Jan 18

Casper’s IPO Shows How Tech Changed Mattress Sales

In less than a decade, Casper and its copycats took mattress buying from an unpleasant affair into an efficient, customer-friendly process. The evolution began with a foam mattress rolled up in a shipping box. But Casper’s success is just as much about online marketing and direct-to-consumer strategies that have upended traditional retail.

Sales of online mattress brands are now 14% of the $17 billion domestic mattress industry, according to an estimate from KeyBanc Capital Markets, from roughly zero in 2014.

In its IPO filing, Casper talks up its digital prowess. “We have elevated our brand through a sophisticated, data-driven, and integrated marketing strategy,” the company states, noting it has earned one billion social media mentions over the last five years.

And yet, Casper’s S-1 filing simultaneously explains the limits of technology. The company has 60 retail stores, and it says that there is the potential for 200 over time. That’s a lot of bricks and mortar for a company born on the internet.

“Our presence in physical retail stores has proven complementary to our e-commerce channel,” the company states in the filing. Casper says e-commerce sales in cities with retail stores have grown more than 100% faster on average than cities without its retail stores. That stat should serve as a wake-up call to the retail industry and every analyst and investor that follows it.

The so-called omnichannel trend is not new, but its success has more meaning coming from a start-up like Casper than, say, a traditional retailer like
Walmart
(WMT) or
Nordstrom
(JWN), which often cite their omnichannel strategies.

Shopify
(SHOP), which runs an e-commerce platform used by more than a million merchants, says physical stores have become a crucial tool for its web-native clients.

“It’s a very common path for Shopify brands to start online, begin experimenting, start selling, and when they get to a certain level of sales, they start to think about how to expand their brand offline,” says Arpan Podduturi, Shopify’s director of product. He cites the increasing noise and rising cost of digital marketing on platforms like Google, Instagram, and
Facebook.
“Those are really crowded channels now,” Podduturi says.

“I think it’s really important to set the record straight,” he adds. “Customer acquisition cost in the near future will surpass the cost of the actual products being sold.”

That dynamic makes stores a viable part of business models once again. But don’t confuse the bricks-and-mortar renaissance with a comeback for traditional retailers. Podduturi says web-retailers are using their online sales data to forecast demand and find the best locations. Those are the “halo effects” of e-commerce, he says. Digital marketing chops are a competitive advantage, online and off.

But here’s the problem for Casper: Technology can only go so far in changing economic realities. Unfortunately for Casper, it still shares many of the characteristics of the underperforming tech IPOs of 2019, including huge aspirations and large losses with no profits in sight.

Similar to the multi-trillion-dollar transportation markets cited by
Uber Technologies
(UBER) in its IPO, Casper points to a market size of $432 billion for the “global sleep economy.” That figure includes $106 billion for bedroom furniture, $81 billion for mattresses, and $98 billion for bedding, among other categories. The dreamy addressable-market won’t help Casper’s credibility among investors, who have begun to demand a concrete path to profits.

Casper’s losses expanded to $95 million in its latest four quarters, from $89 million in the previous 12-month period.

The company did not respond to our request for comment about the growing losses, but a huge marketing expense is surely one factor. The company notes that it invested $423 million in marketing from January 2016 through September 2019.

Growth investors are willing to absorb losses, but Casper’s revenue trends could be a non starter for many of them. Revenue growth was roughly 20% in the first nine months of 2019, down from 46% annualized growth over the prior three years.

And despite the buzz of its forthcoming IPO, Casper isn’t alone in the world of mattress innovators.
Purple Innovation
(PRPL), which went public through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in 2018, sells its own version of a bed-in-a-box, at a higher price point than Casper. Purple’s average mattress is about $1,800, while Casper has most recently cited an “average order value” of $820.

Like Casper, Purple has grown into a popular web brand through clever digital marketing. The company says its online video ads have over 1.8 billion views.

Unlike Casper, however, Purple has improving financials. The company reported $8.4 million in profits in its latest quarter. Sales increased 66%, to $117 million. In the same quarter, Casper reported $128 million in revenue, up 24% year-over-year, with net losses of $23 million.

Tech or not, the numbers still matter. That was the lesson of 2019, courtesy of Uber,
Lyft
(LYFT), and WeWork. And it’s one that’s likely to keep Casper’s bankers up at night in the coming weeks.

Write to Tae Kim at tae.kim@barrons.com

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/caspers-ipo-shows-how-tech-changed-mattress-sales/

Jan 17

Cheetah Mobile Appoints New Chief Financial Officer

BEIJING, Jan. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Cheetah Mobile Inc. (NYSE: CMCM) (“Cheetah Mobile” or the “Company”), a leading mobile internet company with global market coverage, today announced that it has appointed Mr. Thomas Jintao Ren as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, effective January 31st, 2020. Mr. Ren will succeed Mr. Vincent Jiang, who plans to resign from his position for personal reasons. In the future, Mr. Vincent Jiang will continue to support the Company’s growth.

Mr. Sheng Fu, Cheetah Mobile’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer stated, “We are pleased to welcome Thomas to join Cheetah Mobile as Chief Financial Officer. With his strong track records in capital markets, corporate finance and management, we believe Thomas will be a great addition to our management team and will bring rich experience for Cheetah Mobile’s future development.”

Mr. Ren stated, “I am honored to be appointed as the chief financial officer of Cheetah Mobile. I look forward to working with the team to continue our growth and strengthen our leadership in the industry.”

Thomas Jintao Ren will join us from Renren Inc. (NYSE: RENN), where he has served as a chief financial officer since September 2015. Mr. Ren also served as the chief financial officer of Kaixin Auto Holdings (NASDAQ:KXIN) from September 2015 to August 2019. Kaixin Auto Holidings is a subsidiary of Renren Inc. Prior to rejoining Renren Inc., Mr. Ren was the chief financial officer at Chukong Technologies. From 2005 and 2014, Mr. Ren served as Renren Inc.’s senior finance director. Prior to that, Mr. Ren had worked at KPMG for five years. Mr. Ren holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Renmin University of China. He is a certified public accountant in China and the United States, and a chartered professional accountant in Canada.

About Cheetah Mobile Inc.

Cheetah Mobile is a leading mobile Internet company with global market coverage. It has attracted hundreds of millions of monthly active users through its mobile utility products such as Clean Master and Cheetah Keyboard, casual games such as Piano Tiles 2, Bricks n Balls, and live streaming product Live.me. The Company provides its advertising customers, which include direct advertisers and mobile advertising networks through which advertisers place their advertisements, with direct access to highly targeted mobile users and global promotional channels. The Company also provides value-added services to its mobile application users through the sale of in-app virtual items on selected mobile products and games. Cheetah Mobile is committed to leveraging its cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies to power its products and make the world smarter. It has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since May 2014. 

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements, including management quotes and business outlook, constitute forward-looking statements under the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates” and similar statements. Such statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including but are not limited to the following: Cheetah Mobile’s growth strategies; Cheetah Mobile’s ability to retain and increase its user base and expand its product and service offerings; Cheetah Mobile’s ability to monetize its platform; Cheetah Mobile’s future business development, financial condition and results of operations; competition with companies in a number of industries including internet companies that provide online marketing services and internet value-added services; expected changes in Cheetah Mobile’s revenues and certain cost or expense items; and general economic and business condition globally and in China. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in Cheetah Mobile’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Cheetah Mobile does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable law.

Investor Relations Contact
Cheetah Mobile Inc.
Helen Jing Zhu
Tel: +86 10 6292 7779 ext. 1600
Email: helenjingzhu@cmcm.com

ICR Inc.
Jack Wang
Tel: +1 (646) 417-5395
Email: IR@cmcm.com

CisionCision

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SOURCE Cheetah Mobile Inc

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Jan 16

5 ways to get more Visitors for your Business Internet Blog

Everybody believes that this generation has taken a great leap in business management particularly in the online world. As everybody turns global, business community utilizes the internet as an effective means to reach out to the possible market.Everybody believes that this generation has taken a great leap in business management particularly in the online world. As everybody turns global, business community utilizes the internet as an effective means to reach out to the possible market

One way to reach possible buyers or clients is through online business blogs. These blogs are considered to be an effective tool to educate and advertise products in the internet.

However, the effectiveness of the blog will be dependent on how it is frequently visited and read by the people. As a businessman utilizing the internet, you must be aware that there are billions of blogs and articles out there that compete to your blog.The solution to that problem cannot be deciphered at first glance.

It needs to be practiced and mastered in time. However, there are some basic guidelines that a business internet blogger should understand in order to invite readers and visitors.

5 Tips For Get More Visitors To Your Blog

Here are some of the ways to promote your business internet blog:

Be creative

Before you will do the basics in promoting your blog in the internet, you must first focus on the creativity of your writing. Your writing skills really matters on how you make everybody want to read your blog.

