You’re reading this blog because you are a Hughes Media partner or because you are keenly interested in how to enhance your digital marketing efforts. In either case, you’re paying attention to the direction digital marketing is taking and what to watch for in the coming year.
As we’ve seen, a lot can change in just 12 months, especially when it comes to technology. As we close 2018 and look forward to 2019, here are some trends we are watching and encourage you to monitor.
As we shared in our voice search blog, voice search continues to be a growing trend. A big part of this growth is the improvement in voice recognition technology. As phones and smart speakers capture our commands more reliably, the more we use them for convenient voice searches and other functions.
With this increased use, it is believed that 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. With better technology, the easier voice search becomes whether we are on the move with our mobile phones or sitting at home, relaxing by our smart speakers. We also generally speak faster than we can type, making voice search a provider of faster responses. Smart speakers are now in 39 million homes across the United States, and these numbers are on the increase.
Applying this trend to your business: be sure to consider keywords that people will speak in a voice search instead of typing on a keyboard.
With consumers averaging approximately four hours of time on their smart phones every day, it is easy to see that their attention is divided among many competing sources. This means we have precious little time to attract and hold their attention. These snippets of time are called “Micro Moments,” a new marketing opportunity.
In the span of just a few seconds, your brand has one chance to capture the attention of the targeted customer. This means your message must be clear and concise, appealing to the interests of the reader/listener. Additionally, content that returns value-added information to the customer is more likely to draw attention and focus.
Applying this trend to your business: be present where customers are (e.g., mapping apps, Amazon (think product searches), Google searches, and anywhere consumers are searching for answers).
As voice search has already seen tremendous growth, visual search is beginning its acceleration as a major search option. As smart phone cameras have given exponential rise to the number of images posted online and the ability to search for visual information, visual search will be a growing means for marketers to get products in front of people.
Pinterest is an early pioneer in this area, as is Google. Both have developed mobile apps which allow users to capture an image and search for similar items or search to learn what something is. Through effective visual search planning, marketers can differentiate their products through engaging customer experiences.
Applying this trend to your business: be proactive and meet customers who are beginning to test visual search by drawing them in and meeting them with your product or services.
Some marketing experts believe that video marketing is the new form of content marketing. That is, the message provides what customers want as well as how and when they want it. With decreasing costs, thanks to technology, video marketing has become an efficient and economical means of strengthening your brand, connecting with customers, and improving your SEO results.
Statistics relay that 72 percent of businesses report improved conversion rates because of video marketing. Additionally, more than 50 percent of customers suggest that product videos increase confidence in their online purchases. Video marketing can take many forms – YouTube, live broadcasts on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., or even 360 degree content showing behind the scenes footage of your warehouse, your process, or product/service demos. Through these engaging methods, you can build a stronger online following and increase your brand awareness accordingly.
Applying this trend to your business: be creative and find the best way for your company to embrace video marketing. Even video testimonials carry more weight than written reviews.
While personalization has long been a key component in successful marketing strategies, today’s technology allows for an even greater degree of personalized content and engagement. One of the most common methods in this category is email marketing, but be sure to expand your personalization efforts beyond email when appropriate. (Think of all the sites you visit that have banner ads related to your recent online searches. Creepy? Perhaps, but the strategy remains effective.)
Why personalization? Because 96 percent of marketers understand that engagement through personalization improves relationships with your customers. It’s only natural for us to gravitate to those who recognize us for who we are, what we value, and what we like. Take advantage of human nature and connect with your customers in a way that builds your relationship for future success.
Applying this trend to your business: be certain to include personalized marketing efforts that include content, emails, products, etc.
If we’ve done our job by now, we’ve actively engaged in multichannel marketing – meeting customers across different platforms: email, social media, search, etc. However, we need to break out of those silos and begin to meet the customer in not just one platform at a time, but across all platforms simultaneously. This is omnichannel marketing.
Through effective use of omnichannel marketing, your business can keep track of your prospect through many different interactions regardless of which channels they’ve used. With the right tools and strategy, your sales funnel begins to take every channel into consideration as you move toward a completed sale. Invesp reports that strong omnichannel engagement retains 89 percent of customers while weaker interactions retain only 33 percent of consumer business.
Applying this trend to your business: be aware of how to maximize your CRM while monitoring omnichannel engagement.
Chat and Chatbots
As social creatures, we respond well to personal interaction. Online chat support fills this craving, when it works well. Live chat support has benefits – an actual person engages with the customer. But, it can be expensive and limit the times that chat is available to your customers. As technology has improved, the artificial intelligence operating today’s chatbots provides many benefits – prompt, accurate responses; quick access to account details; and affordability for your business.
Both chat and chatbots are viable options and offer customers what they need. From simple answers to ordering details this technology will continue to give your business a presence online where your customers spend more and more time. Looking ahead, Gartner estimates that 25 percent of customer service support will use chatbot technology by 2020.
Applying this trend to your business: be engaging with your customers through chat technology, using live chat or chatbot, depending on the best fit for your business.
The door is wide open for artificial intelligence (AI) to assist your marketing strategy. With significant innovations in this area, AI compiles data from across social media, search, customer interactions, etc. to drive many of the items on this list. AI can segment your customers, analyze their search patterns, scan blog posts, and even develop content to fulfill your strategic plans.
As with all technology, it is important to find the right AI to fit your business plan. The important thing to realize is that AI is here, and it provides powerful benefits. Your competition is either using it effectively, and you need to keep up; or your competition is ignoring it, and you can leverage AI to get ahead.
Applying this trend to your business: be a leader in your field when it comes to artificial intelligence. It may make a difference in where you find your business in two years.
Putting it All Together
Today’s technology offers some fantastic means to improve your brand recognition, engage with customers, build relationships, and close more sales. But, all the options can be daunting when considering how to add them to your digital marketing strategy. We encourage all our clients to start somewhere – do something to take advantage of the opportunities available. However, don’t over commit and lose your ability to keep up with your plans.
If you need a boost to get started or an analysis of your digital marketing strategy, give us a call. Our specialists are ready to evaluate where you are and help guide you to where you can be with the right blueprint and tools.
About the Author:
Experienced President with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in Digital Strategy, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Integrated Marketing, Advertising, and Pay Per Click (PPC). Strong business development professional with a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Communications from Ohio University.