In Part 01 of this series, we provided an overview of the digital marketing trends of greater personalization, the growing emphasis on security, conversational marketing, and social media commerce. Part 02 focused on the critical importance of video, different search modalities, the role of influencers, responsible consumerism, and Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI). But there are other critical factors that marketers need to respond to that are covered in this segment, i.e., special-needs accessibility, the impact of cryptocurrency and NFTs, Gender Neutrality, Geofencing, and Hyper-Local Marketing.
Special Needs Accessibility
How are special needs accessibility important to marketing? Nearly two billion disabled people worldwide have $1.9 trillion in disposable income. Consultant Svetlana Kouznetsova stated, “If our needs are ignored, businesses will lose not only us, but also our family, friends, and colleagues that make up another 3.4 billion potential customers. –Bottom line–together, we control $13 trillion.” (source) . AI makes this a viable strategy. If nothing else, expanding special-needs accessibility widens your audience and allows people the mutual benefit of being exposed to them.
Regardless of one’s position on gender variability (only two genders or more?), many respond favorably to the idea that gender is not bifurcated but on a continuum. This is why In 2021, brands like Old Navy and Pacific Sunwear released gender-neutral clothing collections. And this trend toward inclusivity for gender preferences and other demographic markers is continuing.
Damien Buxton, managing director of web design firm Midas Creative, expects to see more brands abandon traditional gender roles in their marketing to prevent losing potential customers. “The dynamics of households and people have changed and continue to change,” he said. “Marketing will become more gender-neutral and less focused on pre-conceived ideas of what sex an individual is and what they should be seeing.” (source). Similarly, Stewart McGrenary, director at mobile recycling comparison site Freedom Mobiles, agreed it is “now vital for brands to authentically reflect a range of backgrounds within their marketing messages as the population diversifies more and more.” (source).
Tracking search intent is essential
AI technology improves understanding of consumer behavior and search patterns in looking for search intent when returning results to users. Google, for example, is leveraging search intent to generate information that matches user needs, answering questions like:
- Are they looking to learn how to do something?
- Are they trying to make a purchase?
- Do they want to find a specific site?
Buyer intent data helps identify people online who are currently looking for your products or services based on their searching for specific keywords or visiting your website or a competitor’s site. This allows marketing campaigns to assess a customer’s stage in the buying process to create a much higher level of relevance.
So, Google can now process more complex searches and return more accurate defined results. Improved tracking also increases customer brand awareness and retention when content is aligned with search intent. This generates higher search rankings and provides consumers with highly specific information they are more likely to remember.
Search intent also becomes more important in understanding complex customer journeys across mobile and desktop devices and ad placements. For example, on Facebook alone, an ad can appear in a variety of placements, such as in the Facebook News Feed, during Instagram Stories, Reels, or within Instant Articles.
Geofencing Is Upgrading Locational Marketing
Geotargeting is a long-standing tool for marketers used to tailor customer content to different demographic categories. Geofencing, by contrast, “is a location-based service in which an app uses radio frequency identification (RFID), Wi-Fi, GPS, or cellular data to trigger a targeted marketing action when a mobile device enters or exits a virtual geographic boundary, known as a geofence.” (source). This method reduces marketing spending by not wasting money on unlikely sales prospects.
Geofencing marketing may include push notifications, digital ads, text messages, and email. The primary purpose of geofencing is to provide information about nearby points of interest like restaurants or gas stations. When you enter the location of a point of interest, you receive an alert on your smartphone. This means that brands can now deliver personalized messages to a very small set of individuals more likely to buy. Location-based marketing is 20x more effective than standard ads. (source)
Even the most prominent global brands now recognize the value of customizing their marketing messages on a local level. Eight in 10 marketers currently use location data in their marketing strategy, and 94% plan to do so in the future. (source)
One related development is the potential of geofencing integrating with IoT (Internet of Things) technology. For example, customers could be reminded that they’re running low on milk while passing close to the grocery store. So, some very sophisticated and personalized marketing is on the horizon.
