Five BIG consumer tech trends… and what SMEs can do now

20.10.2017 Posted by TM Solutions

As we move into Quarter 4 your Christmas plans should be in place so it could be the perfect time to look around for the next BIG thing you need to get to grips with.

Tech trends come and go, and not all of them stick (remember TiVo, or Segway?) but it’s always a good idea to regularly have a look at the intersect of tech and consumerism and see if you can ready your business for the next consumer step change.

1. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Pokemon Go ARThese two services are on the cusp of breaking through. Augmented reality makes use of existing smart phone and tablet capability to enable you to point your device’s camera at an AR-enabled item or image (print ad, packaging etc) and receive multimedia information such as text information, web links and video. Probably the most well-known AR is Pokemon Go (pictured right) which broke last year – and for eight glorious weeks kids played outside again!

VR takes AR a stage further and by wearing a special headset (or using a Google Cardboard viewer twinned with your mobile) you can experience immersive video experiences that move when you move your head.

What you could do now

Invest in some quality digital ads. Use multiple click sites on a basic image and link straight out to the product page. These work really well on digital TV as well as websites.

Look at video. VR can be hard to film but play around with Google Cardboard camera features if you have something cool or interesting to share (behind the scenes look, unusual offices, machinery, locations etc). If you can’t do that look at hyperlapse and timelapse photography to put on your website and social media feeds.

Drones can be purchased quite cheaply and, providing you obey the CAA flight rules, can produce some amazing footage. The bare minimum you should have is a strong corporate video and a Youtube presence, as it’s one of the most searched sites in the world.

2. Voice Search

Siri, Cortana, Echo, Alexa… whatever flavour you like your gadgets in, it probably already has a voice search component. The current experience of voice shopping is generally good, and as usage grows, the search engines will adapt to deliver more specific results. Nobody outside of the search companies knows the exact magic ingredients you’ll need to come out on top but you can make some sensible guesses and get the basics right.

Cortana Voice SearchWhat you could do now

Make sure your business details are accurate. Some voice search tools rely on third-party sites (Yelp, Google reviews etc), so the more places you are surfaced, the better your chances of being found. We already know that search providers downgrade businesses if they find multiple listing with competing information, so google your business, then bing it, then check it on Yell, Google Maps and so on.

If everything looks consistent you’re doing well, but if it doesn’t consider something like our Business Broadcast tool which can update almost 500 different sites, search engines, social media and listing sites.

Next, check your website. Make sure your it’s responsive (optimised for all devices) and importantly, packed full of detailed image descriptions and detailed alt tags. Remember when you search by voice you may say something like “orange motorbike with gold wheels”, you may not specify a store or dealer so your brand name may not always get you to the top of the list. Think about how you might use voice search and make sure your site has the detail to answer that query in a very easy-to-find way (think opening times, locations, slang terms, local variations and so on). In short, the more information you provide the search engines with, the better the chance you have of being surfaced.

We can build you a website or help update your existing one.

3. Personalisation

To be fair, personalisation has been ‘big’ since direct mail and email became part of your marketing toolbox but you need to move beyond basic name and past purchases to become relevant to a prospective buyer. The more you know about your customers the better you will become at acquiring more.

What you could do now

Look at your own in-house systems and see what you can learn. Map them – do you have geographic hotspots? Once you know that, look at the demographic of the area and see if you can find similar areas. What items are often purchased together and what can that tell you? If you don’t have much in the way of data consider running a simple survey to find out more about your customers, or look at your competitors as even that can allow you to target potential new customers.

Consider targeted and optimised digital ads and pay-per-click keyword ads. These solutions all become significantly more effective when you start to really target and identify your customers. You’d be amazed at the wealth of ways you can chase people all over the web and across multiple devices with your ad messages.

4. Wearables / “Internet of Things”

Smart watches, fitness trackers… wearable technology has already arrived. There are some interesting developments coming out of major sports brands and some universities that will further link the human body to a wearable mobile device.
wearable tech 

Moving on a step, the “Internet of Things” looks to link everyday consumer electrical items together so they work seamlessly with each other. Amazon is leading the way with its WiFi-enabled Dash buttons that enable you to easily re-order your favourite products. Being able to tap into this really depends on your business and for many it may not be relevant, but take it back a notch and think about how you use your current mobile device. It’s probably with you around the clock and that presents some interesting ad messaging options.

What you could do now

At the most basic level, think mobile banners and buttons. Next consider time specific push-messaging based on location… food, taxis, venues, stores. There really are lots of opportunities to send timely messages direct to people’s phones. Why not use PinPoint to target people all over the UK using the Mirror and Trinity Mirror mobile apps?

5. Narrowcast Social Media

We’re starting to see signs of a swing from broadcast social media (telling everybody everything) to narrowcast social media (telling selected people everything). Take a look at your kid’s phone and you’ll probably find Snapchat, WhatsApp and Messenger running dozens of individual chats every day.

What you could do now

It’s really hard to tap into that most trusted inner-circle so start now and try to build a small but engaged audience on one of these platforms (we’d suggest WhatsApp first). This will take time and patience to build so for the next 12-24 months at least, beef up your broadcast social media profile with a Facebook+ boost so that you have a large enough audience to siphon off onto these new channels.

We hope there’s something here that piques your interest and shows you what’s possible now, and what you should be working on next. If you like all things gadget and new tech we’d recommend taking a look at the Gartner hype cycle – happy reading!