Here at Chalk + Ward, digital is an integral part of what we do and with its ever-changing landscape we are always looking to see what’s next on the horizon. Technology advanced at a rate of knots in 2018 and in 2019 it certainly shows no sign of slowing down. We’ve taken some time to help you get up to speed with what’s happening in the digital world, what’s new and what’s set to continue to grow and how this might be able to help your business.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is already set to be one of the key new digital trends of 2019. What was once thought of as a big brand tool is now within reach of medium sized businesses. There are numerous applications for AI, some of which include; content creation and curation, email marketing, digital advertising and user experience (UX). Although it is still early days and far from a human’s capabilities to assess and curate content, these forms of AI will in time dramatically cut down on production time and streamline operations. Econsultancy highlights some excellent real-world examples of AI being used right now. Leading sports brand Under Armour have teamed up with IMB’s Watson to create ‘Reason’, an app that takes data from multiple sources, (smart watches, third-party apps etc.) tracks your sleep, nutrition and workouts and creates plans and recommendations based on this information, databases and other people that have matching or similar profiles. Showing that AI is capable of processing massive quantities of data from multiple sources to make informed decisions of behalf of the customer. An exciting prospect for those companies looking to increase the efficiency of their service.
A more familiar function also coinciding with the AI evolution is chat bots. Chat bots have already impacted and will continue to influence the way in which users interact with brands. Enabling companies to move users more fluidly through the customer journey and personalise each individual’s customer experience. For example, Pizza Hut are using chat bots to help streamline their customers ordering process. Placing orders can now be achieved via Facebook Messenger or Twitter (linked to the customers Pizza Hut account) where the bot can recognise location, create suggested pizza ideas and encourage repeat customer orders. Ultimately this shows how chat bots can work to provide a more efficient service with an easy to use customer communication platform.
There’s no question that the popularity of voice search and smart speakers (such as the Amazon Echo) has skyrocketed over the past couple of years. According to ComScore, it’s estimated that over 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice in 2020. What started as a fun addition to smartphones has now presented a massive opportunity for highly targeted and tailored advertising. The specific and casual nature of voice search allows companies to pinpoint user intent far more accurately when compared to text search, as the way that a user will ask a question can be drastically different to how they would type it into a search engine. So, what does this look likely to impact? Well, for one, website copy and optimisation. Due to the more conversational nature of voice search, FAQ sections are the most obvious way to target voice search, enabling you to phrase questions in the Q&A manner of which a customer may ask them. It’s also worth remembering that as voice search is predominantly conducted on mobile, making sure your site is mobile friendly and provides the user with functional mobile-friendly content is key.
Visual search (Augmented Reality)
Back in 2014 Pinterest launched the concept of highlighting sections of a picture to find other similar pins. Fast forward to today, that same concept now enables you to photograph, search and buy exact matches and similar items to the one you’re looking for, as well as the popular ‘Shop the Look’ concept of highlighting and linking to specific items within a pin. It wasn’t long before search engines such as Google followed suit. With brands like IKEA bringing augmented reality ads into the limelight, (in case you missed the IKEA Place App) the popularity and accuracy of augmented reality advertising is only sure to grow.
Live video has noticeably grown in popularity across platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube…With the recording capabilities of smart phones evolving, creating quality video content is now easier and more accessible than ever. Research conducted by Wyzowl shows that 84% of consumers have bought something after watching a video and according to Vimeo, 80% of brand audiences would rather watch a live video than read a blog and 82% prefer live video to social posts. Not only does this impact social media content plans based on content types users engage with the most, but it helps to add another strand to your e-commerce capabilities. Hubspot is one company that has taken advantage of Facebook live streaming. Setting up notifications for their INBOUND Keynote live streams, they were able to generate interest and inform people well in advance of going live. The events generated thousands of views, with their latest live stream currently residing at around 36K views. Demonstrating how powerful a tool live streaming can be for companies looking to increase engagement levels, showcase products and promote their brand.
Businesses still need strong websites
Moving forward into 2019 it’s important to remember that even with all the technological advancements in the digital world, a strong online presence and a quality website experience is still a vital aspect of digital marketing. Studies conducted by Moz suggest that having a strong website may be the key factor that helps you rise above and maintain a strong organic SERP presence. Although the top Google local pack rankings have been reduced over the years, evidence suggests that if your website is ranking at number one organically, then you’re more likely to make it into that elusive top three. In short, your website and its credibility are the foundations to ranking and maintaining SERP visibility. Look closely and ensure your website is functional, relevant and contains the highest quality content. Consider the micro moments that make up the customers journey. From research to knowledge, assistance to purchasing. Deliver on their every need and you’ll have created a seamless customer experience from start to finish.
The key takeaway from our research is that technological advancement is not slowing down. Digital continues to grow, change and adapt as time goes on. And so will the way we advertise to and speak with potential customers. Without constant evaluation and consideration of new and emerging trends, companies are at risk of being left behind while their competitors embrace the technological shift in advertising.