However, too technical could be bringing disaster to your blog.

Online readers don’t want to think. They want to be spoon feed. Making your article easy to read will make it more appealing.

It is recommendable than using technical words to impress your readers.

Simple yet precise

Statistics shows that almost 50% do research when they use the internet. If you are in business, you want to grasp this 50% and persuade them to visit and read your blog.

A simple and precise title will be an answer for that. The more precise and simple your title is, the more it is searchable in the search engines. 

Numbers are also important in your title because in psychology, numbers denotes productivity and fortune. Aside from numbers, intriguing questions could also be a good decoy to your blog.

Use social media sites

The other 50% of the internet users are either playing or wasting time in social media sites. These internet users however, are really not the buyer type but they could help your blog in ranking if ever you tend to optimize your blog.

Optimize it

If you are really for the gold, then optimizing your blog is the best way to make it searchable in Google and other search engines. For example Meetanshi Blog

Suggest for action

Aside from the fact that authors would like to be criticized, a blog that suggests interaction is considered to be a class A blog because it would put readers in a situation that they would be reading your next blog. Although, not all will be pleased with your blog, if you are in a business sector, all of these emotions are considered to be a positive indication that your blog is working.

News From

MeetanshiMeetanshi
Category: eCommerce Solutions and DevelopersCompany about: Meetanshi is the outcome of the ardent dreams with dire desires of magnificent minds. With the objective to give the ideal Magento extensions, solutions, and solutions to fit every business needs, Meetanshi retains Exceeding E-commerce Excellence! Since 2017, we’re expanding Magento horizons, and we’ve mastered it! 140+ Magento extensions will be the result of our ongoing passion and commitment! Partner together to uplift your thousand-mile company to sneak peek success.
With the objective to g

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Jan 15

10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know

Want to succeed on social media in 2020?

Then you need to know what trends will matter most this year.

While the technology we have access to has never been greater, the competition has also never been higher

Plus, there is no shortage of platforms where you could be investing your time.

But in the end, it all comes back to your audience.

Are you getting in front of them where they’re spending their time?

Are you giving them what they want or need, at the right time?

What matters to them?

These are the questions we all need answers to – and these answers seemingly change every year.

So I asked some really smart people for their thoughts on social media marketing in 2020.

Here are 10 social media trends that will matter most to marketers, brands, and businesses in 2020, according to 34 experts.

Want all the social media trends now? Download our ebook: The Biggest Social Media Trends of 2020, According to 34 Experts

Trend #1: Connection + Community + Experience

In 2020, the big trend will actually be a return to the basics.

Lisa Buyer, CEO, and Social PR Consultant, The Buyer Group, said that it is no longer enough to provide a service your customer needs. Self-serving social messages won’t cut it in 2020, either.

“The new mindset is this: The relationship we build with our customers is more important than the products and services we sell them,” Buyer said.

Part of the “back-to-basics” approach to social media means you should step back and think about two things, according to Michael Williams, Senior Social Media Manager, Jellyfish:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What are their interests and challenges?

“When it comes to creating content, brands need to counteract the social media noise, think ‘less is more,’ and create messaging that actually resonates with their key audience(s),” Williams said.

That all starts with the connection.

“People are looking for connections on a personal level with businesses and brands that feel like part of their community,” said Mary Davies, President, Beanstalk Internet Marketing. “Businesses will need to put more effort than ever into being more of a helpful, understanding ‘friend’ in a community than simply a service/product provider.”

Elena Salazar, Digital Marketing Manager, VMware, said smart brands should aim to make their social media social. It may seem obvious, but there are still a lot of brands that don’t respond to comments on their posts, she said.

“It is important to listen to your audience and provide value to them as opposed to solely using your social media channels to promote your products/services,” Salazar said. “With more and more competition on social media, truly connecting with people will help humanize your brand and gain the trust of your audience (which will help your sales!).”

Part of that means spending more time building engaging content and being more engaged, said Amanda Webb, Digital Marketing Strategy Specialist, Spiderworking.

“This is one area where SMBs can still win,” according to Webb. “Social networks will also recognize engaging pages and give them a lift in reach. This engagement will help when you create ads, too.”

Erin Jones, Founder, RepBright, expects to see an increase in the value of authentic engagement in 2020. After all, social media was never meant to be a platform for push marketing, and users have shown that they value engagement and interactions with brands.

“People want to feel like they know who they’re spending money with, as a result, brands will need to step up and provide an environment for their customers to do so quickly and easily,” Jones said. “Making them feel like they’re part of a group that they want to be in will ensure brand loyalty and great social media engagement.”

That means community will also be key.

That’s why brands should create their own groups on Facebook (and specialized LinkedIn groups), rather than just having a company page to get likes or follows, said Krystian Szastok, SEM Consultant, KrystianSzastok.co.uk, tells.

You have the power to build a strong community around your brand and create movements that have an impact beyond increasing sales, said Lenka Koppova, Freelance Social Media Strategist Founder, Cambridge Social Media.

“The reason why I call it community, is the ability of brands online not only to educate and entertain their audiences but also to engage and facilitate meaningful interactions among their followers, users, and fans,” Koppova said.

Davies believes that, in 2020, we will see the group and like-minded community spaces dominating more and more, which means a much heavier workload for marketers and brands.

“Groups and communities require a lot of time to manage, as they really are all about the personal communication, not just posting and waiting for the comments to roll in or paying for an ad and waiting for a click,” Davies said. “Leaning on influencers and experts will continue to be a major factor in social media, especially in these community-minded groups.”

And don’t forget to focus on creating experience, said Brie Anderson, Program Director of Digital Marketing, WSU Tech.

“Brands should focus on their groups, direct messages, and comments as the conversation is key to community and experience,” Anderson said. “Giveaways and automated shoutouts don’t cut it anymore, brands are going to have to have a vested interest in their customer base and engage with them online.”

Companies that adhere to the principle of “people not just pixels” will reap rewards in 2020, said Mel Carson, Founder, CEO Principal Strategist, Delightful Communications.

Trend #2: Authentic Influencers

Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere; in fact, it’s maturing, said Erin Fredregill, Founder CEO, Robe + Signet.

“The key is in creating a crystal clear influencer strategy that thoughtfully integrates with your overall marketing strategy, establishing a thorough influencer vetting process and providing a brief that clearly outlines your brand’s goals and content guidelines while still allowing micro-influencers to direct the narrative in a way that feels authentic to their audience,” Fredregill said.

Kendall Bird, Social Media Manager, DKY, believes influencers who are authentic will be more powerful than “power influencers” (e.g., Kim Kardashian), as these authentic influencers will share content they care about and actually use on a regular basis.

“Social media users know what a forced relationship with a brand looks like, and they’re tired of seeing these interactions,” Bird said. “I encourage brands and companies to look for influencers who will authentically use their product or service and share it with their audiences.”

For smaller organizations or those in the B2B industry that may be struggling to see how influencer marketing can be implemented to reach their goals, there are a few places to start, said Anastasia Warren, Senior Social Media Manager, KoMarketing Associates.

“Look into industry event speakers or ambassadors to see who your target audience is paying attention to on social media and on the floor at industry events,” Warren said. “Additionally, look internally at how employees can step into thought leadership roles and become the voice of an organization through engagement and amplification of messaging.”

In 2020, our concept of influencer tiers – major influencers with millions of followers all the way to micro-influencers in the 1,000s – will expand even further because it’s becoming easier for everyone to be an influencer, as Kevan Lee, VP of Marketing, Buffer, points out.

He said businesses can take advantage of this by doubling down on employee advocacy (more on this in Trend #5) and user-generated content (see Trend #10).

Trend #3: Diversify with TikTok, Reddit More

Emma Franks, Sr. Paid Social Account Manager, Hanapin Marketing, expects diversification to be a primary trend in social media, especially on the advertising side. Diversification is also beneficial for risk mitigation by reducing dependency on Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

“Facebook is no longer the one-stop-shop it used to be. Younger demographics are favoring the sister platform of Instagram, as well as TikTok and Snapchat,” Franks said. “Every ‘early-mover’ advertiser who embraces smaller networks now (e.g., Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Snapchat) will enjoy an environment of relatively low cost due to lower levels of competition.”

Speaking of TikTok – Brandon Doyle, CEO Founder, Wallaroo Media, said getting onto that platform now is key.

“Organic reach on TikTok is like nothing we’ve ever seen. It’s better than even the early days of Facebook,” Doyle said. “Create content that will resonate with your target audience, but be willing to test and iterate over time to see what works best. We’ve seen incredible results for our clients. The ad platform is early-stage but the ROI there is great, too.”

Debbie Miller, President, Social Hospitality, expects more marketers to start exploring ways to take advantage of TikTok’s advertising platform to reach engaged Gen Z consumers.

