How emerging technologies will affect your business in 2018
Contributor Tom Kuhr takes a look at how voice search, artificial intelligence and augmented reality are changing the marketing game.
Remember just a decade ago when buzzwords like “mobile,” “social” and “the cloud” were still fairly new and exciting?
These innovations forced businesses to re-evaluate their priorities and rethink how to use technology to engage their audiences. Now, technology develops faster than business can implement it.
This rapid pace of innovation begs the question: What’s next?
In 2018, a few major trends are expected to reach their peak. Voice search is changing the way people find information online, with Siri and Alexa now able to understand conversational search patterns.
Artificial intelligence enables the transition from basic marketing to helpful information, anticipating user needs and offering recommendations on their behalf. And augmented reality now invites full brand immersion with interactive imagery and live content.
The most successful marketers will take advantage of these trends while they’re still in their infancy. Time and time again, those companies that are ahead of the curve come out on top.
The future of SEO is voice-activated
It’s no longer good enough to optimize SEO for websites and apps alone.
Along with personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, voice search is fundamentally changing the way people search for — and receive — information. Gone are the days when you had to translate a search string into something that a search engine could understand. Today, that transition no longer exists.
What’s more, almost a quarter of all voice searches are for local information. Voice-optimizing your business’s online assets, including websites, social media profiles and review pages, means making these relevant to a local audience. Strong voice-oriented SEO will increase the likelihood that your business ranks as the standout voice search result.
Here are a few ways to reinvent your SEO strategies for this conversational medium:
- Complete your Google My Business listing. Since so many voice searches are local, this should be your first step to increase the chances of showing up in a local voice search query. Location info beyond just name, address and phone number will enable Google to crawl all the attributes that make your business unique.
- Stay on top of reviews. Higher-ranking stores will show up in search results before those at the lower ranks. If your business is in a highly saturated environment (think sushi in LA), you need to be at a four-star or higher to have a chance at showing up in voice search.
- FAQs are your friend. An excellent way to incorporate conversational-style keywords is to list these as frequently asked questions on the website for each location. Quick, succinct answers to these types of questions will be more likely to show up in voice search results.
Without a keyboard, computers can be of any size and exist anywhere, so computer-based interaction can happen any time, anywhere. Voice search means we’ve gone from communicating sometimes to communicating all the time, in our natural language. Make sure your business is worth talking about.
Artificial intelligence will make marketers of the masses
Artificial intelligence, together with voice search, is a huge untapped marketing opportunity.
More than three-quarters of marketers in a survey identified AI as “the next big thing.” Indeed, a better understanding of customer intent, patterns and preferences is key to delivering superior digital experiences.
AI and its partner, machine learning, can help marketers identify applicable and useful patterns that humans alone would never have enough time to find.
Artificial intelligence has become commonplace in society, but not as a marketing medium. Nevertheless, there are clear and far-reaching implications for marketing with AI.
Imagine the user journey: When a user asks Siri if it’s raining out, she’ll provide advice on the conditions and what steps you should take (like bring an umbrella, perhaps). This event, the query, can trigger an advertisement for a specific product relative to the situation.
Take advantage of AI for marketing with these tips:
- Hack social media engagement. Artificial intelligence applications can parse all the data you have collected about your audience so you don’t have to. These AI technologies can tell you the most relevant information about your customers so that you can create meaningful engagement.
- Marketing automation. AI can take the guesswork out of how to market to your audience. With AI, your marketing efforts, from personalization to segmentation, can be put on autopilot.
- Campaign management. AI understands the similarities between demographics, campaigns and calls to action. This technology knows what could be successful in another one of your locations and will suggest you use similar, previously successful strategies.
With AI’s knowledge of the outside world mixed with digital marketing performance, marketing will be down to a science. As a result, anyone with a computer and access to this technology will be able to become a powerful marketer.
Augmented reality to enhance the real world
Marketers are no longer limited by the physical world to promote their brand.
Augmented reality is set to become a key component of marketing and consumer experiences. Seen as a highly innovative way to engage customers, the augmented reality market is expected to transform marketing within three to five years. The magic of AR is that anyone with a smartphone or tablet has access to this integration of the real and digital worlds.
Marketing with AR is being explored today by Facebook, Snapchat, Google and more. New smartphones offer the capability to enjoy augmented reality experiences anywhere, any time. This technology, paired with AR tools for developers, means AR will eventually hit mass adoption.
Here’s how to take advantage of augmented reality in marketing:
- Tell a story. The immersive nature of AR means it’s an excellent medium to tell stories that bring customers deeper into your content and experiences. Using AR to connect to your brand story can create strong affinity and real engagement.
- Take shopping to a new level. AR has particularly exciting applications in the retail industry. Virtual tours, virtual dressing rooms and proximity-targeted coupons (push notifications when customers pass by a product that could be of interest) bring in-store shopping into the 21st century.
- Social media, virtually. Augmented reality also has permeated the world of social media. The addition of branded filters, animations and interactions with everyday objects can drastically improve brand experiences and loyalty.
Augmented reality means what you can tell consumers is unlimited. Marketers can now use the physical world to stimulate and expand customer understanding of your brand and what you offer.
As Robert Blatt, my company’s CEO, noted, “AR is taking your locations and enriching them. This creates a feeling of closeness with the locations of the companies that we buy from, to build a more personal relationship.”
Tech trends turn convenience into immersion
Voice search means keywords are turning into conversations. Artificial intelligence makes sense of customer intent. Augmented reality moves closer to complete immersion.
When you add up these three technologies, it’s no longer marketing; it’s helpful information in the form of an immersive conversation.
Technology innovations mean generic, one-size-fits-all marketing will transform into highly stimulating, personalized messaging. Take advantage of these trends, and you’ll be one step closer to perfecting the customer experience.