Whether we like it or not, we live in a technology-obsessed society. New technologies, like the rise of the internet, social networking, and the smartphone, have changed our lives almost beyond recognition over the last twenty years, and there’s no sign that the rate of progress will be slowing anytime soon.
Technology has always been a driver of progress across all sorts of industries because it forces us to fundamentally rethink the way that we do things, whether we’re talking about researching and developing new products and services or about how social media and citizen journalism have changed the way that we create and consume content.
Here are just a few of the directions in which new technologies have changed modern marketing.
More Personal Customer Service
There used to be a time when customers had little choice when it came to seeking customer service. They could call a helpline and be placed in a queue or they could send a letter of complaint and hope for a reply, but the vast majority of the customer service took place behind closed doors and at the company’s leisure.
Things are different now, though. An explosion in customer service software and the rise of the 24/7 social networking economy means that people expect answers immediately. 32% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within half an hour, while 72% of Twitter users expect responses within the hour.
All of this means that brands are having to adapt their approach to customer service to truly place the customer first. This means responding quickly and effectively and remembering details about customers so that they don’t need to re-explain their problem every time you bounce them around your company.
The Global Economy
Distance and language are no longer the barriers that they once were. Thanks to the internet and other innovations, the economy is now truly global, and tools like Google Translate and the rise of the gig economy make it easier than ever to transcend language barriers.
Charles Ingram, Marketing Manager at BestEssays says, “Now that the world is more closely connected than ever, people are starting to understand the value of localization. So if they’re targeting Spain, they’ll hire a native Spanish speaker. And for non-English countries, translating into English, the global language of the web, has never been more important.”
The interesting thing about the global economy is that the actual tools and techniques stay the same. Marketing is still about reaching the right person with the right message at the right time – it’s just now that the message might be in Italian and delivered over a social network.
Easier Scaling and Automation
The problem with reaching a huge number of people with personalized messaging is that it’s difficult to get it right. Luckily, today’s CRM and marketing automation technologies make it easier than ever to deploy these campaigns on mass.
We’re not going to dwell on the different technologies that are available or what they allow you to do because it’s more important to convey the reason for using them. Your customers can no longer be treated as something intangible – instead, you need to treat each of them as the unique individuals that they are.
This means personalizing your marketing, remembering who customers are at different touchpoints (i.e. via email versus on Facebook) and ultimately making your brand act more like a human being – and less like a marketing machine.
Social media is big business, and so is blogging and content creation. Normal people are suddenly becoming superstars by creating kickass content, and brands have to fight against them for eyeballs and attention.
That’s not to mention the rise of augmented and virtual reality, which makes it possible for you to reach consumers in places that didn’t even exist before. And as virtual game worlds become more and more immersive, there’s even potential for brands to work with producers to place their products inside the game. Imagine if the radio adverts in Grand Theft Auto were real radio adverts, based on a profile of the player’s interests.
The key for brands will be to adapt to these new platforms without becoming too intrusive. It’s hard to find the balance, but there’s no reason why brands and consumers can’t live in harmony. Not all advertisements interrupt people.
New Resources and Technologies
As the speed of innovation continues and Moore’s Law leads to the development of faster, smaller machines, new trends will come and go and marketers will need to stay on top of them. As with the meteoric rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the early adopters will be the ones who reap the greatest rewards.
At the same time, there’s still a place for existing technologies, and even direct mail and other forms of offline marketing are going through something of a renaissance. That’s why the best marketers dip their toe into the water to test newer technologies while remaining consistent with their use of the technologies they’re currently using.
In other words, don’t go all out developing augmented reality apps if you’ve got a successful blog and mailing list. Keep your focus on the blog and the mailing list – and test out augmented reality with what’s left of your time and your budget.
For many marketers, the only true certainty is uncertainty. Unfortunately for us, it comes with the territory, which means that it’s our job to stay on top of those trends and to adapt to them.
We mentioned earlier in this article that relevance is key, and that’s true. The challenge for marketers is to ride this wave of innovation while still staying relevant. It isn’t easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. Good luck.