It’s something that bares repeating, mostly because it is literally always true: the way you market your business online is about to change forever. Simple banner ads became e-newsletters became Twitter feeds became Snapchat stories in a never-ending quest to find your customers where they’re living online.

But every once in a while, online marketing makes a giant leap forward. It happened with the rise of social media and it’s about to happen again. Here are a few major changes coming down the road and what you can do to prepare for them.

The Influencer Bubble Will Burst

They’ve been a juggernaut of online marketing, helping brands build their footprint online by sneaking their messaging around the usual wall consumers build between themselves and advertising. They are social media influencers, photogenic young folks who pepper their Instagram feed of food photos, yoga poses and makeup tips with the occasional cookie cutter shout-out to their friends at (insert brand name here) for letting them use (insert product here). It was (insert generic compliment here).

In 2017, influencer marketing grew to a billion-dollar industry, and unfortunately that level of success has led to the watering down of what made it successful in the first place. You remember the last sentence of the previous paragraph where we poked fun at the typical color-by-numbers paid Instagram post? That’s actually a real problem, with influencers from Scott Disick to Naomi Campbell getting caught in the act of copying and pasting paid posts.

While consumers typically understand the personalities they follow are occasionally paid to promote a certain brand, the erosion of trust that comes with each paid post will ultimately put influencer marketing on par with traditional advertising. For the marketer, this makes the entire method pointless. What you were paying for was the trust that an influencer had built up with their audience. When that’s gone, why give them money that could just go toward traditional marketing where ROI is a little easier to measure? (Fun fact: according to one study, 86 percent of marketers don’t know how influencer fees are calculated. We’ll save you the trouble: they’re made up.)

Your Marketing Will Become a Conversation…

Remember when mobile technology was on the rise, and you had to completely rethink your marketing around the different ways people do research on their phone vs. their computer? Well guess what, you get to do that all over again thanks to Alexa.

The rise of Alexa, Siri and, to a much lesser extent, Google Assistant and Cortana (we know, nobody uses Cortana. We just wanted to be thorough) have once again changed the way people search online. Google estimates that right now 20 percent of its searches are done by voice, a number that will only rise as home devices proliferate.

Your marketing needs to keep pace, targeting these kinds of searches with short responses that are easily indexed by a voice search bot looking for a brief answer to a voice search.

You also need to adjust your SEO for a more conversation tone. Google estimates that of those voice searches, 65 percent use a more conversational tone, meaning that instead of searching for “landscaping services near me” they are searching for “What are some of the best landscaping services in my area for a small yard.” Your SEO needs to not just capture key words, but how those key words are used.

So in that example, you’re probably already targeting keywords such as landscaping and the name of your area. Now you’d want to pursue longer speech-friendly keywords like “cost for landscaping services” or “need someone to mow my lawn.” You might also look into full-question keywords like “how much does landscaping cost?” or even “How do I cut a flower bed” with geotargeting limiting you to local results.

… And Much of That Conversation Will Be With Robots

Chatbot technology has come a long way since the days of SmarterChild and that bot’s unique ability to somehow blend nonsense into a word salad that almost, but not really, sounded like a coherent response. The refinement of AI means chatbots are becoming more and more sophisticated, and with that sophistication comes a huge opportunity for marketers to put bots to work for you.

Citing a Grand View Research study, Forbes wrote that “the global chatbot market is estimated to see a compound annual growth rate of 24.3% and is projected to reach $1.25 billion by 2025.” Many companies currently using these chatbots are using them for simple customer service tasks, answering questions and providing guidance to existing customers.

But more and more brands are waking up to the concept of chatbots as brand ambassadors, answering queries on Facebook messenger and Whatsup to promote the brand and provide a personalized experience as a customer makes their way down the sales funnel. Many customers won’t even realize they’re talking to a bot and fewer still will realize the work the bot is doing in the background to analyze their data to optimize strategies for sales and marketing, delivering you actionable data on your customers.

But no matter what, there’s still nothing like human expertise, like the one we can provide for your business. If you’re interested in growing your business online, give us a call at 706-434-9890 or fill out our contact form