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We’re heading for another big shake up in marketing next year (what’s new?). And now that it’s December, it’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and get stuck into the changes that will be coming our way. As always, what actually happens is going to be very different to how most of us imagine it to be. Chatbots, not people, will be talking to our customers, and marketers are going to be getting more and more invested in the ad blocking arms race as savvy consumers try to hide their personally identifiable information from businesses and governments they see as a threat.

Check out these interesting and sometimes outright weird marketing trends expected to arrive in the year ahead.

ROI Metrics Will Dominate

At the moment, companies are using things like CPMs to measure the performance of their websites. The idea is that the higher the rate of conversion on their websites, whether it’s downloads, signups, or purchases, the better. But the problem with these data is that they are very mono-dimensional. Companies aren’t able to measure what the return is on their investment very easily. After all, different conversions have different values, and converting one set of customers can be a lot more costly than converting another set.

In the coming year, it is expected by Forbes and other experts that ROI-based performance metrics will come to dominate. Companies will be able to get real-time information on how much it cost them to generate an individual conversion, as well as how much that conversion cost relative to the amount of value generated by it. This new approach will then make it easier for companies to dedicate their precious marketing dollars to those instances that will generate the highest return.

Businesses Will Uncover Dark Social

Knowing where customers came from online is important. But right now, many people are choosing to keep their identities hidden, thanks to ever-increasing intrusion on their lives by governments and to a lesser degree, companies. This has led to the widespread adoption of encrypted, private messaging apps that effectively block out the ability of businesses to collect data. The problem with this is that companies rely on knowing which channels people are coming from to optimize their marketing strategies. If for instance, they’re getting lots of traffic from Facebook, but not very much from Twitter, it doesn’t make sense to plow investment dollars into Twitter.

Next year, companies will get tools that will help them uncover the world of dark social. GetSocial.io, for instance, can help firms find out where their customers are coming from, without revealing any personally identifiable information. It’s the best of both worlds, where consumer data remains private, and where companies get the information they need to better target their marketing campaigns.

Third-Party, Social Media “Buy Buttons”

social media apps

The future of ecommerce looks surprisingly different from the present. At the moment, the paradigm is that online retailers have to have their own website to which their customers arrive and make purchases. There’s a lot of money being spent right now on these sites to make sure that they have high visibility on general search engines.

But thanks to the fact that people never seem to tire of social media, social media itself will soon become a shopping platform in its own right. Facebook and Pinterest and currently investigating ways to include buy buttons next to products or items. For Pinterest, this is a particularly interesting idea, since it is a site dedicated to hosting and organizing photographs, usually of beautiful, bespoke products. Companies wouldn’t have to invest their marketing efforts trying to improve their rank on Google; they’ll be investing in enhancing their visibility on platforms like Pinterest and making sure that they produce the most alluring photographs possible. New social media marketing is something you can learn more about at Simplilearn here.

Marketing That “Gives Back”

Customers want the brands that they consume to have a feel good element. They want to know that when they buy a product that at least some of their money will be going to a noble cause. There are all sorts of companies that are doing this already. Take Warby Parker, the online glasses seller, for instance. This company proudly promotes the fact that “for every pair purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need.” Regular, everyday companies need to think of ways of resonating with their customer base and making them feel as if they are improving the world with every purchase.

Native Advertising

Internet users are getting more and more savvy to the marketing tactics of online advertisers, hence the growth in the use of adblockers. Next year companies will have to focus more exclusively on native advertising – advertising that is expertly weaved into the content of an article or a video. Advertisers are going to need to target bloggers and vloggers and get them to incorporate their own products in a way that adds value to consumers. People don’t want yet another banner ad promising to save them money: they want something that actively helps them to understand something or somewhere that gives them unbiased information about a product. Product reviews, as well as videos showcasing how much fun a product can be, will form the lion’s share of marketing going forward.

Yet More Market Segmentation

You might think that we’ve reached peak personalization for online marketing, but according to experts, it’s going to be going up another notch next year. Personalization means targeting advertising based on a person’s habits and preferences online. The basic idea is to give consumers only the advertising content that they want, rather than bombarding them with information that they are not interested in. In a world of information overload, this may be the only approach marketers can use to get their message to stick.

Marketing Will Become Mobile-First

mobile marketing Social media apps windows phone

Long gone are the days when the PC was the dominant platform through which people consume online content. The market has spoken, and it turns out that people prefer their mobile devices, despite the fact that they only provide a fraction of the screen real estate. This new reality means that businesses are going to have to optimize first for mobile, and then for desktop after, to make sure that they are prioritizing their experiences in the correct way. Right now, many website builders have a desktop-first approach, which will have to change as we go forward in 2017.

Chatbots Will Talk To Your Customers For You

If you’ve ever gotten interested in artificial intelligence or computer science, you’ll have heard about the Turing test. The Turing Test was a test devised by Alan Turing, the esteemed computer scientist depicted in the film The Imitation Game. It said that artificial intelligence was achieved if an expert couldn’t tell whether he or she was talking to a person or a computer.

