When Steve Jobs stepped out on stage in 2007 and introduced the original iPhone to the world, everyone knew that a shift was taking place – but at the time, nobody realized just how far that shift would go and how many industries it would touch. According to Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans now own a smartphone – up from just 35% in 2011. It’s changed the way we think. The way we go about our daily lives. The way we work. The way we play. But it’s also changed the way we communicate with and connect with one another – something that is especially important to marketers in particular.
Marketing is nothing if not a communication medium – it’s all about getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thanks to smartphones, marketers can now reach consumers in real-time on a device that they themselves have admitted to checking within 5 minutes of waking up in the morning.
Not only has this changed the world of marketing forever, but it’s also been responsible for the creation of a number of important trends that marketers need to know about moving forward. There are a few key trends in particular that you should absolutely start experimenting with as soon as possible.
Partially because most people use their smartphone as their primary means of Internet access, we’ve entered into an era where people just don’t like to be sold to anymore. As of August 2015, more than 200 million people now use ad blockers around the world. The days of simply relying on targeted ads – regardless of how specific they may be – are over.
This has given rise to one of the most important trends of the modern marketing era: content marketing. This is the idea that you can better connect with your audience not by selling to them, but by informing and educating them. Content marketing allows you to create everything from blog posts to eBooks to white papers and more, all with the goal of helping people learn more about products or services just like yours. This gives them access to the information they need to make more informed purchasing decisions, which is ultimately better for all of us.
It’s also incredibly effective. One study estimates that content marketing leaders tend to experience 7.8 times the site traffic than non-leaders. It’s a great tool for creating brand recall, which ultimately increases both engagement and loyalty in the long-term. It can generate as much as three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, all while costing an average of 62% less.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality and augmented reality are also incredibly popular these days for a wide range of different reasons. Many major corporations are using resources like Oculus to create immersive, emotionally intense experiences to market their products – like the Blade Runner Virtual Reality Experience that made its debut at San Diego Comic-Con in 2017.
Augmented reality lets a person use their mobile phone to get more out of their surroundings – which essentially also lets you use a person’s own environment to market to them. Think about that famous scene in “Fight Club” where the main character walks through his apartment and it slowly transforms into an Ikea catalogue around him. This is the main idea behind augmented reality. Considering the fact that Apple’s new iPhone X is about to ship with features geared specifically towards AR, this is one trend you’ll definitely want to watch.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing – that is, taking the conversation to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – is also an incredibly popular trend in the modern age that isn’t going away anytime soon. According to one study, 71% of consumers who had a positive social media experience with a brand said that they were likely to recommend it to others. Facebook content alone was responsible for influencing 52% of consumers in terms of both online and offline purchases in 2015, up from just 36% the previous year.
In this arena, visual content is particularly effective – Infographics and things of that nature are literally 40 times more likely to get shared than something like a long form blog post.
But one of the most important thing to understand these trends is that there is no single “one size fits all” approach to marketing in the modern era. There is only the choice that is best for the audience you’re trying to reach. Never create marketing collateral in search of an audience – always start with your audience and work your way backwards.
Who are the people you’re trying to reach? How old are they? Where do they hang out online? What types of content are they looking for? What do they need? How can you help them?
The answers to these questions are pivotal, as they essentially tell you both what type of collateral you should be creating (social marketing tends to skew younger, for example) and where you need to distribute it to guarantee the success that you’re after.