If I’m practicing what I preached in a previous blog, then I should be deleting the word “digital” here. If all marketing innovation going forward will be digital, then then the term “digital” itself will be redundant. In the meantime, there’s still an offline world out there, so here’s my list of the top nine trends that should absolutely be on your radar. And they happen to be digital.

1. Inbound vs outbound
Give your customers a reason to come and interact with your brand or organisation and your conversion rate could double from an average of 6% to 12%. So says the State of Inbound Marketing Report 2013. Why?
– Inbound promotes buying while outbound is driven by selling
– you can serve your inbound audience targeted content to match their precise needs and interests
– enables lifecycle marketing as you recognise and act upon the different stages your prospects and customers go through
– allows greater personalisation the more you learn about your audience
– it’s multichannel by definition. Your audience will approach you via whichever channel suits them best – and you should respond accordingly
– enables better integration. Your analytics and publishing tools will work together as a well-oiled machine!

2. Mobile
Make sure you’re delivering properly joined-up experiences across all platforms and devices. In 2013 Gartner reported that tablets will soon outsell both PCs and laptops combined. In June 2014 the B2B content preference survey revealed that only 21% of people never view B2B content on a tablet device and only 3% never view it on a mobile. With mobile interaction on the biggest and fastest growing social platforms far outstripping desktop, if your content isn’t mobile-ready, then it quite simply won’t be seen.

3. Real time
The tech, the talent, and the creativity is out there for truly switched-on brands to react super-fast to news and events. Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark is probably an over-used example of an excellent piece of newsjacking, but the fact that it still lingers in our consciousnesses just serves to prove how impactful the idea, and the execution, was. Norton Security’s Justin Bieber alert is still a favourite of mine from the B2B world. So get listening to what’s trending, get imaginative and get reactive.

4. Social proof
Make it easier for people to decide in your brand’s favour by giving them confidence in you. Show them the confidence that others (their peers) have in you by showcasing endorsements, subscriber numbers, social shares, #mentions.

And did you know that 7 of the top 10 factors that can positively impact your search ranking are social? There’s the proof of social proof…

5. Growth hacking

Take a leaf out the books of technology start-ups. When budgets are tight and targets are high, growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to “traditional” marketing, e.g. using social media and viral rather than paid media. It’s all about creative thinking and clever use of the technology and data at your disposal. Build free tools, create experiences that users want to share, build the network economy into your campaigns.

6. Behavioural economics
Deliver System 1 marketing and you’ll have more ways of making it easier for people to buy from you. Most B2B marketing plays to the rational, considered side of a buyer’s personality, presenting product benefits and pricing for example, as reasons to buy. That’s System 2 marketing. System 1 is more intuitive, emotional and faster. And it’s been proven that there can be 5 times more emotion involved in B2B buying decisions than in B2C. Time to tap into it.

Use framing to give an emotional context to statements (contrast “I am blind” with “It’s springtime and I am blind”); create repetitive familiarity to breed trust; keep it simple to make response easy and quick; use scientific fact or expert opinion to instil confidence – and don’t give customers too much choice. You’ll risk causing confusion – a pain point that will send the customer elsewhere.

7. Data
Use your data not only to target your messages, but also to nuance them in the exact right way for your audience. There are more ways than ever before to discover more both the audience you know and the audiences you don’t.

Take VisualDNA. Using deeply engaging, highly visual and, for respondents, extremely simple personality quizzes, they capture detailed information about people’s lives, attitudes, demographics and interests. Then the fun starts. Psychologists use advanced statistical algorithms to analyse personalities and form psychographic profiles. These profiles can then be inferred to unknown audiences who exhibit the right behavioural patterns. Using these methods, VisualDNA have said they can profile an impressive 250 million people worldwide.

8. The Visual Web
50% of the human brain is involved in visual processing. 70% of your sensory perceptors are in your eyes. Colour visuals increase the willingness to read by 80%.

Whether it’s photography, diagrams or even clever use of text, quite simply, create more visual content and you’ll get far greater levels of engagement, far more quickly.

9. Technology singularity
Technology singularity is the point at which technological progress is so rapid that it overtakes human ability to comprehend it. And it’s estimated that this point could be reached as soon as 2045. When this happens, machine intelligence will be infinitely more powerful than all human intelligence combined (is your brain hurting just comprehending this bit? You’re not alone).

Right now there are about 13 billion connected devices worldwide. By 2020, Cisco predicts that this figure will rise to a massive 50 billion. All talking to each other.

My advice to you at this point: be very afraid!

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