How To Tell Tech Trends From Fads As A Savvy Marketer
Innovation in technology fuels new shopping experiences in our day-to-day life, whether we like it or resist it.
As a savvy online marketer in e-commerce or consumer goods, you have to pay attention to the new developments, or you will miss potential growth leaps in your career and possibly thousands of dollars in marginal revenue.
There are four principles savvy marketers can use to tell which tech trends are worth developing and which ones to observe passively as fads.
1 Simple, almost natural experience for all users
Contrary to popular belief, it is easy for us humans to learn new things. Our brains love the most the activity of learning something new. Our brains were constructed to change. Still skeptical? Check out any cognitive science study in the last 30 years discussing neuroplasticity.
To foster such learning and adoption of new technology, one must build it, so that it fits perfectly in the natural flow of any current activity that is almost hard-wired. Picking up a new habit or use case should be as easy and as natural as a simple tap, swipe, or click with an instant chance of resuming your prior activity.
This condition is critical for the end user. Native payments via Facebook messenger bot is one of such experiences: where people can buy anything from a specific storefront bot without leaving the app and the conversation they have with their friends and family. (They use it as a chat extension).
From the provider perspective, you have to be able to integrate a new user experience into your frontend and backend operations, with as little custom development work as possible. Your customers soon will expect to see your bots; they might be searching for them already.
2 Five-year context fit
One practical way to see whether a given tech is worth exploring is to imagine its wider use over the next five years. Giving an idea or a decision a 5-year match test in your mind is a practical exercise many financial investors do. Why not apply it here as well?
Try to answer the following questions to paint the picture and see how the use case of a given tech trend evolves. You will know the answer to this after the exercise. Let’s use the same example of a native payment experience:
Can you see what would it be like if everyone would use native payments in any conversation?
Can you imagine if any new developments in the area of augmented reality or other related innovations could support the required infrastructure?
Is there a high volume of users who can naturally transition to regular use case?
3 Leaps and bounds adoption volume
Look for steady spikes in growth for consistency and the required volume of users for proven traction, when assessing a new channel. Go where the fish is. Taking the prior example with the messenger bots, Facebook reports of 100,000 active monthly bots available and over 100,000 developers, working on them (as shared at F8, 2017).
If we believe the numbers reported, it shows a decent adoption by the end user (indirectly) and adequate amount of supporting infrastructure, thus being meaningful to a consumer marketer. Facebook has a straightforward process to help you build one, including best practices to make it a good experience.
Within the year since bots’ release, beta participants shared their lessons learned that you would not have to learn on your own and established enough groundwork to launch yours. I am assuming by now, there is a critical mass of users there already, with certain expectations of what a quality bot experience is, which you can tap into to expand your store reach and increase conversions.
4 Higher than “normal” conversions
It seems like a no-brainer, yet here, I am talking about the upper funnel experiences that drive intent and can be measured and traced.
On Instagram, for example, brands can create product pages to the items they sell within the story posts. From the launch to date, the Instagram team reported 19% click-through rate from the “shop now” button. Watch a video to see details, starting at 8:39.
Perhaps, this is normal in real life to get inspired and buy something 1 in 5 times you are exposed to a new picture, which perfectly shows what you might be missing in your life. Perhaps, in real life, such experience would give a 30% chance of buying. Be that 1 in 5, or 1 in 3, in my opinion, it is a proven path with a pretty high intent to explore.
Six tech trends every savvy online marketer should explore in 2017
For conversion growth
Speeding up conversion process will always bring revenue growth results because you are dealing with people who are ready to buy. The buyer intent does not always happen at the checkout. However, when it does, the easier and simpler you can make it for your customer, the better.
Offer people the familiar payment methods, remove the physical experience of parting with cash. In other words, reduce risk tolerance of making such a decision; learn how casinos do it.
Below are the four innovations, supporting this conversion principle. Because, they support human behavior drivers that do not change and are hardwired, using them in your customer experience will lead to more sales.
1 Amazon pay
Amazon pay is worthwhile implementing on your site or app because of many people trusting the brand of Amazon from their prior experiences. In their minds, if anything goes wrong, the merchant has their back. So offer this as a payment option; to see the steps required, read the details here.
2 Facebook native payments
Facebook native payments give you a chance to catching shoppers at the moment when they decide to buy in the conversation flow. It could be a time when they recall they need to buy something that works (not a new item), as they are browsing the newsfeed on Facebook. They can open a chat with a bot and make a payment right there for the product in their minds to deal with it right there and then and resume their previous activity. They are “native” because they are in the flow. Stripe or Paypal are linked to the user account to authorize payments.
