There’s a reason so many brands jump on trends; they’re new, exciting, and have the potential for something great.
In a world where a Google search algorithm update can make or break the profitability of almost any business overnight, trends are important. But not all marketing trends are for everyone. Sure, that big business might look sexy using VR for marketing in a magazine, but is it right for you?
It’s important to be aware of marketing trends so that you can research them, adopt the ones that offer value, and continue to move forward so that you aren’t left behind. It’s also important to research your options, understand what will work for you, and create a defined plan before you jump on any bandwagon.
To get value out of marketing trends, you should understand that not all of them are right for you, and some are a waste of time and money. The trick is to stay aware of what’s happening, make changes when they benefit you, and pay attention so you don’t miss any opportunities.
2017 E-commerce Marketing Trends
While new e-commerce marketing trends are sure to come up throughout the year, the following are some concerns, opportunities, and trending techniques that are already on our radar for 2017.
Fast customer service is becoming increasingly important as consumers, spurred by social media, have grown accustomed to instant chat. In one study by Zendesk, 69% of respondents associated a good customer service experience with a speedy reply.
How important is instant customer service? In one case study, a company improved sales by 28% by using chat to reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Modern chatbots can be used by e-commerce companies to reduce the burden on live customer support and to provide faster answers for common questions.
While these high-budget custom chat applications are not always suitable for the average e-commerce business, they can provide inspiration for faster customer service.
Offering instant chat options improves customer experience and allows potential customers to get answers quickly and easily, so that they can move to the next step in the purchasing process.
Amazon and eBay sellers can’t integrate this function, but they can provide links and utilize Facebook Messenger to provide a similar service.
It’s no secret that mobile is the future. In 2016, 56% of web traffic came from mobile devices, and those numbers are set to increase as devices become smarter and more powerful. This is especially crucial for e-commerce marketers, who must consider that 70% of all orders on Amazon are now placed from a mobile device.
That means you should be optimizing listings for smaller screens, creating mobile friendly images, using media that works on mobile browsers and devices, and ensuring that your website is responsive and designed for mobile.
Native advertising includes any ad that matches the content of the host site. This advertising blends in with existing content so that users are more likely to click on, view, or engage with the ad before realizing it’s an ad.
Facebook and Instagram have native advertising tools that make it easy to leverage their consumer data and reach customized audiences with native product ads that look like posts.
Native Advertising is expected to comprise some 63.2% of all online display advertising by 2020, and is an important trend to keep an eye on.
Social media has been around for a while, so it isn’t necessarily a new trend. However, it’s being adopted increasingly by e-commerce businesses, and used in new and creative ways.
Facebook and Twitter both offer powerful customer service tools in the form of instant interaction and chat, where a brand can answer questions, help with problems, and solve issues before they escalate.
Brands also use social media for real-time marketing by responding to live events in their area. Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet is a prime example of this; Oreo capitalized on a power outage at a national event to promote their product with humor.
The big issue for many businesses is choosing the right platforms, maintaining them, and staying active. Committing to too many platforms is a drain on time and marketing resources, so it is crucial to figure out which platforms your consumers are on, and then stay active on those.
Marketing automation is being adopted by online companies to improve digital marketing and as a means of saving time.
E-Commerce businesses can use automation to save and earn money in almost every area of their business, and this holds true with advertising.
Programmatic display advertising automatically buys and displays ads based on pre-set algorithms and parameters, allowing marketers to get cheaper ads, and bid on new areas without having to do so manually.
While automated advertising has its roots in email blasting, e-commerce companies can now use it to automate PPC, social media, email, and more. In fact, even Google AdWords is beginning to adopt programmatic, making it easier than ever for companies to adopt and make the most of automation.
Automation can save e-commerce sellers a considerable amount of time and money, but it’s not right for everyone, because you lose some control over how and when ads go live.
Some companies are seeing as much as 300% return on investment with programmatic ads, making it worth considering even for small budget e-commerce.
Data shows that 67% of customers check reviews on sites like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google+ before purchasing a product. At the same time, customers are increasingly aware of the fact that companies can influence their own reviews.
Creating a positive buzz about your company and products online is essential to boosting your business, but too many five star reviews are as much of a red flag to many as too many 1 star reviews.
Garnering authentic reviews on your accounts is crucial to showing consumers that your products are worth buying.
Adopting policies to improve reviews can help you increase sales by as much as 68%, especially on sites like Amazon, where the majority of buyers rely on reviews to make purchase decisions.
Note: Amazon.com recently banned incentivized reviews in late 2016, but sellers can still take part in the Amazon Vine program to boost their natural reviews. Aim for organic reviews from happy customers, and be sure not to request or recommend reviews in exchange for discounts or freebies.
Influencer marketing is the process of finding influencers in your niche to review and talk about your products.
While the effectiveness of influencer marketing varies depending on the reach and quality of the influencer, and how often they accept paid marketing opportunities, this niche is growing quickly. Bloggers, Instagrammers, and even YouTubers all present marketing opportunities because they can be paid to promote, review, or use your products.
Like many other trends, this strategy isn’t for everyone, so it’s important to research your audience, find out how they make decisions, and where they get information from.
Video has comprised a large part of the web for the last decade, but it is becoming increasingly popular in marketing.
Today, more than 300 hours of content are uploaded onto YouTube every minute, and 900 million monthly active users log in to watch over 4 billion videos per day. Facebook’s own video service averages about 8 billion views per day just two years after introduction.
In one study 71% of marketers stated that their video offered a higher return on investment than any other marketing effort. In fact, 74% of all millennials prefer to use video while shopping. Data also shows that consumers are as much as 144% more likely to purchase a product after viewing a product video.
Video has already blown up on Facebook, remains popular on YouTube, is increasingly popular on brand websites, and now Amazon is set to introduce it in 2017.
Sellers can sign up for Vendor Central to upload 3 videos to 3 different products, and this new feature will likely expand to all products later in the year.
Over the past few years, smart technology and AI have become a part of everyday life. With virtual assistants, smart home appliances, and virtual reality coming to the big screen, smarter and more complex technology is taking over.
This new tech will introduce new trends and new opportunities for integrated advertising that connects where it’s needed.
Amazon’s Dash Buttons are the first step in this new trend of integrated marketing, because they are part of the user’s environment.
This trend is one that most e-commerce businesses can safely stay out of for now but it is one to keep your eye on.
What trends should you follow?
Marketing changes rapidly but adopting new trends too quickly or too slowly can prove disastrous for your business. You want to ensure that any new trend is stable and set to stick around before you adopt it.
For example, just a year after being a viral sensation, Ello has so few users that featured items on the homepage garner an average of less than 400 views each. But, you also want to adopt new trends in time to utilize them as old platforms die out. It’s important to find a balance, follow the trends that offer value, and do your research before investing in any one trend.
This is a guest post by the Skubana team. Skubana is an all-in-one ERP system and operations platform designed for high volume sellers to run and automate their business. By unifying point solutions in one place, sellers can now diagnose what used to take weeks in seconds. It integrates with most e-commerce marketplaces, 3PLs, and warehouses, provides profitability and multi-channel inventory management, and compiles all of your marketplaces on a single convenient dashboard. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or sign up for a 14-day free trial.