It might surprise you to discover that we’re not far off the world that Alan Turing envisioned. Today’s chatbots are being developed by the world’s most advanced AI companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. They’re all in a sort of arms race to build an AI that is able to chat with customers on behalf of business, find out their preferences, and feed all those data into a central repository where it can be analyzed and made use of. Chatbots, as they are called, will soon provide users with news updates on the products that they are interested in, as well as personalized responses to their queries, slashing the costs customer service in the process.

Companies Will Deliver Their Own Breaking News

Top tech companies are already making a habit of live streaming their events. You can now watch the biggest product launches, right from the comfort of your own computer as they happen in real time. As we go into 2017, live streaming technology will continue to push boundaries. For example, Instagram has now integrated its live stream option into its new “Stores” feature, meaning companies are able to keep users apprised of the very latest developments at company HQ.

Without Influencers, Companies Will Be Nowhere

We’ve already discussed just how important it will be for companies to find bloggers and vloggers who can act as hosts for their native advertising efforts. Next year, they’ll have to reach out to these influencers more than they ever did in the past. The reason for this is that people tend to trust influencers a lot more than they do the company’s own, direct marketing. Smart companies realize that to be successful, they have to reach out to influencers to gain credibility and sell their product. They need people who are seen as leaders in their own particular social field to promote, review and use their products if they are to be successful.

So there you have it – the big marketing trends to look out for next year. We haven’t even talked about things like VR or interactive content here because they are enormous topics in their own right. Suffice to say that 2017 is going to be very different – again.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Operating With the Blinkers On? Why You Need To Reconsider Your Outsourcing Strategy

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A lot of what makes a business effective is its ability to roll with the punches. If you find yourself constantly adapting to trends, you need to remember that it has to come from a place that will have a positive impact on the business, rather than keeping up with trends for the sake of it. One of the biggest trends in recent years has been outsourcing. And so many companies look towards outsourcing as a way to reduce the bottom line, but is this an effective approach? Is it actually time to stop outsourcing? Let’s show you some components that can help you to decide what would be best, and whether outsourcing will benefit your business or hinder it?

Where Is Your Business Falling Down? 

Skills are pivotal to the success of any company, and when we are lacking the right skills, this is where we turn to outsourcing. However, when we utilise skills from an outsourced entity we end up in the position where we are relying on these people to help us get to the next stage of our business. There are times when we can outsource when it is not to do with the skill. For example, if we had to move our headquarters to a different location, rental truck companies like flexfleetrental.com can help with the practical components. But if you find that your business is falling down in a place as important as a lack of skills, you have got to think twice if outsourcing is the best approach. And this is because if you have someone on board to help you get to the next stage, and then you let them go, are you going to need them to come back further down the line? In which case, surely it is better to have a full-time member of staff fulfilling this position? 

Is Outsourcing More Cost-Effective? 

Everybody uses outsourcing as an approach to save money, but outsourcing costs can vary, but they can also be more expensive when you have gone into it with the right mindset. Knowing your costs is crucial, and calculating the maths is something you will need to do. This guide to outsourcing costs at classicinformatics.com can provide some insight here. Outsourcing can reduce costs, but if your overriding goal is to improve the business, you might want to think about investing in the company rather than cutting corners. Outsourcing can be cost-effective, but only when done over a short period of time. The difficulty of outsourcing over a short period of time is in finding the right person. If you are able to find a person with the right skills, it can be more cost-effective. However, the hunt for the right person can be as expensive.

What Does Outsourcing Do for the Business? 

The goal is to improve the bottom line, but we’ve got to look beyond numbers and metrics. A business is not just successful in terms of its figures, but it’s the people within the business and the cultural components that will ensure its efficacy. Many businesses utilise outsourcing in such a manner that it says to the employees “they are not good enough.” Therefore, this is not going to help the company in the long run. Employees will become dissatisfied with the company and their roles and will go and find someone that will support them. Outsourcing is great for numbers, and if you are the type of entrepreneur that is looking to create an environment where you can rule with an iron fist, outsourcing can be very effective. There are still entrepreneurs who prefer to operate with an “it’s not personal, just business” approach. But if you use outsourcing as a crutch to prop up your business during tough times, you’ve got to think about the long-term impact on your employees. 

It proves harder to keep a business going when you are forever outsourcing. It is a common trend that will continue for years to come but we have to remember that outsourcing is not always the most effective solution. We are forever blinkered in our approach to doing business, and this is driven by the desire to make money. But a business is so much more than that. It is an entity that should provide a need within society or provide for a certain demographic. So if you are thinking about either utilising outsourcing or giving it up, it is important to make sure that all of your lightbulbs are on.

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How To Make Business Life So Much More Favourable

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If you have a business or you’re heavily considering starting a business, then you’ll know all about the perils and the difficulties that will come with it all. While it seems like such a wonderful idea from the outside looking in, it’s actually something that can really take its toll on you if you’re not prepared enough both mentally and physically. 

