marketing trends
Woman scanning QR code in the magazine

By Joydeep Bhattacharya

Marketing is volatile and the concept keeps evolving with time.  With the advent of Internet and enhanced mobility, the picture is changing rapidly. Nowadays, quality marketing is not seen as a forbidden fruit far from the reach of small businesses but countless innovative startups are testing the new technology and transforming the landscape, for good. Here are our top picks how technology is changing SMB marketing.

Personalized Targeting with Data Science

According to Usabilla, 56% of customers are more likely to buy with a personalized experience. This kind of customer-centric experience is created when relevant data about the user behavior is utilized. Such data is available in huge numbers from analytics software, email service providers and Ecommerce platforms. The proper usage of this Big Data is much more important than its size. And this is where data science comes into picture.

Data science is an interdisciplinary field about processes and systems to extract insights from data, structured or unstructured. With the skillful maneuvre of this bulk data, marketers amend their communications based on customer’s gender, device, location, purchase history or even the past browsing behavior. Subtle ways in which personalization takes place:

  • Your name being displayed in the communication
  • You get suggestions for products which complement your past purchase. For instance, matching footwear for a previous purchase of similar dress.
  • Content flowing freely across different screen resolutions with Responsive Design.

While it generates better ROI, and with tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Target, personalization is fairly easy, but it is highly recommended to employ an expert which can give way to Hyper-personalization.

QR Code for Instant Annotations

QR codes are like the bar codes which appear on the back of a product for quick reading and instant record building. While the archaic codes contained a single line of text, but QR codes can contain much more information.

For marketing, QR code can be thought of as a paper based hyperlink that connects the physical tangible world to the online domain. The printed code needs to be scanned with a scanner application (easily available on app store) which translates it into actionable information such as text message, images and webpages.

You can generate QR codes with online tools like QR code generator from spaces. The code can be integrated with any type of media like print advertisement, Business cards, brochures and flyers, online advertisement etc. The scan can trigger a range of actions:

  • Direct user to the landing page of advertiser.
  • Send an Email, text message of even dial a telephone number
  • Download contact details
  • View Google map locations.

A Vibrant Immersive Experience

Strong Visuals, engaging interaction and resonating messages can captivate users’ attention but brands are breathing a new life into their products with immersive experience. This kind of intensified experience is created by:

  • Virtual reality (Occulus Rift)
  • Augmented reality (Zap works)
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Wearables (Fitbit)
  • Internet of Things

Coca-Cola and Cadbury are trying out this new form of infectious marketing which gives user a “larger than life” adventure. Even the acclaimed rapper, Snoop Dog applied Virtual reality in YouTube videos and gave users a chance to watch them with Snoop Dogg and his mates.

Though the emerging technology seems tempting, but marketers should avoid replacing complete human interaction, instead the consumers want science to actually enhance their experience instead of substituting it with a machine. With future of experience research, Adobe came up with five challenges, marketers need to tackle (and embrace) for a sustainable immersive experience:

  • Empathy- The experience needs to connect on an emotional level with the customer
  • Serendipity- Playing by the rules and creating products to enhance, not to replace human element
  • Privacy- In addition to connecting people, technology must have an option to instantly disconnect.
  • Reciprocity- Consumers need to gain something from the machines and vice-versa
  • Adaptability- The advancement bust be such that people feel comfortable in migrating. A big leap develops fear and insecurity.

Migration to a Mobile First Landscape

According to the Comscore study below, desktop users are rapidly reducing and migrating to a mobile only interface.

Most of the marketers just consider building a mobile app or a responsive design, when it comes to a mobile first landscape, but it is much more than that. Brands are restructuring the old models, which were focused on a large desktop screen and a 16:9 resolution, to map customer journeys through smartphones. Some applications of mobile-first marketing:

Video resolution for mobile- While marketers have already implemented mobile friendly images, but videos which do not require a user to rotate their mobiles is still latent.

Websites elements- The biggest difference between a desktop and mobile user is application of touch. And it has far reaching consequences, links are changing to buttons, Navigations are in a 4:3 format, push notifications and locations are being used in real time.

Instant account confirmation- Mobile empowers to instantly verify accounts with messages and calls which are automatically read without the need of users’ efforts. Services like Yodlee provides account verification API for business apps and other ecommerce services.

Photos and Videos- Mobile experience enables instant photo clicking and editing, opening a new market for brands. Users are encouraged to click and upload photos videos and voice clips in real time.

Data Analytics and Marketing Automation

Analytics is not only used for driving personalization in campaigns, but a complete suite for future marketing efforts. Marketing automation refers to an approach in which redundant task such as sending emails, social media updates, messages newsletters etc are mechanized, without the need of human intervention.

Marketing automation softwares have various benefits like:

  • Scheduling advertising communications according to individual consumers.
  • Working as a system of record where data can be managed and consumer profiles can be maintained, for sending out the right information at the right time.
  • Utilizing real time data and “trigger events” for shooting marketing campaigns. For instance, the user searches for electric cars, and you send a brochure for the same product in their inbox!
  • Doubling up as an analytics software and gathering user behavior data. This data is used to know what is working and what is not in terms of response to communications.
  • A good software which aligns with sales, marketers can predict the ROI for programs and foresee the funnels which can create pipelines.

The emerging technologies are rapidly changing the customer experience. Marketers are gradually realizing its impact and implementing it in their campaigns. While the Initial costs might seem big, but testing a raw science is well worth the investment and direct businesses to a better ROI.

Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist and author of He is a regular contributor on publications like Wired, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Hubspot and several other sites.