The world of marketing is constantly evolving; its main driver the rapid advancement of technology.
Tech innovations offer fresh ways for marketeers to reach out to new audiences—with the growth of social media over the last decade a prime example.
Yet, social media is just the tip of the iceberg. When you consider the likes of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, the ubiquity of digital assistants, and frequent changes to Google’s SEO algorithms, it quickly becomes clear that there’s an awful lot of innovative tech for marketeers to keep on top of.
In this post we will look at some of the risks and rewards for marketers adopting the latest tech trends and illustrate these by looking at one trend already making headlines in 2018: chatbots.
First – a warning for early adopters.
There’s always a danger of venturing out into the unknown with any trend. Likewise, investing time and money learning new technology, just like investing in anything, comes with its own risks. Let’s look at a few examples:
1. The rate of change is immense – Technology is always in flux, and platforms develop over time, both in terms of functionality and popularity. This means staying on top of changes and being prepared to adapt.
It also means continually learning new skills, accommodating new ways of working and discarding practices that are no longer important. Similarly, if you are going to commit to a new platform, you need to weigh up the risk that it may not be around forever. There’s always a risk that a new tech trend could just be a passing phase, never living up to its potential and eventually fading away.
Example: Google’s SEO algorithm is always changing. SEO experts must stay on top of the latest changes to make sure they can optimise their web pages for search. This means always being open to change and carrying out on-going training.
2. Venturing out into the unknown – if you are one of the first to adopt a new technology, there is always the risk that something unexpected may occur. If it hasn’t been thoroughly tried and tested, you can stumble into unknown challenges or make mistakes. These can lead to the kind of PR disasters that are not easily forgotten.
Example: A fitting example involves one of Microsoft’s early forays into public-facing AI. In 2016, Microsoft introduced Tay – a chatbot, powered by machine learning, which used the input it received from its conversations with users to learn how to communicate back to them.
The idea was simple: to get users talking to a chatbot while improving their voice recognition software through user input.
However, Microsoft had to shut down Tay after a day because users flooded Tay with such inappropriate language and content that Tay quite quickly began responding solely in sexualised language and hate speech.
But, it can cost more when you miss out.
So, there are certain risks to consider when utilising new technology for marketing. Yet, this doesn’t mean avoiding it altogether – that can be much worse in the long-run. Being forward-thinking is always an essential characteristic for marketeers.
And the opportunities of staying ahead of the curve by mastering a new technology before anyone else are huge.
Imagine… implementing new SEO updates before your competitors and boosting your pages’ SERP ranking.
Imagine… discovering the next big social media platform and winning over a new audience before your competition even knows it exist.
And now imagine being on the flip side of this. Imagine being the company that wasn’t bold enough to try something new and are now playing catch up.
Let’s look an example of a new tech trend being used by marketeers and how it is being used.
Chatbots – marketing gold or ticking timebomb?
What is it?
“A chatbot is computer software that communicates with customers on websites, apps or on social networks via text-based messaging – answering questions and holding conversations.”
The story so far:
It seems that many lessons have been learnt from the Tay incident. Since then, chatbots have grown in popularity – and many people now regularly interact with chatbots on websites, social media and in instant messaging apps. The rise of chatbots can be explained by the popularity of instant messaging apps. It’s said there are approximately 2.8 billion Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp monthly active users.
How marketeers can use chatbots?
The advantage to chatbot marketing is how personal it is. A chatbot can directly target an individual with a personal message based on information that person has willingly given to the chatbot. Not only does this mean an opportunity for unique and personalised messaging and content but also an easy way to build up a relationship with your brand.
Instead of sending monthly newsletters via email, you can invite your customers to directly engage in an on-going dialogue based on their interests. What do you like or dislike about our product? Let’s discuss.
A great example is the campaign run for the Disney film Zootopia – where users were able to chat with one of the characters of the movie in the run up to the release and take part in interactive challenges to unlock unique content.
You can read here how to get started with building your own bot and more on the advantages of chatbot-based marketing.
Time to innovate
With B2B marketing, marketeers can sometimes feel less willing to rock the boat and attempt new things, especially compared to B2C marketing. But this is a wasted opportunity.
Again, returning to chatbots. Instant messaging is becoming an essential part of the modern workplace.
There is a deep well of opportunity here for marketeers to reach out to potential customers with chatbots and use this to provide relevant, personalised content that delivers value to them.