Despite the recent decline in the value of cryptocurrencies, those in younger demographics continue to like them. Many are driven by the potential of cryptocurrencies to decentralize finance. However, the most compelling reason for marketers to focus on cryptocurrencies is consumer expectation that they can use Visa, PayPal, and MasterCard to pay in crypto. Aligning your marketing strategies with this transition will increase your demographic reach. Another factor driving this transformation is leveraging the emergence of Web 3.0—which, like cryptocurrency, relies on blockchain technology.
One trending aspect of blockchain is non-fungible tokens (NFTs) –See our previous post on this topic: (The Rise of Digital Art). To recap–non-fungible means an item that can’t be exchanged for something of equal value because it stands alone without any equivalent. For example, “the U.S. dollar is fungible. You can exchange a $100 bill for five $20 bills. But you can’t exchange your grandmother’s portrait—a non-fungible—for anything of equal value because there’s no direct comparable.” (source)
With brands like Campbell’s, Charmin, and Coca-Cola issuing NFT collectibles last year, Jeff Mains (source), CEO of Champion Leadership Group, noted it’s a good time for other brands to tap into their potential digital assets to avoid being left behind. As brands like Adidas start to partner with NFT collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club–Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at cloud hosting platform Breeze.io, noted we can expect more partnerships—and even brands starting to sell or give away their own NFTs as a way to build community among their customers (source).
Loyalty Is Out; Membership Is In
In your new marketing, be aware that loyalty programs are no longer favored. Membership programs are taking their place, in many respects a natural progression of the previous system. Consumers like being part of an exclusive community. When a customer loves a brand and the values it stands for, they are especially likely to find membership appealing. They find affiliation more appealing than loyalty rewards, even if there is no difference between these two programs.
Because membership programs encourage people to join on their own initiative and take different actions, they have a more interactive quality. Moreover, they pay to join, making it seem more exclusive. They also feel motivated to utilize membership benefits to avoid wasting their money. Brands can add value to these programs by providing discounted access to specific products, free shipping, and other exclusive events. Brands offering membership will reach out to members to inform them of events and offers via email.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Provide Accessibility
Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are apps built with standard web technologies but having the feel and functionality of a standard app. Progressive web apps (PWAs) combine apps with websites, offering the best of both.
PWAs offer app-like increased functionality traditionally unavailable to websites, such as offline usage, push notifications when new data is available, and many other advantages. They load quickly as well, making them convenient and accessible. They have proved reliable and can be installed on any device. Some good examples of top companies with PWAs include–Twitter, Pinterest, Uber, TikTok, and Spotify.
So, a PWA is basically a website that can be installed on your device (phone, tablet, PC, or Mac) as an icon or shortcut. A PWA will pull updates in the background each time a user runs it. Users and visitors to the PWA gain access to new features as you update your web application.
Omnichannel marketing is not new but is now more relevant than ever because of its solid record of success. It is exemplified by marketing campaigns for single products or brands that span multiple platforms—including social media, chat options, apps, emails, and more.
By branching out and utilizing omnichannel marketing, you can expect:
- More consumer engagement
- A greater number of purchases
- Higher retention rates
Integrated Online-Offline Customer Experience
Brick and mortar stores with little online presence have been struggling since the onset of COVID. The 2020 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented number of store closures. Conversely, many online retailers and digital brands did very well. Massive numbers of consumers shifted to making more and more of their purchases and everyday activities online.
However, customers still prefer physical stores over online purchasing options by 84% (source) though that percentage seems destined to decline.
A critical result of this shift is the integration of physical and digital purchase options within stores, offering customers a much-improved experience. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies will also bring more of the shopping experience to the home, improving the online shopping experience. Ikea, for example, has an augmented reality app allowing customers to see furniture items in their own homes. Several fashion brands have launched apps enabling shoppers to try on clothing before they buy virtually. More and more brands are jumping onto this trend. For example, Nike has product information that integrates with customer smartphones, social media information, and interactive augmented reality installations.