You’ll always be looking for ways to make business life an awful lot more convenient. The idea in this game is obviously to work hard as you never get anywhere without a serious commitment. You’ll really want to focus on working smart, however. Hard work for no reason is foolish when you have much better ideas and techniques staring you in the face. Business life can be a real hassle if you get things wrong and have to go through laborious days. Here are just a few ways to make your days, weeks, and months a lot more favorable for you: 

Get The Right People Around You  

Who you share your time with in business matters so much. If you have all of the wrong people, then you could be on a downward slant over the next few years. If you have good people with the right attitude and intentions, then you’ll likely become a lot more successful. In terms of using the right people, we’re talking about networking, hiring staff, bringing in specialists, soliciting advice, and so many other areas. Business is an interpersonal game, so make sure the right groups and individuals work with what you’re trying to achieve. 

Embrace Technology A Lot More Than Perhaps You Are Right Now 

If you’re already someone who wants to milk every platform they have, then this idea won’t worry you too much. There are so many pieces of ai powered software around that will help you with what you’re trying to achieve. Analytics, ads, management, and so many other areas can be bolstered with good programs. 

Set Up Genuine Plans With Achievable Goals 

This sort of goes without saying because you’ll likely have plans for the tasks ahead. This is more the idea of creating more structured plans for areas that are perhaps freer and less structured. Setting goals for everything you do can lead you to understand more about what needs to be done. It also gets everyone even more motivated. 

Take Care Of The People Working With You 

In terms of those you’re with, you’re going to need to treat them properly. It’s amazing what can happen if you neglect how they feel and the work they put in. The best leaders will always hone in on each individual and check in with them. 

Outsource Certain Jobs That Are Tedious

Sometimes, there are particular tasks that – although they need to be done – take up lots of unnecessary time and stress. If you are outsourcing admin, for instance, it makes life a lot easier for you as you all can focus on the productive and progressive side. 

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Current Trends in Business That Every Entrepreneur Should Work Towards Achieving

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The world of business is changing and with it the trends that entrepreneurs should be working towards. Entrepreneurship has become a lifestyle as opposed to just a paycheck. With an entrepreneurial mindset, you can do anything. Check out these current trends in business that every entrepreneur should work on achieving:

E-Commerce

E-commerce has been a significant trend for the past few years, and you can expect it to continue being so. E-commerce has multiple benefits, including increased revenue, high availability of products, and a more significant customer base.

E-commerce allows businesses to be present on all digital platforms, which helps them reach out to more customers quickly. In addition, it makes it easier for companies to reduce overhead expenses as there are no physical stores that have rent costs associated with them or inventory levels that need maintenance constantly. Statistically, e-commerce has grown rapidly in the past few years from 25% – 30% year on year.

Financial Apps and Software

The software aspect comes into play when considering how businesses manage their finances moving forward. Companies must adapt to technology. Otherwise, they will find themselves left behind by competitors who embrace emerging technologies such as cloud computing and mobile apps. It is also easier to make purchases using these apps and communicate with the sellers. Incorporating such software with equipment and partnerships with a payment processing company will diversify the business activities and set you up for expansion.

These apps allow them to move away from traditional forms of financial management such as spreadsheets and accounting software to financial management apps such as Xero. With these new apps comes the ability to monitor business finances from anywhere, which can help businesses grow faster than what they would ordinarily be able to manage with slower conventional processes.

Blockchain Tech

Blockchain tech is the current trend in business that every entrepreneur should work towards achieving. You can apply this technology to many different industries, and entrepreneurs need to find their niche within this growing market. It’s also critically important not to overlook blockchain tech when deciding which cryptocurrency or token you want your company associated with.

Both positive and negative factors are involved in choosing one solution over another, but it all comes down to finding what works best for each situation. For example, today’s most valuable aspect of blockchain tech is its promotion of secure transactions between parties while eliminating third-party transaction fees (or at least significantly reducing them).

It means that businesses operating on a global scale could potentially enjoy significant savings in maintaining financial records. Transparency is also an important selling point for blockchain tech. The decentralized nature of its design makes all transactions public and easily accessible by anyone who has access.

Fraud and Cyber Crime

Another current trend that every entrepreneur should work towards achieving is fraud and cybercrime. In today’s modern world, the internet has brought the business community closer together as it allows you to reach a global market from almost anywhere with an Internet connection. Unfortunately, this means those who want to take advantage of this have access to millions of more potential customers, making it easier for fraudsters to steal money from unsuspecting victims.

Businesses that are not careful can fall victim to several types of cybercrime, including phishing, spoofing, pharming, and identity theft. These crimes are increasing at an alarming rate as more people use the internet for business purposes which means scammers often target them.

Conclusion

Today, business is becoming increasingly challenging. The traditional ways of doing things don’t work anymore, and it’s time for entrepreneurs to adapt to stay relevant within the industry. However, the industry itself is evolving rapidly, and it’s challenging to keep up with the changes that are happening every day. Fortunately for you, this post is here to help you understand the current trends that every entrepreneur should work towards achieving.

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