With consumers interacting with brands over a variety of channels from websites, social media and mobile apps, it’s more important than ever that companies are present on these channels and can engage with customers when they want and how they want. Within this digital world three key trends dominated during 2014: mobile, content and analytics.
It’s a mobile world
In 2014 we’ve seen how mobile has penetrated every business and every sector, becoming a channel that nobody can ignore. Smartphone and tablet adoption rocketed as consumers flocked (and queued overnight!) to buy the latest devices. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) two thirds of Irish people now use their smartphone to go online and 38% use a tablet.
This move towards mobile means consumer behaviour is changing too: the average number of online devices in the home has risen from three to four over the past year and device switching and multi-screening are now common in most Irish households. Not only has mobile changed the way we consume media, it’s also changing the way we shop; 18% of all transactions in Europe are now via a mobile sales channel.
For businesses, this change in consumer behaviour means mobile is no longer a nice-to-have, it needs to be a must-have. With so many consumers now accessing the internet on mobile devices, a mobile ready (responsive) website is essential. People don’t want to have “pinch and zoom” to read the text on your site; 87% of Irish people want to go to a mobile optimised site when using their smartphones or tablets. There’s also the option of developing a mobile app for your business. A well-thought out and researched app could be a real boon to sales and customer service. Here are some companies who are using apps to make a real difference to their business.
Content is king
Content marketing has exploded in 2014. According to eConsultancy Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, content marketing was the top digital priority for companies in 2014. In this content driven world, companies need to become publishers.
With attention spans at an all-time low, the content on your site, on your app, and even the content you share on social media, needs to grab attention. Quality, interesting content has become a way to differentiate your company.
Content too has changed dramatically and we’re seeing a huge interest in video in particular, with many analysts calling video the future of content marketing. According to Cisco, by 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. When it comes to reaching your audience, it’s not difficult to see why so many businesses are turning to video; YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month. This incredible figure reinforces the influence video content can have for any business looking to drive brand awareness or showcase new products or services.
Big Data, and analytics in general, was a high-profile term during 2014. Big Data concerns massive volumes of data being collected and analysed by advanced data processing applications. For now Big Data is more of a focus for large global corporations and agencies. Other companies are using a variety of analytics tools from Google Analytics to in-built device analytics to determine customer behaviour.
By understanding customer behaviour and preferences businesses can engage with their customers on a higher level. They can create content customers want to see or read, develop an app to cater for customer needs, modify their website to make it more user-friendly.
Google Analytics delivers key website information like how people are finding their way to your site, what content they’re interested in, how long they’re staying and what are they buying. This is invaluable data that can help guide future tweaks to your website. But analytics isn’t just focused on your website and social media channels. Companies across all sectors are using analytics to tap into key data to re-order shop layouts to maximise footfall, modify staff numbers to deal with peaks and troughs or to develop targeted offers for specific demographics.
2015 and beyond
Looking ahead to 2015 we expect mobile, content and analytics to continue to grow in importance. Mobile will expand its influence; we’ve heard experts tell companies to develop mobile first strategies, then mobile only; in 2015 we’re likely to hear talk of mobile also, a combination of both.
With content, we’re seeing a clear shift in who is creating brand content with consumers taking centre stage. The introduction of apps like Vine, Hyperlapse and Instagram has seen consumers becoming brand storytellers, a move companies should embrace and encourage in 2015.
The sky is the limit with analytics. In our increasingly connected world, where everything and everyone is connected to the internet the sheer volume of data is mind blowing. In the coming years we expect to see companies learning to use this data cleverly and engage with their customers in new and exciting ways.