A new year brings new expectations. Here, we look at what we can expect from marketing trends for the new year.
Artificial Intelligence & Chat
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has progressed from a buzzword and a concept of the future to a reality in the present. AI is now here, and it is not going anywhere.
In 2018, AI will continue to expand its usefulness, becoming a factor in more daily tasks. In the marketing world, AI — which is already making a difference in analytics and finding the right customers — will continue to personalize how businesses communicate with customers. AI will continue to break down large datasets of user information and customize things like images, taglines and colors to specific people — a task that would be too time-consuming for any one team to do. Personalized, AI-driven website messaging will also customize each person’s experience on a business website.
Using a messaging platform on the site, AI can take basic customer questions and guide visitors to exactly what they’re looking for. Back in November 2017, Facebook launched a beta of its Customer Chat plugin, allowing people to chat directly with a business via Facebook Messenger while on the business’s website. This change gives businesses the opportunity to continue conversations with customers, and potential customers, right in the Messenger app even after the customers have left their websites.
Apple has also thrown its hat into this ring with Business Chat. This platform will leverage the rest of the Apple ecosystem (Siri, Safari, Maps, Apple Pay, etc.) to make the experience of chatting with a business feel more like texting with a friend. Going forward, it is expected that AI will improve such interactions to get the right information to the right customers at the right time.
AI inevitably leads to personalization. Think of services like Netflix and Amazon that not only thrive, but also base their business on personalizing their services. AI and machine learning will let this kind of personalization trickle down to smaller businesses. Most companies already possess a great deal of data such as audience segments, behavioral data and channel performance. AI can turn this information into useful metrics and provide each customer with better content and messaging points.
New iPhones introduced last year have opened the possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) to the general public. Retail brands can already let their customers see what their products will look like in their homes or on their person before purchasing, and sports franchises are bringing stats and other data to the field or court where the game is being played live.
One interesting trend is that Virtual Reality (VR) may be on the decline in the coming years. AR has much higher growth potential than VR because AR does not require any additional hardware beyond a smartphone. Additionally, the cost to develop AR content is less prohibitive than creating 360° virtual worlds.
With three major companies—Google, Amazon and Apple— having launched or preparing to launch a smart home speaker, voice User Interface (UI) in consumer tech will grow exponentially, this year especially. Companies should be prepared to be just as reachable and searchable on voice-only platforms as they currently are on web and graphic UI platforms. While Amazon currently denies that it intends to bring ads to its Alexa-enabled smart speakers, it would not be surprising if and when ads start to appear on such platforms. But aside from advertising, companies should anticipate and ask what customers will want to ask them.
How can your company anticipate and answer specific questions from customers right in their homes?
More of the Same
Also expected this year is that more of the same strategies that have grown over the last few years will continue to work and grow. Niche influencer marketing is still gaining traction, partly via a continued rise in cord-cutting. Brand blogs will also continue to grow in reach and engagement. Companies that are changing their tone and content from business-related updates to consumer-facing messages and more in-depth content are seeing rising traffic and engagement. Also, expect to see live content gain more interaction this year. There are no signs of live video slowing down in use or engagement.
We hope these new trends are as exciting for you as they are for us. If you have any questions about using these or any other modern marketing strategies for your business, feel free to get in touch!