Shopping Image Credit: Ramachandra Babu/©Gulf News

So the whole world is going digital … well almost. I guess you can rule out childbirth from its reach.

Any brand that does not adopt this digital approach is wasting its resources, time and opportunity. Recently I was looking for bloggers and influencers and I was shocked to see the numbers.

With the new law in the UAE, I wondered how there were still so many. Whatever the case may be, let’s look at the digital side of marketing with sunglasses and blurred edges (as that is the filter mostly used while posting pictures and everything looks better that way!) What is important when telling a digital story?

The majority of consumers state that authenticity is important when deciding which brands or organisations to give positive stars to. A consumer is smart enough to realise fake claims, so better not to make them.

This percentage is even higher among millennials. Few believe an advert and most brush it off as unauthentic. But a testimonial by fellow customers catches our attention easily and sounds almost believable.

* Rule No 1 — Content created by a consumer is considered five times more authentic than content created by the brand.

Another trending topic is AI (Artificial Intelligence). In the traditional ways of making a sale, we tried to know the customer well, his likes and dislikes, what he has for lunch and what he does for recreation. This was obtained by probably belonging to the same community or club.

Today we have the services of “chatbots”. These are quicker than humans in giving any data-related answers and matching prospects, and helping to close the sale. They can adapt humour, can take on a personality and offer information to the customer that he usually looks for.

These can be integrated in all the digital media and offer tailor-made strategies.

* Rule No. 2 — Use chatbots to enhance your sales and marketing strategies by avoiding mass mails that end up in junk boxes and approach a matched customer.

As social media has taken over a minimum of 20 per cent of our productive time with more than 3 billion global users, it is important to know the popular trends right now, which are video, GIFs and influencers. There are many more.

You cannot expect to be popular anymore by just being on one platform, as your targets on Facebook are different from likely customers on YouTube. Being the advertising agency for multinational brands and having expanded into digital media campaigns, I can say that more than 70 per cent of media budgets have been reassigned to various digital marketing campaigns that require targeted approaches to spread your marketing net in a more quantifiable spectrum.

* With this we come to Rule No. 3 — Key to your social success is to play the spread and be on all platforms or bootstrap them to help you manage the feeds.

Visual search is another hot topic under discussion today. Most consumers today drag an image and look for it’s match actively as many don’t technically know the titles of items they are looking for. The technology surrounding visual search is still limited.

As not only does it have to reproduce the same image but must be able to recognise a variety of colours, shapes, sizes and patterns to provide even similar items that could satisfy the same search as alternative solutions.

* Rule No. 4 — It tells us to consider visuals in our websites to appear in widely used web searches and reach our goals to be solicited for business.

When you invest in video marketing, you immediately increase the click-through rate by a minimum of 10 per cent. Video is the most rewarding digital marketing method.

With Netflix and short film addicts on the rise, video is the best way to blur the lines between work and pleasure. Mercedes already uses VR to sell you the AMG GT experience and Ikea lets people experience where their potential furniture could fit in their homes.

* And thus Rule No. 5 tells us — Create short burst videos to actively engage consumers looking for more eye candy and entertainment than “work too hard” strategies.

Not least is to find the right people to channel it through. Most customers rely on public reviews before they buy a product. This brings us to the growing market of influencers and social media personalities.

You immediately get your product recommended by a person who temporarily is your brand ambassador and sells your product by making it a part of their lifestyle and which is widely copied by their followers. Thus it is a matter of the right story being narrated by the right person to make it believable.

With most job adverts today making understanding of social media a prerequisite to being in the marketing game, it is a trend that is here to stay due to its diverse offerings, quantifiable results and competitive benchmarking.

— Sandy Nathan is Director of BDB Advertising and Dot Ten Interior Solutions and initiator of The Label Sticks.