"AI" has been a hot-button word thrown around by marketing and business gurus for a few years now. But it hasn't been until this last year or so that AI has become a major player in the way marketing firms and departments work.
In fact, over the last five years, the number of martech tools that involve AI in some way has exploded. According to research from chiefmartech.com, the number of martech tools has grown from around 1,000 to nearly 7,000 in just five years.
With so many tools available now, and with so many of them claiming to be "AI-powered," it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
With that in mind, let's take a step back and look at where AI-enabled and AI-powered marketing technologies are heading in 2020.
So, without further ado, Concured presents our top 8 favorite AI and Martech trends for 2020. We hope that this big-picture outline will get you excited about where marketing technology is going and help you shape a marketing and branding strategy that will kill it in the year to come.
#1: Better Customer Experiences
Once upon a time, customers called companies on the phone when they needed any kind of support. Now, the vast majority of customer interactions are online, through websites, support chats, email, and social media.
Modern customers expect and seamless and hassle-free interaction with their favorite brands regardless of what platform they use, be that Facebook, SMS, voice, or something else.
Martech tools, powered by AI allow your brand to create a streamlined and painless overall customer experience. This will increase customer engagement, and, of course, improve customer retention.
Korte of TetraVX puts it this way: "The consumer push to get faster service across a growing number of digital channels has challenged contact centre teams, causing team leaders to solves for long wait times, clumsy customer journeys, and overwhelmed agents."
Expect AI to step in a grease the wheels across this process in 2020.
#2: AR and VR
AR and VR have been around for a while, and, while a fairly low (but growing) percentage of consumers have tried the technologies, those that have reported having a positive experience.
In fact, according to Forbes, 30 percent of consumers say they would never visit a clothing store again if AR allowed them to confidently buy the right size articles of clothing.
IKEA pioneered using so-called "mixed reality" in 2013. Their AR mobile app lets users see virtual furniture as if it were actually in their living room.
In 2020, expect mixed reality to become much more common. It won't just be early adopters, like IKEA using AR and VR to entice consumers. Mixed reality apps will hit the mainstream.
#3: The Rise Of Voice
Another technology that's made its way into households--literally--is voice. Microsoft's 2019 Voice Report tells us that, by 2020, 75 percent of households will have at least one smart speaker.
Of course, that's nothing compared to how much people use their voice to search things through their mobile devices. According to some reports, 72 percent of people used voice search in 2019, most of them using the digital assistant on their smartphones.
These days, people search for things by asking their phones, and their phones answer back vocally, leaving screens out of the picture completely.
What does this mean for marketing departments in 2020 and beyond? It means optimizing search results to fit how people speak.
Voice also illustrates the importance of building a powerful brand. When you can ask Alexa to buy you batteries, for example, you'll want to make sure they specifically ask for YOUR brand of batteries. Otherwise, Alexa will order the battery brand of the highest bidder.
#4: AI-Enabled Automation Tools
AI has two major benefits for businesses today. Sometimes, you need AI to do things SMARTER. In other words, you need software to crunch numbers, identify trends, and help you make better decisions. But there are other times when a business will call on AI to do things FASTER. That's where automation comes in.
AI automation tools will allow companies to automate email marketing, lead generation, and performance. Automation converts repetitive tasks into automated processes, cutting down on man-hours and boosting ROI.
AI-driven automation also helps teams collaborate more efficiently. Project management tools, for example, can benefit from AI-powered automation, cutting down on the number of hours a manager or admin has to spend organizing workflow.
In 2020, look for AI to create hyper-automated processes, augmenting human workers to be more efficient than ever.
#5: Algorithms For Ads, Analysis, and Prediction
As we said above, AI can also help you work SMARTER. AI-driven algorithms will have a stronger influence in companies in 2020 than ever before, helping marketing teams make smarter decisions based on all the data available.
For example, programmatic buying will allow AI tools to use sophisticated programming to buy ads in the smartest way possible. Why? The AI looks at mountains of data no human could possibly process. And, because AI can process that data much faster, it can make these decisions in milliseconds, beating human marketers to the punch.
On a larger scale, AI-powered tools will help companies make big-picture decisions in harmony with sophisticated market analysis. Concured is a great example of this.
Today, Concured's AI-powered tools help marketing teams choose the best keywords and keyword phrases and do complex market analysis to determine the best content topics to cover from day to day.
Taken a step further, predictive analytics, powered by AI, can help companies plan better campaigns for upcoming months. the AI can spot trends, based on past years, and predict what topics will be the most effective months ahead of time.
By comparison, human decision makers in 2020 will seem like cavemen.
#6: Emotional Measurement
Facial recognition is already used in the mainstream to unlock smartphones and tag photos., but the AI-powered technology has the potential to do so much more.
So far, using facial recognition software to measure emotional states is helping R&D programs perfect their prototypes. But how will this emerging technology revolutionize marketing?
Imagine you could measure the reactions of consumers based on their facial expression at the time of seeing an ad. How could that data be used to optimize marketing campaigns or even personalize brand messaging for each customer?
In 2020, expect to see these concepts get introduced for marketing teams for the first time in history.
#7: Serious AI ROI Measurement
Because AI has been such a buzzword in the business world, companies have practically impulse-bought Martech tools that boasted AI anything.
But not all AI-powered technologies are ROI positive, and we can expect companies to start measuring AI effectiveness in 2020.
This may be bad news for many AI-powered tools and companies that don't deliver as promised. For others, those that are truly worth their salt, this will mean standing out from the herd and getting recognized as the essential resource they are.
#8: AI Mistakes Will Be Made
AI isn't perfect, and it's still a growing technology. This means we aren't done seeing mistakes and flops in the AI-powered Martech world.
Because many AI tools analyze human-based data, they can perpetuate discrimination and bias. These mistakes are bound to happen, but what's most important is how we react to them.
Even though AI will let us down every now and then, especially as the technology continues to grow and develop, we expect that, in 2020 and beyond, people in general won't lose their trust in the power of such technologies.
What to Look Forward to in 2020
This year to come will definitely be the biggest year yet for AI-powered marketing technologies. We expect to see some growing pains, and a certain maturing of the market, but we also look forward to better and faster tools for marketing teams large and small.
With the number of marketing technologies at 7,000 and growing, how can you cut through the noise and choose the best tools for your team? A lot of it depends on your specific pain points.
Is your team strong in strategy, or could you use some help predicting what search terms and topics are going to crush it next quarter? AI-powered technologies can help you analyze the market and plan for a better tomorrow.
Maybe customer experience and retention is your biggest goal for the year. If so, you may want to look into tools that automate customer support, such as chatbots and programs that help you deliver a unified voice across multiple platforms.
Your team may benefit from using AR and mixed reality solutions to attract new customers, especially if your target audience skews younger. Or you may need to improve collaboration by using AI hyperautomation to improve your workflow and communication.
No matter what your focus is for the year to come, there are AI-driven solutions that can help you boost ROI, become more effective, and garner more sales.
With these general trends in mind, it's never too early to plan out what tools you'll want to add to your arsenal and what Martech products you'll want to trim away from your budget and workflow.
AI is no longer a crap shoot. It's more measurable and more results-based than ever before. 2020 will be the year AI-powered technologies become essential, responsible, and ROI positive like never before.