2018 is almost half over and we are almost 9/10th of the way to the second decade of the 21st century. So it’s time to look at what is shaping the future as it relates to digital marketing. Where is 2020 going to take us? What current trends and fads will sustain or become commonplace in the next decade?
Here are five things that are hot now, are heating up or will catch fire as we “auld lang syne” our first decade.
- Artificial Intelligence Will Become Commonplace
57% of today’s marketers already use AI. Technological advances in the field of machine-learning are announced every day, and soon artificial intelligence will play a greater and more significant role in Marketing than humans. Chatbots are already creating content, they are calling you regularly now with marketing offers, and machine-learned pay-per-click advertising will be more accurate and faster than any mere mortal can produce. AI can offer personalized website experiences based on a visitors profile, provide push notifications, and predict churn, offering the best possible and most customized online user experience. An artificial brain can look at customer insights to determine behavioral patterns and image recognition, (actual recognition), not reading an image tag, but knowing a dog is a dog and not a cat, will become one of the new ways marketers can leverage AI. Projections are that AI will grow by another 53% by 2021, beginning in 2018. So like it or not … conversing with computers is here to stay.
- Social Video Marketing, Hot Now, and No Signs of Cooling
At ChartLocal, we’ve been talking about this for years. Video is the hot spot in Content Marketing. Even in this last year, it has had a tremendous uptick. The social media cabal of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and even old LinkedIn (did you know LinkedIn is two years older than Facebook?) have been investing in and improving their video capabilities for a while now. Reason being, video offers higher engagement, better customer retention and leaves little to the imagination in the mind of a viewer. Social Video (and AI) can also identify influencers, which in turn, will help marketers with formulating influencer marketing strategies, that will also become a hot spot in the next decade.
- VR or AR Sales Marketing Warming up, But Still a Fad
If you have ever experienced Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality by strapping on a headset, you know what we’re talking about here. But the next level is marketing via VR. The fad is catching on quickly and will soon be a really hot trend. Augmentation can boost the effectiveness of a sales presentation because it offers a three-dimensional view of a product. Customers can not only see the car, boat or tea set in front of them, they can also walk around them and look over and under. Sales will close faster, and AI will learn from customer behaviors, and reviews, or “social proofing” will happen in real time. Social proofing is just a 21st-century term for customer reviews. But when customers collectively and socially review a product or service in real time, other potential customers, clients or patients get the kind of assurance that is predetermined by the pattern of reviews from other users (positive or negative) and then act accordingly. In the coming years, social proofing will continue to develop, enhanced of course by our friend AI, making your customers feel more comfortable in choosing you, your product, your service … (or not).
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Evolves
SEM or Search Engine Marketing is going hyper-accurate in the next decade. The only thing that is a constant in the SEM industry is change. If a company or business wants to maximize growth (and profit) today, managing that change is essential. Voice Search has gained momentum exponentially in the last couple of years thanks to smartphones actually being … smart. The introduction of Siri, Google Home, and Amazon echo has us yelling across the room to download a movie, settle an argument or order a pizza. Search Engines have already been using AI to make our searches more personalized, yielding more customer-centric content for our queries and that is only going to get more refined. Location-based Marketing or GeoTargeting as it is now called can serve up our search results based on where we are physically when we search. This means that local ads can be displayed only to people in proximity to the business, or in a specified geographic area. Beacon advertising is another way to deliver location-based information and services to mobile devices using Bluetooth’s low-energy (BLE) wireless technology and a device attached to the wall of your business. SEM will continue to evolve, morph and adapt to need and opportunity in the next decade, as it has in this one.
- Customer Experience Marketing (CEM)
Marketers are working tirelessly to build better customer experiences, on every channel. Customer-Centric Marketing will be the key to successful client acquisition in the next five years. It is all about the experience, not the conversion. Sales managers today lean on conversion numbers as the touchstone to success, but the mindset will need to shift from conversion, to experience. As an aside, a positive experience WILL lead to conversion, but the path will be different and we need to embrace it.
Chloe Thomas, Founder of eCommerce Master Plan, says, “The biggest challenge will be shifting your team’s point of view from conversion to experience.” Think of it this way. Customers can develop an opinion or perception of your business, based on the total sum of experiences they’ve had with you so far. A recent customer experience survey revealed that 68% of marketers said that their business is increasingly focused on customer experience in marketing.
So, there you go, digital marketing as we see it from ground zero. We’re in the trenches and this is how it looks from here. You can ignore it, or grab the bull by the horns and start doing business like it’s 2020 … not 1999.
Director, The Ad Buyer