Recall what happened when select online stores added a PayPal button to a checkout or used Stripe a mobile payment alternative early on – their sales went up. Facebook native payments extend this event to their platform.
Facebook declares that 1.8 billion people are on the platform. eMarketer reports that online users spent 86% of their time in apps; Facebook is one of the top 10. These stats, even if inflated, offer enough insight to go for implementing Facebook native payments as an option for your customers (now in testing).
3 Facebook messenger
In addition to grabbing the definite purchase in the moment of conversation, Facebook Messenger can also aid the buyers in the earlier stages of the shopping experience when they are still wondering which product to choose.
Similar to online shoppers, searching for specific keywords, your bot can address a decision in progress with a few questions when being activated as the users type your brand name in the messenger window.
The good news, your brand is on the shopper’s mind. The great news, your bot can ask a series of questions and guide your potential customer to a purchase decision. Plus, additional features such as messenger codes enable you to personalize the experience of buying with your brand’s messenger bot.
4 Augmented reality or virtual reality
Augmented reality or virtual reality (VR) extend our physical world and help shoppers experience as vividly as possible what they would have if they bought an item in real life. Expanding shoppers’ imagination is critical when you are working on making a sale. Here, the augmented reality replaces this requirement and does all the work for you faster and in more a powerful way (similar to an effect after a test drive experience). I see augmented reality evolve merchandising into new experiences.
What are online retail applications possible here today? Lowes, for example, has experimented with VR rooms for do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts, in-store navigation with the app that shows extra info, and real-time style visualization before they buy. Other merchants could turn flat images into a 3D experience for prospective shoppers within a few clicks on their product pages or product ads on Facebook and Instagram. They can even sell the test experience of going to Rome, for example, if they are selling travel packages.
For traffic growth
Expanding reach from new channels opens opportunities to increase qualified and fresh traffic that converts. My top three bets to experiment with for traffic growth include (1) Instagram stories (scaled up later with dynamic ads); (2) Facebook live video; and (3) using Facebook mobile canvas experience for entering new markets.
5 Instagram stories and dynamic ads for scale
Instagram has ~ 600,000 monthly active users, open to discovering your business story of you tell it right. About 1 million businesses are already advertising to these users. About 8 million businesses launched their profiles.
Instagram stories help you share yours in many ways than one: boomerang, mentions, links to see more, live stories, stickers, discovery (in the search tab). And, the Instagram audience is open to following a business; in fact, 30% of stories viewed are from the businesses.
The product team invests its efforts into making self-expression experience more attractive to its passionate users: the feed has become ranked vs. chronological; the objects you show on a video or pictures, have embedded items data (price as an example), buy buttons and product pages. Once you get your catalog onboard Instagram platform, your products tagged and classified, do explore the power of scale of dynamic ads. This should be pretty straightforward if your store runs on Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce platforms.
See how small online stores, used Instagram stories to market in a big way. No time to do Instagram, you have a store to run? Watch a short video to see what Instagrammers do with the stories; you might get inspired. For a step-by-step how to create an Instagram story guide – see this post.
6 Facebook live video
Today, 50% of mobile data traffic is video per Daniel Danker on the Facebook product team. Live videos are very much the hit of the newsfeed due to their authentic nature, novelty effect and a strong social pull from other friends of yours, watching and socializing in comments as part of this immersive experience.
40% of views from any given videos are from sharing the original post. Thus, video watching becomes more socially driven by interest communities, groups, and families. People schedule a time to watch a live cast together, engage in conversations while at it and bond with each other even more. They tag friends, expanding the universe of engaged observers beyond their groups one comment at a time. Sounds like a natural behavior I would love to tap into as a marketer.
Marketers have an opportunity to engage with their prospective buyers by producing behind the scene events or sharing authentic feedback from brand ambassadors at the right moment of buying or enjoying a given product. Facebook is investing in making live video experience even more discoverable and immersive through a search tab, monetization efforts within the platform and by adding such functionalities as the 360 storytelling experience, live polling, ability to watch on a bigger screen, broadcasting two people at the same time and more.
One can watch videos as they continue browsing the newsfeed, with the sound on and off, intentionally and habitually as the experience becoming more addictive. Soon, ads will pop up in the stream, where you, as a marketer, can tap into other people’s growing video audiences and extend your reach. To see specific examples of online retailers using Facebook Live today, read this Shopify post.
You can see it
Use the power of observation and imagination, when you are deciding if a tech trend is a fad or a marketing opportunity.
In five seconds, see how simple or not the experience is. Look for the stats that tell you about the volume of users or a sudden lift in engagement in that environment in the last five months.
Picture it in a five-year context, and you will have the answer.