By Charles Duncombe, marketing director of Holidays Please
What is it? Big data refers to huge volumes of data that can build up in your business often from a variety of sources. New computing power can now process this data to bring insights that were previously unavailable.
Will it help or hurt me? It can help if you have enough data and enough computing power. Typical uses of big data include tracking the behaviour of your customers as they interact with your business at every level. From every single webpage they see to every contact they make with your business and transaction that flows from it.
Armed with this information you can start to see patterns and treat different customers in different ways based on some very subtle behavioural signals that they have displayed.
The Internet of Things
What is it? This is the concept of connecting everyday objects to the internet. This can include everything from central heating, doors, alarms, beds, washing machine and even components of machinery such as a jet engine.
If an item turns on and off then it’s likely that it can eventually be a part of the “Internet of things”
Will it help or hurt me? It is still in its infancy at the moment but the more items that come online the more it can help business. It will give businesses the opportunity to treat these objects as media channels to communicate with customers.
We have moved from TV & Radio through PCs to tablets and mobiles. We are now moving to wearables such as smartwatches and virtual reality headsets.
After that who knows? A cinema screen in your self-driving car?
Localisation or Hyperlocal
What is it? Hyperlocal allows marketers to use customer GPS data, mobile network triangulation and IP addresses to target audiences located in a specific area. For example showing an advertisement for a gig in Birmingham only to people whose mobile phone is currently within a few miles of that area.
Will it help or hurt me? It should help business get more bang for their advertising buck. They will be able to show advertisements to an audience more likely to be interested in local offers.
In the travel industry we will be able to show adverts with deals from an airport local to where the customer is at that particular moment.
Responsive Web Design
What is it? Responsive design allows a website to change shape to fit the size of the screen that is accessing it. No more having to “pinch and squint” on the screen of your mobile phone.
Will it help or hurt me? If your business adopts it then it can really help increase conversion rates. Conversely if they don’t then it can hurt tremendously.
Not only will conversion rates drop off as consumers start to expect responsive designs but also companies like Google are starting to downgrade the ratings of websites without a responsive design.
Omni channel Retailing
What is it? This is the concept that provides the customer with a seamless experience whether they are interacting with a company through their shops, call centre, website or social media.
At a basic level it could be a “click and collect” service where the customer books on the website but ends up picking it up from the store.
Will it help or hurt me? To make sure it helps, you have to make sure your systems are “joined up” so that everything from the website to a member of staff on the shop floor has the up to date information regarding the customer and their requirements. This will enable a faultless, consistent service to be provided.
You also need to make sure that all parts of the business benefit whichever route the customer decides to interact with. Otherwise you can end up with a battle of “online vs offline” within your own company which can be destructive
What is it? Neuromorphics is the idea of building and training computers to think in the same way as humans do.
It is a subtle variation on artificial intelligence whereby you focus on simulation and mimicry rather than just pure intelligent. It could mean that computers start to replace customer service agents for example.
Will it help or hurt me? In the short term, probably neither. Scientists have made great strides in making machines more “intelligent” but have been notoriously bad at making machines that can copy the subtle (and not so subtle) nuisances of human behaviour.
To put it another way a computer can beat a grand master at chess but can’t beat a schoolchild in a story writing or joke telling competition.
What is it? This is creating an experience for the customer which completely engages them. For example online it might involve producing fantastic video content, animations and inspirational applications to really bring the content to life.
Will it help or hurt me? It should help if you implement it well. We are already starting to see immersive content pop-up in travel such as Richard Branson’s Ulusaba Game Reserve website where you see leopards slinking slowly towards you.
Generally speaking, the only way immersive design can hurt is if your content it too complicated or bandwidth hungry to be supported easily by the device the customer is using to access it.
What is it? Marketing focus has moved now from the “grey pound” to the “Millennials” who are people born between the 1980s-2000s. Most discussion revolves around how they work and how to appeal to this already tech savvy consumer.
Will it help or hurt me? If you ignore them or don’t give them what they want it could hurt.
Millennials are the generation that have been born with technology at their fingertips. When they need something, they want it fast. They easily flick from site to site and are happy to dispose of something that doesn’t fit what they want.
However despite being a challenging consumer group they can also be incredibly positive. When you get it right they will happily post, tweet, re-tweet, comment and spread the word of your incredible service to their Millennial friends.
UGC or User Generated Content
What is it? Creating content is no longer the preserve of the company. Instead your customers can submit blogs, write reviews, give opinions, rate services, upload photos/videos and much more. This content can help to grow the size of your website and social media footprint.
Will it help or hurt me? It generally depends on whether the customer is saying positive things or negative! Positive reviews and ratings along with well written content can help inspire other customers to use you.
On the other hand bad reviews, negative comments and suchlike can be incredibly damaging. The key is obviously getting your service right and encouraging your visitors to shout about it.
What is it? “Snackable Content” is bitesize and easy to digest content for customers. Some of the most popular examples include brief videos like Vines, Snapchats and memes.
Will it help or hurt me? If done well then it can really help. These small chunks of content are used to tempt customers who would not have otherwise visited your site. Then as they “snack on” this bite size content, they want more and more.
This then gives you the opportunity to show more and more of your products and services to them at the same time.
What is it? In a nutshell, it is to engage influential people who can vouch for your brand. Traditionally influencers have included celebrities and sports people.
In this internet age it now extends to bloggers, Facebook personalities and “Youtubers” whose followers can run into the millions.
Will it help or hurt me? Getting an influencer on your side can be incredibly powerful. Conversely, getting on the wrong side of one can be disastrous.
However in both cases, with the disposable, transient nature of information on the internet your news (good or bad) may not register with their followers in a meaningful way, unless you enter into a longer term relationship.
Today’s tweet would dream of becoming tomorrow’s fish and chip paper before it evaporates into the cyber-ether.
What is it? As some companies struggle to come to terms with “big data” they instead focus on “NOW data”. This is using real-time, large-scale data to help you track what your customers are doing right “NOW” and to react to these real time events.
Will it help or hurt me? If you are in a fast paced industry where trends can come and go quickly then real-time data can help you catch the latest trend and potentially shape its evolution. While other companies wallow in mountains of historic data you are looking at what customers are searching for, browsing and buying right “NOW”. You can then engage with these customers and shape the narrative of tomorrow. However if your industry moves at a more sedate pace then concentrating too much on “NOW data” can distract you from longer term planning and strategy.