New and constantly evolving online platforms have consolidated and merged, providing seamless feeds of entertainment, news, and advertising that are personalized for every user. Marketers are caught in the middle. They are trying to keep up with new trends and meet the growing expectations of consumers, while staying true to the traditional style of marketing. This task is challenging, and to most users, it doesn’t feel genuine. In response to these new obstacles, marketers are adapting their methods to reflect the desires of today’s consumers.
The Internet, like raw data, is not easily navigated and can overwhelm most people who do not possess the ability to be organized and structured. Search engines and social media not only simplified surfing the web, they are ‘learning’ to anticipate an individual’s interests, curiosities, and desires. This ability is accomplished through new tools and methods that are realigning how businesses reach existing and new customers.
Social Media and Influencers
According to research released by Statista, a statistics company, 93% of Millennials were using social media, and 88% of those were using Facebook in 2014. Related statistics from a Pew Research Center study in 2017 reveal that 76% of American social media users use Facebook daily, and 51% use Instagram daily. These statistics strongly suggest that there is a substantial pool of consumers to be reached through social media.
Social media platforms are an effective way to reach people as users spend more time on their phones and computers instead of watching TV. Unlike TV, which is a static medium and broadcasts general commercials, social media offers possibilities to market through more personalized methods. These possibilities include interactive and immersive content that can quickly harnesses a person’s attention and tune out distractions or disinterest.
The use of ‘influencers’ has also further distanced consumers from standard methods of advertising. Influencers are organic, reachable people or personalities who are often more trusted than a company’s direct messaging approach. Marketers are focused on using influencers as a new form of networking to bring authentic attention to their products. Someone may not be interested in a service or product until they see it is favored or used by a recognized personality they admire. This type of ‘influence’ most often results in a more natural interest by the consumer.
Data Visualization Tools
Without data, marketers would be blindly searching for what works and what doesn’t. Data is critical for identifying who is buying, what is being bought, when it’s popular, and why it is successful. Information in large amounts without structure is almost impossible to analyze and interpret appropriately. Marketers aren’t searching for conclusions, rather they are searching for key elements and correlations that can be used in constructive ways.
Interpretation of data is important, and can be accomplished with data visualization tools. David McCandless, a data journalist, reflected about visualizing information during his TED Talk. He believes sorting information into an easily readable map can emphasize pertinent information, instead of requiring users to see and navigate all of the information at once. By using charts, maps, and interactive visuals, marketers and consumers can find patterns and messages that best relate to their questions or curiosity. Data visualization tools have increased the pace at which information is gathered and interpreted, resulting in more interactions, and better-informed marketing conclusions.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
It is clear that the successful utilization of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR, respectively) is on the rise. AR is a communication platform that marries real surroundings and virtual imagery. VR presents a working, virtual world that mirrors reality. Both have been seen as new messaging frontiers that can be leveraged for marketing. Using AR and VR is becoming easier by the day, thanks to new viewing gear and technology such as 360-degree video and headwear.
Marketers are tapping into AR and VR by creating virtual environments or using video from real events. The goal is to make consumers feel like they are really ‘there’. Immersive marketing is a two-way communication street, allowing people to interact instead of only passively intake. Specifically, marketers are indirectly advertising by delivering VR and AR that enable users to experience adventures from home. A company’s products and services become associated with the interactions they provide, and then they gain popularity among consumers.
Video and Live Video Marketing
Social media platforms are increasingly adopting videos and live videos to reach people, including those who may not be engaged by written content and infographics. Short, relevant videos filled with usable content are replacing the generic advertisement because they offer real value in terms of time and cost.
Video tutorials and live chats work on an immersive, interactive level, involving anyone who wants to participate. Marketers create content-filled videos that provide customer service value instead of merely advertising awareness. This video strategy presents a company’s brand as an expert in that particular field, earning personalized trust from consumers. “Now-content” represents a fresh desire from people who wish to connect quickly with an audience and a business. Marketers are learning how to satisfy this desire with live videos that mimic human interaction and enable viewers to feel close to the other side of the camera lens.
Marketers are adapting their methods and tools to match and anticipate trending consumer preferences in order to maintain relevance and interaction. Many technologies and communication methods that have been dreamt of for years are fast becoming reality, introducing a new world of marketing that offers unique and original possibilities for cultivating product and service awareness.
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