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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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Six Tips For New eCommerce Businesses

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eCommerce is a constantly evolving sector, and as a new business, it can feel overwhelming. In this post, we’ll take a look at six of the hottest eCommerce tips to help you get your new eCommerce business up and running. 

Your website is your first impression. 

As a new eCommerce site, customers will have very little knowledge of your brand, and so you have just a fraction of a second to make a good impression. A website that is slow to load, poorly designed, and difficult to use will not build trust and confidence and will lose you sales. Take the time to make sure that you create the best website that you can for your budget and conduct the necessary UX testing to ensure that it is functional. 

Make sure that you’re mobile-friendly.  

The average person spends more than 100 minutes on their mobile phone every day, and so it is essential that your eCommerce site is fully functional on mobile and tablet devices as well as on laptops and desktops. With more and more people now using their phones as personal computers, shopping is becoming increasingly mobile, so having a mobile-friendly site is key. 

Invest in quality stock 

It should go without saying, but quality must always be put above quantity when purchasing or making items to sell in your store. There are a number of different wholesale sites out there, such as Alibaba, Oberlo, and Doba, and they can be a minefield to navigate. Learn how to buy from alibaba.com here. 

Social media will be your best friend.

It is virtually impossible to launch a thriving eCommerce business without a social media presence. Social media gives you a glimpse into the wants and needs of your potential customers and target audiences, but it is also an invaluable free and paid marketing tool. In particular, Instagram is now known as the number one social media platform for eCommerce sites, but for maximum reach, don’t forget to build a presence on other social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok too.

Invest in your images 

Pictures tell a thousand words, and when it comes to eCommerce, they are also processed by your customers much faster. With 60% of people being visual learners, images are invaluable to your business, so do invest in a good photographer and take some professional pictures to ensure that your customers have all the pictures they need to make their decision. 

Use a live-chat

Lastly, as a small eCommerce business, you likely do not have a customer service department, but that doesn’t mean that you can neglect customer interactions. A live-chat feature makes it easy for you to answer customer questions and to speak with customers while they are on your site, just as if they were shopping in a real store. 21% of people who shop online say that live-chat tempts them to buy, 46% of people think that live-chat is the perfect digital communications tool, and 62% of shoppers say that they are more likely to return to a site that has live-chat installed. 

So there you have it – six tips for new eCommerce businesses, did you find them helpful? Why not share your own suggestions in the comments.

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3 Tips For An Easy House Move

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Moving home is so exciting, right? A fresh start, a lovely new place, a new neighbourhood to explore. You feel like a little kid again – those night-before-the-move jitters and arranging all your furniture into a great new space is an unbeatable feeling. However, as we all know, moving can also be expensive and stressful. Especially with lots of furniture, children, pets and a limited amount of time, the task can feel insurmountable. Here are three tips for an easy house move.

1. Hiring Your Own Lorry

Removal companies are great if you have all your own furniture, and no way of transporting it. However if you have a partially furnished let, wherein you’ll have some,but not all of your furnishings already set up in the new property, you could hire your own truck. This will save a lot of money and will ease your move. You can hire the lorry for as long as you need it, and you can have a fun road trip all of your own!

Ensure that when you hire or buy your own lorry, you look into lorry insurance and invest in proper precautions. 

2. Asking For Help With Child And Pet Care

If you are moving with young children, dogs or cats, the move can become infinitely more complicated and difficult. If you have close friends or family who can take care of your children or pets for you, this would help your move immensely. Having to take care of small children whilst lifting heavy boxes and organising a million things at once can be a big challenge, and can even lead to accidents. Children can be overwhelmed by moving house, so it is much better to have them come to your new home when you have had a chance to organise the space and make it feel like home.

Similarly, dogs and cats can become stressed by a change in location. If the place is in disarray, the animals can become even more frightened and restless. It is better to have a friend, family or professional pet care company take care of them whilst your house move is taking place.

3. Time Off Work

Although it can feel wasteful to take holiday from work just to move house, you’ll thank yourself later for taking the time. Moving into a new house might only take one day, but the unpacking, organising and cleaning process can take far longer. If you take a few days, or even a week, to complete your move, you can return to work with a fresh slate, knowing you’ll be coming back to an organised, calm home!

Plus, this way you can actually enjoy your move, rather than treating it as a stressful nightmare! You can make the most of the new space, experiment with the layout, and truly transform this house into a home which you will be enjoying for years to come.

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3 Issues Repair Workers Are Facing During The Corona Pandemic

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It’s fair to say that the whole economy and multiple industries have taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown forced many companies to close their doors while others were forced into administration. At the same time, numerous businesses have also struggled with how to restart their respective models and get things firing on all cylinders once more. However some companies have been hit harder than others. 

Maintenance and repair workers such as plumbers and electricians are facing significant difficulties right now. Here are some of the issues that they are dealing with and the potential solutions. 

Social Distancing 

One of the greatest issues right now is that it seems social distancing is key to preventing the spread of the virus. Ultimately, this means that people are wary about being around others and potentially letting individuals into their homes. That’s a definite problem for repair workers who often require access to complete their jobs. Now, you might assume that people will call repair workers out regardless because it’s an emergency. However, a lot of time a repair doesn’t seem like an emergency and people will put it off for as long as possible. 

The challenge here is convincing customers and clients that safety can be maintained in this type of situation. More often than not, this is about ensuring that PPE is used and readily available for workers. Businesses also need to be clear about the things they are doing to keep everyone safe. 

Getting Supplies

We have seen numerous factories and businesses forced to close due to coronavirus outbreaks. The issue here is that this leaves a lot of companies unable to get the products that they need. It can cause businesses to grind to a halt, particularly plumbers and electricians that often require access to spare parts. 

Luckily, key parts such as a 3 way ball valve can still be found online and at reasonable prices. But, repair companies may still need to expand their search and look to companies that they haven’t used before to ensure that they have the parts they need. 

Financial Losses

It’s like that repair companies and maintenance workers, particularly freelancers, have sustained substantial losses over the past few months. While there has been government support to help mitigate the damage, this may not have been enough. Companies will also need to consider how they can protect their model from future damage. This does mean that they need to think about insurance options. There is insurance coverage that could potentially help if there is a dreaded second wave or a new outbreak. By getting the insurance in place now, companies like this will be able to keep their business afloat and the lights on. It could also help if the coronavirus pandemic does cause a massive economic disaster as many analysts seem to fear. 

We hope this helps you understand the challenges that these workers and businesses are facing. It’s like that many will bounce back eventually but there could definitely be some rough roads ahead before things are able to snap back into place.

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