Blockchain is the single most disruptive technology in our lifetime.
If you’re like most people, you probably associate blockchain with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. That’s a valid connection, but numerous other sectors could utilize blockchain’s capabilities to help meet their goals. Marketing is one of them.
Here are six ways blockchain could alter the marketing industry at large:
1. Improving Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs can be instrumental in helping brands connect with audiences and encourage them to take desirable actions. However, research shows that the majority of people polled don’t sign up for them because they find the process too cumbersome. Some analysts believe that moving loyalty programs to the blockchain could enhance them in ways that help companies and customers alike.
Some of the advantages of that possibility include nearly frictionless access to and management of loyalty programs on the customer side, time-stamped transaction data that prevents duplication, misuse and fraud, and streamlining the process of using the loyalty program so people earn points and other rewards faster than before.
Qiibee is one of the companies already moving into the blockchain loyalty card space, and it’ll be interesting to see if the concept of combining loyalty programs and the blockchain takes off.
2. Creating a Positive Shift in Digital Advertising
A successful digital ad campaign can be like a marketing agency’s lifeblood, helping it cater to existing customers while attracting new ones. But, there are shortcomings in the digital ad industry overall. The payments between ad publishers and advertisers are not always straightforward, and there are also issues with fraudulent ads.
Shifting digital advertising to the blockchain is not a process that can happen quickly, and it’s likely not one that will receive widespread adoption right away. People who are hopeful about the future believe the blockchain could expose bad actors within digital marketing. Those entities are more common than some people think.
According to a report published in 2018, more than 12 percent of global ad traffic gets generated with devices contaminated with malware, botnets, and similar issues — meaning it’s fraudulent. The research also showed that the United Kingdom and the United States have the highest percentages of these ads.
Getting to the bottom of digital ad fraud will not be easy, but the blockchain could help since it offers a transparent environment where multiple parties can track the origins and progress of ads, making it possible to verify authenticity.
3. Helping Marketers Manage Customer Legalities
Before marketers can fulfill promises to take things to the next level for the brands on their roster, they have to work out the legal specifics of the contract. That can take a while, especially when existing clients make numerous changes to existing contracts, or there are various points of disagreement between the parties to work out.
However, another way the blockchain could assist with this necessary part of marketing is through the use of smart contracts. These smart contracts are self-verifying, self-executing, and autonomous. For example, specific actions carried out by someone involved will trigger automatic adjustments of those contracts. As such, marketers can spend less time manually changing agreements to meet requirements and devote more time to nurturing customer relationships.
Smart contracts are also handy when working with international clients. That’s because those documents could automatically update due to things like currency conversion fluctuations that could impact payments. And, because it’s not possible to change information once it gets entered onto the blockchain, marketers stay protected from instances where people might try to assert that something about a contract changed after they signed it.
4. Giving Customers More Control Over Their Marketing Data
“Blockchain has so much potential to improve how we do things in so many areas of our lives,” says Fred Schebesta, Co-Founder of global comparison website Finder.com and cryptocurrency brokerage HiveEx.com. “The biggest potential to change the marketing landscape is how blockchain is giving power back to consumers.”
“People are tired of having their online footprint sold and used to re-target them and blockchain-based businesses are innovating ways to turn the current model on its head,” he says. “For instance, companies like Brave which incentivizes consumers to hand over their data and be rewarded for it. Marketers need to adapt to this change and figure out ways to earn their customers’ loyalty and also interact with their customers in a more meaningful and engaging way.”
According to research, most Americans don’t know what companies could predict by analyzing their data. And, from a marketer’s perspective, that may be for the best. After all, many people already feel uneasy about giving brands their information, especially if they don’t know how it might get used. Customers miss out by not providing their data, though.
For example, the simple act of signing up for the email list of a person’s favorite musician lets that fan know when they could see the performer in concert or stream their new album. If the individual instead chooses not to provide an email, they’ll likely feel out of the loop. There are also cases where customers don’t know which brands have details about them but realize that the data is probably paying off for those businesses.
Some blockchain companies are investigating options that allow customers to determine which businesses receive information about them. One of them is Killi. A person might understandably ask why a person using Killi would have a reason to hand over their data. The concept behind Killi is that users get compensated for providing data to brands. The more data they provide, the more money they earn.
That kind of arrangement could help customers feel more willing to provide data because they know they have the final say over who gets it. Marketers also benefit because they don’t have to deal with irate people who respond to marketing messages by saying “How did you get my details? I’ve never dealt with you! Take me off the list!”
5. Helping More Emails Get Read
Marketers face a constant challenge figuring out how to get responses from the emails they send. Many of the messages end up in spam folders, either due to the settings a user tweaked or the automatic spam filtering that’s part of most email platforms and works in the background.
Or, people get flooded with so many messages during any given day that they’re extremely selective about which ones they read. If they don’t have a strong relationship with a company that they deem valuable, they likely won’t read the marketing content from that entity.
Data indicates that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day, and sends out 40. Moreover, spam comprises almost half of all emails. Those findings make it clear that marketers will likely encounter obstacles when trying to get people to see their emails and respond favorably.
However, another company that could use the blockchain to uproot conventional marketing is Earn.com. It allows the public to get compensated for doing small tasks, such as reading emails from people or companies they don’t know. But, on the business side of things, Earn.com enables companies to reach high-quality prospects, not by purchasing email lists but targeting people who are eager to hear what the company has to say.
This platform raises some questions, such as whether users might give useless replies just to get compensated. But even in these early days, the principle behind the site and how it might change email marketing is fascinating.
6. Reshaping Market Research
Regardless of how they engage in it, market research is essential for helping marketing researchers determine if the marketplace has a want and need for their product, service or campaign. Numerous advocates feel excited about how the blockchain could help make market research better, such as by ensuring the validity of the data.
One pioneering project underway currently is from a company called Measure. It seeks to create an environment where consumers and marketers interact with each other, and the consumers get paid fairly for the information they give. Perhaps it’ll be an update of the well-known system whereby people complete online surveys and get paid a dollar or two after qualifying for a survey and completing it.
It’s too soon to say whether platforms like Measure will significantly impact how marketers get their data, but the idea behind this new way of obtaining data should give marketers food for thought.
Exciting Developments Ahead
This list shows how blockchain has an abundant potential for making tremendous changes within the marketing industry.
In many cases, embracing them will mean that audiences and marketers have to leave behind what’s familiar and realize that the new offerings provided by blockchain technology could improve outcomes for everyone involved. Changes are already happening, and more are on the way.