We are living through the most complex time in the history of marketing — digital marketing, in particular. Only a decade ago, knowing about search engine optimization and how to manage a paid search campaign put you at the front of online marketing practitioners. But today, the landscape is very different.
To examine what it takes to be successful moving forward, we brought together a variety of experts across the field of Digital Knowledge Management. From in-house practitioners to agencies, and from large companies to small, here's what they have to say about the changes facing businesses today.
How has the evolution of AI-driven discovery services influenced your marketing strategy? What conversations are you having with your team or clients?
In the past year, voice search optimization has become a routine part of our organic search offerings. During this time, the thinking has shifted away from, "Voice search doesn't apply to my brand," to, "How can we make sure we are present on all the voice search devices?" and, "What tactics can we use to help our brand get mentioned more in voice search results?" We have begun rolling out voice search audits as one of our core SEO deliverables, analyzing how our clients perform across different voice search devices and what opportunities exist for them to gain more visibility or improve their brand's reputation in the voice ecosystem. We are also encouraging clients to think creatively about how we can take advantage of new opportunities within voice search — such as building Skills, improving organic product rankings on Amazon, and acquiring more and better Featured Snippet results.
We're still at the very early stages of the voice revolution, but things are developing quickly. For example, people are becoming more comfortable using voice commands with their devices. However, I think total voice usage remains at a nascent stage. That said, there are some big drivers out there for its continued growth:
- The rise of personal assistants.
These are intelligent agents such as Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. AI is playing a huge role in the growth of these platforms, and without AI, I don't think these services would be possible.
- The rise of IoT devices.
My own investigations suggest that the majority of the world's internet-connect devices are something other than a PC, tablet, or smartphone, meaning that they have no browser or keyboard (IoT growth is surging). For example, as you get into the data here, you see the numbers stack up like this: the total for IoT is 27B, for PCs is 1.7B, for smartphones is 2.53B, and for tablets is 1.2B. This means that the total number of IoT devices which are not PCs/smartphones/tablets is about 79.9%. So how will you give these devices input? Voice seems like a natural answer.
At Stone Temple, we see the rise of the personal assistants as a big deal, and we're investing a lot in building personal assistant apps (Actions on Google, and Alexa Skills) and developing expertise in the areas of conversational design and building out voice personas.
For our clients, we're advising them on the coming of voice and personal assistants as well. Some of them are highly committed to voice and share our vision that it's a revolution in the making. We're working closely with these brands to help them define their voice and personal assistant strategies, and some of the things that are happening are crazy exciting!
Marketers are going to have to think beyond a screen on a specific device as the main way to engage and interact with their customers. The age of touch as the primary user interface between consumers and devices is coming to an end — the disruption is happening now. We're entering the era of voice and conversational interfaces led by IoT and connected devices — from smartphones to smart home speakers, to smart watches, connected home devices, in-car infotainment systems, and AR/VR devices. Due to advances in AI, we're entering the age of conversational interfaces where we can navigate with the sound of our voice, and through gestures and even eye movements. The disruption and evolution combined means that marketers need to have a more holistic view of their data, and all of the available assets, so they can transform it into personalized experiences that bridge the physical and digital divide.
The strategy is shifting. Brands need to think about the experiences they are creating when they engage with customers — and to build those experiences, the brands must have a solid understanding of their existing data and information so that it can serve as the building blocks.
Most marketing experts agree that AI and voice search are going to significantly impact the transformation of the entire internet experience — in just about every way.
Unfortunately, there are just so many issues that companies are still dealing with that are here and now — like implementing Schema, using HTTPS protocol, focusing on their mobile website, and even things like evaluating data, improving conversion rates, and other A/B testing influenced decisions.
That said, we are talking internally, and with our partners, about chatbots, as well as VR and AR technologies, since we do a lot of work with ecommerce partners, where AR specifically is having a big impact.
Chatbots are extremely exciting and something we are focused on a lot right now. We feel it is an extremely beneficial service that has multiple levels of value for our partners, including customer service, assisting with the purchasing process, and informational delivery.
Read more from Great Marketing Minds here.