Just a few weeks ago, at the annual Davos meeting hosted by The World Economic Forum, Jack Ma, founder of technology giant Alibaba, stated that “every technological evolution takes about 50 years” and predicted that it will be the focus for at least three more decades. Going into 2017, it is clear that virtual reality will be leading this evolution.
How can content marketers use this latest technology?
Just a few decades ago, businesses could put an advertisement on 3 television networks and dominate 80% of the US population’s attention with simple catch phrases, funny graphics and images. Then came the Internet with all its mystical powers allowing businesses and their products to be reached by anyone from anywhere; and we all scrambled to figure out SEO and PPC, thinking that would be enough to be more discoverable on search engines.
Today, we are living in the digital age and our lives are dominated by technologies. There are now more mobile devices in the world than people (7.8 billion smart devices as oppose to 7.1 billion world population) and users are almost surgically attached to their devices (44% admit to sleeping with the device next to their beds at night).
What does this mean to businesses and marketers?
Consumers now have stronger buying power than ever before, thanks to the transparent, easily comparable, widely available information, allowing them to make decisions and switch preferences effortlessly.
As a result, businesses need to connect and engage with their customers on a personal level beyond the supply-demand nature of business, by offering quality, value-adding and unique content; after all, it has been a known fact for over 20 years that personalisation improves marketing ROI up to 8 times and boosts sales by at least 10%; we just lacked the tools and the technologies to operate on a large scale.
This digital lifestyle has changed the landscape of content marketing for the better (here is a quick reminder of how it used to be). Now, marketers are presented with an abundance of methods to reach their target audiences whether through websites, marketplaces, search engines (mobile & desktop), social media (Facebook, Twitters, LinkedIn, You Tube, etc.), to name a few. Content now appears on mobiles and tablets, in the forms of emails, blog posts, podcasts, photos, videos and even movies.
What’s been going on and what is next?
As marketers, we are obliged to evolve our content strategies to fit the market and keep our brands and businesses relevant; and clearly, the way forward is to utilise technologies for more creative and interactive engagement with customers.
Last year, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) recorded an all-time-high half-year figure of $34.7 billions of Internet Advertising Revenues (IAR), 47% of which came from mobile platforms and another 20% from social media content. In the same report, PwC pointed out those video advertising accounts for 7% of the total.
This is due to the “millennial generation’s” preference for instant gratification from media and entertainment, and therefore, in 2017, businesses are expected to steer their marketing tactics towards the more personalised and mobile-friendly content that allows real-time interactions with their customers.
Although social media and video content are still on the rise, marketers are already buzzing about the next big thing – Virtual and Augmented Reality, a technology that allows users to enter a computer-generated environment for a visual experience without having to leave their current physical space.
How can content marketers incorporate this technology into reshaping the customers’ experiences, you might wonder?
Here are a few ideas.
• How about a virtual tour of a shopping mall to let shoppers experience the vibe of the place and the layout before they visit? And maybe let visitors choose their start point and provide a virtual guide to direct them to each shop, to make sure they know their ways prior to coming and not having to waste time looking for the specific store.
• Or maybe give diners the ability to view 3D images of the food or even short videos of how each dish is made when they try to order food online, to ensure them of the quality of their take-away food.
• And if you are a travel agent, provide a short video of the destinations, or the hotels, or whatever it is that you are promoting. Let them sneak a peak into what the sunrise on that beach might look like, or what the view is like in the room…
• One of the goals of content marketing is to boost sales, so how about selling virtual tours to a museum, or virtual tickets for a concert?
There are almost 4,000 technology-related tools and applications to support marketing functions these days, and technologies are still growing exponentially.
Being a content marketer has never been more fun. The possibilities are endless: there will always be something new for content adopt, utilise and integrated into the delivery of engaging and personal experiences to customers. There is no limit to creativity.
“The most important thing is to make technology inclusive – the Internet generation are the builders of the world and they will change the world” – Jack Ma (Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group).
Sources and Resources
• Ariker, M., Heller, J., Diaz, A. & Perrey, J., 2015. How Marketers Can Personalize at Scale. [Online] Available at: https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-marketers-can-personalize-at-scale.
• Baughman, K., 2017. 5 Things to Consider Before Investing in Content Technology. [Online] Available at: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/01/investing-content-technology/.
• Gregg, B., Kalaoui, H., Maynes, J. & Schuler, G., 2016. Marketing’s Holy Grail: Digital personalization at scale. [Online] Available at: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/marketings-holy-grail-digital-personalization-at-scale.
• PwC , 2016. IAB internet advertising revenue report 2016 first six months results. Quarterly Report. New York: PwC Advisory Services LLC Interactive Advertising Bureau.
• Ram, S., 2017. Meeting millennials where they shop: Shaping the future of shopping malls. [Online] Available at: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/meeting-millennials-where-they-shop-shaping-the-future-of-shopping-malls.