Want to know what technology will help your business surf towards success in 2020? You need to make sure that you’re riding the wave of the future. Here’s our rundown of five digital trends which are already The Digital Dude and The Business Big Kahuna.

Digital trend #1: AI

We’ve written before about why AI is unlikely to take your job or, at least, the bits of the job that you actually enjoy. But, it is true that AI is already a core ingredient of many of the digital trends we’re discussing here. Therefore, AAI is only going to become more important as 2020 rolls on.

AI robots patrol campuses and car parks – delivering everything from books to pizzas (ideally not at the same time), while security robots produced by companies like Knightscope are trundling around in high-end casinos, shopping malls and office buildings, like something that has rolled off the set of a Star Wars film.

AI can process thousands of data points about consumers and analyse consumer behaviour in order to find patterns far more accurately and effectively than traditionally processes. Understanding customers’ behaviour helps companies order supplies and market their products and services more effectively, to generate more sales and help to eliminate waste.

AI is already helping with areas like online product recommendations, email personalisation and customer service chatbots.

Digital trend #2: Content Marketing

Have you met BERT? BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (of course it does) and it was rolled out by Google in November as part of their search engine update. He’s going to be a major player in SEO in 2020.

BERT is an AI, which helps Google better understand ‘natural language’, so that people can type full sentences into the search bar and the algorithm will now have a better understanding of that whole sentence, rather than just the keywords within it.

The practical upshot of this is that it won’t be as easy to climb the ranking by clever use of SEO, instead Google will be rewarding faster speeds, better outlinks and inlinks and, most importantly, well-written content.

This is Google’s response, in part, to content which is being written by AI bots specifically to climb the ranking. Customers are humans, so they want content that is created by and for humans. And, Google ranking isn’t the only reason why you’ll see a return to good, well-written content (not that it ever went away from our site).

Better content is necessary for companies to establish trust with their customers, and it’s an important part of retaining those customers for upsales and repeat sales. According to the Content Marketing Institute:

  • 88% of B2B content marketers agree that great content helps companies create trust
  • 81% of B2C content markets agree that great content builds loyalty in existing customers.

Digital trend #3: Chatbots

Chatbots will grow in importance in 2020, and become an ever-more valuable part of your company’s digital marketing. Chatbots are a good idea in an age when some people prefer shopping online to shopping on the high street, and some people prefer ordering their McDonalds from a screen, rather than talking to the staff over the counter. An entire generation of people have grown up interacting with the world through screens, and the world is adapting to accommodate that, to keep those people comfortable and involved.

If your customers prefer to ‘chat’ virtually, then you have to let that happen, or you’ll lose their custom, it’s as simple as that.

A human receptionist wouldn’t be able to help a customer with a problem, but could take a message or put a call through to the relevant department – well chatbots can do that more effectively, and more besides.

Chatbots allow your business to be open, available and responsive 24 hours a day. A good AI-based chatbot can answer simple questions, offer instant response to enquiries (even if that response is “we’ll get back to you after 9am”), they can access your buying history so can help with repeat business or problem solving and they can create significant savings since businesses don’t need to employ overnight staff to field these enquiries.

Digital trend #4: Personalised marketing

To stay relevant in 2020, you’re going to have to get personal(ised).

You know the way Coke went through a phase of producing bottles with people’s names on them? You looked for bottles with your name, or your kids’ names, didn’t you? That’s personalisation.

Similarly, when you shop online those ‘people also bought’ or ‘people also viewed’ notifications should – if the algorithm is working properly – be items which relate logically to the things you’ve already bought. That’s personalisation.

It’s more obvious, when it comes to communicating with your customers – because you want to refer to them by name, you want to know something about them, and their life, and their buying habits. It’s not only common courtesy, it’s good business. But, as more and more communications become automated, there is a danger that they become more and more generic.

Consumers are less passive than once they were, they won’t happily put up with adverts that aren’t relevant to them, especially since platforms like Facebook allow them to delete ads they don’t want to see.

Personalised marketing is the key to this. The more information you have about your customers and potential customers, the more accurately and effectively you can target your ads at them. Which means, you can get the best ROI on your ad spend. So, customers get ads that don’t annoy them and you get more sales. Win-win!

Digital trend #5: Video

Video killed the SEO star! Seriously, video is revolutionising the digital world and that is only going to grow and grow in 2020. We all have a video camera in our phone and that same device gives us the means to distribute our videos through YouTube or through our own website. Never before have the means of producing media – and of getting that media in front of people’s eyeballs – been more universally available.

Video Influencers are not only the new generation of celebrities, they are also pioneering the most powerful marketing tool presently available. Wyzowl asked consumers how they prefer to learn about products and services – and the results speak for themselves…

  • 79% of people have been persuaded to buy an app after seeing a video demonstration.
  • 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool (rising rapidly from 63% in 2017).
  • 80% of marketers say video has increased dwell time on their website.

How do you market to mobile devices? It’s a question that digital marketers and businesses have been struggling with or some years, because a fairly short piece of text looks a lot longer on a mobile screen, even when properly optimised. The solution: video!

Producing great video content still requires the same skills, you need to understand your customer’s wants and needs, you need to write great, accessible content but, instead of presenting it as a written piece, you present it as an animation or live-action video.

According to Omnicore – Video content is 50 times more likely to drive organic search results than plain text. Fifty times! Just think about that for a moment, then ask yourself why aren’t you creating great video content already?

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