The world of business moves quickly. If you’re not careful, it will move much quicker than your business. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your business is not only up to speed with current trends, but that it is also future-proofed against new trends. Keeping your website, strategies, and channels up to date with current trends is essential to keeping your business relevant and fresh.
This article will teach you about some of the latest trends, both those that are current and those that are quickly advancing. It will also provide you with simple, do-able goals that can set your business on the right track with customers, social media platforms, and search engines alike. By following the advice within this article, you can set your business ahead of the competition in any industry.
Advanced User Profiling
The first trend to understand is the advancement of user profiling. This is how algorithms determine the basic identity of a user and map search, browsing, and even purchasing patterns for them. The combined intelligence of social media platforms such as Facebook, search engines such as Google, and the algorithms or artificial intelligence used to sort through and codify all the information they process is astounding. The processes and systems they use to quantify and implement the data they collect are becoming more advanced every day. Not only this but the continued ease of internet access via smartphone and increased dependency on social media platforms means that these algorithms and A.I.’s have much more data to sort from.
It is becoming easier and easier to profile a potential customer across all platforms. Algorithms, social media platforms, and search engines are constantly developing more comprehensive user profiles for their advertisers and customers. This means that it is easier for you to target and sell to the users being profiled because more information about them is available. The best part is, most platforms have built-in tools that let you take advantage of their advanced profiling algorithms. These are tremendous tools that you can utilize for pennies on the dollar. If you are not taking advantage of the targeting data being collected, you are missing out on sales, it’s as simple as that.
Taking the Human out of Human Resources
Artificial Intelligence has become more complex across the board. It’s not just data collection that’s becoming smarter, it’s every facet of automation and every area that can be enhanced by robotic support. This means that many of the business and “Human” Resources you connect with will soon be replaced by Artificial Intelligence if they haven’t been already.
This A.I. trend means that companies, including your business, can respond to users’ questions and concerns faster, with more efficiency, and with more consistency. Artificial Intelligence can be implemented to save you from having to waste your valuable time on tedious questions. It also ensures that the user gets a faster response, regardless of whether you are available at the time of their message or not. A great place to start is to create automatic responses for your email and social media accounts, this allows you to answer customers instantly and meet their needs sooner.
In the past, diversity has been a priority for most companies in regard to their marketing. Typically, the more baskets you place your eggs in, the likelier you are to see secure results. So, most companies would dip their hands into digital marketing, radio marketing, paper marketing, networking, etc. This is a good practice and it is still relevant. However, diversifying your marketing is no longer enough.
Your marketing needs to be consistent and collaborative across every platform it’s on. Customers like to see familiarity and consistency. You need to be able to reach a single customer across multiple platforms and to be able to guide them towards whichever platform is best suited to make the sale. For example, a customer may need a new Doodad, so they’ll Google that doodad using their phone. The first link may take them to your business’ Facebook page where they become interested and then visit your company website or are directed to your brick and mortar store. As a business owner in the digital age, it is your responsibility to guide them swiftly between these platforms and to direct them to the fastest route towards solving their doodad problems and needs. Make sure that your branding, wording, and message is consistent across whatever platforms you advertise or hold an account on.
In most cases, mobile phones are your customers’ first point of contact with your business. If your mobile website isn’t optimized for mobile devices or loads slowly, you are doing yourself and your customers a disservice. Mobile devices have been the priority for Google’s algorithms for years, and they are not going to stop taking precedence anytime soon.
A desktop website is good, but it is no longer enough. Make sure you are servicing your customers properly by providing them with a positive mobile experience. Loading speeds in under half a second, a decluttered homepage, and easy navigation options are all ways to positively enhance the user experience and to ensure that that user becomes a customer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make sure that you’re taking full advantage of the plug-ins and assistance that your hosting site has to offer.
Automation, Automation, Automation
Automation is a timesaver for your business. Fortunately, it is easier than ever before, and a built-in part of most online platforms. From artificial intelligence that can be implemented in the chat bar, to email services that will automatically send out messages to new subscribers, there are many timesavers and efficiency enhancers available at your fingertips.
Automation not only makes your job easier, but it can greatly enhance customer opinions of your business. Automation comes with quick response times, which means that you don’t have to be tied to your computer or phone and that there are no long waits when you are unavailable. In most cases, automated responses and artificial intelligence are able to quickly guide your customers to the information and help they need.
Video isn’t a new trend; however, it is a growing one. Why? Because video isn’t something you only see on your TV screen anymore. Video has become an integral part of social media and therefore an integral part of any successful marketing endeavor. It is important to note that the majority of videos posted on social media are viewed without sound. The typical user is frequently unable to hear the video or is in a place where they aren’t comfortable turning the volume up whether out of embarrassment or courtesy. This means that successful videos need to deliver their information visually. Use videos that pop on the screen and don’t be afraid to add subtitles to any audio that goes along with them.
