Artificial intelligence has already made a huge difference in how brands interact with consumers and how marketing strategies are managed. In such a rapidly changing environment, it’s difficult to predict what the future holds, but there are certainly some clues to what we might expect in the coming year.
As we near the end of the year and look forward into 2021, here are some of the biggest AI-related digital marketing trends taking place.
- While AI is everywhere in email marketing, more companies will adopt chatbots for customer interaction.
- Businesses will need to enhance their SEO and content marketing strategies to account for voice search.
- Big data helps in better personalization of marketing messages.
- Retail brands are using AR and VR with great effect, especially in apps.
Chatbots Have Become Standard
We’ve already seen how chatbots can have all sorts of applications from dealing with basic customer service inquiries, to driving sales.
Consumers have already become used to chatbots and feel comfortable talking to them, thanks to the growing popularity of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa.
What’s more, chatbots are now becoming so sophisticated that they can be difficult to distinguish from a real human. In fact, two-thirds of customers don’t know that they’re already interacting with AI tools.
Chatbots are becoming so sophisticated in fact that they may need reigning in a little – Facebook was forced to abandon an experimental chatbot project last year after the bots created their own language.
Many different companies are putting time and resources into developing chatbot technology at the moment and so we’ll continue to see advances into 2021 and beyond. It won’t be long before chatbots are standard and expected on every website and app. Companies who aren’t using them yet should take note so they don’t fall behind.
Voice Search is on the Rise After All
Another spin-off effect of the increase in the use of AI-powered virtual assistants is the growing proportion of searches that are spoken instead of typed.
As the world is moving to mobile, it makes sense that they’re also switching to a hands-free way of data input while on the move.
Almost 60% of consumers have used voice search to find business information in the last year and almost half of those use voice search daily to find local businesses. It’s also predicted that half of all searches will be voice-based by 2021 (remember that’s only a little over a year away!)
The growth in voice search is partly due to the huge advances that have been made in understanding human speech with machine learning algorithms. Anyone who used Dragon NaturallySpeaking or another speech to text conversion program in the ‘90s will know that it was far from perfect!
Technology has now advanced to the point where Google’s algorithms can understand human speech with 95% accuracy – that’s the same level as an actual human.
As technology is improving, humans are also getting more comfortable about using voice commands. In today and tomorrow’s world where everyone is a vlogger and the selfie is king, seeing people talking to themselves is no longer a weird occurrence.
This trend will force businesses to adjust their SEO and content marketing strategy so that it aligns better with voice search. If you’ve not started thinking about this yet, now is the time.
More Data and Advanced Data Processing
We’re already in the era of Big Data, but it’s going to get really big. The amount of data we’re collecting is increasing at an exponential rate, and this just keeps growing as the Internet of Things means more devices are plugged into the internet every single day.
While we’re getting better about collecting data, we’re still not doing a lot with this data but this will start to change in 2021 and beyond.
As humans are unable to process massive amounts of data quickly, machine learning algorithms really come into their own here. AI technology is now starting to catch up with the volume of data produced, so we can start to make more use of the data we collect.
One of the most obvious uses of this data will be in the hyper-personalization of marketing messages. Marketing personalization has already come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, but we’re still relying on consumers to volunteer most of the data that makes that possible.
We’re now seeing more of a shift towards data collection in the background, and this will continue into 2021 as we also navigate the privacy and legal issues that come with it.
Social media continues to be an important part of data collection and has become even more vital to marketers in 2021 as emerging technologies such as face recognition and advanced customer targeting become more advanced.
More Augmented and Virtual Reality Applications
AR and VR have been around for a while but they’re still seen as somewhat of a novelty. While augmented reality is now commonplace in games like Pokémon Go, and virtual reality gaming headsets have been a popular Christmas gift for a few years now, these technologies are still rare in practical applications rather than for entertainment purposes.
This will all change in the coming year as more companies start to embrace AR and VR and realize how it can become a powerful part of their marketing strategy.
There are a few companies that are already using VR and AR to great success. Ikea’s Place app allows you to try furniture in your own home before you buy – a great example of how AR can be useful as well as fun.
Several fashion brands are also jumping on the augmented reality bandwagon, creating apps that allow their customers to virtually try on different outfit combinations in the comfort of their own homes.
Expect to see more companies using the power of AR and VR to enhance customer experiences in 2021.
To Infinity and Beyond!
That’s just a taster of what the next 12 months have to offer, and if one thing’s for sure it’s that there are definitely exciting times ahead.
In this fast-paced industry, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse and stay up to date with the latest trends. When it comes to digital marketing, those who embrace new technologies and spot opportunities at the start tend to be the ones who reap the biggest benefits later.
So make sure you keep reading in the coming year as we deliver more insights into the brave new world of online marketing.