10 Digital Trends Of 2013: Are You Ready?

    By Angela Hausman, PhD | Small Business

    Digital trends demonstrate both the new ways consumers engage online and the new ways businesses are profiting from the digital revolution. Take a look at this slideshow to see data related to these digital trends.

    Top 10 digital trends.

    Digital trend #1: m-commerce

    While many firms still struggle to optimize their e-commerce efforts, the world has moved past them to m-commerce. As an example of the power of mobile, 45% of Groupon’s sales occur on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.

    And, with the proliferation of mobile devices, their impact on firm profitability will literally explode. Worldwide growth in smartphones was 31% last year! The average user reached for that little pocket computer 150 times a day last year.

    And tablets are growing at an even faster rate, which only increase as cheaper options to the iPad emerge.

    Digital trend #2: data

    Digital information is exploding in the form of documents, Tweets, posts, pictures, and VIDEO. In 2011, the growth of digital information increased by 9X to 2 Zettabytes (I’m not even sure exactly how BIG a zettabyte is, but it’s enormous). To put that in perspective, YouTube ads about 100 HOURS of video every minute of every day! And, they’re not even the biggest platform for uploading video content. Instagram and Pinterest also account for huge upticks in the amount of digital information uploaded every day — for Instagram alone this is 5 million every day.

    Digital trend #3: apps

    New apps make life easier for consumers — and tougher for businesses who can’t adapt to the new way consumers want to engage with them. For instance, consumers don’t want to call for a taxi. They prefer apps that send a nearby cab to their GPS-enabled location. Shopping apps that integrate to deliver customized coupons based on past spending habits or where you are in the store help customers and businesses.

    Digital trend #4: social media

    OK, so maybe this isn’t a trend since social media has been around for nearly a decade, but the players are changes and so are the platforms. Facebook usage is declining slightly, with the slack being taken up by upstart, Google+. Visual social networks, such as Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube are growing quickly, as well. And, consumers frequently use digital word of mouth to make decisions, so sites like Yelp can make or break your online reputation — and business.

    Digital trend #5: increased usage

    Usage of digital outlets increased an average of 8% worldwide, with China leading with the highest number of internet users. But, the US still leads in penetration, with 78% online. Not surprisingly — given the impact of social networks on the Arab Spring — growth of internet usage in the Middle East is high, with growth in Iran of over 200% (year on year).

    Digital trend #6: information where you are

    While we’re not exactly living in the world of “1984″ or Minority Report, where custom-tailored ads come to you as you walk around town, the effort necessary to get relevant, local information is decreasing with new tools, such as QR codes. You can put these codes on literally anything and take viewers to any information link you want. The British Embassy in China even has a QR code on the gatehouse to help visitors learn more about the country and it’s people. Macy’s uses QR codes throughout the store to bring customers more information about products and materials on nearby merchandise.

    Digital trend #7: wearables/ drivables

    Related to digital trend #6, you can assess information from personal sources, without even using your mobile device with new wearable devices, such as Google glasses and Jawbone.

    More car makers are also integrating social media and email capabilities into their cars. Now, you can listen to Pandora radio online as you cruise the back roads.

    Digital trend #8: knowledge gap

    With all these other changes, a huge knowledge gap exists between the skill-set of existing workers and those needed to optimize firm performance in the digital age. More computer programmers, more business intelligence folks, and greater technological skills for middle managers regardless of functional silo are necessary.

    Digital trend #9: advertising opportunities

    As I discussed a few days ago, firms are still spending too much money advertising on traditional media (especially print) where opportunities are poor, and not enough on digital advertising. The Powerpoint shows an opportunity of over $40 Billion in advertising that matches the amount of time consumers spend on the platform. But, digital advertising spend needs to focus on engagement and creating customer value, rather than simply spreading advertising messages.

    Digital trend #10: customer closeness

    This is one I added myself. Digital technologies give firms unprecedented opportunities to build one-on-one relationships with customers and prospects to convert better, retain more, and increase average order sizes.

    So, how do these digital trends impact your business success?

    • Your site MUST be mobile-ready

    • You must employ analytics to make sense of all the data available online as well as using tools to analyze unstructured data, including images.

    • The internet is more visual than ever. How much of your content meets these visual standards? Consider adding more video and images to your websites.

    • Get your app on. Think about ways to create user-friendly apps and gamify your business.

    • Consider new social platforms. Discover where your target market likes to hang in social space and optimize for the preferences of users of that social platform.

    • Think globally, act locally in your digital strategy. Think about translating sites into common languages and avoid cultural goofs that might be insulting to visitors from other cultures. Surprisingly, this site, which is written from a definite pro-US perspective, gets nearly 66% of its traffic from OUTSIDE the US, including 32% from non-English speaking countries.

    • Use QR codes to bring prospective customers to your e-commerce site and convert them in your stores.

    • Make hiring technological and analytical employees a priority and invest in re-training existing employees in advanced analytics and technology.

    • Use social networks and other opportunities to build better engagement with customers rather than just spew ad messages at them.

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