“It could also be worthwhile to locate the platform’s top users to endorse your brand if they’re a fit,” Miller said. “This younger demographic is highly engaged and trusting of the opinions of their peers.”

Another platform companies need to put on the radar in 2020: Reddit, according to Brent Csutoras, Adviser, Search Engine Journal.

Many companies have found marketing on Reddit difficult and intimidating. But consumers’ use of Reddit is growing rapidly and view brands on Reddit as more authoritative (likely due to the difficulty and commitment required to be successful on Reddit), he said.

“It has never been a better time for brands to establish themselves on a platform that is largely responsible for creating much of the internet culture we have come to enjoy today,” Csutoras said. “With over 430 million monthly active users and about 32% of all Americans on Reddit each month, brands need to take a serious look at making Reddit a part of their 2020 plans.”

Trend #4: Reimagine Social Analytics

The era of reporting on vanity metrics seems to be nearing its end, especially on Facebook-owned platforms.

Anna Bredava, Marketing Manager, Awario, noted that this should make social analytics tools even more useful to marketers, as we analyze and report on our social media successes and failures.

Sam Ruchlewicz, VP of Digital Strategy Data Analytics, Warschawski, agreed. He said as the amount of money being spent on social media (ads, influencer programs, organic programs, etc.) increases, so will the scrutiny of those investments by both marketing leaders and the C-suite.

“Smart marketers will continue investing in measurement and analytics programs that go beyond the standard vanity metrics and toward meaningful metrics that more accurately align with larger organizational/business goals,” Ruchlewicz said. “On the analytics side, it has never been more important for marketers to create their own source of truth and do their own math in terms of quantifying outcomes, especially when it comes to measuring incrementality. As machine learning continues to evolve, the brands with the best data will rise to the top – so make sure you have the infrastructure in place to do that.”

So that leaves us with an important question to answer: how will analytics measure reach in a like-less world and correlate activities of potential customer to marketer objectives?

“Deeper, inferential metrics will be needed to describe how social media influence consumer behavior and local commerce,” Pierre DeBois, Founder and CEO, Zimana Analytics. “Social media platforms must refresh their analytic dashboards to provide more transparency behind the measurements.”

Trend #5: Use Employee Advocacy to Your Advantage

Your employees are more important to the success of your company than you think, said Ted Rubin, CMO, Photofy.

“Brands that are winning this new journey are providing large quantities of fresh and relevant content for shoppers to use when they actually need it,” Rubin said. “Empower your employees and they will power your brand.”

Employee generated content helps build brand trust and reinforce relationships, as Kendall Bird points out.

“I encourage all companies to think about employee advocacy, even if it is starting on a smaller scale with employees sharing blog content to their social media networks,” she said.

Trend #6: Get Creative: Stop Being Boring!

Boring brands are everywhere, with their boring social media content.

In B2B tech, for instance, Mel Carson is always looking for more creative ways to stand out in a sea of blah, blah, blah. For instance, showcasing what it all means with dynamic examples, which may be:

  • Short (but effective) videos shot at events where tech partners talk about their solutions, how the idea came about, how it was built, etc.
  • Short-form animated GIFs and videos that are designed to inspire the viewer, not just to understand, but to take action.

Who wants to go to a brand page and just see a bunch of ‘buy my stuff!’ posts or boring posts that don’t apply to their life or solve their problems?

Nobody, that’s who, said Chris Sciulli, Digital Marketing Lead, The International Society of Automation / Owner Author, SmokehouseSEO.com.

So, in 2020, start being interesting and stop using your social media as a place where you stand on a box and shout ads at people.

“Nobody cares about your ads unless you have shown your worth by providing quality consumable content,” Sciulli said. “Nobody cares that you just got a new drinking fountain in the break room. Put yourself in the place of their visitors and think about what they would want to see and interact with.”

Trend #7: Stories 2.0

Smart brands/businesses would do well to ensure they have a solid Stories strategy for 2020 with daily images, micro-videos, and content that audiences value, said Mari Smith, Social Media Thought Leader CEO, Mari Smith International, Inc.

“Follow those accounts leading the way,” Smith said. “Get creative. Be sure to always tie to the bottom line and add your CTAs.”

Sarah Clarke, Media Strategist Founder, Dufferin Media, believes the consumption of ephemeral content (social media content that is only available for a limited amount of time and then disappears) will continue increasing in 2020.

“Stories are a perfect way to get the attention, for a few valuable seconds, of an audience that loves authentic creative content,” Clarke said. “Stories are a great way to add a touch of humanity to your social media using emojis, videos, and stickers.”

Smart brands and businesses will make this a greater focus in their 2020 marketing strategy if they want to have a higher level of success reaching their audiences, and increasing engagement, Clarke said.

Trend #8: Use Social Media as a Discovery Engine

Are you using social media to drive direct traffic and branded search? If not, you should be in 2020, said Mark Traphagen, VP of Content Strategy, Aimclear

“Ahead-of-the-game brands will add paid and organic social posts using arresting creative, emblazoned with a brand name along with ‘money’ terms and phrases prominently displayed,” Traphagen said. “The objective is driving top-of-funnel seekers to brand-specific search – low cost on the social end; incredible potential value on the search traffic end.”

But that’s just one way to use social media as a discovery engine. You can also use social media to point to private messaging and text message clubs to stay in touch, said Virginia Nussey, Director of Marketing, Mobile Monkey.

She expects more brands to develop high-value, high-transparency, highly personalized VIP access programs.

“Check out Gary Vaynerchuk for a first look at how this is working,” Nussey said. “He uses the opening of his YouTube videos to share an opt-in text message phone number. The text message club starts with an automated welcome message. After that, Vaynerchuk personally sends motivation and lifestyle messages to the community with a text message blast tool. The strategy is part automation, part personalization, and a 100% scalable brand connection.”

Trend #9: YouTube Video

Video may not be a hot new trend, but it remains an important trend in social media.

As Joe Youngblood, Founder, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, put it: 2020 is the year that video content on social media is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have.

“Data has suggested for some time that consumers who view online videos are more likely than their counterparts to make a purchase,” Youngblood said. “Consumers now appear to expect video content from a brand they are going to do business with. If you haven’t started experimenting with video, now is the time to get going or you’ll risk falling behind the competition.”

Oh, and don’t forget: YouTube is a social media platform. And it’s bigger than Facebook.

“In 2020, the biggest trend that smart brands and businesses should focus on for greater success is the emergence of YouTube as the leading social media platform,” said Greg Jarboe, President Co-founder, SEO-PR.

Why YouTube in 2020?

In the full ebook (download to see it all), Jarboe lays out all the latest juicy data and stats, which include this important fact: YouTube is the #2 site on the web (behind only Google), while Facebook ranks fourth, according to Alexa.

Trend #10: Leverage UGC

The content your audience creates is invaluable to your brand, according to Kristi Kellogg, CEO, and Founder, Dazzling Digital.

“Your customers (and potential customers) find content posted by their peers far more influential, trustworthy, and compelling than the content a brand creates itself,” Kellogg said.

She said every brand can take three steps in 2020 to get more user-generated content (UGC) and earn more social proof:

  • Encourage your audience to tag your brand in social posts by always reposting and/or featuring that UGC.
  • Comment and interact with your audience regularly.
  • Run contests that drive UGC.

Want More Social Media Trends Insights for 2020?

This only scratches the surface of what you’ll find in our new ebook, The Biggest Social Media Trends of 2020, According to 34 Experts. Ready for more?

Click here to download The Biggest Social Media Trends of 2020, According to 34 Experts

You’ll get more uncensored and unfiltered insights and tips straight from these marketing experts on how to succeed on social media in 2020:

  • Brie E Anderson
  • Kendall Bird
  • Anna Bredava
  • Lisa Buyer
  • Mel Carson
  • Sarah Clarke
  • Brent Csutoras
  • Mary Davies
  • Pierre DeBois
  • Brandon Doyle
  • Victoria Edwards
  • Emma Franks
  • Erin Fredregill
  • Greg Jarboe
  • Erin Jones
  • Kristi Kellogg
  • Lenka Koppova
  • Kevan Lee
  • Debbie Miller
  • Virginia Nussey
  • Ted Rubin
  • Sam Ruchlewicz
  • Elena Salazar
  • Mark Schaefer
  • Chris Sciulli
  • Mari Smith
  • Ashley Segura
  • Krystian Szastok
  • Mark Traphagen
  • Anastasia Warren
  • Amanda Webb
  • Michael Williams
  • Joe Youngblood
  • Dennis Yu

10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know

Past Editions of Social Media Trends:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

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Jan 14

Janet Peischel’s The Internet Marketer: Influencer marketing: Building trust and authority

Janet Peischel

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/janet-peischels-the-internet-marketer-influencer-marketing-building-trust-and-authority/

Jan 13

Why WhatsApp marketing could be the next big thing for digital marketers

  • Till now, WhatsApp has been a relatively untapped marketing tool, however, the launch of WhatsApp ads might soon change the game.
  • Marketers are currently using the WhatsApp for Business App and the WhatsApp for Business API.
  • Sectors like travel, diners and niche news channels have been using WhatsApp to reach their consumers.
  • Industry experts tell us about the different ways in which marketers can make the most out of the platform.

