There was a day when you could easily brush off technology like artificial intelligence as a futuristic technology. After all, your store doesn’t need an R2-D2 rolling around, right? Technology, like artificial technology, is here, and it is here to stay. The following 10 technology trends can no longer be ignored as part of your small business’s digital marketing strategy. Not only do they drive a wealth of digital leads and drive your bottom line, but they are also all measurable, giving you incredible insight into your customer base.
1. Personalization through Email Marketing Automation
Any marketer or business owner knows that email marketing is a major, essential piece of your digital marketing strategy. What’s changed is that personalization in email marketing has become the key to keeping customers engaged and/or continuing to make purchases. Marketing automation technology allows your business to email customers different emails that will appeal to them based on past email opens, purchases, or click-throughs.
Current data shows that 90% of marketers say the future of email marketing is personalization, 74% of consumers feel frustrated when they receive emails with irrelevant content, and 48% of consumers statistically spend more when their email experience with a brand is personalized. Don’t be afraid to get personal with your customers!
2. Omni-channel Marketing
In 2018 and the first half of 2019, multi-channel marketing technology was all the rage. Today, invest only in technology platforms that give your brand the power of omnichannel marketing. This is the process of seamlessly connecting all marketing channels available to your consumers to ensure they can experience consistent communication across every channel. Research shows that companies actively using omnichannel marketing consistently retain 89% of their customer base compared to a 33% retention rate for businesses without omnichannel customer engagement.
Here’s a strong example of the technology you need to have in place to provide your consumers with an omnichannel marketing experience:
A prospective customer engages with your brand through an ad or piece of content they saw on a social media channel. Then, they see similar content from your brand being ranked high on search results from your SEO strategy. Eventually, that person becomes a lead when they subscribe to receive your email. As they are now an email lead, they continue to see similar ads marketed through their social channels as well as similar native ads show up as they browse various sites online. Eventually, they click through on one of your emails and make a purchase, becoming an established customer. Technology to execute omnichannel marketing and actively track customer engagement points can’t be overlooked by businesses in 2021.
3. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants are Becoming Expected by Customers
Let’s be serious; when we want something in today’s digital world, we want it now. While just a year ago, chatbots were an unexpected surprise for site visitors that were visiting a website, it has grown to a level that is becoming expected. Utilizing chatbot technology to chat with prospective consumers and answer their questions immediately will take your conversions and sales to incredible heights.
63% of people say that they prefer messaging with a chatbot than making an effort to communicate with a business through phone or email. Additionally, surveys found the top benefits consumers saw from chatbots were (in order): 24-hour service, getting an instant response to inquiries, and getting answers to simple questions. Don’t get left behind by not investing in chatbot technology on your website.
4. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
It’s no secret that search engines drive massive amounts of (free) traffic to your website, and around 60% of that traffic now comes from mobile devices. There is a direct correlation between page load time and bounce rate. The slower the page loads, the higher the bounce rate climbs, potentially causing lower search rankings from Google.
With that proven statistic, businesses can’t ignore the need for accelerated mobile page (AMP) technology, pages that load in under 0.5 seconds. Small to mid-size businesses can get left behind if they aren’t utilizing AMP. So it’s time your business feels the need, the need for speed!
5. Video Marketing
Video marketing is literally the most trending type of marketing today, and it likely will only continue to grow over the next 5+ years. While video marketing is nothing new, businesses can expect to be left behind if they aren’t using video technology as part of their digital marketing strategy. Recent research found that:
- 70% of consumers have shared a branded video
- 72% of businesses say video marketing has improved conversion rate
- 52% of consumers say they are more confident in making a purchase from a brand after watching a video
Video is the medium of choice for businesses that want to distribute content that will have a high level of engagement and will get seen from start to finish. Optimized videos are also now shown directly in relevant searches, with Google now offering video snippet previews in its video carousel. Keep an eye on technology that offers 360-degree video as well.
6. Augmented Reality
How fast do you think your business’s sales rates would skyrocket if you could allow prospective customers to test out your product on their mobile device before ever having to make a purchase commitment? Augmented reality (AR) eliminates risk by allowing customers to add a product into a real setting to see how it will look. A few examples of companies that are using augmented reality and doing it right include:
- Garnier uses AR to allow mobile visitors to use their picture and “test out” how various shades of hair color will look on them
- E.L.F. cosmetics uses AR to allow mobile visitors to use their picture to see how various lipstick shades will look on them
- IKEA uses its AR app to allow shoppers to see how a piece of furniture will look in the space they are considering putting it (racking up a whopping 8.5 million downloads, by the way)
If your company sells a physical product, take a good look at utilizing augmented reality technology to increase your bottom line by taking the risk out of making an online purchase.
7. Native Advertising
Seeing ads is just a part of daily life in the online world. However, everyone dislikes ads that feel like they are shoving a product down the user’s throat. Popup ads are the most dreaded among the bunch and can often frustrate the user and give them an actively-negative perspective of that brand that will stick with them. Native ads, on the other hand, are designed to be non-invasive and flow in a way that makes them look like they are simply part of the web page’s normal content, not look like ads. The most popular and successful use of native ads is on social media channels, where users are shown relevant ads in their news feeds that flow with these image-centric channels. These native ads are very successful because they are often retargeting ads, showing ads based on that user’s previously-visited websites or even a specific item they have previously looked at, or these ads are curated based on a personalized user profile.
8. Artificial Intelligence Technology May Take Over the World
Artificial intelligence. is trickling into a mass of marketing platforms and approaches. It offers the power of customer segmentation, click tracking, retargeting, customized push notifications, and so much more. Utilizing artificial intelligence can help your business deliver real-time, personalized ads and messaging.
When considering how your business’s social media budget and the age demographic you are trying to reach, you may need to look at reallocating the funds you are spending on Facebook marketing to different platforms. Sure, Facebook is still a huge platform, but 41% of its users are now over the age of 65. This fact, combined with Facebook’s notorious data breach, has created a direct correlation to the younger the age range, the less likely they are to even use Facebook.
10. Voice Search and Virtual Assistant Use Will Continue Rising, Rapidly
It is true that voice command technology actively leads to profits for businesses that utilize technology that makes it easy to show the exact information or product that a person has utilized a voice search to find. Voice commerce in 2017 contributed to $1.8 billion in U.S. sales and is projected to rise to $40 billion in sales by 2022. Consider how you can tailor your digital strategy to better meet voice search requests.
Staying on top of the latest technology can be a major factor in keeping your small to mid-size business ahead of the marketing curve and reaping the major profit benefits of being ahead of said curve. The 10 trends above are ones that can no longer be brushed off and can help your business thrive.