When we were in the brainstorming phase of building a monthly discussion series, we decided that the heart of what we wanted to do is open a dialogue with fellow marketers, marketing enthusiasts, and curious futurists. We wanted people with similar passions to come to our home, listen to a short talk on a crucial topic, and engage us in an honest conversation. No bullshit, no hyping trends, no one-sided lecture. We wanted to spark an exchange of ideas. We wanted a Firestarter.
I thought it would be perfect to kick things off with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ annual report. Every year, I anxiously await the email announcing the release of Mary Meeker’s extensive, shockingly thorough look at the economy, the digital world, and technological advancements driving the two. Meeker presents her information simply and concisely, yet still managed to deliver 213 slides of information at this year’s Code Conference. Her analysis and projections are a must-read for any marketer worth their salt.
This year’s report gave an overview on the current state of the internet (growth is slowing), smartphone sales (they’re plateauing), advertising spend (a lot of it is still going to the wrong places), generational behavioral patterns (time to sell to millennials), rising platforms (keep your eye on Snapchat), emerging technologies (the car is the new computer), and much more. But for those of you who missed my rundown at our first Firestarter, here are three takeaways every digital marketer needs to take seriously.
1. Voice interfaces will change the way we do business
The more we evolve, the more we expect convenience. People don’t want to type, they want to talk. Voice-based interaction is easier, faster, hands- and vision-free, and increasingly more personal when used consistently.
Key facts and slides:
- Machine speech recognition is now at human level for voice searches in low-noise environments. (118)
- Google Trends shows that queries associated with voice-related commands have risen by more than 35,000 since 2008 after the launch of the iPhone and Google Voice Search. (122)
- The frictionless user experience makes it perfect for the Internet of Things. (129–131)
These growth patterns indicate a trend that will one day become a mainstay in how we communicate and engage with our customers. You should be putting emphasis on SEO and a solid SERP strategy now; search will change with the increasing emphasis on voice commands, but a strong foundation today will lend a strong competitive advantage in the future.
2. We need to embrace the Internet of Things and big data
Marketers can be prone to championing the IoT in other industries without stopping to think about how it will benefit theirs. This burgeoning volume of consumer data is allowing us to improve hypertargeting, rethink retail, revamp e-commerce, and become more deeply immersed in customers’ home lives.
Key facts and slides:
- Omni-channel strategy is becoming more and more important. (64)
- Consumers are starting to gain faith in connected devices. (65)
- The average internet user sees a lot of ads for things they don’t care about. Cut through the noise by listening to your audience’s needs and hypertargeting based on their interests. (67–69)
Gartner predicts we’ll have approximately 21 billion “things” in the IoT by 2020. That means in less than four years, the number of connected devices will more than triple. Learn how to plan for and capitalize on your customers’ micro-moments, because pretty soon, you’ll have a fraction of a second to grab their attention.
3. Video and image views will only continue to grow
Content may be king, but video is trying to stage a coup. Growth in number of views has been astronomical on both Facebook and Snapchat; Meeker states that “real-live” content appeals because it enables a mass audience to consume real-time, personalized content on their own terms.
Key facts and slides:
- Snapchat is the perfect combination of a messaging app with video- and image-sharing capabilities, and its advertising potential is staggering. (80–83, 90)
- Image-based platforms like Pinterest are proving efficient at generating leads. (92–96)
- You can leverage user-generated content through nimble brand alignment. (85)
Both millennials and Gen Z have a proclivity for multiple screens and lots of sharing. Give them good content to share, and share their content when it’s good.
If we missed you at our inaugural Firestarter, I hope you’ll join us for the next one. We’ve got lots of exciting stuff to talk about, and I’d love for you to be a part of the conversation. If you read the Internet Trends report, comment below or hit me up on Twitter and let me know what stood out to you.