One of the most important disciplines to master in digital marketing is staying ahead of the curve. By adopting new trends and becoming an early-adopter of new tech, marketers can gain an edge over their competitors and deliver superior service to their clients.
As the decade comes to a close, we take a look at the future and see which technologies will be on the rise to help marketers see which ones they can utilize effectively.
Voice-Recognition Will Get Better
The new decade will see huge leaps and advances in natural language processing, machine learning, conversation interfaces, and other voice-reliant processes that will enable search engines, virtual assistants, and other emerging tech to become more intelligent, more useful, and more attuned to their user’s needs.
And it has already started: as of 2018, more than a billion searches a day on Google are done via voice recognition, usually with the use of some kind of personal assistant.
This is important because voice differs vastly from regular searches on a desktop or a mobile. Normal searches use keywords that search engines like Google will analyze and compare to existing sites. This will yield pages upon pages of results, with your client’s website ranking depending on how often and how relevant they are to the keyword.
Virtual assistants that use voice recognition, on the other hand, are much more sophisticated. Using different algorithms that base results on your previous browsing behavior, these virtual assistants will narrow down search results to as few as possible, making it all the more important to rank for this kind of algorithm as it increases your client’s CTR. By tailoring your SEO strategy to cater to voice search this early on, you can give your clients the edge they need to beat the competition.
One way of doing this is to tailor fit your search phrases to sound more conversational; remember, people will be speaking the terms you’ll use, so make them sound spoken and less like it was written down.
When doing this, think about what your customers might say rather than what they would type down. It would also be wise to align your content to be more conversational, as this works better with the upcoming wide-spread usage of voice search.
Rise of the Chatty Machines
In recent years, chatbots have risen in popularity with social media brands and websites that offer chat options. This is because chatbots have helped improve customer service for brands on a budget. Chatbots can also answer data-related questions quicker than human agents. They can also be programmed with humor, personality traits, and quirks.
In the future, chatbots are going to be more sophisticated, with chatbots being programmed to offer completely personalized services to specific customers at any given point in time. When this happens, Chatbots will be utilized more, being integrated into websites and applications, and having the same responsiveness and efficiency as their social media counter parts.
The reason Chatbots are so popular is because it fulfills a marketer’s greatest challenge: gathering useful and actionable consumer information. When a user asks questions on a chatbot, it gives marketers insights on their customers wants, needs, concerns, and issues. Gathering this data is crucial to tailoring better marketing strategies that increase brand awareness while retaining their customer base.
The popularity of Chatbots have made it into a $1.2 billion industry, with annual growth rates steadily at 24%. Researches from Grand View Research also found that 45% of customers prefer using Chatbots over human customer service agents because the former is more reliable.
Because of this, analysts predict that, over the next few years or so,80% of business communications between customers and brand will be done via Chatbots.
Taking advantage of Chatbots means integrating them into your client’s marketing strategy, whether it’s to fulfill the role of customer service assistant, a virtual brand promoter, or a way to disseminate information about the brand’s new features, products, services, or special offers.
And this trend has nowhere to go but up; with advances in AI and Machine Learning, Chatbots are only slated to get better at being helpful to customers and providing them with key information to resolve their issues, making them more popular and more essential to businesses in the future.
Even now, artificial intelligence has made data collection and analysis so much more efficient and effective, helping marketers create highly personalized marketing strategies that are geared towards specific customers. With machine learning getting better every year, the data that marketers gathered can be deployed in various efforts like content personalization and unique buyer’s journeys.
For marketers, AI and machine learning are great tools to utilize when studying what type of content potential customers are partial to, as this helps you create the most effective strategy. Often, marketing-generated content or technical documents cater to niche markets, while user-generated content can allow marketers to create a personalized customer experience that targets their specific wants and preferences. In this way, you increase a brand’s presence with its audience and facilitate higher customer satisfaction.
Over the next few years, advances in AI and machine learning will allow marketers to create marketing systems that integrate various marketing tech like predictive lead scoring or trigger-based campaigns. These technologies will also allow marketers to explore and invest into dynamic content that adapts to the personal preferences of a customer at every step of the buyer’s journey.
