Internet predictions for 2018, 2017 and 2016

Most pundits predict and a lot of the time get it wrong, but as industry experts that is part of what they do, maybe even part of their responsibility. Rarely do they get pulled up when they get it wrong. So, in an effort to get some stuff right, we will work with what we know and understand, with the things we see actually happening right now. We see 2017 almost as an extension of our exact 2016 predictions, so we will add to last years text, but, in grey.
2018 is in BLUE and almost everything is to be affected in some way by AI, Conversational AI and Voice controls. Better broadband and faster chips, means that machine learning becomes a big thing and video takes over from text. How can you advertise to an audience that does not see your advertising content?

Web PredictionsTop 10 web predictions for 2016 and 2017 in Grey with 2018 in Blue

  1. Responsive is a gimme – if your website is not responsive, you are out of the race. Companies will move to have their website responsive and will monitor its performance. Web design will become mobile lead.
    2017 will see this design focus on the practical, to help visitors navigate through sites. Designers will be asked to make the site look good, but prioritise accessibility, to maintain flow. This may not be pretty, but speed is of the essence. The hamburger menu is to become more recognised and useful in navigation. Much of a shoppers search is started on a mobile device and finished on a desktop or larger screen.
    2018 – Mobile is pretty much regarded as the way to design first and now AMP or Accelerated Mobile pages are required, if you want to have your pages load fast on a mobile view. AMP is open source so talk to your web developers about using this. Having adaptive design is not good enough any more either, you need mobile specific design for the small screen which may differ a bit from the design you use on a bigger screen or even a tablet. A good design is one that can be different for each screen size. Many searches will be made with a voice search that may mean a visitor will not even look at the screen, but rather use voice activation to search and get answers or make purchases, using conversational AI.
  2. Content is king – good quality, engaging content is critical – low quality will no longer be worth having. Interactive content will work well, so that visitors can get involved, to ask questions and get answers. Tell stories and be engaging. Companies will realise that content marketing needs a budget for creation and a budget for promoting that content. What is Content Marketing?
    In 2017 more companies will realise that they need to invest in creating their own content rather than simply buying images and other generic graphic content. Good news for designers and content creators.
    2018 – Content is even more important, but less is more, so we will see better layouts and navigation to get to see all this great content. Using less square designs means that we will see better design aesthetically, with less blocks and more white space and rounded elements. Bigger bolder CTAs call to action buttons are in. More moving parts in the design will see pages jump out at the visitor or appear as you hover certain sections or buttons. And watch out as bolder brighter colours overall make a comeback. Flat design is dying or rather people prefer more interesting engaging websites. Or add some scrolling effects to catch the eye. And play about with typography a bit more to make reading easier.
  3. Integration of online and offline – this is basic now, so the guys in marketing and the guys in web need to work together to integrate the offering online and offline, to ensure that the messaging is the same. Metrics should be put in place to see what is working best for you.
    2017 – This is slow to happen, but Marketing and Sales departments are starting to talk to each other, with the tech guys acting as a bridge.
    2018 – this is still slow, but the smarter companies or more tech savvy have insisted that marketing and sales work together. The truth is that good marketing is reducing the sales process as buyers know what they want when they read through the website, so the calls to the sales department are pretty much to place orders, rather than to hear any pitches.
  4. Social – this is where people are hanging out, so find out where your target market is chatting and get involved in the conversation, answer questions, be helpful and get noticed. Build tools that allow people find answers to their questions. Free Checklist
    2017 – Companies are determining which Social channel is best for them. The Social budget that used to be spread over all or no channels is now beginning to get invested in the one or two channels that are proven to work well for a company.
    2018 – Now that advertisers have worked out where to advertise to get seen by their target markets, the race is on to get seen, but without paying crazy money to blanket post to everybody on that social platform. Advertising rates are going up because Social Media Marketing is being adopted more, so now it is crucial to tweak your target audiences and also to create the sort of content that gets engagement, to increase your website traffic. But remember that getting more people to your website is no good if they do not convert as buyers. Check out Instagram if you are not already using it. This may be the year it becomes relevant for your business, so do not be last to the party. More companies are using Facebook messenger as a way to talk with their audience, because thie is the personal interface of so many of their shoppers, who are also seeing more advertisements in their own stream to engage them.
  5. Video – create good entertaining video content, which does not have to be super quality. Get it out on social and it will travel, like a 24/7 salesperson. People process images a lot faster than text. Watch out for the speedy development of VR as Virtual Reality becomes mainstream and shows some very useful applications, like how to demo a product or service.
    2017 will see more and more easy to use apps for video and visitors are expecting to see product demos and interiors in short video snippets. Much like the FAQs of yesteryear, video snippets will answer questions better than text. Who reads any more!
    2018 and video is exploding as a means to getting a message across or as a place to advertise, so YouTube is well worth testing as a place to promote your business. Video will also be used in website to show how to or to teach or upskill operatives. Video editing is now much less expensive and much easier to do in house, so get your head around some apps like Kinemaster or iMovie to edit your own videos, add text or edit footage. And by all means share any good content you find, with your own followers. TV is pretty much a dead thing for millenials, who consume more video data, but not in the so called traditional way. Netflix invests more in movies than any other studio. Whilst video can certainly slow up a website, good use of GIFs that link to a video is a smart way of adding moving parts that attract the eye.
