With revenues between $427 billion and $443 billion being attributed to online retail sales alone by the end of 2017, it is no surprise that the Ecommerce industry is one of the biggest contributors the US economy.
Furthermore, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has asserted that the overall growth rate is nearly three times faster than the overall industry - reaching up to 8% to 12% - and by 2020, the overall revenue is expected to hit $632 billion.
That said, in today’s article, we’ll look at the Ecommerce growth trends that are driving and influencing the exponential boom in the industry today. Having entered the final quarter of the fiscal year, you can factor these trends into your business plan for the coming year.
1. Personalized Content to the Forefront
Content marketing, as always, is the driving force for most marketing methodologies; and inbound marketing takes it one step further: personalized content.
Buyer psychology drives intent, and influencing that psychology requires a tactic that delivers content that resonates with the buyer’s frame of mind at any given moment. This brings us to the concept of “smart content”, which Hubspot defined as
content that is intelligently personalized to your customer’s needs.
Smart content is aimed at creating a unique experience for each type of visitor to your website, by dint of being highly personalized and targeted to the individual buyer persona under which the visitor falls, and where they currently are in the buyer’s journey.
A survey done by Hubspot revealed that CTAs that were personalized and directed to their users fared 42% better than generic CTAs. This is because buyers tend to react positively to and remember brands that present a personal front through custom and individualized content over those that followed a generic one-size-fits-all approach.
New visitors to your website will see standard but engaging content that is aimed at converting them into customers; whereas, existing customers will be served micro-targeted content that is reflective of their previous engagement on the site and personal preferences with the aim of retaining them and enticing them into making additional purchases on your website.
2. Big Data Can Help You Make It Big
We’ve already expounded on what big data is and its role in driving the core tactics of inbound marketing - which by definition is a data-driven methodology. The availability of this data can help marketers create a full picture of both prospective and existing customers, understand their inherent behavior and buying tendencies, and consequently, generate campaigns that can help drive positive conversions.
Big data, in conjunction with the right tools like marketing automation tools and CRMs, can be highly useful in executing a business’s marketing goals:
- Acquiring and converting leads
- Retaining and converting existing customers into long-time promoters
- Generating engaging and personalized content that drives conversions
- Formulating effective lead scoring tactics
The 3V’s of Big Data - Volume, Variety, and Velocity - are what makes it so essential to marketers who want to use it to increase sales through personalization and predictive analysis. Word of advice: you better start learning the language.
3. Visualization for Success
Visual content - especially videos - has a higher retention potential in customers than textual content. With the increasing popularity of platforms like YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter, visual content has become a powerful tool for brands that are looking to establish deeper, long-lasting relationships with their customers: so powerful that 60% of B2C and small businesses today place importance on creating visual content and video marketing, and plan to increase their investment in video marketing by the end of 2017.
Video marketing, in particular, is becoming a particularly powerful tool for marketers to set themselves apart from their competitors, and with mobile usage hitting new highs with each passing day, it has carried over to mobile video consumption, as well.
Therefore, Ecommerce brands are scrambling to capitalize on it by increasing their presence on video platforms, especially YouTube, which has blown prime time numbers out of the water by posting higher view numbers than any cable network, thus far.
4. Managing Micro-Moments
The mobile age has ushered in a whole new level of engagement and interaction between customers and brands today. One of the biggest concepts that have materialized within this context is “micro-moments”, which are small instances where users have an immediate need to fulfill: needs which have them reaching out for their phones to search for pertinent information.
These micro-moments can, in turn, lead to anything from long-term decisions like buying a house to short-term goals like purchasing a cup of coffee. For today’s Ecommerce brands, these micro-moments are crucial touch-points where they can reach out to their customers with relevant, reliable information, which is sometimes also relative to the customer’s current location.
As mobile usage becomes more and more integrated into a customer’s daily life, these moments will only increase in significance for a brand. Additionally, since personalization is already high on the list of trends, micro-moments will make the need for it all the more pressing: micro-targeting your customers based on their immediate needs will be essential to establishing a sustainable relationship. Generic, mass-marketing tactics and messaging will no longer hold water and can cost a brand a lot of potential revenue.
5. Influencer Marketing
Your brand’s existing customer base is your biggest asset for good reason, especially if they love your brand enough to become promoters through word-of-mouth and increase brand awareness. Why? Because new customers tend to trust personal recommendations over brand promotional tactics.
Therefore, brands need to boost their customer nurturing tactics to turn their customers into potential influencers. To turn customers into influencers, you need to start by understanding, acknowledging and resolving your customer’s immediate needs effectively. As more customers perceive you as a brand that is quick to respond to their needs, you will eventually build a pool of potential influencers and promoters.
This pool of influencers can then trigger a “snowball effect” of promotion, by recommending your product to friends, social followers and other people within their circle of influence, eventually opening the brand up to a near exponential boost in conversions.
In addition, if your budget allows for it, you can get your brand promoted through elite brand ambassadors - and we don’t mean the A-listers in Hollywood: you’ll be surprised at the influence of popular bloggers, YouTube stars and up and coming artists.
6. Content Marketing Continues to Be Critical
While content marketing continues to be the cornerstone of digital marketing, the boundaries within which it operates are no longer limited to content that is created by content writers.
Content marketing has become more fluid and as such, brands should look beyond content writers and include talent that specializes in video production and editing, audio editing and production, graphic design, content optimization, content promotion and analytics. More to the point, your content generation strategies need to conform to the buyer’s journey so as to be effective in driving potential customers down the sales funnel and closer to conversion.
Additionally, content distribution channels have moved outside the boundaries of one’s mobile device, especially with the advent of the Internet of Things.
7. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
With the advent of Google’s AI technology, brands have now begun to look beyond traditional Ecommerce actions. According to a report from the Business Insider, it is estimated that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled through automation and AI.
With the availability of Big Data and the ability of AI to process and analyze it into specific patterns and trends based on their behaviors, credit checks and other common threads., businesses can easily provide personalized experiences to each of their customers.
AI technologies can also help sales teams identify a customer’s sales impulse, and enable them to reach the customer in time with the right content and information to help them make buying decisions faster than usual. By integrating AI into their CRMs, businesses can use voice-enabled systems like Alexa and Siri to answer customer queries, solve problems and even identify new opportunities for sales.
As the fiscal year draws to a close, the Ecommerce industry enters a whole new era that is largely centered on automation, big data and micro-targeting. Augmenting your marketing and sales process with these technologies is crucial if you want to get in with an even chance of success.
Are you geared up to tackle 2018?