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Young Entrepreneur Council/ Forbes.com
YEC is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs 40 and younger.
Since the rise of the internet and mobile technology, marketing and advertising efforts have increasingly gone digital. Today’s brands reach their customers through websites, social media, blog posts, video content, text messaging and other channels, and continue to refine their campaigns based on a wealth of customer engagement data.
Smart marketers know that staying competitive means not just keeping up with the latest industry trends, but being ahead of the curve. These members of Young Entrepreneur Council have firsthand experience with the latest digital marketing techniques and tools. Below, they’ve shared 10 of the most exciting recent trends that entrepreneurs should be watching.
1. Live Video
The explosion of live video is everywhere! From YouTube to Instagram to Facebook, more and more platforms are providing users the tools to broadcast on live stream at any given moment, and entrepreneurs need to take advantage of it. By using live video, you’re giving viewers insight on your business, current projects, business advice or any other topic you want to talk about. Live video gives you the power to engage with viewers in real time, making it the perfect medium to ask or answer questions viewers and customers might have. Not to mention, it’s free to use and does not cost you any extra time to have footage edited. It’s a must-try tool for entrepreneurs in any industry. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
2. Geofencing And Mobile Marketing
The popularity of smartphones and digital devices has made geofencing a must-have for marketers looking to capture the attention and stay on the radar of their target markets. Using RFID, bluetooth and GPS technologies, geofencing has the ability to send targeted messages to potential customers within a specific geographical area. This technology has many uses for customers, including operating smart devices, getting grocery list alerts when near a store and even opening their garage doors. For marketers, though, it offers the advantage not only of hyper-targeted localization, but also the ability to track certain metrics (how long customers are in store, what they buy, how often they visit, etc.). This data helps to personalize recommendations to individuals and local markets. – Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing
3. Augmented Reality For Product Visualization
We’ve seen amazing improvements in augmented reality tracking in the past year. With companies like Ikea and Amazon implementing augmented reality for product visualization, this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Users can now place objects like furniture, décor and equipment in their own physical space via their smartphones to see how things fit and look prior to purchasing. This technology is moving beyond gaming and entertainment and has a plethora of practical applications for everyday use. In the coming year, I anticipate other e-commerce brands will adopt this tech and we’ll see a huge rise in the number of augmented reality experiences on the market. – Annie Eaton, Futurus
4. Instagram Stories Polls
Instagram Stories enable users to share 15-second posts in the form of videos or photos on their Instagram accounts. Like Snapchat, posts disappear in 24 hours and are a great way to showcase behind-the-scenes content. The ability to quickly test concepts and ideas in the form of polls on Stories allows you to hear exactly what your potential customers actually want. Whether your business is debating on a new flavor, what time of day to broadcast or what type of content to create, ask and people will tell you. I find that loyal followers want to engage with your brand to show their support. This is also a great way to gain more engagement because not too many brands are harnessing these tools just yet. If your brand is able to quickly adapt to new trends, you will stand out from the competition. – Christine Hronec, Gauge Girl Training, LLC.
Instagram recently launched a TV section on their app that allows brands and influencers to create longer content than what’s capable in Stories. It works a little differently than YouTube. For example, instead of a horizontal format, they encourage users to create vertical video content, similar to the Stories format. Most video producers can create videos up to 10 minutes; however, verified accounts with a larger following can create videos up to 60 minutes using the platform. IGTV is an exciting digital marketing trend that new digital marketers should strongly consider implementing into their current strategy. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. Pay-Later Financing Options For E-Commerce
Although not strictly in the marketing wheelhouse, most e-commerce companies are seeing pay-later financing as a conversion tool. There has been a flood of startups offering this product including Affirm and Paypal Credit. They are providing an easier financing layer for smaller retailers that previously wouldn’t have had the credit capabilities to offer such an offering. In turn, they are seeing conversion rates go up by offering zero down payment for products anywhere, like electronics, apparel and home goods. – Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed
7. Bot-Assisted Customer Relations
By combining creative customer relations, marketing and web development, companies have been able to use chatbots to assist customers with everything from simple questions to completing sales. Investing in chatbots has allowed companies to refocus their employees’ time on more valuable tasks while increasing customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty. The level of sophistication chatbots have achieved has removed the frustration customers felt when they knew they were dealing with a bot versus an employee. Customers no longer feel unimportant; the bots are so advanced that they don’t know they aren’t working with a human. They may even enjoy the experience because of the bot’s ability to help with any customer issue. – Jeff Pitta, Senior Market Advisors
8. Voice Marketing
Around 40% adults use voice search each day. Data suggests that the voice recognition industry will cross the $40 billion mark by 2022. With an increase in ownership of voice-based devices like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, it is only natural for voice searches to grow exponentially. Entrepreneurs need to take note of this development because voice searches do not function in the same way as conventional text-based searches. Besides, while social media worked in eliminating barriers between businesses and their target audiences, voice searches give brands a means to reach out to their desired audiences like never before. – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns
9. Artificial Intelligence
The key for any business to thrive and rise above their competitors is for them to continuously hone in on understanding their customer behavior and tailoring their products to the needs of their customers. In the past, businesses would create surveys and research groups to test or develop new products and concepts. Not only is this manual method time consuming, but if the sample group is not carefully selected, it could result in inaccurate data that will not benefit the growth of the business. Artificial intelligence now exists to analyze individual behaviors by tracking certain patterns that are extrapolated from interaction without human communication. AI can then translate this data to help businesses understand their consumers on a level that is faster and more detailed than ever before. – Stephanie Vermaas, THIS IS A LOVE SONG LLC
10. Evergreen Content
Those who have successful websites that generate a healthy amount of organic traffic know that content is king. However, recently the trend has been moving toward evergreen content. Evergreen content is produced with longevity in mind. In general, this type of content would be useful today as well as in one to two years, and possibly even longer. This is the type of content that people want to bookmark and come back to again in the future. You can publish white papers, guides and tips that are well written and add value to your visitors. You can always come back and revise evergreen content over time to make minor updates that don’t require an entirely new piece of content. Most often, evergreen generates top-of-the-funnel traffic that eventually turns into bottom-of-the-funnel traffic. – Jared Ross Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.