Ryan Deiss, the CEO of Digital Marketer, is a bit of badass. Having launched his first company in college as a means to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend, he finished 2015 with more than $30 million in revenue and expects to close out 2016 with over $50 million. I had the chance to speak with Mr. Deiss before his keynote address at the Traffic & Conversion Summit, and he identified the 3 biggest trends in digital marketing.
Trend #1: Professionalization of Digital Marketing
2016 is the year more companies choose to professionalize their digital marketing efforts. "For far too long, companies have outsourced and off-loaded their digital marketing to someone else," explains Mr. Deiss. "The biggest thing driving this trend is that consumers are demanding transparency and authenticity. That, and the fact that traditional branding isn't working anymore."
Mr. Deiss points to the role of the in-house digital marketing professional as truly emerging and creating a new class of marketing professional. "Businesses are bringing the function of digital marketing in-house with the idea of working with agencies on larger projects," Mr. Deiss explains. This is leading to the need to train, certify and support the needs of in-house digital marketing experts, which is one of the fast growth areas that Digital Marketer experienced in 2015 and expects to see continued growth around in 2016.
"If you take a look at the hottest most in-demand jobs on Yahoo right now, you'll see Product Marketing hovering around the #5 spot," says Mr. Deiss. "If you drill into the job description you'll see there's a heavy emphasis on digital marketing knowledge. This is one of the best jobs you can get without a graduate school degree. The trouble is, universities have fallen behind in their ability to train for this position."
As more companies look to add digital marketing professionals to their staff, they are finding that these individuals are in high demand and tend to have wide variance between their skill levels. Some may be experts at social media while others are better trained in the area of search, for example. Digital Marketer is doing what it can to level the playing field through its own certification program.
Trend #2: More Shopping via Native Commerce
Yes, you read that subhead correctly. I know you understand the ins and outs of Native Advertising, but Native Commerce is different. As brands look to balance their branding efforts with direct response, they are seeing some interesting opportunities around Native Commerce.
In Mr. Deiss own words, "I say bring on the complexity! Native Commerce is tough, but it's about how we can serve our customers best." He broke it down for me this way: "Native Commerce is about attracting passionate buyers of different categories of products through building content-driven communities". Think of it this way. If you're into the latest fashion trends, you want to stay up on trendy nail colors and beauty tips. If a business wants to attract you to buy their products, they will work to build a content-rich community in which it makes total sense to sell products that support that community.
Contrast most ecommerce company's retargeting efforts versus Native Commerce. You go onto an ecommerce site, look at a product and maybe even put it in your cart. God help you if you don't check out and buy that product as you're going to see a ton of ads retargeting you and luring you back to that ecommerce website to complete your transaction. Yuck! Now, what if you had a content rich community where you could ask questions about the products you're interested in. Rather than receiving the hard sell, you get honest feedback from community members which include representatives of the brands, but not exclusively. Over time, Mr. Deiss is betting that you will shop your passions with other Native Commerce communities and spend less time purely transacting.
Trend #3: Emergence of Customer-Centric Business
A great quote I heard from Tony Robbins at his Business Mastery conference was, "Fall in love with your customer, not your products". This idea was echoed loudly when talking with Mr. Deiss who urges you to, "Define your business based on who you serve vs. what you do." He went on to explain that most companies define their business by the product or service they sell rather than the audience they serve. Mr. Deiss believes that this is a major difference that will lead to your success or failure.
"Think about Channel," Mr. Deiss explains, "they know exactly who their woman is and they live to serve her. Apple became hugely successful only when they stopped defining themselves based on selling computers but rather to serve a specific demographic. That's why it's not weird for you to buy a phone, watch or even a car from Apple."
And we went on to think about the most successful companies out there and they all had a clear picture of their ideal customer and continued to change their products and services to fit the changing needs of that customer. Those who fall in love with their products eventually disconnect from the needs of their customers.
Think about Facebook versus Twitter. While Twitter has struggled to grow and remain relevant as a dominant social media platform, Facebook continues to innovate, reinvent itself and jump to the next place where their customers want to be--from the desktop to mobile to virtual reality. They anticipate the future needs of their customers and ensure they continue to serve them now and in the future.
"I can't stress how important it is to build your product around the audience you serve," says Mr. Deiss. "If you're not a customer-centric business, then you will struggle to remain relevant in the future."
So ask yourself, "Where can I serve my customer best?" and you will realize that there are things you're probably not doing now that you should be doing (and things you are doing that will not serve you in the future). As I said, Ryan Deiss is a bit of a badass and you would do well to heed his three predictions. As a 22 year old digital marketer myself, I agree wholeheartedly with these assertions and urge you to implement them in your business immediately if you haven't already.