So many digital marketers focus on understanding every shiny new tool that pops up. And so many CMOs are scared to death of missing out on the next Facebook or Twitter. So every time a new social tool pops up, every marketer rushes there in a sort of cyber land-grab, which often ends up turning into a ghost-town within weeks.
This is why I always say don’t focus on understanding the tools, instead aim to understand how and why people are using the tools. Understanding customer behavior is far more important than understanding tools that may be totally irrelevant in a month. Here’s three emerging technologies that will impact your digital marketing strategies in 2017 and beyond.
WiGig – The next generation of Wifi, known as WiGig, promises to greatly widen the internet bandwidth available to devices that access its networks. Theoretically, speeds on WiGig networks could surpass current Wifi by up to 300%. Of course, there will be rollout issues as the market won’t begin to see a plethora of WiGig-capable devices until Summer or Fall of 2017. The good news is that gives you time to plan how this will impact your digital marketing strategy.
WiGig will impact the types of content that customers will consume on their devices. A bigger pipe opens the door to streaming content such as video and more live-streaming from apps such as Periscope. Also, keep in mind that the line between smartphones and tablets is blurring quickly. An iPhone 7 Plus has a viewing screen size of 5.5 inches, whereas the iPad Mini’s screen size is 7.9 inches.
What You Should Do Now: Start by examining your existing digital marketing strategy and deciding how or if WiGig could impact it. First, WiGig is effectively a bigger pipe for connected devices, especially mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. So a more robust network means you can more easily deliver content that requires more bandwidth, such as video. If you’ve already seen success from your existing content(such as podcasts) being consumed on mobile devices, it could be time to shift to video, as it is going to be huge for digital marketing in 2017.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) – One of the more controversial Super Bowl ads of 2017 was a spot for Google Home that accidentally set off customer devices across the country when the commercial aired. While funny (or annoying if you were affected), this is another sign that such digital assistants are becoming more commonplace. Amazon has been experimenting with devices such as Echo for years, and moving forward these devices will continue to improve, and eventually go from being inconsistently weird tech toys to valuable parts of our everyday lives.
Keep in mind that the rise of digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo means a change in user behavior. If a customer uses their laptop and goes to Google to perform a search, the terms they use will likely be more exact and precise. But if that same customer interacts with a digital assistant they will ‘search’ for the same item, in a different way. Devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are being marketed as ‘assistants’ moreso than devices, because these companies want customers to be more conversational with the devices. This leads to more conversational search terms. The user could search for the same thing in slightly different ways based on the device being used.
EX: Search while on laptop: “Best Italian food in San Diego”
Search with Google Home: “Ok Google, what’s the highest-rated Italian restaurant within 3 miles?”
What You Should Do Now: Consider the impact that devices utilizing AI is having on your business now, or could in the future. A good starting point is to get a handle on your existing mobile traffic. What percentage of your search traffic is from mobile devices, and what type of keywords are people using to find your content. If you feel customers will be using digital assistants to search for terms related to your business, then you want to incorporate that into your SEO efforts. As mentioned above, customers use more conversational commands when using digital assistants, and this translates into more conversational search terms being used. As always, a big part of SEO success comes from incorporating user habits into your content creation. The rise of digital assistants is no different.
Augmented Reality: Pokemon Go was one of the hottest crazes in 2016, and it introduced many of us to the world of Augmented Reality. AR utilizes a device’s camera to show you objects with additional content overlaid that has relevance to the user. A consumer example could be looking down a downtown street with your camera and having a coupon app that overlays notifications that show which stores currently have sales. A B2B example could be a company utilizing AR with its field technicians when they perform service calls.
For digital marketers, augmented reality offers a way to improve the shopping and research experience for customers, especially on mobile devices. Customers are increasingly using their smartphones to conduct research at the point of purchase that can often decide whether or not a purchase is made. AR apps can provide content that aids in that research phase, and helps close the sale.
What You Should Do Now: As always, the best marketing solves a customer problem. Before you rush off to research creating your own AR app, instead research the customer problems that an AR app could solve. Here’s an example, last year I was shopping for a new car. I would go to car lots and look at the cars by myself, then when I found a few I liked, I would go back and talk to the salesperson about those vehicles. When I found a car I liked, I would pull out my iPhone and bring up reviews and ratings for the car. It would have been much easier if I had an AR app on my phone that would allow me to look at the cars on the lot with my camera, and superimpose the ratings next to each vehicle. This would be a great idea for a car review site like Edmunds or Kelly Blue Book. It would have solved a problem for me and it would have simplified my research. And it would have made it easy for me to endorse the app to other car shoppers.
In addition to researching AR app options, also consider the type of content that could be delivered via these apps, and the type of customer that will be using them. For example, B2B buyers may want access to more in-depth technical information than a B2C customer would. A B2B customer may want to see the technical manuals, whereas a B2C customer would rather see user reviews. As always, consider the core problems that you will be solving for the customer by leveraging AR.
Remember that it’s better to focus first on the macro-influences on your digital marketing efforts, then hone in on the tactics that are only relevant to your strategy. If you have additional questions about how these and other emerging technologies will impact your digital marketing efforts, feel free to leave a comment or email me for a specific answer to your questions.