As we enter a new year and decade, one trend that digital marketing experts across the world have been talking about is WhatsApp marketing and how it can help brands reach out to their audiences effectively.

With close to 1.5 billion users across the globe, the Facebook-owned app is perhaps one of the most popular and frequently used apps in the world.

Recently at the Facebook Marketing Summit (FMC) 2019 that took place in Netherlands, the company announced that it will soon show ‘Status ads’ to its users where they will be able to see the name of the advertiser along with their associated advertisement. This is expected to open a floodgate of opportunities for brands interested in getting up, close and personal with their consumers.

However, while there is still some time for WhatsApp to launch ads, we explored the other ways that marketers can use the platform.

How marketers can use WhatsApp

Currently there are two products from WhatsApp that can be used by marketers to reach out to their consumers. Firstly, the WhatsApp for Business App, that can be used by small businesses and secondly, the WhatsApp for Business API that has been designed for medium and large businesses.

Explaining how these two products can be used by marketers, Sabyasachi Mitter, Founder and MD, Fulcro says, “The WhatsApp for Business App is meant for the use of small businesses. It is similar to the WhatsApp mobile app which you already use on your phone, with some additions like auto-responders and a basic product catalogue. This app is used manually and cannot really scale beyond a few 100 customers. The WhatsApp for Business API is solution that is aimed at enterprises and brands that wish to engage with their customers at scale. It provides an API-based interface that allows brands to communicate using the WhatsApp platform. There is no ‘app’ that a business can just download and get started, and requires a brand to setup a proper infrastructure. Brands need to invest time in the setup of the WhatsApp for Business API.”

The WhatsApp for Business API provides brands with the ability to communicate with customers in 2 ways – a notification message or a Session Window, adds Mitter. Notification messages can be sent to customers who have signed up to receive notifications from the brand. These messages have to be pre-approved by WhatsApp.

“When customers message to a brand, they open a ‘Session Window’. In this window, a brand can communicate with a customer for a 24-hour window from their last message in a free-form mode. Here they can send all sorts of content, including images, videos, and documents,” he shares.

For the longest time advertising was about one way interaction with consumers. However the advent of internet has allowed brands to get closer to its consumers, to have more two-way communications. That is exactly what WhatsApp allows brands to do.

Delving deeper, Vishal Rupani, Co-founder and CEO, mCanvas says, “There are some business teams which prefer to send out messages using their personal WhatsApp account, and not a business alternative and it works well on a small scale. But if we’re going to consider the use of WhatsApp as a marketing tool at scale, then it’s time to look at the bigger picture. Large brands are using WhatsApp Business API to send out personalised appointment reminders, shipping alerts, order notifications, product demonstration videos, verification codes, boarding passes, and 2-way customer surveys and support messages.”

So how can brands benefit from using the platform? Considering the wide usage of the app, it makes for a platform where brands can directly reach out to an already-engaged audience.

Citing some interesting figures, Rupani says, “According to Hootsuite, the engagement rates on WhatsApp are distinctly high, where 98% of mobile messages are opened and read, with 90% of them getting opened within three seconds of being received. Marketers can leverage the wide reach of the app to tap into consumer segments on a personalised level. Further, the messaging interface of the app makes it tempting enough for any user to click on. If that’s not enough, then the personalised nature of WhatsApp messages evokes a desire to engage with the message.”

Speaking about sectors that have been finding the most value out of investing on WhatsApp, Mihir Mehta, AVP – Digital Planning and Buying, iProspect India says, “Since it is a conversational and interactive platform, a lot of sectors like travel, diners, niche news channels prefer to use it to reach their consumers.”

The brands that have been doing it right on WhatsApp

Some brands that have been leveraging WhatsApp, primarily for customer service are Nykaa and BookMyShow. However, there are some other brands that have been innovating on the platform to reach out to its consumers.

Giving a few examples, Rupani says, “Brands in the hospitality industry have effectively used WhatsApp Business to create a flawless experience for users at every step. For instance, OYO, the Indian hotel booking site, assists their customers with personalised alerts regarding booking confirmation, directions to the hotel on the day of check-in and even makes cancelling their bookings easy and hassle free. Further, KLM, the flag carrier airline of The Netherlands also uses WhatsApp Business API to send booking confirmations, boarding passes, check-in notifications, and flight statuses to users, once they’ve completed a booking on the airline’s website.”

He shares that Absolut was one of the first brands to creatively use WhatsApp to promote its limited edition Absolut Unique vodka with branded social content. “In this campaign, consumers interacted on WhatsApp with a fictional bouncer named Sven. They were encouraged to send text and voice messages, photos and videos to convince him, that they deserve to receive one of the two passes available to the brand’s exclusive party. This was a unique twist to how WhatsApp can be used as a marketing tool,” adds Rupani.

WhatsApp v/s other social media platforms

While other social media platforms help brands get direct engagement with their consumers too, WhatsApp has a different set of benefits. Explains Mitter, “We have to realise that the two platforms are very distinct and have different purposes. WhatsApp allows a brand to engage with a customer one-on-one, while on Social media, a Brand will engage with a community, and both have a place in the consumer journey. For example, when seeking support, WhatsApp would present a better option to the customer, as they can be serviced one-on-one on a dedicated conversation.”

“Both platform types also help support each other. Communicating with a consumer on WhatsApp needs the recording of explicit consent, either through a form or through an incoming message, Social Media can be used to help inform customers and give them a viable reason to give consent,” he adds.

While WhatsApp and other social media platforms play different roles in a consumer’s life, it is important to understand that an effective use of these apps can help marketers get through to a really engaged audience. Moreover, the launch of WhatsApp status ads is set to take the game to the next level, allowing brands to put their thinking hats on and innovate. Brands will need to ensure that the ads shown on the platform do not become intrusive. Now how brands make the most of this platform is something we will have to wait and watch. Needless to say, we have interesting times ahead.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/why-whatsapp-marketing-could-be-the-next-big-thing-for-digital-marketers/

Jan 12

Marketing’s Role in Digital Transformation: Why Sales Owns the Last Mile

It’s Not the Buyer Journey, It’s the Customer Journey.

This is the last in a series of articles on the largest change to Marketing since the rise of the internet. We are now facing the last mile of relationship transformation between buyers and sellers that began with broad access to digital content. Marketing has been at the forefront of this change – first in creating digital experiences with the content on the web and email and eventually tying those digital channels together using Marketing Automation. Marketers are now facing the cold reality that the returns on automation are rapidly declining. What’s next?

Marketing Leaders Are Best Positioned Not Only to Champion the CX, but to Take Ownership of That Experience and Establish a Pivotal Role in Setting the Course for the Company.

If you step back and look at the transformation of the customer experience, not only Marketing but the entire buyer journey, it’s apparent the next step for the organization is the Digital Transformation of Sales. Leading companies such as SAP and Guardian Life are taking steps in this direction – It’s critical Marketing get involved now. Whether experimenting with Chatbots or investing in Sales Enablement technology, Marketing needs to be the customer experience champion throughout these initiatives.

Read More: The Killer App in Digital Transformation is “People”

Marketing Must Become the CX Champion

Championing customer experience (CX) starts during the Sales experience and buyer journey, and extends beyond the purchase to the full term of the company relationship – Marketing should lead the charge to create engaging experiences throughout the customer life cycle. If you wonder why SAP spent $8B for Qualtrics, the largest acquisition in their history, it’s because the foundation of managing experience is a way to measure experience and that’s what Qualtrics does.

Marketing leaders are best positioned not only to champion the CX, but to take ownership of that experience and establish a pivotal role in setting the course for the company. Taking ownership requires divesting other responsibilities like advertising and marketing operations. These specialist functions are now more technical and operational than creative and should be aligned more with Sales rather than Marketing. In fact, these functions can all be merged under the Chief Revenue Officer – for more on this read The Pedowitz Group’s approach to Revenue Marketing.

What’s Left for Marketing Leaders If They Handoff Demand Generation Operations?

One of my assignments early in my consulting career was a large scale transformation project for a national retailer. The retailer was rapidly losing ground to Walmart and decided to differentiate by becoming a customer-centric organization. I was tasked with figuring out how the process could drive customer-centricity. Just as a strategy often follows culture, process follows organization so I started with rethinking the organization. Retail is like many industries in organizing around internal function, like product and supply chain, rather than customers. The buying function (think consumer electronics, women’s fashion) drives most process and is accountable for a PL – they own the business.

