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How technology trends will change digital marketing in 2021

AR and VR will play a defining role in the online marketing ecosystem.

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NEW DELHI: The Covid2019 pandemic has upended how businesses used to function traditionally and led them to truly transform themselves in order to stay afloat during the period of crisis. The ongoing year witnessed brands and marketers stumble to survive the unforeseen circumstances that went on to unfold. Digital marketing became a real saviour for these businesses despite the looming uncertainty. Although digitisation had already commenced across the length and breadth of various verticals, the current year witnessed it grow exponentially. For enterprises that had to shut down operations, online marketing was the go-to option to capture the customer’s attention and stay ahead of the competition.

Undoubtedly, digital marketing has taken major strides during the pandemic as businesses leveraged AI and other advanced technologies to enable more personalisation and make tools such as video advertising, voice-based search and Google ads more useful for acquiring and retaining customers. As we move ahead with the times, digital marketing will be making inroads because a greater number of companies are expected to invest in it to retain existing customers, generate higher ROI, and for a quantum increase in sales.

Here’s a roundup of some major trends that the industry would foresee in the coming year:

AI- & ML-based approach

Marketing in 2021 is expected to be massively driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. The implementation of AI is already underway in a diversified manner across various business processes and their marketing. It is being utilized to improve communications, analyse data and extract useful insights, track operations, forecast customer behavioural patterns, and optimize product line pricing strategy, thus cutting down on manual work. AI and ML also help in enhancing customer satisfaction as it helps brands know what the customers are expecting.

The adoption of AI and ML in digital marketing will assist in narrowing the scope of marketers’ data and enable them to focus on precisely those things which consumers are engaging with and are highly likely to engage with in the foreseeable future.

Virtual reality to make an impact

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are all set to play a defining role in the online marketing ecosystem in the coming year. With mixed reality, brands are looking to foray into new realms to reach out to their customers. Marketers are constantly working on creating engaging, personalised, and interactive experiences. in this regard, virtual reality emerges as an undisputed winner as it allows for riveting storytelling through which users can connect with a brand in an emotionally intense way, otherwise not possible with traditional media. As a result, customers feel closer to the brand, reinforcing brand loyalty.

Currently, automobile and smartphone manufacturers are using VR and AR big-time for delivering 360-degree immersive experiences. It is projected that by 2025, virtual reality will become a standard part of marketing campaigns.

Data tools for key marketing decisions

Data has emerged as another area that is evidently ripe for further innovation. Mass untargeted broadcasting of branding messages is about to become a thing of the past and data will be at the heart of all marketing strategies. The world is fast moving away from the static and rigid experience and towards the data, insights, and personalisation-driven assistant that very-well knows how specific analytics are to be presented. Data provides brands key insights into customer expectations and their buying patterns.

As more devices continue to be connected, brands will have the opportunity to devise smart, user-centric communication. In 2021, marketers will likely be slicing and dicing various kinds of data into actionable insights and highly-targeted, specific marketing. Brands will be using very complex and technical combinations of personal data, environment data and location data to target their customers with the appropriate message at the apt time on the apt device.

FaaS & SaaS to take over

Come 2021 and function-as-a-service (FaaS), or headless commerce, will emerge as yet another tech category poised to become more than just a dominating trend. Its impact is visible in how applications are designed and developed, as well as extending to how teams are being built around these new and innovative skills. It will enable brand owners and marketers to have the right conversations about how to outline, plan, budget and work with marketing technologies. Headless commerce empowers marketers to use their preferred platforms and tools to transform external costs like licenses and to close that gap existing between martech stack potential and its actual utilisation.   

Complimentary to this is the SaaS technology space. More shared marketplaces are going to benefit the tech industry as companies will be able to co-sell and co-market together. There will be expanding integrations and APIs that will interconnect and work in tandem. In turn, this will help streamline business operations, allow easy integration, automate mundane tasks and will improve other services.

Advent of 5G

The introduction of 5G technologies will be a game-changer for the economic growth of businesses and individuals as this next-gen networking infrastructure gains mainstream prominence. Once 5G becomes readily available, it’ll transform how customers, businesses and even different locations themselves communicate. Improved technological capabilities would mean better, almost-instant messages and highly advanced communication channels that are powered by automation and AI. Enterprises will be able to expand their network capacity so as to facilitate and encourage online sharing and provide better-supported remote work structures and environments.   

Rise of voice marketing

The increasing use of voice assistants has opened up new doors of opportunities for marketers. It allows for contextual interactions with the users. Hence, due to this feature, voice-enabled technology is being touted as a tool that can help marketers take personalisation a notch higher. Voice-search optimisation includes features like using natural language, framing queries into full-fledged questions, targeting long-tail keywords, and having a mobile-friendly website that can help in voice search by consumers.

Automated ads and smart bidding strategies

Automated bidding strategies have made it possible for Google to analyse huge amounts of data and adjust bids in real-time. This maximises results based on the campaign goals. Choosing the right strategy based on the business model is the first step in automated ads and automated bidding. This option is available for both search and display ads based on the strategy that is chosen. Another facet of automated bidding is smart bidding, which includes conversion-based strategies. These bidding strategies will help brands target precisely their intended audience based on parameters such as the customers’ preferences, choices, buying patterns and so on.

Summing up

As it is often said, change is the real constant. Therefore, with passing time, brands will have to keep up with the new technologies, methods and tools to gain that competitive edge over their competitors. Overall, customisation, personalisation and immersive experiences will evolve the future marketing trends. In the process, technology will emerge as the core fabric of digital marketing to listen, comprehend and deliver on the customers’ demands and expectations.

(The author is founder of Shutter Cast. Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to his views.)

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