  6. Repurposing – this has been a part of content marketing in 2015, but 2016 will see a lot more of it. Create podcasts or Blabs, but also use the text content in Blog or publications.
    2017 will not see any more Blab or Vine, but repurposing will survive. But to many this is simply spam and will need to be refined. It always seemed spooky and intrusive, so more and more marketers are tweaking how they use this tool.
    2018 will see us create content in a way that allows us use it in various ways. One good recording will give you video to use as a podcast or as video content on your website, but also provide audio files to offer as a podcast or as further website content and then the actual text to use in blog pages or online manuals. All of these bits of the content can be shared across your social platforms. Having a library of content will allow you use it wherever and whenever you see fit..
  7. Adblockers – will become a big thing and companies like Apple already filter adverts, so it will be harder for marketers to get found using current paid advertising, so the focus will move to creating great quality content and pushing native advertising. Read about Adblockers HERE.
    Well 2017 will see the free Adblockers protect you, but at the expense of seeing the adverts they allow in order to raise funds. Paid for apps will gain momentum to act as filters for Adlergic browsers.
    2018 will see more and more young tech savvy or well educated people use adblockers to ensure that thay see the adverts they want to see and avoid the others. But even these younger people do want to see relevant advertisements, so it is not as big a deal as it might have first appeared. Obviously, you do not want to have your ads seen by people who do NOT want to see them – right?
  8. Personalised Marketing – We are fast getting to a point where we can see who is visiting and we can create content for that individual. Google allows us advertise to people with a gmail address who have visited our site or have shown an interest in a topic. Funnels like lead pages will allow us channel the visitors based on what they click, so that we lead them to a buying decision. The advertising industry will get bigger, but it will get harder to get to your audience. A scatter gun approach will no longer work well, so aim to get up close and personal with your market. Companies will learn to stop shouting all over the web and start sending useful content to people through the platform where they hang out. 2017 will see this continue to be crafted, but more and more companies are learning that providing useful free content is the best way to market their wares.
    2018 sees this get better with cpmpanies actively offering value up front to get engagement from a wary audience. Many smart companies are realising that with 7 billion people on the plane, there are loads of potential customers who want to engage, so they will try to get to that market and avoid all the numbers who do not want to be sold on stuff they do not want or cannot afford. Watch as AI allows the in home bot learn your preferences and then deliver content
    it determines is right for you.
  9. Hosting issues – Websites will suffer more and more downtime as hosting becomes more and more of a challenge, so companies will have to look at getting better quality dependable hosting, with good customer support. Expect to pay double your current spend and ensure you have a competent support service.
    Hosting advice 2017 will see more and more serius hosting issues and again more companies will begin to invest in better hosting. The Yahoo breaches create more awareness and fear, so more budget is likely to be dedicated to protection.
    2018 – Hosting may be somewhat boring or is misunderstood, but it is like the foundations under a house. Using cheap shared hosting is like building on sand,it will bring the house down, sooned or later. Tens of thousands of websites are hacked every single day, watch this number skyrocket in 2018.
  10. eCommerce – yes most purchases are made offline, but online sales are growing exponentially, so more and more retailers will be creating an online shop or a better online shop and add in some Digital Marketing to increase conversion rate optimisation and increase spend by upselling, using marketing automation tools. 2017 trends will show that people will buy more and more online, but only the commodities, the things that they are familiar with, whilst they will want to feel and touch the unfamiliar. Studies already show that once a buyer is familiar with a product, especially low ticket non perishables, such as an accessory for a camera, a battery or a flash, they will buy it online at the best delivered price. But when they are buying the camera or high ticket item, they will do the research online and visit a retail expert on the High Street to make the purchase. The buying cycle is getting longer, whilst the selling cycle shortens. By the time a prospective buyer enters a store, they already have their research done and just want confirmation from the specialist before handing over their credit card.
    2018 will see pretty much every business get online with an ecommerce option, if it is feasible to make a sale online. The web presence will be used to help potential buyers make their way to a till point and make a purchase. Improved chat or the use of chatbots and conversational AI will help answer questions. Better video content will do the same and AI will become a big part of many businesses. Regular shoppers will be recognised, their habits already recorded as they get offered the logical next purchases. Voice activated search will mean that many sales decisions will be based on which options are recommended by Google or Siri or whichever Conversational AI we are using at home. 

Predictions_2016_Michael MacGintyLets see how well these work out. 2016 worked out well and they all apply again in 2017 with some addendums. The web is an amazing tool for all of us, but it is hard to keep up with all the changes, the apps and the innovations. If you have any predictions yourself, by all means send us your thoughts. It is vital that any company with a web presence considers these predicitions and looks at ways to innovate, to improve and to measure success. The Retail sector showed over Christmas 2016 and 2017 and 2018 that any location deemed a destination centre did well, somewhere entertaining and comfortable, whereas retail in the provinces did poorly, because people preferred to shop online from the comfort of their own home (or office). Add to that the amount spent on Vouchers or Gift Tokens, which will be redeemed when it suits the receiver.