I recommended organizing around the customer rather than products and creating business owners who align with customer segments. Instead of the women’s fashion buyer running a business, the working mother customer leader owns the PL for that segment. Buying becomes a functional center of excellence. Organizing by customer segment changes the discussion, incentives, and necessarily drives process to be much more customer-centric. Changing the organizational structure changes the process. Similarly, changing the Marketing organization changes the customer experience!

Read More: 5 Ways to Improve Shelf and Merchandising Strategy with 3D Eye Tracking and Big Data

Start Small and Get Moving

The idea is not necessarily to change your organization overnight. That said, it’s important to have a vision for where your organization is going. That vision will inspire and direct your own actions and then motivate and drive the team as the strategy matures. Read through the past installments in my six-part MarTech Series for advice on how to create your business plan.

The first priority is to work on the engagement plan for sales in social. Succeeding in social selling requires investments in Content Strategy, Sales Enablement technology, and education, and risk management. Start by reading and engaging with industry analysts  to begin your education journey, I recommend following Mary Shea at Forrester – she has participated in several great video interviews.

In closing, I don’t think there has been a more exciting and challenging time to be in Marketing. There’s a tremendous opportunity and need for change. Don’t wait for it to happen – make it happen, and enjoy the journey!

Read More: Digital Transformation: Move Fast, Get Technology Out of Your Way

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/marketings-role-in-digital-transformation-why-sales-owns-the-last-mile/

Jan 11

Ashley Friedlein’s marketing & digital trends for 2020 to 2030

Every year I pick out the digital and marketing trends and developments which I believe will shape the industry and digital/marketing planning and thinking in the year ahead.

This is a special year. 2020 always used to be ‘the future’ somewhere on the horizon. Well, here we are. We need a new future. Let’s go with 2030.

There have been quite a few ten-year retrospectives written on digital, and some (fewer than usual for some reason) 2020 trends and predictions, but not much looking forwards ten years. So that is what I would like to focus on first.

You can use the quick links below to navigate. And we’ve also created a downloadable PDF, which you can get for free here.

The decade to 2030:

  • 1. In search of trust
  • 2. Humane tech
  • 3. Personalisation 2.0
  • 4. Everything-as-a-service
  • 5. Ecommerce and the environment

2020 Digital and marketing trends:

  • 6. Ecommerce, social, advertising, UX, SEO etc.
  • 7. Messaging
  • 8. Digital marketing transformation
  • 9. Data
  • 10. Customer Experience

The decade to 2030

What will digital/marketing look like a decade from now in 2030?

We know, of course, that there will continue to be advancements in technology, both hardware and software, and artificial intelligence is likely to bring about the greatest changes.

Quantum computing could also deliver seismic change within the next 10 years. Last September Google claimed ‘quantum supremacy’ in performing a calculation that would have taken a traditional computer around 10,000 years to complete in a mere three minutes and 20 seconds.

But here are five broad trends I see playing out in the coming decade.

1. In search of trust

Research has confirmed what we already expected: there has been a loss of trust.

People are shifting their trust to relationships within their control. Trust in institutions, companies, politicians, even brands, has been eroded. Trust in ‘big tech’ companies is also fragile in the wake of data and privacy scandals. Fake news has further undermined our trust in supposed facts.

Recent research from YouGov and Grey London into the levels of consumer trust in influencers and social media in the UK revealed that 41% of regular social media users say they have seen inaccurate content over the last month and 48% believe that profiles of celebrities are either ‘not at all honest’ or ‘somewhat dishonest’.

And yet Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer research found that 81% of consumers agree that trust is a deal breaker or deciding factor in their buying decisions. Perhaps understandably, trust is becoming more important as it becomes scarcer.

For marketers, and brands, this is critical and the battle of the next decade will be about (re)gaining trust with customers. Coming up with a new ‘purpose’, touting your ‘values’, claiming ‘authenticity’ and ‘transparency’ alone won’t cut it.

So how can we deliver trust in the coming ten years? Three areas stand out for me.

Consistency

There are various areas of branding that don’t get enough attention (salience, distinctiveness…) but consistency is certainly one. Professor Mark Ritson has written about the importance of brand ‘codes’, built consistently over time.

You might not like Trump, nor describe him as ‘trustworthy’, but you can perhaps trust what to expect from him?  Even his inconsistency is consistent. ‘Get Brexit done’ was successfully consistent.

In our attention-addled world it takes time and persistent consistency to get through and create the potential for trust.

Playing with brand codes: Cadbury removed wordage from its packaging to support Age UK, donating 30p to the charity for each one sold.

Experience

There is a reason ‘customer experience’ has been, and remains, such a hot trend in digital and marketing. Trust can’t be claimed, it has to be earned. And the most important proof point in deciding whether to trust a brand is not how good its advertising is but what your (or others’ you trust’s) experience of the brand is.

You have to deliver on experience to build a trusted brand: “A good brand is a promise, a great brand is a promise kept” Tom Sitati, Director, Brandscape.

Humanity

Machines are already better than humans in many areas including, for example, image and speech recognition. This past year we have seen demos of machines holding conversations that are indistinguishable from actual humans. Computers are creating new faces that we cannot tell are not ‘real’. James Dean is being brought back to life to star in a new film.

But do we trust these superhuman machines? The best drum machines play slightly out of time to mimic more ‘natural’ sounding humans. Humans might be spooked or threatened by machine perfection and be more trusting of brands which can show vulnerability and imperfection.

To build trusted brands, then, we must be careful not to rely too much on machines, data and automation, but seek to (re)connect on a more human level.

Read more on this topic in the 2018 Econsultancy report Trust, Transparency and Brand Safety.

2. Humane tech

Related to the last point, we have also seen the emergence of “humane tech”, “calm tech” and other initiatives to try and redress the sense that technology is currently designed to manipulate our behaviour and exploit our psychological vulnerabilities.

Sacha Baron-Cohen’s November 2019 speech at the Anti-Defamation League confronted this head on and books like Nir Eyal’s “Hooked” have revealed how it is possible to design for addiction.

In DigitalAgenda’s green paper Power Responsibility: 10 challenges and 10 ideas for change in the digital age the authors chart an evolution from tech euphoria, to tech fear (where we are now), to humane tech.

Philosopher Alain de Botton has challenged society to ask what has happened to ideas like ‘consolation’, ‘meaning’, ‘kindness’, ‘wisdom’.

The mantra of the last decade was “move fast and break things”. Perhaps now we need to work together and fix things? “Do now, think later” might concede ground to consideration, thought and respect? Fast is now faced with slow food, slow fashion, slow travel.

As the world has become increasingly connected, it has also become noisier. We struggle to focus on the things that matter. “Technology shouldn’t require all of our attention, just some of it, and only when necessary” says Amber Case in her book on designing calm technology.

There is evidence of a backlash against overly invasive and addictive technology. Mediacom’s 2019 ‘Connected Kids’ report found that Gen Z are taking steps to reduce their digital usage: 18% of 8–19-year-olds in the UK have deleted social media apps in response to the apps’ negative effects and 13% said they have cut down their social media usage, with 17% also limiting their screen time.

As brands, and marketers, over the next ten years what are we then to do?

Very few of us are big enough just to try and shout louder than the rest. Instead we really do have to understand our brand essence, more than ever before, and find ways to make that connect with our prospects and customers in a more human way.

We will need to make conscious decisions about what we stand for as brands and businesses and the implications for how we therefore use technology. We understand why streaks in Snapchat, duets in TikTok, or video auto play in YouTube or Netflix, work to drive usage but are these appropriate ‘tricks’ for our brands?

TikTok: Everything you need to know

Of course, over the next ten years we will have ever more ‘human’ data sources available including biometric and sensory ones: voice, language, touch, sentiment, expression, mood etc. Recently Facebook bought a ‘brain-machine-interface’ start up called CTRL-Labs that is working on ways for people to control devices simply using brainpower.

But for most of us I believe the opportunity in the next ten years isn’t actually about futuristic technological capabilities. We aren’t using most of the technology already at our disposal. The real opportunity for most marketers is still to create brands, propositions and ideas that tap into the emotional, irrational, messy and imperfect world of real humans – albeit often using technology as an enabler.

3. Personalisation 2.0

Where does all this talk of trust and humanity leave perennial trend-darling ‘personalisation’ then?

According to our recent research with Adobe for the 2020 Digital Trends concern around how customers felt about their data and privacy ranked in the top three most significant business worries.

Then there was GDPR. And now CCPA in California. In 2019 Firefox and Safari started blocking third-party cookies by default and Chrome introduced anti-tracking measures. Apple continues to make changes to Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in Safari, making (re)targeting and measurement of iOS audiences a challenge.

