With new and improved technology, the journey customers take to get to know and adopt products has changed drastically. With this change, marketing tools have evolved drastically, too. Now, we can use more data and information to gather insights about consumers than ever before. The following trends are examples of how marketers can keep more educated and sophisticated buyers engaged.
Trend 1: Personalization
When Optimizely personalized its homepage for individual visitors, it saw a 117 percent increase in new account signups. Coincidence? Hardly. Personalization has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and conversion rates. As customers become savvier, they expect brands to surface solutions to their changing needs as they move through the purchase funnel.
Sephora sends me email reminders to buy more mascara when it's about to run out—It’s a nice touch. Instead of making personalization a scary “Big Brother is watching you” experience, show customers that you’re using their information to add value to their lives. It requires striking a balance, and the companies that pull it off will win big.
Trend 2: AI and Chatbots
There’s big buzz surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), and it isn’t just hype. All the data available to marketers is useless without the power to process it. AI makes it possible to distill valuable insights from raw data quickly. This is important because the sooner you can get your customers to the results they desire, the happier they will be. Let these tools help with your personalization goals, and you'll see positive results.
Chatbots are a great example of AI in action. Chatbots can deliver both better and lower cost customer service by relying on software to address 80 percent of customer queries. Research from Gartner paints an incredible picture: In 2017, less than 2 percent of customer service teams used chatbots. By 2020, that number will rise to 25 percent.
Trend 3: Voice Search
Smart assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant are now being adopted at a pace faster than mobile devices took off. Soon, this technology will be incorporated into all kinds of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including smart TVs and even smart mirrors.
It's estimated that by 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be conducted via voice command. Marketers will need to make sure that their products can be discovered in this new conversational context. Optimize site speed, HTTPS, and mobile website experiences to take advantage of voice. Fewer results appear in voice searches, but the ones that do enjoy higher click-through rates. Cater to voice searches to make sure your brand is at the top of the list.
How to Stay Ahead of Marketing Trends
These are just three emerging trends out of many that will change the marketing landscape in the years ahead. To stay on top of these and other exciting new developments, take the following steps:
- Conduct market research year-round. Lots of business leaders obsessively research emerging trends—at the beginning of each year. Then, they spend the remaining 11 months falling behind and focusing on old ideas. Groundbreaking ideas happen year-round, so market research should follow suit and doesn’t have to be so resource heavy that it can only be done once a year.
- Research intriguing influencer ideas. Influencer marketing is still growing, and experts forecast the market will reach $10 billion by 2022. For marketing-specific material, I follow Neil Patel, Ann Handley, and Erika Heald on Twitter.
- Follow trustworthy podcasts and publications. Digital marketing trends come and go at lightning speed. Be prepared for the latest by keeping up with trustworthy podcasts and publications. "Marketing Over Coffee," "Perpetual Traffic," and "Marketing Agility Podcast" are some of my favorite options. If you’re short on time, try "Marketing School" for 10 minutes of actionable advice each day.
- Keep a close eye on the competition. One of the best ways to take your business to the next level is by beating direct competitors to a new marketing approach. Check out tools such as Buzzsumo to monitor what sort of content strategies your competitors are executing and what kind of results they’re getting.
As the customer journey has gotten more complicated, so, too, have marketing strategies. With more touch points than ever before, marketers have a myriad of options for how to reach and engage consumers. To best reach them, marketers will need to stay on top of the quickly moving trends. If you’d like help getting your website and customer journey up to these standards, please contact us. Our team of agile experts would love to help.
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