[Posted by Alexis Karlin
Digital Marketing Specialist, Neolane, Inc.]
Digital marketing is a constantly evolving landscape. New technologies and tools that can be used for marketing purposes are steadily being developed, creating a space that is always in flux and that offers infinite opportunities for digital marketers. While it may be difficult to stay on top of every new technology, there are certain digital marketing channels to watch for in 2012.
1. QR Codes
These days, QR codes can be found everywhere, from public transportation to magazines to food packaging to wedding invitations. When they first emerged, one of the hurdles to QR codes was that many consumers were simply unaware of their purpose.
In 2012, this channel has grown significantly; a recent post shows that marketing use of QR code and barcode scans grew to 68 percent of firms surveyed as part of a 2012 study, up 15 percent from 2011. The post also reflects that 24 percent of consumers use QR codes, a significant percentage in these early stages of adoption. As Millennials grow to represent a larger portion of the population, QR codes should continue to carry some momentum.
2. Nearfield Communications (NFC)
Consumers are always looking for convenience; better, faster, and newer seems to be the current state of mind. Nearfield communications (NFC) allow consumers to “tap and go,” linking bank cards through platforms like Google Wallet. From an Adage post regarding NFC expansion in Japan, “In one innovative use of the technology, two Gap stores in Tokyo this month started a ‘Like with a high-five’ Summer T Coordinates campaign in which a customer connects the app to her Facebook account, then gets a bracelet in-store to act as an identifier. When the customer sees a staff member wearing an outfit she likes, she “high-fives” to show approval by touching the bracelet to her smartphone. The phone makes a cheering sound and sends the outfit to her Facebook feed.” NFC will continue to offer convenience to consumers making payments in the U.S., but examples like those discussed in the Adage post may not be far behind.
3. User Generated Content (UGC)
As new technologies and social networks become available, so too does the opportunity for consumers to generate blog posts, videos, photos, or reviews about brands. Rather than limit these channels strictly for consumer complaints or reviews, companies should develop digital strategies around the opportunity. User generated content (UGC) has some distinct advantages for marketers, according to a Mashable post; the post cites cost-effectiveness, brand promotions, and ability to drive massive social engagement as reasons for marketers to consider UGC.
Putting the power in the hands of the consumer does not need only to yield negative attention; embracing UGC can be beneficial to marketers in a number of ways.
4. Video Marketing
Online video is not a new concept, but its continued growth provides a valuable tool for marketers to reach prospects and customers. A Time Business post shows more than 184 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in October 2011, for an average of 21.1 hours per viewer.
Batch and blast video marketing has some advantages, but with available technologies to personalize messages, targeted video marketing can pique a customer’s interest, offering an edge over traditional video marketing. Targeted video marketing includes addressing a customer or prospect by name, providing shipping invoices, or simply offering products or videos relating to past purchases or behavior. Marketing automation software could fuel marketing’s growth by targeting customer segments or individuals via video.
5. Mind Controlled Technology
This last trend has not yet broken ground in the digital marketing space, but its anticipated emergence could change the game in the near future. Emotiv has developed one of the first “affordable” mind controlled technology products, and could change not only the marketing landscape, but also the way we live our lives. This technology reads brainwaves, and will control objects based on the user’s thoughts.
How does this tie into marketing? Well, just think, in the near future you may be perusing a website and encounter an ad that does not necessarily interest you; seconds later, a different ad may pop up that is directly related to your thoughts. While we have not seen the likes of this technology just yet, watch for it to become a serious player in the near future.
If digital marketers stay on top of these trends, there could be significant advantages over the competition. There are many different ways to market products in today’s digital landscape, but tapping into these five trends could give the major marketing players a leg up in the future.
Which trends are you keeping up with this year?