Voice search, AI and beyond: Why marketers must embrace technology

As digital campaigns touch all aspects of communications, marketers must have a handle on current best practices. Consider voice assistant messaging, artificial intelligence and more.

The lines between traditional and digital marketing are blurring.

Whether you’re creating a branded experience to delight consumers, increasing loyalty and brand awareness by boosting online engagement, or crafting compelling content, you must have a handle on current social media and technology tools to stand out against the competition and reach your marketing goals.

Even marketers who feel they have a handle on technology can always learn and add new tricks.

Gary J. Nix, founder and chief strategist at the BrandArchist, says:

With the number of consumers in search of better all-around experiences, it would behoove retailers to figure out the optimal way(s) to integrate digital, tech and physical proficiencies—all in the name of the customer because that is what leads to better revenue.

The best way to adopt new tools and current best practices is to jump in.

Experiment with social media and technology tools across your marketing efforts. You can select the tactics that work best with your messages as well as strengthen your marketing skill set.

“Ultimately, practitioners at any level across an agency or brand need to get their hands dirty by using them,” says  Tim Gibbon, founder of communications consultancy Elemental. By understanding how these technologies work, they have a better understanding how to create stronger strategies and they can even do the production work.”

Two technological advances in the marketing industry you can immediately jump on are voice assistants and artificial intelligence.

Marketing via voice assistants

Savvy marketers looking to embrace the newest and greatest in technology are flocking to create marketing messages for voice assistants, including Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, Hub and Mini.

“Voice is changing search as we know it,” says Nick Myers, creative director for RedFox Creative. “Within the next 2 years, more than 50 [percent] of all searches will be voice searches.”

Myers continues:

Start thinking about how you can optimize your content for voice search. Voice assistants look for content that follows a more conversational tone and is chock full of long-tail keywords. Brands also need to double down on what makes them truly unique in the market place, and begin experimenting with different skills and ideas for how their brand can help a customer solve a problem over voice.

Michele J. Martin, director of marketing and business strategy at VocaliD, says that using a custom synthetic voice can also help organizations stand out from competitors.

This includes developing a single (and literal) voice across campaigns and using that voice on your own website and voice-enabled apps—aimed at boosting engagement and improving the customer experience.

“Individuals with branded identities will also be looking at how synthetic or digital voice can spread their reach beyond typical platforms and allow them to create responsive avatars, virtual coaches and more,” Martin says.

Artificial intelligence

Marketers looking to boost engagement without expanding their staff (and overhead costs) are also adding artificial intelligence to their toolbox.

Myers says:

[Artificial intelligence] tools are going to become more advanced in analyzing text and images from social media to help digital marketers produce more authentic and engaging content for their audiences. AI is going to grant marketers access to data never before thought possible down to the assumed emotion that the individual was most likely feeling at the time of the post or publishing of content.

Many organizations are employing this type of technology through the use of chatbots, whether on Facebook Messenger or via their own websites. However, that’s only one way that artificial intelligence can help you interact with your audience. The possibilities can be overwhelming, especially to marketers new to the trend.

Myers suggests looking into both new and existing AI tools that can help you boost your marketing messages and gather consumer sentiment. Start with Albert, Atomic Reach and IBM’s Watson for inspiration.

A word of caution

The more technology marketers employ, the more distance they can put between them and consumers. This can especially happen when you use marketing automation tools to help you complete tasks and handle campaigns to reach bigger and more diverse audiences.

To avoid this break, marketing pro Shayla Price says to cater your automated efforts to your customers’ experiences.

“Right now, marketers think of automation as a necessary evil,” Price says. “It’s a must-have part of an existing clunky process. It’s not optimized, and as a result, customers suffer with duplicate emails in their inboxes, inaccurate information from chatbots and irrelevant text messages.”

Automation can help marketing pros handle multiple tasks and goals in their campaigns. It can also help keep your brand in the forefront of consumers’ minds, but don’t risk alienating your audience by shouting too loudly (or too often) to be heard.

Instead, evaluate each automated marketing task to ensure it matches your organization’s brand voice, goals and other efforts. Don’t jump into automation. Take baby steps to find a balance between automation and authenticity.

“Invest in audits to walk through your entire lifecycle and witness the customer’s experience,” Price says. “Only use marketing automation tools that will fulfill specific goals. Also, feel comfortable achieving tasks manually until you get the right mix of automation.”

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