing environment creates opportunities to facilitate an unchanging human need. Eventually what starts as a trend becomes an expectation that spreads across countries and demographics. When brands ignore trends, inevitably they lose touch with these expectations which can quickly become a major reason for consumers to look elsewhere.

One trend highlighted by TrendWatching which is likely to be picked up quickly by brands in 2017 has been dubbed “informal information”. Put simply the “informal information” trend means speaking the same language as your customers and using the channels they want to make these communications.

How are consumers communicating with friends?

A few years ago the trend brought about by the increased penetration of mobile technology and social media was a decrease in face-to-face interactions as digital social interactions replaced a lot of this. Going into a travel agent to book a holiday became going online to compare holiday prices, meeting up with friends was often replaced with social media messaging and countless other changes slowly crept in to minimize the need for face-to-face interactions. What started as a trend became a societal shift and a firm expectation across many industries with consumers expecting this option. Some more recent statistics show a shift in consumer behaviour towards messaging and chat apps:

- 41% of millennials say that they would be “truly satisfied” if they could use messaging or SMS to connect with companies and organisations where they do business.

- Messaging apps have now surpassed social networks.

The rise of messaging apps presents an opportunity for brands to improve customer service offering customers the chance to interact on their own terms.

What language are consumers speaking?

A short informal style of communication is becoming the norm, with emoji’s simplifying communication beyond words. Emojis are so popular that one was even named word of the year in 2015! In 2016 the “word of the year” continued to show a consumer adoption of informal style of communication, whilst unsurprisingly the portmanteau “Brexit” took the top spot (3,400% increase in use in 2016). 90% of people report using emoji.

Domino’s infamous emoji marketing campaign whereby customers could text or tweet a pizza emoji to order a pizza is one of the first brands to trial this style of communication in eCommerce.

So we know that consumers are getting more casual, favouring short bursts of messaging over formal face-to-face conversations but how can brands apply this knowledge into digital marketing?

How should brands talk to their audience?

An easy avenue where brands can utilise the language consumers’ use is when researching keywords to target for SEO. Whilst many brands know exactly what their products are called and use the official name on the website product description. For example, you may correctly label a product “culottes” but your audience might be searching for “wide leg cropped trousers”. The only way to tell of course is through keyword research and customer research. Whether your business is complex and technical, or not, it’s worth assessing if you’re using the same language as your customers.

Beyond using the language that your audience use, the channel consumers prefer to receive communications through is also changing.

What channels do my audience want to use?

The consumer tendency towards chat messaging has led to the increased popularity of chatbots. When used in the right circumstances chatbots can quickly and effectively answer your customers’ questions. Whilst the mention of chatbot may evoke the fear of Microsoft’s rogue chatbot Tay, advances in AI and consumer confidence in AI with the mainstream use of technology like Siri and Alexa has grown.

 

By Olivia Collins, marketing executive at ThoughtShift

 

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