The internet continues to evolve as time passes, becoming more complex with each passing day as more and more data is accumulated and distributed across the vast expanse that has become the digital landscape. Keeping on the cutting edge of digital marketing is the only way to stay afloat in the expanding ecosystem that encompasses the internet and how we communicate, market, and advertise with potential customers. Looking at current developments, new software, and advancing technology allows an inkling of what to expect as the landscape of digital marketing continues to march ahead at a breakneck pace. Here is a list of ten of the top trends that will likely carry digital marketing into the future.
1. Artificial Intelligence
What once seemed only like a science fiction dream is rapidly becoming a reality. Computers are rapidly approaching the precipice in which they cross from mere machines into real thinking entities. While that threshold has not quite been crossed yet, the rise of AI should be watched closely by anyone who has a stake in the advancement of digital marketing. The automation of tasks has slowly been becoming more and more widespread, with the origin of such automation finding its roots all the way back in the Industrial Revolution.
The advantages afforded by AI are numerous and will only continue to expand as the software and hardware of AI systems continue to develop. Analyzing consumer information, search patterns, and other pieces of data, AI can make connections that would be either too complex for humans, or too time consuming to carry out realistically. Some current uses of AI include:
- Personalizing emails
- Generating keywords for content creators
- Carrying out e-commerce transactions
- Recommending products based on recorded data.
TitanGrowth has listed four advanced use cases of A.I. in marketing. Barring some techno apocalypse that takes us back to the stone age, AI is here for the long term, so learning how to best utilize it is essential in keeping your business on top.
2. Conversational Marketing
Marketing is slowly becoming more informal, and with the rise of services like Uber and Lyft where you can converse with the person you are purchasing a service from in a somewhat casual setting, it makes sense that other companies are going to begin to adopt this informal approach when it comes to their own processes. Conversational marketing is predicated on establishing a one-on-one link between the seller and the potential buyer, allowing for personalized feedback that helps a customer feel more acknowledged. This task can be accomplished by both real humans as well as programs that are assisted by AI, a common theme as the list goes on.
Another benefit to this style of marketing is the swiftness that it carries with it. Instead of being left on hold, waiting for a reply email, or even a letter in the mail, conversational marketing allows for immediate action. This allows the customer to feel like they matter, that their concerns are shared by the company, a feeling that can be lost when long waiting times come into play. This is certainly a marketing strategy to keep an eye on depending on your brand
3. Visual Searching
There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of digital marketing this could not be truer. As products become more varied and distinct, describing them in words becomes more difficult. The solution to this problem lies in the evolving technology behind Visual Searching. This new form of search allows you to upload an image to a search engine to receive information about the product. Google has begun to pioneer this tech in the form of Google Lens, with some examples of what this search function can do:
- Take a picture of a book and see reviews and other information about it.
- Business card info can be saved into your contacts list.
- Barcodes can be scanned and linked back to products, offering purchase information.
- Apparel can be identified, and similar products recommended.
This is a trend that will likely continue to evolve and advance, so a clever entrepreneur will endeavor to ensure their product’s compatibility with this new technology.
4. Voice Search
Another technology that used to be limited to the science fiction realms such as Gene Roddenberry’s famous Star Trek has very quickly become a reality. Voice Searching is becoming more prevalent as more people decide to commit to buying a smart speaker, with the most famous of course being Amazon’s Alexa model. As AI technology continues to develop, the accuracy of voice search software develops in parallel. The two technologies are inextricably linked, meaning that as one advances, the other will surely follow.
With accuracy increasing for voice search technology, it becomes more important to consider optimizing your product pages to accommodate the increased usage. This will allow customers to reach your product easier, potentially facilitating a sale where one might not have occurred had your page not been the first to show up when keywords related to your product were searched for.
5. Social Commerce
Social media is both a cultural and financial juggernaut, and e-commerce is growing at a steady pace alongside it. It is only natural then that these two facets of the digital landscape would begin to intertwine into the concept known as Social Commerce. This new form of business keeps the payment processing right in the original social media app, rather than having to follow a link to an online storefront or another app. The main idea behind this growing trend is ease of use, something that will continue to be a driving factor in many aspects of online marketing as the years go by.
While online delivery services allow for products to be sent across the world, some things just cannot be shipped long distance, either because they are too large, or they are not things at all. It would not be prudent to market your family-owned restaurant based in Detroit to someone living in London. That ad would fall on deaf ears about 99% of the time unless it happened to be shown to a globe-trotting gourmand.
