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2014 Digital Trends Represent an Exciting Opportunity

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Early this year, Adobe published an insightful report into the digital trends for 2014. It summarises what both companies and ad agencies think about what will be important in digital this year. The answers were obtained from 980 companies and 1,202 agencies. Here is how the overall chart of 2014 exciting opportunities look like:

Customer experience is at the top of the chart, with companies giving it slightly more emphasis than agencies did.

Mobile is quite obviously number two, as the consumer market has been going mobile, and therefore, focus of both companies and agencies should be on mobile too.

One would hope that such focus on customer experience and mobile will result in tangible service and product improvements this year.

Content Is King

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One of the most fundamental differentiators in the business world is the division between B2B and B2C.

When you think about how B2B is really different from B2C in a real life, you may picture B2B as people sitting in their office - constantly juggling emails, documents, scheduling meetings and countless numbers of other boring “business” tasks. Business, overall, takes place in offices where people use desktop computers or laptops, hence mobile isn’t much of a priority for B2B. Whereas, B2C businesses follow a customer wherever they happen to be at any given point of time in order to sell a product or service. Which makes mobile a HUGE interest and priority for B2C.

It’s assumed by ad agencies and the companies they represent that B2B doesn’t want the same level of user experience that the customers in the B2C model want. Of course that is pure speculation, but it seems like it truly is the underlying assumption that businesses used to rough edges and consumers are not.

Experiment, Experiment and Experiment

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One of the major factors that impact a company’s potential to be innovative and a leader in its area is if they embrace the test-and-learn approach to app development. Indeed - how can you learn something new without trying new ideas. Here is a diagram that shows the level that companies will take risks by trying new ideas.

The graphic shows that bulk of companies are boldly ready to experiment with digital in 2014 and kudos to them! It’s interesting to see that companies aren’t that sure that all marketing is becoming digital, even though the growth in digital advertising has been outpacing traditional print, radio and TV ads for the last several years. And, finally, the last piece that we find interesting on this diagram is that the majority either don’t have or aren’t sure about having the right marketing technology to succeed. It goes to show you that there is a space for new marketing tools to emerge and help businesses.

Corporate can’t keep up with customers

By analyzing 300 answers on the question about what is different about today’s customer the following picture emerges:

  • Since content is available on so many platforms it’s become increasingly difficult to keep up with a customer and provide a seamless experience across the board.
  • People don’t stick to a brand as much they used to, it is very easy for people to switch from one brand to another whenever they feel they pay too much, quality is worse than they expect and so on.
  • The better service and product quality is the higher customer expectation. Many business are having a hard time to keeping up with this trend.
  • How social is going to evolve is a mystery for businesses. We’re passing the moment when ads were more efficient on social media sites such as Facebook than they are on a traditional web. People want more and more to be in control over what shows up on their News Feed.
  • A generation conflict is developing: 40+ years old marketing directors / managers are having a hard time trying to understand Millennials, what they want and what is the right way to sell them services and products.

The important takeaway from the last item is that marketing people need to stay young emotionally. As one

old Chinese proverb says “You have to die young and do it as late as possible”

Email

Email has been one of the most commonly argued about communication channels. From the research data we see that digital agencies consider email to be less and less effective, losing ground to Social Networks, IM and push notifications. One of the common observations is that in many instances people have separate email accounts for marketing and personal use and hence it’s harder to consistently market via email.

Peer-to-peer sharing networks and recommendations have become more and more popular within younger generation and so agencies should adapt to these channels. As young people are getting their first job, email does become a relevant communication channel to reach them.

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Mobile has won

The paper contains a great quote from Huffington Post Co-Founder Arianna Huffington argues that the technology revolution embodied by smartphones has been detrimental to our personal well-being, writing: “Big data, unfettered information, the ability to be in constant contact, and our growing reliance on technology are all conspiring to create a noisy traffic jam between us and our place of insight and peace.”

Smartphones are a double edged sword - on one hand they do make our lives easier, removing complexity and making possible to be up to date with information that is relevant to our daily lives. On the other hand - ads like the Coca-Cola Guard ad show us how much of our attention and time social media eats up daily.

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It’s almost a given that consumers are having their smartphone next to their wallet when they go shopping and understanding the process of how people perform mobile research and buy products is becoming increasingly important. This year 62% of companies confirmed that it will be very important for their digital marketing campaigns.

There is a general perception that people using their tablets are at home, sitting on a coach and people using smartphones are on the go. But when it comes to digital marketing campaign planning we shouldn’t be guided by an accepted cliche, 54%, (which is up 2% from 2013,) consider understanding when and where consumers use different devices to be really important.

Marketing as a tool to sell products has come a long way from the offline world: Terms such as the Internet, digital marketing and the like didn’t exist. Quite naturally customers haven’t gone completely digital as once was predicted - they still want to go to physical stores and they do interact with physical ads. Many companies do realize this and the survey shows that this year 46%, which is 4% up from 2013.

We encourage you to go ahead and read the full text of the survey here -

http://offers.adobe.com/content/dam/offer-manager/en/na/marketing/Target/QDIB-2014-Digital-Trends-US.pdf

Art Dogtiev,

Head of Branded Content.

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