We’re aware that after a tricky year, it’s still an uncertain business environment with Brexit up in the air and many businesses unsure how to plan ahead. In addition, technology makes leaps and bounds so rapidly that it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the trends that have been growing over 2018 and look set to remain important for the coming year, regardless of what happens in the wider world.
Voice-Enabled Search Optimisation
About a billion voice-enabled searches are performed on Google every day, by people using virtual assistants such as Siri, Google and Cortana or via their mobiles or static devices such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Echo. Voice-enabled searches will work differently to text-enabled ones. They return fewer results for a start, and consume website meta-data differently. So business will need to think differently about how they write their website’s meta-descriptions to work alongside Voice Enabled Search.
In addition, you might want to think about creating a more natural style in the copy to reflect that searches are carried out by someone speaking to a device, which may be different from what they’d type into a search engine.
Industry 4.0 technologies
Industry 4.0 technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) aren’t just for companies at the cutting edge of technology. There are some tools which can benefit any business, regardless of whether you’re making the latest app set to revolutionise all our lives or a local baker offering quirky personalised wedding cakes. Big data has been, well, big for some time in marketing. Now that marketers have grasped the scope of information available, we expect the next trend is that the analysis will be refined into something more sophisticated. AI isn’t just something out of a sci-fi movie. Many companies use AI to drive intelligent chat-bots on their site and through social channels to direct customers to where they need to be, qualify leads and book meetings and demos.
We don’t think there will ever be a replacement for real human interaction, but this technology can help you concentrate on your warmest leads, and keep in touch with some of the others, and can work not only on your website but also across social channels like Facebook messenger.
Closely linked to this trend of AI-driven chat, known as conversational marketing, is an increasing amount of personalisation. There are cases where the personalisation of services has itself become a selling proposition.
An example is the rise of personal stylist services such as Thread. Thread is an increasingly popular digital fashionwear service, designed to help busy people dress well without having to spend hours trawling shops. Sign up to Thread and you’ll be allocated a stylist. Using an online interface, you show your stylist what sort of clothing and outfits you like. They use this to offer weekly outfit ideas, which you can rate, allowing the stylist, over time, to refine their suggestions so they become more and more tailored (pun intended) for you. Thread has only nine stylists (at the time of writing), with each offering “personal” suggestions to tens of thousands of customers per week. The stylist creates the ideas, the AI does the personalisation.
The same technique could be applied to your marketing strategy, using relevant data points from market analysis and customer feedback.
Content, content, content
Something that all these trends, and many other growing marketing channels including social media and video, demonstrate is the importance of good content. From the right wording on an advert to draw people to your site to the right tone to represent your brand across voice and text search, blogs, videos and even AI-driven chats, words matter more than ever. The importance of content also highlights the value of great design – there’s no point having the best blog in the world if no one can find it, or the best tagline for an ad this side of Mad Men unless people can read it and understand what it’s for.
We’re excited about the new trends because they all seem to be about crafting a great brand story and sharing it with the world. That’s what we love, and after what we hope is a restful Christmas for you and yours, we can’t wait to get started on some exciting new marketing plans which not only embrace these trends, but maybe even start some new ones.