The Future Of Digital Marketing
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The Future Of Digital Marketing

Last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to attend Econsultancy's annual Future of Digital Marketing conference. This was an extremely fast paced and exciting day. From social customer service to mobile innovation, connected TV, collaborative consumption or the future of shopping experience, I find it difficult to know where to start! The wide range of subjects was covered by passionate and very knowledgeable speakers, and the talks were all equally fascinating.

There were however a few highlights for me:

Andy Harding, Director of eCommerce at House of Fraser, talked to us about the future of shopping experience. He told us about retailers turning their business around by totally changing the layout of their stores, turning them from warehouse style shops to experience-led spaces. He mentioned amazing technology allowing online and offline shopping experience to be more joined up: social media enabled mirrors, digital fitting rooms, NFC payment allowing to track online and offline buying patterns better or even digital contact lenses to identify shoppers easily and access their online account to offer better recommendations based on shopping history. Very exciting stuff!

Another talk I found especially interesting was the presentation by James Keady, Global Digital Marketing Manager at McLaren, about how brands are dealing with the content challenges across evolving digital media. He raised the question of the value of "doing content" and insisted on the importance of brand clarity, resources, processes and KPIs. His main point was about the importance of adding value to people's lives versus bombarding them with information. Personalisation, authenticity and richer experience are at the heart of successful content campaigns, and re-inventing yourself is key.

On the matter of content, introduction to content curation by Andrew Davies, Co-founder and Director at Idio, gave an interesting approach to the subject. As an alternative to constantly produce new content, creating hubs of existing content is a great way to add value for the user. Whilst adding context, trust and meaning for users, it builds broader coverage, drives down costs and generates further insight for businesses.

Another emerging pattern likely to become more and more popular is the next few years is collaborative consumption, introduced by Vikki Chowney, Head of Community at TMW agency. Vikki noted how the power of advertising is being replaced by the voice of communities, and how consumption habits are slowly turning from individual ownership to part-ownership and sharing, for instance mentioning the move from car ownership to car sharing, lift sharing and eventually peer to peer car rental.

It is of course impossible not to mention the surreal presentation by Ling Valentine, founder of online car leasing company LINGsCARS.com. I didn't take any note, and I don't think anyone in the room did either. It was more about enjoying the show and living the "Ling Valentine experience". We all got up to China's National Anthem before Ling arrived, wearing her signature bright yellow sleeveless puffer jacket and helmet. This was followed by the first 5 minutes of the talk in Chinese, because "no one at eConsultancy said it had to be delivered in English". Irreverence, bright colours, animated gifs, extensive use of flash and "dodgy javascript" were of course on the agenda, all backing up the values key to the success of Ling's business: having fun and engaging with customers, getting them hooked and looking after them, and also not being afraid to tell them to piss off. If they don't like your approach, they are probably not the right customers for you.

Key things I have taken with me from the day?

  • Customers want more than just completing transactions with brands; they want experiences, emotions and feeling special. This has always been key to successful businesses, but it is now possible to do this in the digital sphere too. From authentic transparent communication to responsive ads or great use of technology to understand and engage with your customers better, the options are numerous and should be embraced.
  • Being a truly multi-channel business is essential to provide this personalised experience. Concomitant use of several devices is more than common, and rapidly becoming the norm. Providing a coherent and smooth experience between channels, but also refining your understanding of your customers thank to their multiple online and offline persona are key.
  • Try the technology that is coming out at the moment, play with it, and you will soon find great use for your business or customers. Connected TVs, NFC, digital contact lenses or simply clever use of graph technology or re-targeting will help you provide customers with this special experience of your brand.

Oh, and I got a few Ling Valentine badges too!

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