In 2016, marketers have had more tech trends to keep up with than ever before. Talking points have been Virtual Reality (VR), automation and AI as well as the continued effort of start-ups to disrupt the status quo, says Stephen Morgan.
Tech giants have also branched out into new realms, suggesting the need for businesses to continually diversify. Three examples are UberEats and fashion retailer Missguided opening its first bricks-and-mortar store, similar to Amazon and its bookstores.
As a result of the innovation happening around them, businesses are questioning what type of change is right for their own brand. As plans for 2017 are being finalised though, marketers should have one goal in mind for their digital strategy – offering a customer-centric experience. To achieve this, they are often asking whether they should invest in new technologies. Is there a future market they will be missing out on if they don’t act now or should they see if the trend changes customer behaviour dramatically over time?
Here are some key considerations marketers should keep in mind when making digital strategy decisions for the coming year.
Think customer first
What content do your customers want, what will they be most receptive to and how would they like to receive the content? Businesses that look at how they can connect with their customers better are the ones that perform best. The communication served must be relevant to the end user’s current relationship with the brand at that given moment. This is the only way to engage customers today.
Mobile sites must be king
Innovation doesn’t have to be a big gesture, just keeping up with the times may be sufficient to offer customers the experience they want. For example, 4 out of 5 adults now own a smartphone, yet remarkably our Digital Disruptors report found that 36% of businesses don’t have a mobile website. Missing out on mobile traffic from the majority of adults in the UK is unnecessary so ensuring that your brand has an outstanding mobile website should be a priority. For those marketers that are meeting this demand already, this is the time to check that your mobile website has all of the features that the end-user requires.
A mobile site is created in a completely different way to a desktop site, however it should be treated with the same importance, if not more. It has to be easy to use and navigate, encompassing all of the features you would expect to find on a desktop. As it is on a smaller scale it cannot be cluttered or be difficult to manoeuvre – scrollable menus, icons and toolbars are visually pleasing. It has to be intuitive. A logical layout with concise language ensures that the overall look is striking and digestible.
Invest in training to ensure adoption
It is important not to follow all trends and invest in technology for technology’s sake. Consumers may not be sure how they feel about VR yet for example; most people haven’t even come close to a headset. Our Digital Disruptors report discovered that whilst 36% of respondents feel that their business needs to invest more money in digital innovation, it’s important to maintain that they are spending it for the right reasons.
Business are at risk of spending money on new technology that staff won’t understand and be willing to adopt. Surprisingly, 53% of marketers admitted to having difficulties using marketing automation software beyond the initial investment. If staff aren’t provided with the appropriate training to use new tools it is a wasted expenditure. The IT team will be your biggest supporters and visionaries when ensuring tech investments are made wisely.
Your customers also have to want to adopt the technology into their brand journey though. For example, if you are one of the 36% of businesses that don’t have a mobile-optimised site, your customers probably aren’t calling out for VR technology just yet.
2017 will be a crucial year for marketers as businesses will face uncertainty over the coming years. Therefore it is time to put strategies in place that will lead to short and long term success through strong customer relationships. Businesses should not be taken aback or led astray by the latest industry or digital trends, as industry advancements are being made all the time. Investing in a long term customer experience strategy that builds upon current customer value will enhance customer relationships and solidify brand loyalty in 2017 and beyond.
By Stephen Morgan, Co-Founder of digital transformation business, Squiz
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