2018 has been an innovative year for technology and marketing. From the rise of artificial intelligence and virtual reality to programmatic’s domination of marketing activities, the user experience has been enhanced, overhauled and reformed.

Where do we go from here? 2019 looks to be a year where innovation continues to create great technology and the customer experience will seem to only get better. Here’s what we think will come into its metaphorical own next year:

1. Optimising content for voice integration

2018 saw voice mature into a serious marketing tool: the days of customers regarding Siri, Google Home and Alexa as nothing more than gimmicks are now gone. Customers began to realise the true potential of their smart tech, meaning that voice is set to grow well into 2019 and beyond.

In 2019, customers will continue to invest in smart technology, such as Google Home and Alexa, and this technology will subsequently evolve and grow, in order to provide them with the best overall experiences that will ultimately make life easier.

To make voice integration work for direct mail, think about the content – and how it can be optimised to suit voice customers. Write headlines that could be asked as questions to smart devices. Brands should also be thinking about how they could utilise big data to further enhance the overall customer experience on a smart speaker.

2. Chatbot use will grow

Chatbots are already extensively used on many social media platforms, to aid brands in customer service. 2019 will see chatbot use become more widespread, with websites being able to utilise the software to help gather data and enhance the customer experience, based on what the customer effectively “tells” them. This will make the technology more commonplace, thus ensuring its popularity will skyrocket.

In regards to direct mail, chatbots will help enhance the customer service experience for both customer and brand. The chatbots will be available to answer any queries or help customers place orders (based on what is presented on the marketing communications). After all, direct mail could come with a call to action that encourages the customer to “talk” to the brand on another platform – helping to boost brand engagement on another platform.

3. Augmented Reality continues to dominate

Augmented Reality (AR) is another tool that truly came into its own in 2018. Customers’ are now waking up to its potential, forgetting the novelty factors that it was initially known for. It’s a marketing activity with huge potential, which brands should think about utilising in campaigns.

When considering the implementation of AR in direct mail campaigns in 2019, consider the impact it could have on the customer experience. Brands should be thinking about the real-world applications of the technology. If a customer is able to preview products in their homes, view real-time stock updates for a store or build a shopping list, their customer experience will be enhanced, boosting brand confidence.

4. The rise of visual search

Visual search, its subsequent marketing buzzwords and the experiences it creates will come to the forefront of marketing in 2019. As the name suggests, visual search will allow customers to upload an image and conduct a search. From there, customers will be able to subsequently discover where to find a service, purchase a product, or view similar items.

2018 saw refined visual searching tools, entering the market. These new, enhanced tools gave customers a taste for what visual search could offer their overall shopping experience.

Visual search has the potential to significantly shorten the overall customer journey. If a customer is able to use visual search to “look” at the marketing communications they have received, they would be able to shop for products almost immediately. By making the customer journey shorter, the customer is more likely to complete a purchase. Think of the implications this has the potential to have on the ROI of campaigns, and overall profit!

5. The importance of seamless user experiences

2019 will reinforce the importance of brands utilising a seamless omnichannel experience. Brands should be considering the importance of using more unusual marketing methods to make your brand’s voice heard – especially when you consider how print can complement a brand’s digital channels.

Brands should be thinking about the calls to action that they utilise in their direct mail, and continue to encourage customers to get involved on other platforms. By making the customer feel as if the focus is on their experience and not on selling, they will feel more assured in their purchases.

Wrapping things up

With the new year just around the corner, it’s safe to say that 2018 has been a big year for marketing as a collective. It has been a year populated by buzzwords, authenticity and innovation, as opposed to more traditional methods. Brands should be thinking about how to utilise the trends we’ve mentioned into their wider marketing strategies, to make sure they stay ahead of the curve and stand out from the crowd. After all, marketers can’t ignore the latest trends if they’re wanting to stay relevant.

To find out how a direct mail campaign could benefit your brand, contact Telescope today for more information.