All these upcoming algorithms lead up to one of marketing’s goals: personalization. In the very near future, technology will allow marketers to create unique experiences for specific customers, scaling their efforts depending on need. No longer will marketers rely on manual efforts like customer surveys and guesswork to create content for large groups of people.
Machine learning allows marketers to program a computer to learn more about a specific customer, specifics like their preferences, age, browsing and shopping history, and other things relevant to marketing. Then, an algorithm can sift through all of this data instantly, allowing marketers to choose specific experiences that appeal to the individual customer. Over the next few years, machine learning and AI will be easier to use, allowing marketers with little-to-no coding experience to “code” their computer to find specific data points about a person’s digital life, streamlining the whole process.
In this way, marketers can create customizable marketing “recipes” that they can deploy in every marketing strategy. These recipes will be aided by pre-programmed base algorithms and can be scaled in complexity, from a simple display of previously bought or viewed items in an e-commerce page, or to more complex systems like predicting a customer’s decision tree or even collaborative filtering.
Combining machine learning, complex AI, and Chatbots, and you can create a marketing strategy that has all the personality of a human being, but all the complexity of a super-smart computer.
Video Content Will Still Be In Demand
Out of all the tools available to marketers, video content is still the one that has consistently been the most effective and efficient marketing medium available. And that’s not going away anytime soon, considering the average person’s short attention span and the enjoyability of video over lengthy and wordy blog posts.
Just to underline video’s importance, marketing firm Hubspot found that adding a video to emails boosted their CRT by 300% (that’s not a typo!), while a video in a client’s landing page increased conversion by at least 80%.
In 2017, social media platforms started introducing Live Video, a new feature that allowed regular social media users to broadcast whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Naturally, this quickly became valuable to marketers, as Live Video allowed them to instantly and directly connect with engaged customers and provide them information about products, services, or brand offerings. Because most people are on social media anyway, catching your customer’s attention using Live Video just made sense!
Over the next few years, we predict Live Video to continue in popularity, with more brands and content creators pushing the boundaries of what that technology can do and the limits of their creativity. Marketers should then start thinking about how to make their Live Video efforts more interactive, or create imaginative and dynamic video content that encourages users to engage with the brand. Unlike photos or GIF’s, video content will keep customers engage, and frankly, is a lot less boring.
In short, the next decade will require marketers to step up their video content strategy, if only because video outperforms all other mediums. Find ways to incorporate videos into your client’s branding strategy, and utilize Live Video as a means of capturing users on social media.
The Future’s Made of Virtual Reality (Or Augmented Reality)
VR and AR were once heralded as the next step in our technology, an embodiment of human advancement in the sciences and the vanguard for a new layer of reality.
But, as we all know, those two fell short of that. At least, for now: we predict that VR and AR will become major players in all aspects of society over the next few years. It might even be as significant as social media was back in the late 2000’s. We say this based on a couple of key pieces of evidence: Virtual reality systems are being integrated into other fields like medicine and military, while Augmented reality is seeing usage in popular mediums like video games.
(If you’re not hip to these tech terms, virtual reality is a completely computer-generated reality that is accessed via some kind of head-mounted device, while augmented reality is computer-generated images/videos layered on top of real-time videos.)
The possibilities of VR/AR are endless; one example of its usage is by tech giant Google. Under its Niantic Labs brand, Google released two AR based games: Ingress and the wildly popular Pokémon Go. Both games required players to visit real-world locations and use their phone’s camera to interact with game elements layered on top of what their camera is capturing. This helped Google improve their Google Maps API and users were given a new way of playing video games, a true win-win for both brand and consumer. Other brands have also taken advantage of this tech. IKEA has been famous for using VR tech as early as 2016, offering customers a glimpse into their different products in a virtual space, giving users a preview of what it’s like to own that specific IKEA solution.
Again, the possibilities of using VR/AR in your marketing strategies are endless and are only bounded by your creativity and your willingness to push the boundaries of marketing.
Will It Come True?
These predictions are based on current trends, but as with all predictions, take it with a grain of salt; it’s not wise to rely on these foresights alone. Always trust your marketer’s instincts and adapt to the marketing landscape with every change, observe your competitors and study the things they do right (and wrong), and pay attention to what’s happening in other industries to see if it will affect your clients.
Good luck, and see you in the future!