Geo-Fencing is the practice of targeting ads to people based on their location, both in a broad sense but also in a moment-to-moment sense. A business owner can create a target area, a mile radius around their business that when entered, triggers a notification, email, text, or another form of advertisement. This type of advertising allows you to ensure that your ads are appearing to people who will likely be seeking out your service. A family out on a day trip will likely respond more positively to a push advertisement about a kid friendly restaurant than someone who lives 45 miles away.
7. Blockchain technology
As crypto currencies continue to see an increase in prominence, the technology that fuels them will also continue to be developed and enhanced. This technology is known as a blockchain, and in the simplest terms is a time stamped set of data records that is managed by several computers at once. This data cannot be altered in any way, and as it is decentralized, it is not technically owned by any individual. These ‘blocks’ of data are then bound together in a ‘chain’ to present verifiable data.
Here are some use cases for blockchains in the realm of digital marketing:
- Protection of personal data
- Verifying online identities
- Aiding in ad targeting
- Online record keeping
There are other uses for blockchain technology in online marketing, and as the principles used in the blockchain continue to advance, so will potentially use cases. Protection of privacy is currently the most important one, as allowing customer information to fall into the wrong hands can become both a financial and public perception disaster. Other use cases will surely develop, though protection of privacy will likely remain at the forefront of effective blockchain usage for some time.
The customer experience management experts from Sprinklr shared 4 examples of blockchain technology being used in marketing and avertising (it is a promotional article but still interesting).
8. Internet of things
This topic was touched on briefly earlier in the article with the mention of Amazon’s Alexa, but that is by no means the only item to be considered part of the internet of things. Cars, refrigerators, and even water bottles have become connected to the internet, opening them up to both the wonder and the danger that lies within. Optimizing your product page to work with items that have joined the internet of things will become more important as this second sub-internet continues to expand. Data gathered by these smart devices can be utilized in targeting ads more effectively, both in a traditional way or with the process of Geo-Fencing that was mentioned earlier in the article. This will increase the flexibility in advertising, though do not expect your ads to start popping up on a smart car interface any time soon.
The growth of the 5G network will also help facilitate the growth of the internet of things, as more devices will be connected in more places. This will allow for a much broader range of targeted ads than was ever possible under 3G or even 4G.
9. Predictive Analytics
Another technology fueled by the rise of AI, predictive analytics relies on predictive modeling and data acquisition to make predictions about what a potential customer would be interested in next. This helps personalize ads, reducing the chance of a potential buyer being shown an irrelevant ad. A good example of this technology in play would be offering ads about grill equipment after someone looks up a recipe for grilled vegetables. This type of marketing will only continue to grow in prominence and effectiveness as AI continues to develop.
Personalization is a big factor in generating conversions from advertisements, as it helps the customer feel like they are being individually serviced rather than simply flashed with a dozen different advertisements with the hope that one sticks. As you continue to develop your brand identity, it is wise to think about what things your product will be associated with. Sometimes this will be obvious, such as various pieces of hiking equipment being suggested together, while other times it might not come to you right away. It is worth giving some thought to your product and its relationship with other products. Here are 8 Examples of Industries Using Predictive Analytics Today
10. Content Marketing
Making use of content such as blog posts, videos, social media, and other creations is a form of marketing that continues to sweep over the digital landscape. The goal of this type of marketing is to be informative, creating value for the reader/viewer in the form of information that they can use to make a purchase. If your company sells fishing equipment, consider attaching a fishing blog to your website. This will not only generate traffic to your website from a source other than direct advertisement, but it will also indirectly give your potential customers information about your product and why they need it. You do not want to include too many ads in your content, if any at all since the potential buyers are already on your website, but you do want to make it easy to navigate to your store page from your blog, video, or other focused content.
Length is also something to consider, as the older format of 500-word blog posts is quickly being phased out of Google’s good graces in favor of blog posts that span over 2,000 words. Video length is also important to keep in mind, and if you are hosting on YouTube, having a video be in the realm of 10 minutes is the sweet spot. This helps ensure viewers watch the whole thing, while simultaneously providing robust content to help inform them about your products.
Digital marketing is going to continue to evolve, so staying ahead of the curve is essential in keeping your business relevant. Relying on trends that worked five years ago is quickly going to have your business end up as yesterday’s news. Stay in the loop about new trends in order to keep, or gain, your marketing advantages.