The phenomenon, referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), is a technological evolution which describes the combination of major innovations in digital technology. These include new marketing models, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, data capture and analytics as well as mobile devices. In South Africa, 16.1 million people have smartphones; that number is expected to grow to around 22 million in 2021.
Business communication, now more than ever, needs to become creative and incorporate PR and marketing strategies on platforms created by Industry 4.0 in order to protect itself from playing a terrible game of catch-up when the fifth revolution hits. This next wave of technological innovations is one that will include nanotechnology, genomics and quantum computing, to name a few.
The World Economic Forum describes Industry 4.0 as a fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. With this amalgamation, the days of going to the office or having face-to-face meetings are numbered, and businesses need to adapt to take advantage of this increased mobility for both employees and customers.
For a service provider, looking to elevate brands and generate leads or just increase visibility, the key will be to transform a business’s brand elevation processes by seizing the many digital marketing opportunities presented by Industry 4.0. First, consider some of the trending ways in which customers are engaging and on what platforms, and then explore and incorporate these into the digital marketing strategy. Explore tools like content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Understanding how SEO can impact a business’s PR, marketing and communications activities – and even its bottom line – often eludes us. But at the most basic level, it’s simply a search engine’s way of telling us to communicate better.
Social media platforms also present themselves as a vital opportunity. LinkedIn, for example is a valuable social-led sales tool that enhances the credibility of a brand. Increasingly, customers are starting to harvest its potential. A notable B2B social media campaign was one implemented by General Electric (GE), a global smart-appliance manufacturer. It created a playful, educational and informative persona on social media which focused on brand elements that specifically related to its customers.
Other opportunities of the digital age include videos. The benefits coupled with video marketing are endless. Research has shown that video boosts conversions and lead generation and also appeals to mobile users mainly because it’s easy to consume. In addition, mobile video views increased by 400 percent between 2012 and 2014. Just imagine the growth now.
Videos can also explain everything in interesting and sometimes interactive ways, allowing businesses to demystify their objectives. More importantly, videos increase a business’s visibility through social shares. To capitalise on this, Facebook recently launched 360 Video and Live Video for users, and other platforms like Instagram have latched on to the concept.
Webinars (seminars that are conducted on the internet) present a substantial way to take advantage of Industry 4.0’s offerings. They are great, particularly because they offer businesses the opportunity to engage and interact directly with a very specific target group during a live broadcast, and after.
Practically, B2B digital campaigns will need to be significantly scaled up but luckily these campaigns can be executed at a fraction of the cost of traditional campaigns. Budget allocation becomes the backbone for businesses and other service providers as they redistribute marketing and advertising budgets to invest significantly in digital initiatives that will allow them to drive their narrative in this new, exciting and sometimes intimidating era of doing business.
Digital brand elevation, if done in an integrated way, will always be quantifiable – it is trackable and measurable with the right tools in place. And while converting a successful campaign into sales will require the partnered efforts of the sales team, a digital brand elevation campaign can provide useful data to track a brand’s growth.
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What companies are discovering as they conduct their business and look for strategies to bear the fruits of a good digital campaign, is that the challenge going forward will be for them to align the dissemination of their objectives by adapting to the changing times to fully embrace all that comes with Industry 4.0.