Jan 20
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Live-streaming video content has really begun to gain traction. According to Cisco’s June 2016 Visual Networking Index report, streaming video accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic, and this share is expected to jump to 82% by 2020. Furthermore, streaming video content online is becoming the most accessible way to consume entertainment.

As video streaming (for video games, hobbies, and more) grows, so does the popularity of live streaming. As we mentioned before, businesses do not need to put up a significant investment to try live video streaming with the growing availability of inexpensive and free applications. One of the best examples of this is Amazon’s late 2014 acquisition, Twitch.tv.

What is Twitch.tv?
Twitch.tv is “the biggest destination hosting channels for live streaming today. It began as a video game live-streaming platform and was acquired by Amazon in 2014 just under $1 billion. The viewing experience is full of information and features to hold your attention; in most cases, you’ll see a live feed of a game environment, with a smaller window in any given corner showing a view of the gamer at work, sitting at their monitor with headphones on and microphone at the ready” (Marketingland.com)

According to recent numbers released by the company, Twitch has over two million creators collectively streaming just under 460,000 years’ worth of video to an audience of more than 100 million. Twitch’s viewers also spend more than 1.5 hours per day on the network.

Originally, Twitch focused on video gaming, including playthroughs of video games, broadcasts of eSports competitions, creative content, and more recently, music broadcasts. Now, though, the company has expanded its offerings to diversify beyond video game streaming as a way to broaden its appeal to audiences and advertisers. “Twitch IRL” was recently launched and “it’s not just gaming; there are channels dedicated to watching people create artwork, or eat their dinner – a nod to the South Korean trend of ‘social eating’” (Twitch CEO, Emmett Shear).

Advertising & Marketing Opportunities
Typically, Twitch streamers interact with their audience as they are playing, and get paid by the number of viewer subscriptions. But, Twitch recently announced they are adopting a new advertising approach that will “reduce the efficiency” of ad blockers while ensuring a broader reach and more consistent delivery for advertisers.

According to Robin Fontaine, Twitch product marketer, the service’s newly introduced SureStream technology “will allow us to improve the video advertising experience for viewers and partners, improve ad deliverability by reducing the impact of third party services that bypass ads, and increase the advertising revenue pool available for partners.”

Twitch also announced the company will be bringing live video streaming to the Twitch mobile app enabling users to go live directly from their phone. This update can help Twitch grow into a bigger force on mobile and will keep the platform competitive against Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Twitch has already proven itself a leader in live streaming content and broadcasting there could help your business gain a significant following. With 88% of companies looking to invest in live stream video advertising over the next six months, it’s worth taking some time to implement live-stream content into your marketing strategy.

Jan 13

Influencer Marketing

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 2 minutes

   

With the rise of ad blocking, bot fraud, social algorithms, and the decline in traditional TV viewership, nearly 85% of businesses worldwide are expected to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months. Influencer marketing is not a new concept but will mature and play a renewed role in the marketing mix for 2017. According to Adweek, influencer marketing has increased more than 90 times in Google’s keyword search since 2013.

With more businesses looking to collaborate with influencers to add credibility to their brand, it’s clear influencer marketing can be highly effective. The most difficult part of executing an influencer marketing strategy is making it feel organic. This is why finding the right influencer to work with your business is key. The following are a few tips to get you started:

1. Identify influencers that align with your brand
Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on fans, followers, and subscriber counts only when considering potential influencers. These are key metrics to consider when looking at different influencers, but they are only part of what you should be focusing on and measuring. According to Vervely, the three key elements of social media engagement are conversions (comments/replies, applause (likes, favorites, etc.) and amplification (shares).

According to Adweek, Twitter users now trust influencers almost as much as their friends (49 percent rely on influencer recommendations while 56 percent rely on friends). But all influencers are not equal. Remember, the right influencer for your business may not be one with the largest following.

2. Ensure your campaigns will be profitable in the long run
One of the biggest challenges businesses face with marketing campaigns is the return on investment (ROI). Businesses want to know that for every dollar spent, they will see that same dollar back plus a percentage more. An influencer’s follower count and reach is one thing, but you also need to know that the audience being reached is the type of consumers likely to buy your products or services. Asking yourself some of the questions below can help you determine this:

  • Does my target audience know and trust this influencer?
  • Has the influencer successfully promoted similar products, services, or brands before?
  • Is the influencer known as an expert or thought leader in the industry/your niche?
  • Does their audience demographics line up with your target audience and business goals?

The success of your influencer marketing campaign relies heavily on the influencer you choose. There are many influencers out there with thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. But, an effective marketing strategy is about identifying which influencers are dominating your niche, and also right for your business.

Jan 6
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E-commerce has been limited in the physical world, but in the coming years, Artificial Intelligence could help take that experience to the next level. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are growing fast. According to Gartner by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human and at the close of 2018; customer digital assistants will recognize customers by face and voice across channels. Gartner also estimates that 6 billion connected “things” will require AI support by 2018.

E-commerce has become a highly competitive market and brands that want to stay ahead of the curve should start looking at embracing AI as a way to enhance the customer experience. The following are three ways we are already seeing AI in action and what you should pay attention to as it becomes more prevalent.

Natural Language Processing
With the rise of digital assistants (Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, etc.), Artificial Intelligence has begun to reach a level where it is useful to many people’s daily lives. Last year, natural language processing for voice control and assistants made a huge impact. And, from a voice perspective, you can expect to see more options for AI assistants in the future.

Google and Microsoft are already using voice search and complex, multi-part queries to improve their understanding of natural language. According to research firm Markets and Markets, “The AI market for natural language processing (NLP) is expected to hold largest market share from 2016 to 2022. The growing implementation of natural language processing for the improvement of consumer services in the retail sector is one of the major factors contributing to its growth in the AI market.”

