Since the rise of the inter­net and mobile tech­nol­o­gy, mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing efforts have increas­ing­ly gone dig­i­tal. Today’s brands reach their cus­tomers through web­sites, social media, blog posts, video con­tent, text mes­sag­ing and oth­er chan­nels, and con­tin­ue to refine their cam­paigns based on a wealth of cus­tomer engage­ment data.

Smart mar­keters know that stay­ing com­pet­i­tive means not just keep­ing up with the lat­est indus­try trends, but being ahead of the curve. These mem­bers of Young Entre­pre­neur Coun­cil have first­hand expe­ri­ence with the lat­est dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing tech­niques and tools. Below, they’ve shared 10 of the most excit­ing recent trends that entre­pre­neurs should be watch­ing.

1. Live Video

The explo­sion of live video is every­where! From YouTube to Insta­gram to Face­book, more and more plat­forms are pro­vid­ing users the tools to broad­cast on live stream at any giv­en moment, and entre­pre­neurs need to take advan­tage of it. By using live video, you’re giv­ing view­ers insight on your busi­ness, cur­rent projects, busi­ness advice or any oth­er top­ic you want to talk about. Live video gives you the pow­er to engage with view­ers in real time, mak­ing it the per­fect medi­um to ask or answer ques­tions view­ers and cus­tomers might have. Not to men­tion, it’s free to use and does not cost you any extra time to have footage edit­ed. It’s a must-try tool for entre­pre­neurs in any indus­try. — Solomon Thi­mothy, OneIMS

2. Geofencing And Mobile Marketing

The pop­u­lar­i­ty of smart­phones and dig­i­tal devices has made geofenc­ing a must-have for mar­keters look­ing to cap­ture the atten­tion and stay on the radar of their tar­get mar­kets. Using RFID, blue­tooth and GPS tech­nolo­gies, geofenc­ing has the abil­i­ty to send tar­get­ed mes­sages to poten­tial cus­tomers with­in a spe­cif­ic geo­graph­i­cal area. This tech­nol­o­gy has many uses for cus­tomers, includ­ing oper­at­ing smart devices, get­ting gro­cery list alerts when near a store and even open­ing their garage doors. For mar­keters, though, it offers the advan­tage not only of hyper-tar­get­ed local­iza­tion, but also the abil­i­ty to track cer­tain met­rics (how long cus­tomers are in store, what they buy, how often they vis­it, etc.). This data helps to per­son­al­ize rec­om­men­da­tions to indi­vid­u­als and local mar­kets. — Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Mar­ket­ing

3. Augmented Reality For Product Visualization

We’ve seen amaz­ing improve­ments in aug­ment­ed real­i­ty track­ing in the past year. With com­pa­nies like Ikea and Ama­zon imple­ment­ing aug­ment­ed real­i­ty for prod­uct visu­al­iza­tion, this trend isn’t going away any­time soon. Users can now place objects like fur­ni­ture, décor and equip­ment in their own phys­i­cal space via their smart­phones to see how things fit and look pri­or to pur­chas­ing. This tech­nol­o­gy is mov­ing beyond gam­ing and enter­tain­ment and has a pletho­ra of prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions for every­day use. In the com­ing year, I antic­i­pate oth­er e-com­merce brands will adopt this tech and we’ll see a huge rise in the num­ber of aug­ment­ed real­i­ty expe­ri­ences on the mar­ket. — Annie Eaton, Futu­rus

4. Instagram Stories Polls

Insta­gram Sto­ries enable users to share 15-sec­ond posts in the form of videos or pho­tos on their Insta­gram accounts. Like Snapchat, posts dis­ap­pear in 24 hours and are a great way to show­case behind-the-scenes con­tent. The abil­i­ty to quick­ly test con­cepts and ideas in the form of polls on Sto­ries allows you to hear exact­ly what your poten­tial cus­tomers actu­al­ly want. Whether your busi­ness is debat­ing on a new fla­vor, what time of day to broad­cast or what type of con­tent to cre­ate, ask and peo­ple will tell you. I find that loy­al fol­low­ers want to engage with your brand to show their sup­port. This is also a great way to gain more engage­ment because not too many brands are har­ness­ing these tools just yet. If your brand is able to quick­ly adapt to new trends, you will stand out from the com­pe­ti­tion. — Chris­tine Hronec, Gauge Girl Train­ing, LLC.

