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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”

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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

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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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Myths of Executive Jet Charters

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The act of flying in a private jet doesn’t seem like it should belong in someone’s day-to-day life. A private jet flight fits in the realm of red carpets, a sold-out world tour, or going to an exclusively owned island. However, you’d be surprised how often people do fly in a private jet – particularly in the world of business. There plenty of misconceptions about privately jetting off, so what’s it really like to fly in one?

It’s Too Expensive

It should be established that the fact people have to fly for business is nothing new. It could be anything from visiting a partner office abroad, or groups from various companies from around the world need to meet face to face with each other. It is likely when they fly they will want to do so in business class, if not first. If you think of the collective cost of these tickets, in comparison to hiring a jet the expense doesn’t seem too much. It can make financial sense to go private rather than commercial.  Jet charter companies can help people plan the journey so it’s just right.

It’s Hard to Find a Private Airport

In the US there are more private airports than commercial ones, so the chances are a business person can find an airport nearer them to suit their needs. Similar to the likes of hiring a car, hiring a jet means they are completely in charge of their transport. Colleagues can fly at a time which suits everyone’s schedules rather than have to rely on commercial lines.

You Still Have to Go Through Security

This is not the case when flying privately. It can really cut down on the time of travel, in turn saving company time. When boarding a flight could potentially take up an entire morning or afternoon, by going privately, people can board the plane as soon as they fancy. There is no queuing, taking off shoes, or having luggage inspected. Though they’ll still need to bring a passport when flying internationally.

Weather Restrictions

Obviously a plane, even if it is private, is not going to fly in adverse weather conditions. A private jet is just as safe as a commercial plane. However, one of the many perks of flying privately is you can get going a lot sooner. As soon as the weather is deemed less dangerous and it’s safe to fly, the captain of a private jet can take off. Businessmen don’t have to worry about prolonged delays or cancellations.

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Key Terminology You Need to Know Before You Start Trading Forex

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As the largest and most liquid market in the world, forex attracts a multitude of traders on a daily basis. It is the market where currencies are bought and sold as investment assets, and is usually accessed through online trading brokers such as Oanda. Whilst the concept of trading forex is relatively simple (buying/selling currency), it is shrouded in terminology and jargon which newcomers can find difficult to decipher. As such, here are some of the key terms you should know before you begin exploring forex.

Pairings

In the forex market, currencies are always traded in pairs, as this gives one currency its value compared to another. If the dollar were traded against the pound, for example, it would be expressed as USD/GBP, with the first currency being known as the ‘sell’ currency and the letter being known as the ‘quote’.

Many popular currency pairings have been given nicknames, which can seem confusing if you have never encountered them. EUR/USD, for example, is known as the ‘euro’, and GBP/USD is often referred to as ‘cable’ or ‘sterling’.

Leverage

The ability to leverage investments when trading forex is part of the reason the forex market is so popular. Leverage essentially allows a trader to control more units of currency with less money than would usually be required (often significantly less) but at much greater risk.

The trader will be able to choose how much leverage they apply to an investment, and it is expressed as a ratio (e.g. 100:1). Whilst leverage can help traders make a much larger profit using less capital, it can also lead to an equally large loss if the trade goes against them.

Volatility

Market conditions often differ greatly on a day to day basis, but those which change exceptionally quickly (like the forex market) are known as volatile markets. This means that the assets traded in such markets are constantly shifting in value, and so must be monitored by the trader regularly to help inform their decision.

Currency pairings will experience different levels of volatility at any given time, largely depending on the economic and political climate in the currencies’ country of origin.

These are some of the main terms that you should know before you invest money in the forex market. There are more, but once they have been learned, you should find it much easier to read and analyse forex.

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How to Boost Your Company’s Income Long Term

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Part of running a company is trying to make it profitable at least in the short term. You need to make your business generate money, so you can keep the company running each day. However, what if you want to expand your company in the future, or start offering more choice to your customers? You might not have enough profits to achieve this now, but you can try to boost your company’s long-term income so that you can build towards it in the future.

Work on Your Profit Margin

Although your profits might be doing well, there might be room for improvement that will give you a better long-term return. Think about your business and see if there are any areas where you can improve your profitability. You might be able to do small things like finding a cheaper energy supplier or use cheaper suppliers for your products. Another option is to see if you can increase your productivity which will generate more profits in return. To make this work effectively, you need to create a plan that will take into account all parts of your business.

Seek Long-Term Investment

If you have been making steady profits for a while, there should be no reason why investors shouldn’t look favorably on investing in your company. You need to give them a long-term vision of where you want to take the company, and how much you think you can sell at that time. It needs to be realistic, or your potential investors might not come on board, but it also needs to be ambitious enough that your company will grow as a result. If you already have investors in your company, then they might be more able to invest more in the company knowing its current growth.

Invest in Other Companies

There are many companies that choose to invest in other businesses. For some, these are long-term investments designed to generate additional income for the business. It might also be an avenue personally, as you can invest in other companies and use the income to help finance your business. If you are new to investing, then there are ways such as Betterment investing that are great for new investors who don’t want a lot of hands-on dealings.

Consider Franchising

One way that you can increase your profits without having to spend a lot of money is to offer franchises. These offer budding business owners the chance to start their own business and have all the back-up they need, without having to create their own business idea. It also works for you because you don’t have to run the franchise or provide staff. There have been many companies that have benefited well from launching franchises.

Even though the immediate future of your company is important, you need to think ahead so you can keep your business growing. Part of that is trying to generate enough income to move into other areas or bring out new products.

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