Advanced Voice Search
Not only are Amazon Alexa’s and Google Homes becoming more prevalent in households across the globe, but cellphones also come with built-in voice search features. This presents many opportunities and hurdles for users and businesses alike. On the one hand, voice search offers greater convenience. On the other hand, voice search isn’t always the most accurate. Due to differences in speech patterns, auditory range, and the effectiveness of vocal processing on behalf of voice search devices, voice search doesn’t always lead users directly to their search. Part of future-proofing your business is making sure that you are targeting similar keywords as well as those that are solely specific to your business.
AR and VR
It sounds like something out a science fiction film, but augmented and virtual reality aren’t as farfetched as they once seemed. While not yet integrated into most people’s daily lives, they likely will be in the near future. A great way to future proof your business is to pay attention to this trend and to develop a plan for how to target AR and VR users, even if it isn’t currently feasible for your users or your business. The important thing is that you can ready yourself for when AR and VR do become dominant platforms for marketing. A little planning today can help save you from a great deal of headaches in the future. This doesn’t have to be a detailed plan either, but take the time to think about how you might tackle an extreme like this should need arise.
Native Ads (No Pop-Ups)
Nobody has ever been excited to get a pop-up notification. This is why most users will install pop-up blockers if the browser doesn’t already have anti-pop-up features of its own. While pop-ups can occasionally find success, they typically just annoy the user by disrupting their online experience. This means that you need to find outlets and avenues for native advertising. This means ads that are already built into the platform. For example, Facebook provides native ad space on both its desktop and mobile platforms. Take advantage of these ad spaces and integrate your advertisement directly into the user experience.
Stale content is boring and is hardly ever useful. That’s why you don’t see any articles about “past-proofing” your business. If it’s old, it’s much less likely to be relevant. If your business seeks to provide content (it does), then it should be seeking to provide relevant and new content. If users are seeing articles that have already come across their timeline, they will quickly become disinterested. Don’t let them grow bored with your business but continue to present them with new content that is relevant to hot topics and trends within the industry.
It’s okay to be funny. In fact, it’s encouraged depending on the platform. You shouldn’t be concerned with presenting serious material all the time. Social Media provides the perfect platform(s) for you to be humorous. Humor helps draw the audience’s attention and can be a great asset when trying to deliver complex or dry information. Utilize humor as the bait to your hook and real the user in with the value that your business has to offer them on top of the initial chuckle.
Nostalgia is a growing tool that has always been at your disposal. However, nostalgia has become much easier to find, share, and engage with, again due to the onset of social media. Utilize retro designs, classic references, and other means of tapping into nostalgia when applicable. Nostalgia is an easy and effective tool to use, especially when engaging with older audiences and products. Part of future proofing your business is tapping into what people already love and applying that to your platform going forward.
Using Social Media for Customer Service
Social Media is a great place to service your customers. In fact, it is often much easier for customers to voice their opinions and feel heard on social media than it is for them to do so via phone line or email. Social Media also affords you the opportunity to visibly solve a problem, potentially helping other customers and resulting in good Public Relations. Don’t be afraid to utilize the tool that is social media to help make your business endeavors easier and your customer service more accessible.
Social media is also a great place to make personal connections with those same customers and users. Social Media shout outs, comments, likes, and shares all help to build a relationship between your business and the real people you are hoping to sell to. Personal connection helps the individual to trust your business more and for the public to have a friendlier and more intimidate interpretation of your business, rather than seeing it just as a brick and mortar building.
Universal vs Personal Experiences: Interactivity
A challenge for many businesses is creating the appropriate user experience. You want each user to feel like they are the only ones who received their experience as if it were tailored specifically for them. However, you most likely don’t have the time to rebrand for every single customer that visits your website or store. The key here is to find systems that can be easily adapted to meet each customers’ needs. This is where it becomes important to have options so that the customer feels like they have a voice in the sales process and that the choice they make to buy is individually their choice.
Following these trends and keeping on the lookout for new trends is all a part of future-proofing your business. You don’t want to become irrelevant because your business is stuck in the past. You need to see the ways in which marketing is evolving and develop plans for how to appropriately adapt your business in order to keep up with these changes.
Future-proofing means that your business is ready to move onto the next level. New technology won’t be scary to you when you follow it from inception. Make sure to do your due diligence and research further the trends talked about above, as well as new trends that you’ll have to discover in your own industry.