Tech trends are interesting things to follow. New and interesting innovations crop up every week with the goal of making our lives easier, more enriched, and more connected.
The ways in which we interact with technology are always changing too. Our tastes can be influenced by all sorts of things – early adoption, social pressures, perceived novelty, or (spoiler alert for number 6 below) the court of public opinion.
Technology is particularly useful to marketers in our “always on” digital society. But what role is technology likely to play in marketing in the near future? Let’s look at 10 predictions…
1. Increased Dependence on Chatbots and AI
As AI-driven automated chatbots are becoming more accessible, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Chatbots are apps that can hold a conversation with human users. They can be programmed to give certain responses independently; seamlessly fielding customer service enquiries, frequently asked questions, and helping users place orders. They can be installed on your website as a chat widget or hooked up to messaging apps like WhatsApp, Discord, or Facebook Messenger. So if you find yourself sounding like a robot answering the same questions over and over again, why not get a robot to do it?
2. Marketing Through Messaging Apps
Social media is a great way to keep in touch with prospects and clients, but the “one-to-many” approach sometimes lacks a valuable interpersonal touch. If you want to have more meaningful one-on-one conversations with your prospects, then private messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger may be the answer.
In fact, 53 percent of respondents to Nielsen’s Facebook Messaging Survey said they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly. A massive amount of sharing online happens over “dark social” channels like messaging apps – a whopping 84% according to digital agency RadiumOne’s Dark Social Report. For further inspiration on how to use messaging in your marketing endeavours, check out eConsultancy’s article: How brands are using WhatsApp for marketing.
3. Using AI to Manage PPC Campaigns
Yes, you read that right. No more throwing paid ads at the wall to see which ones stick! There are now AI-driven solutions like Frank and Aquisio that are designed to automatically optimise your PPC campaigns for best performance. At the moment they’re a bit on the pricey side for smaller businesses but it’s likely that prices will reduce as AI adoption becomes more mainstream.
4. Lights, Camera Action! The Growth of Video Marketing
We’re very visual beings. In fact, 59% of executives stated that if both text and video were available on the same topic, they’d be more likely to watch the video (Source: WordStream). Creating video content for your small business may sound daunting – not to mention expensive – but it really needn’t be. Simple talking head videos can be shot using little more than a modern smartphone and basic editing software.
If you’re hoping to try pre-recorded video, check out our recent guide, How to Create Professional Video on a Budget. If broadcasting live over social media sounds more up your street, then take a look at The Benefits of Social Live Streaming for Small Business.
5. Marketers Harnessing Augmented Reality
Augmented reality has been a hot topic in tech for a while now. If you’ve played Pokemon Go or fooled about with Snapchat filters, you’re already aware of how technology can read real-life data and “augment” it in a certain way.
Augmented reality currently enjoys a decent amount of “novelty factor” and marketers (chiefly those with large budgets at their disposal) are already getting in on the action. IKEA is a well known early adopter, incorporating augmented reality apps into their marketing strategy since 2013! Through their IKEA Place app, you can see how their products will look in your home before you buy. Companies like ModiFace and Zumoko are also worth a look to see what’s possible in other industries.
Augmented reality may be prohibitively expensive for many smaller businesses at the moment, but it’s likely to become more accessible as time rolls on. Food for thought for product-driven businesses!
6. Facebook’s Ever-Tarnishing Crown
Ah, Facebook. Once the darling of social media circles, now weathered by scandals like the “political echo chamber” effect and Cambridge Analytica. Both their user engagement figures and web traffic are showing a marked downward trend. How the great have fallen.
It appears that teens and young adults are leaving Facebook in droves in favour of other platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. So if you’re trying to engage with a younger audience Facebook might not be the safe all-rounder it once was.
7. The Explosion of Instagram
Instagram’s user base is currently increasing exponentially, achieving 1 billion users in the summer of last year. It’s also becoming a social media staple in business circles too, with 63% of Fortune 100 companies actively using Instagram as of October 2018. All-in-all, Instagram is an easily accessible, user-friendly place that generally seems to sidestep some of the politics and negativity associated with Twitter and Facebook. Instagram has 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook too! (Source: SelfStartr)
So if you’ve been putting off joining Instagram, there’s no time like the present to get in on the action.
8. Voice-Operated Assistants Will Change SEO
More and more people are welcoming voice operated assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo into their homes. You may have even had one from Santa recently! But when we ask a voice-operated device a question, we naturally tend to state it as a full sentence rather than just barking keywords at it like a robot. It’s just what comes naturally to us.
And of course, because we’re searching differently, generally accepted SEO practices will have to follow suit. Instead of optimising for short 2- or 3-word keywords, we may see a shift towards optimising for more longer tail keywords – even full sentences or questions. But as always, pay attention to the search queries that visitors use to land on your site, note the popularity of related search terms, and optimise your site as appropriate.
9. Mobile-First Technologies AMP and PWA Become Mainstream
You may not have heard the terms AMP and PWA before but if you use your smartphone to browse the web, chances are you’ve used them without even knowing. They are two slightly different technologies that make mobile browsing fast and straightforward. You don’t have to use them in order to have a fully mobile-optimised site but their presence is likely to become more mainstream in the coming years. With 5G currently on-track for a full UK rollout by 2020, a website that is quick and responsive on mobile is more important than ever.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites that are built in such a way that they look and feel like an app. Twitter’s mobile site, The Financial Times’ mobile site, and Progressive Web Flap (a PWA version of the hit mobile game Flappy Bird) are all good examples of PWA in action.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google-backed open source project that’s all about simplifying pages to speed up load times on mobile devices. If your website struggles on mobile, it’s well worth looking into the possibilities of AMP and PWA.
10. Data Unification Becomes Essential
Data is constantly feeding into our businesses through multiple data channels – website usage analytics, email marketing reports, social media analytics, PPC success rates, CRM databases – businesses are well and truly swimming in marketing data! It’s understandably easy to become overwhelmed and fall into “analysis paralysis”.
Now more than ever, small businesses need to bring all of their data sources together to form a cohesive, meaningful picture. Being able to take a top-down look at your whole business and extract insightful conclusions can help make your business more agile and competitive. Therefore, unifying your marketing data into one place (possibly through DMPs – Data Management Platforms) may well become a priority in 2019.How is tech going to change the #smallbusiness #marketing landscape in 2019? Click To Tweet
Have you been inspired by any of the tech trends on this list? What techy plans do you have for 2019? Please share down in the comments!