Better language understanding would make machines a lot more useful. Shoppers would be able to express their needs, desires and specifications in everyday language, which would result in a faster and more satisfactory shopping experience. But, language understanding has been a challenge and long-standing goal in artificial intelligence.

Personalized Product Recommendations & Chatbots
Current product recommendations systems generally use a product’s popularity to determine how and when to recommend it. But machine-learning recommendation systems will help discover better ways of modeling user behavior to make more accurate recommendations. Learning product recommendation systems promise to deliver product results that your shoppers are likely to want and buy.

Chatbots are also becoming a vital way to enhance the customer experience and handle initial contact with customers. Chatbots are designed to help customers easily navigate products for sale and provide personalized recommendations with in-depth data about customer preferences. According to Keenan Baldwin, Co-found of SiteZeus, ““AI has begun to do what loyalty programs have not. They’re building loyalty by understanding individual customer’s needs, timing, price-elasticity, and channel preference. Retailers will know what their customers’ needs are even before they do.” As artificial intelligence develops further, we can expect to see Chatbots interacting with customers in almost human terms.

From basic voice recognition to advanced machine learning and deep learning, there are many different levels of Artificial Intelligence. Over the next few years, the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence (along with the cloud, virtual reality, and many other technologies) to e-commerce is going to be very important in transforming our digital world. Ultimately, the future is bright for Artificial Intelligence and it is expected to reshape the e-commerce market and the expectations of online shoppers.

Dec 30

E-commerce Trends For 2017

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 2 minutes

   

E-commerce is set to have another record-breaking year in 2017. Approximately 80% of Internet users are shopping online and the average consumer spends at least $1,800 per year on the Internet. According to Internet Retailer online spending in the U.S. alone will generate $355 billion in total for 2016 and is expected to exceed $400 billion per year by 2018.

With 2017 just around the corner, the following are a few of the latest trends in e-commerce to keep in mind when going into the New Year.

Going Global: E-commerce Growth in Asia-Pacific
In the early days of e-commerce the U.S. was the major driver of growth. But, e-commerce has grown to be a global phenomenon and emerging markets are rapidly expanding in the global e-commerce market. According to eMarketer, the Asia-Pacific is expected to remain the world’s largest retail e-commerce market throughout the forecast period, with sales expected to top $1 trillion in 2016 and more than double to $2.725 trillion by 2020. Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2020, Asia’s e-commerce value will be worth more than the U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany, and France combined.

[Click Here for more tips on taking your business global]

Subscription Business Model
As we mentioned before, Recurring Billing has become one of the hottest strategies in digital marketing. Consumer buying habits are now trending more toward simple and hassle-free shopping experiences. Subscriptions make consumers lives easier by providing them with a hassle-free payment method and it ensures they get billed regularly, which increases your revenue. Overall, it’s an excellent business model for both the business and the consumer, and has driven massive growth over the past ten years (and is predicted to continue at a healthy rate as we head towards 2020).

[Click Here to learn more about the Subscription Business Model (also known as Recurring Billing)]

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is a bit trickier to predict for 2017 because it is still genuinely new. But, with the rise of digital assistants (Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, etc.), it has begun to reach a level where it is useful to many people’s daily lives. For 2017, business should start looking at how AI tech can help with ad targeting and personalization. This tech can greatly help businesses gain a smarter approach to online advertising.

A New Year always brings changes especially in the booming e-commerce space. Keep these trends in mind to help your business stay competitive in 2017. If you are looking for ways to improve your business in 2017, BMT Micro is here to help too. We have a reliable, cost-effective solution that is flexible enough to meet your needs now and well into the future. We also have several plans for you to choose from, or we can customize our plans to suit your needs. If you have any questions or if you are interested in learning more about BMT Micro’s offerings please contact our vendor services at vendors@bmtmicro.com.

Dec 23
Reading Time: 2 minutes

  

Every year, businesses begin to check out as the holiday shopping season starts to fade out. The weeks and even months after the holidays can be a slow period for many businesses (online and brick-and-mortar) and are commonly known as the dreaded post-holiday slump. Most businesses do usually lose a good chunk of traffic and sales during January. But, the good news is the right strategy can help any business overcome the post-holiday slump.

“New Year, New You”- Help Your Customers Keep Their Resolutions
January 1st the magical date where everyone begins to drastically change his or her mindset. People start off the New Year with the best intentions, and for businesses, this opens a big marketing opportunity. No matter what you sell, only a few things cannot be logically tied into a New Year promotion. The New Year is your opportunity to offer shoppers an easier way to keep their resolutions.

Don’t Go Quiet – Turn Up the Volume
As we mentioned before, most businesses start to check out and relax after the holiday madness. Let your competition relax and do the exact opposite. By the end of the holiday shopping season, your business should have an abundance of new data at your fingertips (email addresses, order histories, abandoned carts, etc.). This is the perfect time make use of this data and spark interest in your business with customized offers.

Smart Pricing with Discounts & Sales
While you may be tired of discounts after the holiday season, your customers aren’t. A sale alone can be powerful enough to get your business over the post-holiday slump. When offering post-holiday discounts, it’s important to carefully analyze your December sales data. This will help you see any complementary products to offer in a New Year sale. Also, analyzing your sales data will help your business avoid triggering any sort post-holiday buyer’s remorse.

The New Year is just beginning so don’t succumb to the post-holiday slump. It is not impossible to boost sales in January if you spark interest and give shoppers something to look forward to after the holidays.

If you are looking for new ways to improve your business in the New Year, BMT Micro can also help. Our system can be used to set up many different discount schemes, offer multiple payment methods, and our highly trained customer service staff is here to assist your customers with the ordering process. We offer Marketing services as well, so please feel free to contact us for more information.