Having attended a few conferences before, I often do not spend a lot of time hanging out in panels or listening to presentations. Many times they either are speaking about subjects I don’t care that much about or are so boring I am literally falling asleep listening to them. eTail West however has a great record of having people who are actually interesting and informative. The day starts out with a few main speakers, and then it breaks off into “tracks” where it narrows its focus. I tended to hang out in the social media track.
The thing that stuck with me the most was how much people were emphasizing that older generations are becoming more and more comfortable with technology. Instead of “How can you trust that phone not to take your money?” it is more “Show me what you did there on my phone!” I find this very interesting, although not totally unsurprising. What struck me is that many speakers thought we were at the “tipping point” for older generations using technology. This would ramp up rather quickly, rather than trickle in. As someone who enjoys playing with new things, I’m sure I’ll be the old man with the new toy he doesn’t know exactly how to use in 50 years.
Other points that were brought up in panels and presentations were personalization, omni-channel marketing, and removing friction between a business and a customer. All of these things I think are going to become major factors in business over the next few years. First, people do want to feel special. People engage with companies on Facebook and Twitter because they want to be heard by a person, not a corporate entity. It only makes sense that they want something marketed to them with their needs in mind. With a cornucopia of data algorithms, this is becoming more and more possible. Some speakers at this conference talked about artificial intelligence correctly guessing what you were looking for or what you needed before you realized it. Sure, this could scream Skynet, or save you tons of time. I think it’s worth the risk.
With so many internet connected devices out there, it only makes sense that people are changing their marketing strategies to fit those devices. A one size fits all isn’t cost effective. Having the ability to present clear and articulate messages to people that changes itself to where they are and what they are using to view is the key to the future of getting new customers.
Friction was another word that was talked about a lot. Removing as many steps as possible for someone makes a purchase was heavily emphasized. Apple Pay and Google Wallet were used as examples of removing friction. Instead of filling out a form online or pulling out your wallet, it’s a wave of the phone or click of a single button to finish a transaction. This probably is bad news to impulse buyers but good news to retailers.
Overall, the panels and presentations at eTail West were great. One of the biggest reasons you should go to an eTail conference is for these great informative sessions.