At the beginning of the year, gurus tried to predict the shape of digital marketing for the year ahead.
Given how fast things change in the sector, it is difficult to predict at the best of times. But 2020 turned out even weirder than anybody could have predicted. A global pandemic engulfed the economy, and companies felt the brunt of it.
Therefore, the shape of digital marketing is radically different from how many people imagined it panning out. Google is shedding staff at a high rate in preparation for lower demand. Agencies are receiving record business from companies trying to set up online. And new types of searches are coming to the fore as more people work from home, using their personal equipment.
So, given these strange times, what digital marketing trends can we expect for the second half of 2020?
Chatbots That Collect Data
If companies want to market effectively, they need to develop systems to collect data about their customers. So far, most of the information they receive is indirect. For instance, they know background information about a user or the particular phrase they typed into a search box. What they don’t always know is what a customer wants, right now.
There’s an important distinction here. A lot of companies can infer consumer preferences from their actions online. But relatively few have a direct link to what they need at that moment. And that means that they’re potentially missing opportunities to sell.
Providing customer service reps to speak with customers all day long is prohibitively expensive. Companies, therefore, are experimenting with improved chatbots. These smart pieces of software can note what customers say, create new data points, and even ask them questions. Critically, they make the collection of granular data incredibly easy. A chatbot that detects a possible sale could immediately alert a human rep and help take advantage of it.
Websites That React To User Data
Imagine logging onto a website and for the title to address you personally. It would feel a little weird at first, but many companies are going in this direction. In general, customers want a bespoke experience that reflects them as individuals, instead of getting the same treatment as everyone else.
Companies, therefore, are using their websites in smart ways. For visitors, they have a generic headline, like “Save Money on Your Car Insurance.” For customers with accounts, they might have a title like “Hi Marquiste. Welcome Back.”
Companies are experimenting with other options too. For instance, they’re looking at whether they can change how sites appear based on other parameters, such as location, customer interests, and their buying behavior. A few companies are trying to modify site interfaces, specifically for referrals.
Although it sounds pretty simple in concept, this technology is still very much in its infancy. Coding infrastructure needs to improve to make this something that could potentially go mainstream.
Less Keyword Stuffing
Sorry if you’re the type of person who loves keyword stuffing, but this approach is now pretty much obsolete. Google recently introduced RankBrain, which uses advanced semantic techniques to figure out whether the content is relevant. In fact, you might have noticed this in action lately. Whenever you type a question into Google, the search engine attempts to answer it by highlighting a segment of text in yellow. The technology is impressive and provides evidence for how far the tech giant has come in recent years.
For companies, the implications of this are clear: they need to focus much more on providing content that offers users genuine value. Nobody wants to read something stuffed with keywords that sounds awkward.
Keyword stuffing was probably never a good strategy in the first place. It turns out that the search terms that people use are not static. In fact, around 15 percent of daily searches are completely new to Google, providing excellent opportunities to capture these too. Companies can use short-chain keywords to develop new on-page strategies and beat out the competition.
The Gamification Of Websites
Firms know that they need to engage people once they reach their site after, say, clicking a PPC ad. Grabbing their attention and holding it, however, is not an easy task.
A lot of big brands, therefore, are now turning gamification as a possible solution. The idea is to make the process of interacting with the website fun. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown game with an epic storyline. Instead, it can be something as simple as spinning a wheel for a chance to win a prize.
If you’re not sure how to gamify the experience, you can speak with a PPC agency. Often, they’re very good at managing the sales funnel from your paid advertising messages to conversion.
Gamification leads to a host of advantages, including introducing customers to your products and services and keeping them on your site for longer. It’s also beneficial for education and training purposes, allowing you to convey a large quantity of information in a relatively small space.
Visceral experiences are the most intense form of marketing, besides, perhaps, testing a product directly. Given COVID-19, more companies are experimenting with this type of digital outreach.
Typical applications include home improvement companies and vacation planners. Firms are providing VR experiences to customers over the web, allowing them to explore environments in three dimensions, giving them a sense of what the service itself might feel like.
Interior design companies are keen to make as much use of this technology as possible. They want to give customers a more precise impression of what their rooms might look like if they purchase their services. It helps create a better contrast between what they have now and what they might be able to get in the future.
COVID-19 and updated technology are changing digital marketing. Thus, the second half of 2020 is likely to be just as weird as the first. Necessity is the mother of invention, so we may see rapid and unexpected developments in the months ahead. It’s all change for business.