Talk about taking back control. It looks like the sovereignty of self is also a movement.

How are we meant to personalise if we have no personal data?!

It gets worse. Gartner recently predicted that 80% of marketers will abandon personalisation efforts by 2025 due to “lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both”.

However, I don’t think personalisation is going away but it does need redefining. Actually, it has never been very well understood anyway – what is targeting vs customisation vs personalisation? If we’re honest, actual individual-level ‘personalisation’ for most has only extended as far as “Hi [first name]” in emails anyway.

The challenge, and opportunity, of “Personalisation 2.0” is about delivering the personalisation customers actually want whilst respecting the privacy they expect.

Oxymoronic as it sounds, this means we need to get good at “anonymous personalisation”.

Great waiting staff, great landlords/landladies, or the famous village shopkeeper don’t actually need to know who you are to give you personal attention and cater to your needs. The sales assistant who can see you looking lost in a shop, offers to help and walks you to the product you seek whilst informally chatting doesn’t need to know who you are to deliver an experience that feels very personal.

Digital experiences too can feel personalised without actually having to know who you are. I could pass you my phone and you could use Uber and it would feel personalised to you – you choose the car, you get it to come to you, you can see it coming live, you get the updates, you leave the feedback (yes, ok, I pay…). Maybe it is coming soon but even Uber doesn’t use the data it has about me to try and do clever ‘personalisation’ like predictive journey suggestions. And I might not want it.

As customers we want to be recognised without necessarily being identified; we want to be treated as if each business cares; we want customisation according to the context and circumstances; we want ease and convenience; we want less friction; we want to be able to express our needs without judgement.

All these things engender a feeling of ‘personalisation’ but can be done without personally identifiable information.

Personalisation 2.0, therefore, will focus on:

  • Simple, intuitive, friction-free, ‘effortless’ user experiences.
  • Capturing explicit preferences from customers (“zero party data”) that do not necessarily require them to be personally identifiable.
  • Using available non-personal data signals, enhanced by the predictive power of machine learning, to near-magically adapt to the particular context and environment to super-serve customers’ needs and goals in the moment.
  • Maximising intimacy and relevance without infringing privacy.
  • Allowing users to configure and control their experiences in realtime without having to give up their personal privacy.
  • Building zero/first-party relationships based on transparency and trust but which don’t necessarily involve revealing actual identities.

personalisation

4. Everything-as-a-service

We know about the rise of the gig economy and the subscription economy. Royal Mail forecasts that the value of the subscription market will have increased 72% over the five years to 2022.

There is pretty much nothing we don’t now subscribe to: content (Netflix etc.), food (Hello Fresh etc.), shaving (Cornerstone etc.), office space (WeWork etc.), sex toys (Teaserbox etc.).

We know also about the rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS) as part of the wider move to the cloud. There is also PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service). Further on in this article we’ll consider DaaS (data-as-a-service).

Over five years ago I suggested it was time for marketing-as-a-service and three years ago encouraged us all to think of your product or service from a subscription mindset.

Over the next ten years we should consider “everything-as-a-service” as we build business models, products, propositions and brands.

We need to be (re)configurable, scalable, modular. We need network and ecosystem thinking. Being available on demand and adaptive to the context in which we surface will be a pre-requisite for success.

This applies not just to data, systems and applications but to processes, people and organisational structures. Agile is just the beginning.

This way of thinking goes back a long way. In the classic, and hilarious, Stevey’s Google Platforms Rant he explains Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’s ‘Big Mandate’ of 2002, that all teams would henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces and these interfaces must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable (to be exposed to developers in the outside world).

Jeff had the vision of EaaS almost two decades ago. Scott Brinker featured some great insight into Amazon’s innovation formula last quarter, based on a talk at the MIT Platform Strategy Summit by Dirk Didascalou, VP of IoT at Amazon Web Services (AWS), and captured in this graphic which Scott created:

amazon's innovation formula
Amazon’s ‘formula’ for innovation. Source: Chiefmartec and Scott Brinker.

We examine and explain the elements of this formula in our Digital Shift Report: Q4 2019 but you can see that the original technology-as-a-service vision has extended into the organisation to include how it is structured, how work gets done, and even the culture.

The next ten years will see us not just trying to break down data and technology into more reusable and composable parts, but service-oriented thinking will also continue to change how we structure our organisations and how we get work done.

From a marketing point of view, we have already mentioned the codes that should underpin brands – elements that can be re-composed to great effect. We are seeing design move beyond designers towards design systems that embrace atomic design and other patterns to deliver what we might call ‘design-as-a-service’. If we can crack our brand and design codes and build a system to bring them to life then, perhaps, we will have discovered the DNA of customer and brand experience.

This coming decade requires us to break down everything into micro services and figure out how to orchestrate the assembly, and constant re-assembly, of the component parts to deliver amazing experiences for our prospects, customers, staff, and other stakeholders.

5. Ecommerce and the environment

We have been under the impression that ecommerce is positive for the environment as it means fewer shopping trips requiring a journey by car.

However, there is increasing evidence, particularly as our shopping behaviours themselves change, that ecommerce might actually be the least environmentally friendly way for us to shop. If so, as the pressures to tackle climate change through more environmentally-friendly ways of living increases in the coming decade, it is only right that ecommerce comes under much greater scrutiny and we may have to rethink, or at least adjust, its operating model.

Unilever is known for its commitment to reducing the environmental impact of what it does. The consumer goods giant worked with industry body SEAC (Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre) examining its own data and industry analysis of the supply chain to work out the CO2eq emissions per item for different routes to market, including ecommerce and store sales, for various beauty and personal care products.

The results vary by country and product but the chart below, showing the UK data, identifies ecommerce as a worse offender than store sales, largely because of the extra emissions caused by packaging and delivery.

unilever co2 per item ecom vs brick and mortar

We all recognise the cardboard packaging of home deliveries. An artefact which lasts just minutes as we open our delivery and put the packaging straight in the recycling. Amazon is making efforts to reduce its packaging and last August announced it would fine other vendors on its platform who over-packaged their products.

But Amazon’s carbon footprint is still not far off that of Denmark or Switzerland and 30% of the solid rubbish the US generates now comes from the packaging of home-delivered products. Around a billion trees need to be cut down just to provide the ecommerce packaging for the US and the packaging for Christmas returns alone emits an additional 15 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Since 2000 there has been a rise of 9% in passenger car miles on Britain’s roads. However, there has been a 56% rise in the number of miles travelled by home delivery vans in the same period. It seems ecommerce is making traffic worse not better.

The inconvenient truth we need to face in the coming decade is that it is the very same ‘effortless customer experience’ that we strive to deliver that is also driving an ecommerce revolution that may be damaging the planet we’re trying to protect.

There was a time when you waited days for an ecommerce delivery. That window has shrunk to specific same-day slots. With internet of things, delivery to car boots or home access, fridges auto-replenishing and so on… the end game of the ideal home delivery experience is that we forget that anything is being delivered at all. Shipping will become incidental to the purchase experience.

For a long time, we have been part of the supply chain getting goods the ‘last mile’ to our homes. But soon why even walk ten minutes to a shop when it can painlessly and near instantaneously come to you?

Thankfully, whilst ‘digital’ might be more part of the problem than we have recognised, it can also be part of the solution. OLIO, for example, uses technology to connect neighbours to share food, and other things, rather than throw them away. Reusable packaging solutions like LimeLoop and RePack are emerging. Technology is helping power the ‘circular economy’ which encourages reuse, recycling and a reduction in waste.

2020 Digital and marketing trends

So much for the ten-year perspective megatrends. What can we expect in 2020?

6. Ecommerce, social, advertising, UX, SEO etc.

To get the low down on what we can expect across a range of specific digital marketing disciplines I recommend you check out the 2020 trends and predictions we’ve collected from our trusted industry experts:

And the following are excellent short briefings on specific platforms and media that offer new opportunities for marketers over 2020:

7. Messaging

In my 2019 trends I opened with the observation that there were “no new digital marketing disciplines”. That remains broadly true for 2020.

However, messaging is interesting as, like email and social media before it, it is an entirely new medium. At least relatively ‘new’ from a marketing and business perspective. And a medium that is growing very fast.

In 2019 there was a lot of hype around ‘conversational marketing / UI’ that centred mostly around chatbots. That has largely fizzled out. But the level of conversations taking place in messaging apps – both in addition to, and instead of, other forms of communication like email – continues to rise sharply.

