You don’t need to read a blog post to know that technology is changing the world — we’re all living the experience. I see it every day through the eyes of my children who are growing up in a world that is entirely different from the one I knew when I was a kid. Yes, it does make me feel old to say things to my little ones like, “When I was your age, we didn’t have the internet,” (for real, I have said this!) but it’s true. My daughter is ready to have her own YouTube channel and post photos on Instagram (she’s 8), and my son can’t live without his favorite app on his tablet (he’s 3). Not to mention that when his grandmother calls him on our landline he can’t understand why he can’t see her …
What’s interesting about technology is that it’s never ending. When I started working at MediaDev 11 years ago, we were just starting to talk about SaaS and the cloud … now it’s blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented reality … and in 10 years, it’ll be something else that today we can’t even begin to imagine. Of course, this is the type of thing that science fiction movies and novels thrive on, but the reality is that the world around us is accelerating and the technology we use will continue to change our lives in ways that are yet to be known.
In the marketing realm, I’ve been witness to a huge shift in tactics and methodology since I began my career in the late 90s. In fact, I’ve even recently heard (young) people employ the term “legacy marketing” when referring to traditionally used methods such as direct mailers, press releases and even telemarketing. (I don’t consider myself to be that old, so being called a “legacy” marketer is a new one for me!) In any case, the invention and widespread global adoption of social media platforms is of course the tip of the iceberg, but the underlying technology behind automated marketing platforms, CRM systems, SEO, SEA, business intelligence analytics etc are what’s invisible (to the end-customer) under the surface. Of course, today’s inbound marketing strategies help track prospects, optimize the buyer journey and measure performance like never before; so where will marketing be 10 years from now? What’s on the horizon down the road?
I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball or to have the ability to see directly into the future. However, I have been privy to some pretty cool new technology and I know that the applications they will have on marketing are sure to come in time (and probably sooner than we think).
Here are some things you should get ready for in 2018:
Watch out for ARvertising
Using augmented reality in advertising (or ARvertising) is just starting to appear, but this is a booming future industry that’s just waiting to explode. In fact, the concept is so new even Wikipedia doesn’t have a definition for it yet! AR is developed into apps to blend digital components (images, graphics and animation) to create a new layer of interaction in an effort to enhance real-world experiences (think Pokemon GO and you’ll understand what I mean).
Applications for AR in marketing will certainly help evolve the buyer journey by encouraging prospects to interact even more closely with brands than what than they do now. I saw a pretty cool application of this for the wine industry the other day: the wine label served as the support, and the mobile app on the user’s smartphone transmitted an interactive AR explanation of the history of the wine’s production as it moved from one bottle to the next. This technology can be used to create 3D websites, rejuvenate print ads (magazine or newspaper) or bring direct mailers into the 21st century (to name a few).
AR remote assistance
AR remote assistance is going to be used more and more to help improve customer service (which is always one of the best ways to ensure recurring business). As Hagai Shaham writes in his article Augmented Reality is Redefining Remote Technical Support:
“Augmented reality is a perfect tool to create product manuals and guide consumers through technical support situations. It can easily and clearly show consumers, on top of their reality, the actions and adjustments they need to make to get to the desired setup and outcome. Without having to send a technician to the customer, an agent sitting anywhere in the world can virtually be in a customer’s home in an instant. By utilizing the customer’s phone camera, the agent can see in real-time what the customer is talking about. The support agent can come up with a sequence of actions to resolve the issue and guide the customer, utilizing AR to clearly show the steps needed to be executed in the customer’s reality.”
It’s possible that AR remote assistance could also be used for pre-sales purposes or in the marketing space, especially for software vendors. It will take an inbound help-desk to a whole new level.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already starting to revolutionize many of the software programs we use as marketers. In the past few years, AI has paved its way into marketing, providing robust analytics tools as a way to improve conversion rates for small and large businesses alike.
Customers demand value and AI is one of the new ways to deliver it. AI can be used to automate a huge part of content personalization for customers; it can automatically generate email content, personalized reports or messages, or curate content for social media. In fact, AI-powered content creation holds tremendous potential — Gartner even predicts that by next year, 20% of all business content will be authored by machines! In addition to that, AI will help your blog visitors see the most relevant content for them, and can tailor offers based on their location, demographics or browsing history.
Advances in technology are meant to make people’s lives easier and better. Applying them to the marketing space is a given and marketers will continually need to adapt in order to keep up. This is especially true when you’re running marketing initiatives with those same IT/tech players themselves! My advice is not to be afraid of it (even though some of the implications may send chills down your spine) — but to find ways to apply it to your own business to help it grow.