We’re currently seeing a wave of rapid technological advancements – from the introduction of chatbots, wearables through to mobile customer relationship management and hands-free payment apps.
These transformative technologies are changing the way businesses communicate with their customers and marketers can extract maximum value from them. But only if they keep their skills up to date and learn how these news techniques can work for them and their business.
The technological innovations currently making the biggest buzz in business fall into categories that form a new ‘Five Ps’ of marketing: payments, products, promotion, place and people.
Retailers are now finding new and exciting options for consumers to choose and pay for goods simply and quickly. Google’s Android Pay and Apple Pay have led the way in the use of mobiles for easy payments. However, this landscape is set to keep evolving and help to fuel e-commerce via mobile. There is also a strong appetite for biometric authentication, particularly amongst younger adults who would like thumb, fingerprint or retinal scans to replace passwords or PINs.
The impact of these innovative payment solutions may help to keep spending buoyant in a deflationary economy and create new marketing opportunities for all businesses from large corporates through to SMEs.
Banner ads, push notifications and loyalty programmes will be regularly used by brands to reach consumers using mobile wallets. This will lead to the ability for businesses to create branded mobile wallet experiences.
The rise in the use of interactive chatbots indicates that the relationship between consumers and brands will become much deeper, and within a few years could become the primary way they communicate with each other. This form of messaging presents a big opportunity for businesses and is something that small businesses looking to grow their customer base should get on board with as it allows a one-to-one, two-way customer experience. A direct relationship rather than just promotion through social networks.
In addition, digital advertising is struggling under the huge constraints of ad-blocking. As a result, interactive messaging apps also present great alternative ways for businesses to bypass the ad blocks and engage with customers. This is likely to be extremely attractive for small businesses, but they must remember to develop specific services and content for them if they want to connect meaningfully with the consumer.
Something that has already and continues to transform the relationship between consumers and brands is wearables. Wearables offer real-time data on consumer behaviour that can be used to better understand your customer base and their interests which is vitally important for growing businesses. Wearables present a real opportunity for businesses to deliver extended brand experiences and increase loyalty by maintaining everyday contact.
Despite a certain degree of public apathy, wearables are set to become everyday aspects of consumer’s lives. A recent report by PwC estimates that by 2025 it could generate a global revenue of US$335bn, with the UK’s share of the market worth US$15bn (£11.4bn). We will soon see many everyday applications for wearables, for example, to able to map someone’s gym workout by recognising their gestures and movement through sensors.
When collecting data however, it’s important for businesses to ensure they are being transparent and communicating the benefits to their clearly to their customers. Our recent “Whose Data is it Anyway?” report revealed a widespread concern amongst consumers about how organisations use their data, with 92% claiming not to understand how their data is used. This demonstrates a clear need for businesses to rebuild trust with consumers by acting responsibly and respectfully when handling customer data – as well as reminding themselves of the dos and don’ts.
Geo-location is a key tool for any business or marketer looking to understand their consumer. It allow brands to target consumers on mobile phones whether they are inside or near to a store as consumers are more increasingly using the ‘near me’ feature on Google when searching for stores.
Beacon technology is another tool that enables retailers to connect with customers who are within range of their store. Its battery-powered transmitters send out a Bluetooth signal to mobile phones allowing retailers to share shopping information and promotions. Therefore, this is a key area for businesses to explore for investment as it a form of targeting which bridges the gap between online and physical customer experiences.
However, both technologies are dependent on the consumer either giving permission or downloading the mobile app.
Our "Whose Data is it Anyway?" report also found that when it comes to sharing data, 71% of consumers feel most uncomfortable with sharing their real time location. Therefore, this is an instance where businesses really should be communicating the benefits of data collection in order to inspire trust and ensure more customers are comfortable with sharing this type of information.
No longer simply a tool for sales, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is now being adopted across all business departments including marketing, client services, finance and human resources as opposed to just sales. Cloud-based CRM services allow businesses to manage their operations from a mobile app. This technology is transforming the way organisations work internally, as well as on the customer-facing side of the business. Consumers can now expect businesses to use the data they have collected from them to show them products or services that they believe would genuinely interest them.
Keeping staff and consumers connected via a CRM system provides presence and agility across touchpoints, making brands more responsive and intelligent as they create stronger relationships with audiences. Small businesses can really benefit from using this technology properly, allowing themselves to understand the journey their customers go on and grow their business through customer loyalty.
By Chris Daly, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Marketing