It seems certain that we as marketers will need to understand and embrace this new medium in the same way as we had to grapple with email and social before. It is likely we will follow the same adoption trajectory: at first there will be specialist roles and technologies; then there will be confusion and tension over who ‘owns’ messaging as a medium; then we will seek to integrate messaging across the organisation as just another touchpoint in our omnichannel world.

mobile marketing

As a medium, messaging has many different applications and opportunities for digital and marketing practitioners. Including the following:

7.1 Advertising in messaging apps

Snapchat recently reported that total users are over 210 million globally (up 24 million users year-on-year) and a revenue increase of 50% year-on-year to $446 million in Q3 2019. In the US they have just introduced a new “Dynamic Advertising” option which allows brands to sync a product catalog and select specific audience and campaign objectives for Snapchat to then deliver ads in real-time, adjusting product changes like price or availability to match stock levels.

Instagram meanwhile launched its highly anticipated camera-first messaging app, Threads, allowing users to share their Stories, private messages, videos and more with their Instagram close friends. Instagram is also launching “Reels” which many see as Facebook’s answer to TikTok as it focuses on short from (15 sec) video content. The Top Reels section on Instagram’s Explore page gives the most popular Reels the opportunity to go viral on the platform.

Last year Facebook also announced that adverts will be coming to WhatsApp in 2020 and the back ends of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp are being integrated to allow data and messaging to travel much more freely between them.

There are plenty of opportunities, therefore, for marketers to get creative with innovative new advertising formats and achieve real reach. As well as paid media there is the opportunity to engage consumers in the feed or via stories if done well.

The brave may even consider how to run their own customer groups and communities on messaging apps. For example, Tango Squads, Adidas’s community initiative to engage young footballers, has used Messenger and WhatsApp.

7.2 Payments ecommerce via messaging

Facebook Pay is now available in the US. Users can make seamless product purchases on any of Facebook’s three messaging apps: Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Currently payments are restricted to transfers, person-to-person payments, and payments to businesses on Facebook Marketplace.

In certain countries, WhatsApp for Business now allows SME business customers to provide a mobile storefront for customers to browse and discover their products. Couple this with seamless payment options, as above, and suddenly the gap between messaging and commerce disappears.

Social commerce has not yet taken off in the West quite as much as it has in Asia. And ‘messaging commerce’ is an even newer subset of this. But 2020 will see more brands, marketers and ecommerce practitioners experimenting with this huge opportunity.

7.3 Professional business messaging

This is an area I am particularly close to as, whilst not busy with Econsultancy, I also run Guild, a premium messaging app for professionals and businesses. Econsultancy runs various groups on Guild for our subscribers as well as our CMO ‘Digital Advisory Board’.

Even in 2018 a Microsoft study of 14,000 professionals showed a stark difference across the generations with Gen Z almost as happy using chat apps to speak to colleagues as they are setting up face-to-face meetings. The chart below from the research shows the different communications methods used at work across the generations. Chat is shown in purple and clearly increases significantly, at the expense of email, phone and in-person meetings, in the younger generations.

Source: Microsoft

From a marketer’s point of view, it is even more interesting to see how fast messaging is growing as a medium for stakeholders external to the organisation, including prospects and customers. Facebook’s research into consumers’ behaviour and expectations around messaging businesses, Why Messaging Businesses is the New Normal, showed that the majority of those surveyed had messaged a business in the previous quarter. Those surveyed in emerging markets were 2.4x more likely than those in mature mobile markets to say they message businesses. The benefits customers cited were: easy to use, anywhere, any-time, time-saving, effective, reliable, documented, fun, real time/fast.

According to the research “…the majority say being able to message a business helps them feel more confident about the brand. By helping to establish confidence and trust, messaging can uniquely draw people and businesses together into an ongoing conversation, ultimately enabling more meaningful connections than ever.”

There are obvious applications for messaging apps around customer service, like KLM’s use of WhatsApp, but 2020 will see messaging become a greater part of businesses’ communications infrastructure and marketing both internally and externally with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

8. Digital marketing transformation

Last year I wrote about digital transformation and the year before about a new operating model for marketing. We may have moved beyond infancy in digital transformation but we are very far from adult.

We are entering turbulent years as transformation teenagers seeking to understand what exactly it means for us as things continue to change.

8.1 Culture

We have learned that digital transformation is not just about technology and data. It is also about business models, leadership, people, process, mindset and culture.

2020 will continue to see us wrestle with new ways of working, new ways of organising ourselves and embedding news skills, capabilities and mindsets. The table below, taken from Econsultancy’s “Effective Leadership in the Digital Age” summarises the differences between more traditional business cultures and ‘digital’ ones.

8.2 People, roles and capabilities

‘Digital’ is proving remarkably resilient in job titles. Just when it looked like we had passed ‘peak CDO’, Unilever recently announced it is creating a chief digital and marketing officer role to ensure the business is ‘future-fit’.

Variants of CMO / Marketing Director continue to flourish with the words ‘customer’, ‘digital’, ‘experience’ and ‘growth’ often seen. Personally, I think it is better to try and clarify, even redefine, what a CMO does, and what marketing is, than come up with new job titles.

The impetus behind our Modern Marketing Model (M3) was to provide a framework for marketing that embraced both ‘classic’ marketing and digital marketing so we did not need such existential job title angst. But, as Russell Parsons, editor of Marketing Week acknowledges, for 2020 we can expect more of the same.

One area where more consensus has been achieved is the recognition that marketing needs to balance both the long and short term to be effective. Mark Ritson wrote about Binet and Field’s famed research last year and also refers to ‘two-speed’ branding which consciously allows for both a short-term focus, typically more sales-activation and conversion oriented, whilst investing in longer-term brand building to build a platform to reap future rewards. In 2020 we can hope to see more ‘long term digital’ thinking and increased efforts to marry digital and classic marketing as part of this move to deliver in the short term and the long term.

An area where there is much less clarity, and therefore some confusion and tension, is between ‘Marketing’ and ‘Product’. The importance of ‘product’ as a function, and the roles within it, has risen in recent years. In part, this is because of all the new start-ups and scale-ups championing the role of product manager as learned from Silicon Valley. In part, it is also due to the rise in importance of technology-enabled customer experience. ‘Product’ typically sits at the intersection of technology, the business, and the customer.

Product management can be part of the remit of a modern marketing function given its customer focus. The problems is, like ‘digital’ and ‘data’, many marketers just don’t understand this new discipline well enough to manage it and integrate it properly with everything else they are doing. 2020 will thus see more friction but hopefully, with experience and training, greater cooperation and reconciliation between ‘marketing’ and ‘product’.

8.3 Process

‘Marketing ops’ is a few years old now. Just as marketing is learning agile from the world of software development, we are creating marketing ops in a similar vein to the dev ops technology function.

The main job of marketing ops is to help wire up all the data, and align various mappings, migrations, processes and data/logic flows, within a governance framework, so that all the marvellous omnichannel real time personalisation experiences we talk about are even remotely possible to deliver.

However, one of the interesting findings from Econsultancy’s research with Adobe to produce our joint 2020 Digital Trends report, is that “outdated workflows” are the number one problem for organisations trying to deliver better customer experiences – see the chart below. For 2020, then, we can expect a lot of the work on improving processes to be around how to optimise workflows and prevent them from being the barrier they currently are.

top three internal barriers to creating succesful experiences

Digital Transformation: 2019 in Review

9. Data

We have been told that data is the new oil. We do not have a problem finding and extracting this data oil. We have a glut of data crude oil. But we do have a problem refining it and turning it into something disproportionately valuable. 2020 will see us working on the following as the new frontiers of data.

9.1 Data digitalisation

Econsultancy’s recent Digital Transformation and the Role of Data report makes the case for the need for a data transformation to take place before digital transformation is fully possible.

The table below, taken from the report, does a great job of showing how we need to move beyond the ‘crude oil’ state of data where we merely digitise it to a much more refined state of digitalisation where we use data to create and liberate new value.

9.2 Data-as-a-service (DaaS)

Also elaborated in Econsultancy’s Digital Transformation and the Role of Data is the idea of “data-as-a-service” (DaaS). This is a powerful idea and makes possible a lot of the other trends discussed in this article including atomic design, personalisation 2.0, and ‘everything-as-a-service’. DaaS enables the creation of modular systems that enable, for example, personalisation at scale without complete chaos.

The report’s author, Laura Chaibi, describes DaaS as follows: “Data can also become a service underpinning business, built on the premise that data serves multiple clients and stakeholders with varying needs to be met at the same time.

“Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) is a data framework that essentially splits data access and usage from where the data is stored, freeing the data for multiple uses with speed and ease of access and the ability to scale usage. DaaS data agility is a substructure of digital transformation acting as a reinforcement to solutions enabled through digital transformation. DaaS data can permeate all corners of businesses and how they run with the aim to amplify capabilities and sustainably scale.”