5. IGTV

Insta­gram recent­ly launched a TV sec­tion on their app that allows brands and influ­encers to cre­ate longer con­tent than what’s capa­ble in Sto­ries. It works a lit­tle dif­fer­ent­ly than YouTube. For exam­ple, instead of a hor­i­zon­tal for­mat, they encour­age users to cre­ate ver­ti­cal video con­tent, sim­i­lar to the Sto­ries for­mat. Most video pro­duc­ers can cre­ate videos up to 10 min­utes; how­ev­er, ver­i­fied accounts with a larg­er fol­low­ing can cre­ate videos up to 60 min­utes using the plat­form. IGTV is an excit­ing dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing trend that new dig­i­tal mar­keters should strong­ly con­sid­er imple­ment­ing into their cur­rent strat­e­gy. — Syed Balkhi, WPBe­gin­ner

6. Pay-Later Financing Options For E-Commerce

Although not strict­ly in the mar­ket­ing wheel­house, most e-com­merce com­pa­nies are see­ing pay-lat­er financ­ing as a con­ver­sion tool. There has been a flood of star­tups offer­ing this prod­uct includ­ing Affirm and Pay­pal Cred­it. They are pro­vid­ing an eas­i­er financ­ing lay­er for small­er retail­ers that pre­vi­ous­ly wouldn’t have had the cred­it capa­bil­i­ties to offer such an offer­ing. In turn, they are see­ing con­ver­sion rates go up by offer­ing zero down pay­ment for prod­ucts any­where, like elec­tron­ics, appar­el and home goods. — Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed

7. Bot-Assisted Customer Relations

By com­bin­ing cre­ative cus­tomer rela­tions, mar­ket­ing and web devel­op­ment, com­pa­nies have been able to use chat­bots to assist cus­tomers with every­thing from sim­ple ques­tions to com­plet­ing sales. Invest­ing in chat­bots has allowed com­pa­nies to refo­cus their employ­ees’ time on more valu­able tasks while increas­ing cus­tomer engage­ment, sat­is­fac­tion and loy­al­ty. The lev­el of sophis­ti­ca­tion chat­bots have achieved has removed the frus­tra­tion cus­tomers felt when they knew they were deal­ing with a bot ver­sus an employ­ee. Cus­tomers no longer feel unim­por­tant; the bots are so advanced that they don’t know they aren’t work­ing with a human. They may even enjoy the expe­ri­ence because of the bot’s abil­i­ty to help with any cus­tomer issue. — Jeff Pit­ta, Senior Mar­ket Advi­sors

8. Voice Marketing

Around 40% adults use voice search each day. Data sug­gests that the voice recog­ni­tion indus­try will cross the $40 bil­lion mark by 2022. With an increase in own­er­ship of voice-based devices like Alexa, Siri and Google Assis­tant, it is only nat­ur­al for voice search­es to grow expo­nen­tial­ly. Entre­pre­neurs need to take note of this devel­op­ment because voice search­es do not func­tion in the same way as con­ven­tion­al text-based search­es. Besides, while social media worked in elim­i­nat­ing bar­ri­ers between busi­ness­es and their tar­get audi­ences, voice search­es give brands a means to reach out to their desired audi­ences like nev­er before. — Derek Robin­son, Top Notch Dezigns

9. Artificial Intelligence

The key for any busi­ness to thrive and rise above their com­peti­tors is for them to con­tin­u­ous­ly hone in on under­stand­ing their cus­tomer behav­ior and tai­lor­ing their prod­ucts to the needs of their cus­tomers. In the past, busi­ness­es would cre­ate sur­veys and research groups to test or devel­op new prod­ucts and con­cepts. Not only is this man­u­al method time con­sum­ing, but if the sam­ple group is not care­ful­ly select­ed, it could result in inac­cu­rate data that will not ben­e­fit the growth of the busi­ness. Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence now exists to ana­lyze indi­vid­ual behav­iors by track­ing cer­tain pat­terns that are extrap­o­lat­ed from inter­ac­tion with­out human com­mu­ni­ca­tion. AI can then trans­late this data to help busi­ness­es under­stand their con­sumers on a lev­el that is faster and more detailed than ever before. — Stephanie Ver­maas

10. Evergreen Content

Those who have suc­cess­ful web­sites that gen­er­ate a healthy amount of organ­ic traf­fic know that con­tent is king. How­ev­er, recent­ly the trend has been mov­ing toward ever­green con­tent. Ever­green con­tent is pro­duced with longevi­ty in mind. In gen­er­al, this type of con­tent would be use­ful today as well as in one to two years, and pos­si­bly even longer. This is the type of con­tent that peo­ple want to book­mark and come back to again in the future. You can pub­lish white papers, guides and tips that are well writ­ten and add val­ue to your vis­i­tors. You can always come back and revise ever­green con­tent over time to make minor updates that don’t require an entire­ly new piece of con­tent. Most often, ever­green gen­er­ates top-of-the-fun­nel traf­fic that even­tu­al­ly turns into bot­tom-of-the-fun­nel traf­fic. — Jared Ross Weitz, Unit­ed Cap­i­tal Source Inc.

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