Since the term was first coined in the 1990s, ‘digital marketing’ has always been a dynamic, fast-moving field, constantly reinventing itself to keep up with the latest in trends, technology and legislation. What works well one year is outdated the next, making it key for marketeers to keep on top of developments, understand their impact, and adapt, scrap or create new strategies and action plans. With the pace of change faster than ever, we look at five disruptive digital marketing technologies to watch out for.
1. Big data and big data analytics
Companies have always collected data to try to understand how their business is performing and how to improve it.
But the sheer volume of data collected today is so mind-boggling – website traffic, social media stats, email open rates, social media activity, loyalty card data, client data, client behaviour, transaction data, the list goes on – that without a strategy in place, companies can easily be overwhelmed and miss out on opportunities to turn that data into intelligence that can drive their decisions.
This is where ‘big data’ comes in. Big data can be defined as extremely large datasets that can be analysed to reveal patterns, trends and associations.
Here are two of the many ways that big data can contribute to your marketing strategies:
- Customer data gives you a 360° view of your customer: In business, knowing your customer is everything. Big data analytics can help you get to know and understand your customers at a much more granular level, especially in terms of how they behave, so you can really drive customer engagement.
- Financial data helps you measure performance and improve efficiency: If your digital marketing strategy is not bringing bottom line results, then it needs to be revised. By analysing all your sales and marketing statistics, and calculating indicators like Cost per Lead, Customer Acquisition Cost etc, you’ll understand better what’s working and what isn’t.
2. Speech technology
First introduced by Google in 2011 as more a novelty than a real feature, the company reports that 27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile devices. 40% of adults use voice search at least once a day, and with projections that there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, this is a technology that cannot be ignored.
But what does this mean for marketeers? Here are three ways you optimise your content for both voice and text search?
- Use more conversational language: With users expressing themselves differently in speech and in writing, create content that is more conversational in tone, and optimise for long-tail conversational keywords. For example, rather than looking for ‘removal company’ a user might ask ‘where can I find someone to help me move house?’.
- Include short, concise answers to questions: A 2018 study showed that the average length of answers to Google voice search queries was 29 words. So as well as making your content more readable on a screen, keeping sentence length to under 30 words is also going to help your content rank better.
- Optimise your content for Google’s Featured Snippets: Google voice search often pulls the information from the ‘featured snippet’, i.e. the boxed information at the top of the results page.Because voice assistants only give one result when asked a question, achieving or missing this number one spot (or rather ‘position zero’) could make or break your online strategy.
3. Artificial intelligence
Another big disruptor on the digital marketing scene is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Companies like Google and Amazon have been harnessing the power of AI for years already, giving us the highly personalised experiences we’ve now come to take for granted.
But many companies are still struggling to keep up and use this technology to strengthen their strategies and improve customer experience.
Here are some of the ways that AI can take the legwork and guesswork out of your digital marketing strategy:
- Use AI for smart RFM segmentation: Organising your customers from least valuable to most valuable – by taking into account how recently they have purchased (Recency), how often they purchase (Frequency) and how much they spends (Monetary value) – is a highly useful exercise where AI can save you a lot of time, and provide even more accurate results.
- Create truly personalised messaging and incentives: Using AI, its possible to curate and send messages, and even incentives, that are targeted according to customers’ behaviour.For example, maybe data shows that some customers need an incentive like a discount before they convert, while others only need free delivery.
- Develop unified customer profiles: AI can take you from a fragmented view of individual contacts and customers to a unified view.This gives you a complete picture of how they interact with your business across multiple channels, such as your website, social media channels, and chat bots.
Put simply, a chatbot is a software programme that processes and simulates human conversation, and allows customers to interact with a digital device though they were interacting with a human.
Most chatbots used by companies are task-oriented and use rules and Natural Language Processing to understand user intent. They can provide basic answers to common questions, such as queries about opening hours or the status of a particular order.
Data-driven chatbots, on the other hand, are much more sophisticated and can apply predictive intelligence and analytics to deliver personalised responses based on user profiles and past behaviour.
The real advantage of chatbots is that they solve many of the challenges that businesses face in trying to provide the information, support and assistance that customers may need and expect around the clock.
For example, by using chatbots, companies can engage with unlimited numbers of customers in a personal way at any time of day or night, something that would be impossible to do with human resources. Some companies are even seamlessly blending chatbots and human-enabled chat, so customers may not even be able to tell if they’re interacting with a human or a machine.
Depending on the level of sophistication you need, installing a chatbot on your site needn’t be a huge investment, and with more companies opting to do this, it’s definitely worth investigating if it could help your business in the long run.
5. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
While both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) seek to offer powerful interactive experiences to users, how they go about it is very different. VR offers an immersive digital recreation of a real-life setting, for example, Volvo’s virtual test drives; whereas AR superimposes computer-generated elements on a users real view of the real world, for example, IKEA Place which lets you see how IKEA furniture will look in your home.
Although many large companies have embraced VR, its uptake is still relatively low – investment costs and lack of consumer buy-in are some of the barriers – and it’s not close to becoming a mainstream technology just yet.
AR on the other hand, is going full steam ahead, and is particularly popular because it typically uses the technology we all have in our pockets, our mobile phone. This means it offers a range of opportunities for businesses.
So how can you, as a marketeer, take advantage of this growing trend, and bring value or entertainment to your customers? As well as more obvious uses for AR like ‘try before you buy’ (e.g. for clothes, make-up, wall paint), using AR for video content can also be a great way to build buzz around your brand, like this example of Uber’s AR experience in Zurich train station.
With video content more popular than ever, and shared widely on social media, more and more companies are likely to incorporate AR to surprise and delight their audiences.
What do these developments mean for my business?
While game-changing technology can sometimes seem daunting, it’s worth exploring whether or not it makes sense to adapt your digital marketing strategy. Ask yourself what advantages could be gained if you do, or how your business could suffer if you don’t.
For other Digital marketing topics, take a look at our Digital Marketing Guide.