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Digital Marketing Statistics

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Separating the Hot from the Hype

Here’s how the digital marketing story played out in 2016

Digital innovations are changing consumer behavior. And consumer needs are driving digital innovation. Rising to the top are the ones that inspire a user to ask, “How did I live without this before?” TwitterLogo_#55acee

In the 2016 “Hot or Hype” survey, practicing digital marketers reported 22 innovations that were capturing their imagination. After a nationwide quantitative survey, all innovations were scored to determine what’s important and what’s irrelevant. The #1 innovation didn’t even appear on last year’s survey. And last year’s top innovation came in #2, proving that it really is meaningful.

So what are the technologies that are leading the trends and worthy of our attention (and marketing dollars)?

Artificial Intelligence is a Digital Trend
#1 Artificial Intelligence

  • The Guardian reported, “By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the U.S., starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers.”
  • AI scored highest because of the impact on marketing practicesTwitterLogo_#55acee.
  • One survey responder wrote that AI’s influence is to allow us to… “Better anticipate and predict a person’s needs and provide a highly customized brand experience.”
  • With AI, response rates go up, costs go down and waste is minimized.
  • Customers can potentially have immediate resolution to problems–or they may never know they have a problem because machines can predict and resolve issues before the alarm goes off.
  • A more dramatic proof point might be the steep adoption curve of programmatic buying.

Mobile Payments are a Digital Trend
#2 Mobile Payments

  • The return of this innovation on this year’s survey is powered by the growth and adoption of payment apps, new enabling technologies and the fact that the mobile phone has become the primary device of consumers.
  • Mobile payments help make the phone the epicenter of a consumer’s world.
  • Gives consumers direct access to brands and the ability to immediately actTwitterLogo_#55acee.
  • In return, marketers have direct access to consumers through the very same device.
  • Fluid value exchange that offers a rich flow of data about consumer purchase behavior and preferencesTwitterLogo_#55acee.
  • Allows for hyper-personalized customer experiences that can easily be delivered using AITwitterLogo_#55acee.

Digital Collaboration Tools on the Rise
#3 Digital Collaboration Tools

  • We live in a collaboration society in which business success comes from disparate people with diverse skills working together toward a common corporate goal.
  • We also live in an increasingly global world where people who work together don’t necessarily sit in the same office or even the same country.
  • For those two reasons, digital collaboration tools and seamless connectivity have become critical to smooth workflow and improved productivity
  • Inc. presented an interesting counterpoint from a Convene the Conveners session. “…despite all of the resources available to us to collaborate virtually and through digital platforms, there is still a desire to connect in person, look into another person’s eyes and work towards providing new and better solutions for whatever the task ahead.”

Data. Data. Data.
The thread that ties so many innovations together is the collection of data and, more important, how analysis of data leads to insights on ways to innovate furtherTwitterLogo_#55acee.

2017 DMA Statistical Fact Book Byline Excerpt by Neil Feinstein, Assistant Professor at St. John’s University

2016 Statistical Fact Book Byline for Digital by Neil Feinstein, Assistant Professor at St. John’s University

These two facts are the underpinning for every digital marketing strategy:

  1. Technology changes quickly.
  2. Consumers change slowly.

You can be confident someone somewhere just had a breakthrough for a new technology that s/he will boast as being the most momentous disruption to the status quo. But new, smart, never-been-done-before doesn’t make a technology relevant, or even discussion-worthy. While the innovation must be unique, more important is that it’s relevant to consumers and profitable to business.TwitterLogo_#55acee

The first Digital Marketing Innovation Hot or Hype Index, identified the innovations of 2015 that practicing digital marketers scored as most important to consumers, business and as being unique. Topping the Index were mobile payments, dynamic personalization and the convergence of TV and the Internet, in that order.

The hub and spoke of life
Payment enables life. So does the smartphone. Those minicomputers carried in everyone’s pocket have become the nexus for the ebb and flow of a consumer’s day. And usability of today’s devices has matured from intuitive to reflexive.

The technology to enable payment through the phone is not surprising. What’s astounding is how this capability has joined with other mobile-based computation functions to make mpayment inevitable. And life simpler.

For consumers, the ease of, for example, connecting mobile transactions to banking, budgeting and personal accounting have changed behavior, which impacts marketing strategy. The value to business, as they use mobile-supplied data to make customer interactions more personal will lead to longer, deeper, more profitable relationshipsTwitterLogo_#55acee.

Relevance = response
Digital innovation has enabled dynamic personalization that allows marketers to micro-customize interactions based on data and algorithms. Some may consider this oxymoronic: is it off-putting that marketers know too much about you and your behavior? Or is it creating value and trust as content satisfies a consumer’s desire or fulfills a need at the exact right moment?

In our collaboration-based society, consumers expect extraordinary. Marketers are using dynamic personalization technology to deliver a profoundly relevant experience.

After observing my students I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful force in the world is not money or sex or human interaction or even the need for food and water. It’s the desire to be entertained. (Or is that a need?) This consumer insight impacts the development of content, the collection of data and ultimately the design of customer experience delivered through any number of screens. And screens are ubiquitous. They’re in our living rooms, at our desks, in our pockets, at the mall, on the street, in the airport, on elevators, at the gym, on the bathroom wall and just about everywhere you look.

Considering the overwhelming research proving that purchase decisions are made by emotion, the importance of delivering screen-based, emotionally rich, highly personal experiences on screen is compelling and overwhelming.

The connector
These three innovations, and the others that appeared on the 2015 Digital Marketing Innovation Hot or Hype Index, such as wearable technology, proximity marketing and programmatic buying, are all connected by the collection, parsing and leveraging of data. While you can be awed by the power this gives database marketers, never discount the human element.

Google’s mantra to “focus on the user and all else will follow” is a guiding principle. Behavior is easily tracked in a digital environment, and can be predictive and manipulated. But human desire is all-powerfulTwitterLogo_#55acee. The king of motivators. The connection of the two is what drives the most potent strategies, and lasting relationships for business and consumers.

Up next
As I write this article, the 2016 Digital Marketing Innovation Hot or Hype Index is being prepped. What will surface on this year’s survey?

Snapchat Discover is becoming the new favorite storytelling tool of media companies. Is this the perfect digital innovation to drive behavior and emotional connections?

The Internet of Things, maybe. Is this the new World Wide Web? Building a connection of sensors to enrich an already overwhelming bucket of big data.

What about the idea of turning human skin into a mobile touchpad? Human-based sensors can now feed the Internet of Things.

In a recent speech, Google’s Eric Schmidt stated that the Internet is available on Mount Everest and the South Pole. You don’t have to go that far to connect. All you have to do is reach into one person’s mobile pocket.

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