From a marketing perspective this means that DaaS enables:

  • A centralised holistic view of consumers and customers and their relationship to the business, products and services and across an industry.
  • Tracking the touchpoints consumers and customers have across lines of business.
  • Building out metadata for wider context about the touchpoints tracked, to create new solutions, products and services.
  • Understanding customer history and building out a profile of customer preferences.
  • Understanding and prioritising valuable customer segments and where to focus strategies around audience segments and types.
  • Working towards predicting customer behaviour and actions and eventually aiming to influence the favourable behaviour or actions from the consumer through prescribed marketing, product and service prompts.
  • Fostering loyalty and minimising customer churn.

9.3 Data-driven operating models

To date we have largely focused on data architectures, processes and workflows. This is understandable as it is a hard problem to tackle in its own right. For example, the diagram below, taken from McKinsey’s “A technology blueprint for personalization at scale”, shows a proposed architecture for resolving the complexities around CDPs, DMPs, DAMs, DSPs etc.

data and martech stack for personalisation at scale, by mckinsey
Source: McKinsey.com

Once we have figured out the data ‘plumbing’ and got it flowing efficiently (made more powerful and adaptable by the aforementioned DaaS) then we are faced with creating an operating model for our organisations that can be data-driven. The diagram below, from BCG’s “The Dividends of Digital Marketing Maturity” suggests the key elements required to move towards this with ‘connected data’ just one of the six ingredients.

six enablers digital marketing maturity, bcg
Source: BCG.com

The picture becomes more complex when you consider that all this data is not just data within your direct control but exists outside your organisation too. 2020 will continue to see more (often open, increasingly realtime) APIs allowing data to be streamed between organisations and other entities.

In my 2019 digital trends I asked the question about the ‘brain’ needed to run this complex ecosystem. Many technology vendors offer decisioning engines that aspire to be this brain. But beyond specific technologies, this is more a question of figuring out the correct hypotheses, KPIs, rules or even AI to drive the system in an optimal way to deliver the desired business results.

In a fundamental way this a matter of strategy: you must encode your business strategy in your data and decisioning engines to reach the goal of a data-driven operating model. Over 2020 we will see ‘data’ continue to be an operational area of focus but it will also be the subject of more strategic initiatives.

9.4 Data in the dark

Whilst there is no shortage of data available, it is also the case that the richness and transparency of what we can see as marketers has been curtailed in the last years.

It began a decade ago when Google stopped providing the keyword data for searches that led to a visit to your site in Google Analytics. Since then we have had a combination of privacy regulation like GDPR, Apple and others preventing tracking via their browsers, and a behavioural shift into private communication spaces (in particular messaging apps) which are encrypted or provide very little visibility to marketers.

Over 2020 this has a number of implications:

  • Ad spend will gravitate further to the big “walled garden” platforms but also to media owners who have a well-defined niche and first-party data.
  • There will be renewed efforts by brands to get first party data rather than rely on second, or third, party data. Even more valuable than ‘observed’ first party data is customer-driven explicitly-expressed preference data – the aforementioned ‘zero party data’.
  • Companies will look beyond current tracking methodologies to ‘post cookie’ alternatives, like device or behavioural ‘fingerprinting’, to try and establish unique identities. However, Google announced they will “aggressively restrict fingerprinting across the web” and there is no clear winner in the battle to offer a Universal ID

9.5 Data capabilities

The dearth of skills and capabilities around data is a well-worn challenge. Econsultancy research and best practice guides have repeatedly highlighted data as one of the key – usually lacking – skills of the modern marketer. This will continue to be a concern for 2020 and beyond.

10. Customer experience

We end on a trend that is very far from new but equally far from being over. Customer experience has consistently topped results of surveys into marketers’ key challenges and opportunities for years.

As with digital transformation, customer experience is no longer an infant but is entering its teenage years, trying to figure out exactly what it is and how it fits in. There are a few areas of CX, like voice, AR and VR, which have been hyped for a few years already but which will remain significant only for a few and experimental, if anything, for most over 2020.

10.1 Design is the new digital

If data has been the new digital for the last few years, then perhaps design is now taking over as the new digital. That exciting ‘new’ thing, with new job roles and ways of working, that no-one is quite sure how to fully embrace and where it fits in with business as usual.

“Design thinking”, as a user-centric way to address problems, has been around in earnest for several decades and began to emerge even earlier in the 1970s. But it is only now truly rising to greater prominence and brands like GSK are treating design as a strategic partner to marketing.

In part, this is because of the concomitant ascendancy of customer experience as a strategic imperative. In part, it is because all companies are becoming product/software companies to some degree. Certainly, the change in the world’s most valuable companies in the last decades points very clearly to organisations who espouse design thinking. More recently, the inside whispers among product scale-up businesses have let slip a secret new truth: you should have two designers for every engineer!

The value of design may now be recognised but, like with digital before it, there are new growing pains to deal with. As design teams grow there are questions and tensions around how it exists as a discrete function or not, what job titles and roles are right, what career progression exists, how the design capability is structured and it how it works with other functions.

“Design Ops” (like DevOps and Marketing Ops before it) is emerging as a specialist discipline to grapple with the growth and 2020 will see further such meta-roles as organisations create both specialist design roles whilst trying also to cajole broader multi-disciplinary teams into being more design-led.

Atomic Design, as per Brad Frost’s 2013 book of the same name, is not new but will continue to gain traction and attention over 2020. As we move towards design systems and processes, rather than isolated projects or deliverables, then the atomic design way of thinking makes a lot of sense. Its almost DNA-like approach to design fits very well with the trends towards ‘data/everything-as-a-service’, the increasing alignment of coding and design, and looking at data in a more modular and ‘componentised’ way.

In our search for efficiency and scalability, whilst maintaining the flexibility and adaptability to deliver different customer experiences across a whole range of screens, devices and touchpoints, the principles and methods of atomic design hold a lot of promise.

10.2 Customer need states

In 2020 we will continue to map customer journeys. And we will continue to try and remove pain points and friction. However, our efforts so far have largely been around documenting and improving existing operational tasks that we understand customers need to complete to interact with us. A lot of our efforts focused at first on digitisation and then, in recent years, we have endeavoured to deliver ‘omnichannel’ experiences.

This year it feels CX will begin to move beyond just transactional experiences and start to cater to customer need states and deliver to those also. It may be that those needs have nothing to do with digital or omnichannel. Primark has succeeded so far with no ecommerce and BT is returning to the High Street.

True, a common customer need is for experiences to feel effortless. Reducing customer effort should continue to be a core CX goal. Mobile, real-time, contextual, on demand, self-service, 24/7 availability… these will continue to be areas of focus for 2020. However, these things will become basic expectations before long.

Thinking harder about how CX can meet customer needs requires more nuanced insights, more innovation, around both practical and psychological needs. Ultimately, this might be around a customer’s mood, how they are feeling, how they perceive their relationship with you as a brand – including the themes of humanity and personalisation we addressed earlier. Equally, last year saw much discussion around brand values and purpose. CX has a vital role in bringing these to life.

Home delivery and packaging is one area of customer experience that is fast evolving to meet both brand needs (which might include reducing costs and environmental impact) and customer needs (which might include being able to take delivery when not at home as well as their own environmental concerns).

Drones have not yet arrived but the likes of Bloom Wild’s “letterbox flowers” are delivered in boxes with different coloured interiors, depending on the collection and season, in boxes that fit perfectly through your letterbox. Home delivery wine retailers are experimenting with flat bottles made from recycled material which improves deliverability and reduces the environmental impact of using glass.

PillPack, owned by Amazon, is “a full-service pharmacy designed around your life”. They coordinate with your doctors and insurance to gather your prescriptions, schedule your first shipment and order your refills, package your medication by time of day and send them to you for free. If you don’t want to do this online you can even do it all by phone. This goes beyond modelling the typical customer journey across channels. It is a service that is very much modelled around the customer’s actual needs.

Ultimately the marketing opportunity is to take one’s brand, and what it stands for, and understand our customers’ need states, and marry those together in a way that works for both and feels like a natural, effortless, fit. The customer experience is the expression of that fit in action.

10.3 Workflow optimisation

As we saw earlier, according to our recent 2020 trends research with Adobe, “outdated workflows” are the number one problem for organisations trying to deliver better customer experiences.

For customer experience these workflows relate in particular to design and data, as we have already examined, but also content in the broad sense – any asset which needs to be created and managed as part of delivering an end customer experience.

Content, and content marketing, has mushroomed in recent years but we are now struggling to orchestrate and optimise that content in an efficient, co-ordinated and deliberate manner, particularly across channels and media. Roles and responsibilities around ‘content’ are still not always clear which compounds the workflow challenges. Over 2020, we will see the increased industrialisation, or ‘operationalisation’, of content and content marketing.

Tell us your thoughts – What do you agree with, disagree with, or think Ashley has missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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