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Prepare for marketing megatrends

Social Places has identified seven digital marketing megatrends that will shape the martech industry this year, writes director ASHLEIGH WAINSTEIN.

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New tech tools take hold and consumer behaviour moves ever faster towards instant communication and results. Ashleigh Wainstein, director of martech firm, Social Places, says seven key trends will define digital marketing in 2020:

1. Data visualisationwill become even more important, particularly the consolidation of all marketing and operational touchpoints into a single dashboard that offers quick visual insights into a business –  its performance and relationship with its customers. Data doesn’t mean much without the tools used to visualise and analyse it. All business channels – online and offline – have to be integrated into this single view and this can be a challenge, but the rewards are great. 

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered insights are possible once data has been collected and formatted.. AI tools are able to look at much larger datasets than humans and can draw correlations across business events quickly, flagging insights and anomalies. The software picks the trends and then people can unpack these, analyse them and make more informed business decisions. For example, AI can take 50 marketing channels – billboards, local messaging, Facebook and so on, and can tell you what marketing channels achieve the most with whom and when – the detail is incredible. It interrogates the metrics and can make suggestions and recommend marketing opportunities. These are based on data rather than human assumptions or biases.

3. Local messagingis becoming increasingly significant because local content trumps brand messaging when talking to consumers. It comes down to authenticity and relevance – and technology lets businesses talk to consumers, via many channels, one-to-one. Global brands have long since steered away from big generic messaging. We can see how their messaging varies between countries and even within territories. Brands are now identifying that this needs to be taken further ,with different branches tailoring their messaging on a community (suburban) level, to suit their individual clients’ needs, because every store’s customers are different. When it comes to messaging, don’t waste your budget – one size does not fit all and brands get three times the customer engagement using local, customised content then they do with blanket messaging.

4. Expectations around reviews is growing among consumers and this is reflected in the growth of near-me searches and review stats – proximity stats have jumped 500 percent in the last two years and show no signs of slowing. Consumers prefer to interact with a brand digitally instead of through call centres and more than 80 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. They do expect quick responses to any review they give – positive or negative – and companies need to be prepared for this.

5. Growth of Loyalty Clubswill accelerate in 2020 as more brands go this route because the data they produce is valuable. Organisations are better able to understand their customers using the data they acquire from their loyalty programmes. It’s a win-win situation – brands give customers rewards  and as they know more about their customers are able to communicate through the most relevant channel and this in turn results in increased loyalty.

6. Marketing Automation with Personalisation simplifies communication with consumers based on their preferences. Historically, multiple teams were required to create and send targeted messaging. Increasingly sophisticated tools are now able to identify consumers’ preferences, as well as which channels they prefer to receive communications on, and send intelligent, useful and relevant marketing messages to them.

7. Brands will place less emphasis on“influencers” with a large number of followers – there will be more relevant content being produced by smaller, on-the-ground nano-influencers who are in touch with their immediate community. This ties in with brands moving towards local messaging which is more relevant and authentic for consumers.

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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