7 2019 Tech Trends to Take Note of Jonathan Herrick Neophiliacs unite: with 2019 comes another year of technology innovations for business, and we have a lot to look forward to. We’ve rounded up the seven of the more promising technology trends we’ll be seeing in the new year and how you can use them to do better marketing and better business. Chatbots According to Forbes, the global chatbot market is seeing a massive annual growth rate (24.3%). In addition to Facebook’s built-in chatbot, there are plenty of vendors offering build-your-own chatbot solutions for your website, giving you complete control over how and when your bot interacts with your customers. How to use it: If your business is the type that handles a lot of routine questions from website or Facebook visitors, a chatbot can save you serious time and money — while also answering your customers’ questions faster and more accurately. If you don’t do business with the mass market, or if your product or solution is complex, a chatbot might not be the most effective customer service tool. Marketing Personalization Though GDPR and recent data scandals may have been a setback for some advertisers, there is still more data than ever that we can capture from our customers and prospects. The trick is harnessing this data and using it to improve your clients’ lives — whether by sending the perfect email that speaks to their most immediate challenge, a highly customized offer by mail, or a direct message on social media that refers to a topic they’ve shown interest in. How to use it: In email marketing, explore the settings of your CRM to see how you can better segment your customers based on their interests, problems, and demographics. You don’t have to create an entirely new marketing campaign for each segment, but rather, think in terms of how you can swap out generic words or images with more personalized data. Automation Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, humans have been fascinated with increasing efficiency through automation. Jump to 2019, and while our technology has changed, our obsession with accomplishing more (and faster) hasn’t. How to use it: Try out a workflow management tool like Zapier, Automate.io, or IFTTT to connect disparate data and processes across your organization. Couple that with the power of automated email marketing, and you can just about create a marketing engine that runs for you while you sleep. VR, AR, and IoT While virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all fun to think about, these haven’t been entirely practical for smaller businesses to implement — yet. Things might change in 2019, however, as more of these smart devices hit the market and we see new applications for this technology. How to use it: If you’re a retailer (or a physical experience for your customers is key to your business model), AR and VR can create dynamic, memorable in-store experiences. The same goes for IoT, in which you can create interactive displays that increase customer spend and brand engagement. Drone Photography and Videography Drone photography and videography has been around for a while now, but as it becomes popular across different industries, the hardware has become extremely affordable. You can find decent drones for beginners around $200, with more powerful models running upwards of $1,000. How to use it: Agencies, real estate pros, artists, YouTubers and more can dramatically benefit from the perspective and novelty of drone photography. You can even get an AR headset that shows a heads-up display of your drone’s activity so you can “see” through its eyes while still viewing the drone in the air. Voice Search Savvy Googlers are using voice search to find your business, and it’s changing the nature of search engine marketing. According to Brightlocal, an amazing 58% of consumers used voice search to find local business information. It’s not hard to imagine, either: when driving, walking, cooking, or engaging in some other activity, it’s far more convenient to ask your mobile device a question than to stop and type a query into a search bar. How to use it: Give your SEO strategy another look to make sure you’re accounting for voice search queries. While optimizing for more formal phrases used to be the standard, your web content should take spoken language into account going forward. Blockchain Though plenty of tech-savvy business owners and marketers have heard of blockchain as it applies to cryptocurrency, fewer are familiar with uses for blockchain outside of the Bitcoin world. But first, here’s a quick summary of how the blockchain works. Blockchain technology creates a ledger of digital activity that shows, chronologically, the entire history of a digital object — whether that’s a type of cryptocurrency, a coupon, or a valuable object in a video game. How to use it: Blockchain technology can be applied to marketing to ensure the validity of coupons, gift cards, and rewards points. Say goodbye to gift card fraud, and improve the transparency of coupon redemption across different platforms, both online and offline.