Lets make last year a year to remember, but we will have to do something different next year, in order to effect change. Make that decision now to embrace the coming changes and plan on how to best benefit from them.

2017 web trends for eCommerce

2016 once again showed a reduction in High Street sales in favour of the online stores, but we got some positives from this. Namely any local store with a good online presence could supplement their marketing with their digital assets, including their social media output and advertising along with their website and any offline advertising. Retailers are learning to market in the whole, using their web presence to answer questions and engage with their audience.
Shoppers like the ability to get answers to queries and good support, details about warranty, maintenance or parts, prices for delivery and assembly. The website is starting to do much of the sales pitch, so we may see less people on the physical shop floor as footfall drops and more working on or in the web presence as website visits increase. The shop floor may be left to the closers in the sales team, whilst the SDRs or sales development reps start hang about online. As the economies in the western world start to pick up, this trend is good news for any business that is web savvy and really bad news for anybody who does NOT embrace web as a marketing tool. If a shop can become known as an authority in its specialist area, then when a prospective buyer who researches online, they can get the answers to any questions at that website. Then the happy web visitor visits the physical shop to make the actual purchase and now that they have made the connection, they are comfortable buying online from this trusted store, becoming relationship customers. The likelihood is that buyers will buy generic low ticket items at the site where they get the lowest delivered price. But if we get relationship customers, they are more likely to buy online from their trusted sources. This will spur retailers on to win new business online and keep the trust by engagement online, in social and regular communications.

Mobile shopping started in our region in 2016 with Apple Android and Google shopping, so in 2017 we will see more shoppers buy low tickets items with ease using the handheld device. There could be a delay because the existing technology does not include NFC Near Field Communications. Unless most retailers and banks adopt and install NFC then the phone companies cannot really roll out Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. Meantime more website shopping carts will facilitate short forms or easy identification with your phone connected to your chosen bank account. Google will try to directly sell you a product that answers your query term and bill the advertiser on the usual auction basis they use in Google Adwords.

Tech 2017 the good the bad and the ugly.

AR (Augmeneted Reality) will see growth and existing technologies such as the smartphone assistant will become ever more Star Trek and mainstream, where we ask our digital assistant questions and bark orders. Turn on the heat at home, where is the nearest pizzeria, how do I fix a puncture. Siri and her cohorts will become a bigger part of our every day tool kit and voice activation a key part of working with tech. Texting should be ditched in favour of talking to your keyboard. The use of smartphones in cars becomes more integrated making driving safer and helping mobile work productivity. The use of our handhelds will also allow us do more things on an average smartphone such as check the level of oil in our tank or control the smart mower, turn on lights or start the car. The IOT or Internet of Things is already happening, but many security issues will need to be ironed out. AR will also see many more people watch big sports events from their armchair as broadband speeds increase and technology gets less expensive. Driverless cars will feature in the news in 2017, but will not become mainstream until many more trials have concluded positively. Tesla will drive their power cell technology whilst they wait for their road worthy approval, by setting up strategic sales partners and winning over new users.

SAAS Software as a Service is growing exponentially and this will see us pay a monthly fee for a software service and at the same time spend less on hardware to store our ever increasing amounts of data. Any invetsment in hardware will be well scrutinised, whilst any investment in SAAS may well be seen as a saving. Companies will invest to get totally digitised and dump the paper work.

As employment numbers increase in the Western world wages will rise and anybody who is tech savvy will get paid more and more, making people move from job to job as they did in the early noughties. Job insecurity will wane. Developers will again be especially in demand, but so too will be the people who can use the digital tools well in any area of business, from project management to customer service or integrating marketing tools.

2018 is here – what is next?

 

2018 and the speed of reality is increasing, with everying getting faster, broadband generally, deliveries from online stores, the number of bots in homes, machine learning, conversational AI and so much more.

2018 will see us all using AI in some form, every house ringing out with the sounds of people of all ages talking to their bots, asking questions and doing voice activated searches or tweaking the controls on the heating thermostat locally or remotely,  lighting or security, adding to the shopping lists or sending the orders direct to the stores. This is all pretty much part of a normal day in the USA as it is. These home or personal devices sync with your mobile devices and store your music preferences, shopping preferences, your contacts details and your credit card details, so shopping is easy.

Driverless cars are slow to gain traction as they go through their tests, but UBER have just ordered 24,000 or $1.2 billion worth of Volvo XC 90 driverless SUVs, so they are banking on the new technology making a breakthrough soon. LYFT has also done a deal with Waymo, so driving as a career may not be a good choice. Pretty much any job that is repetitive will be replaced by a bot, if it can be, from tour guides to waiters, but also some sales jobs, customer enquiries, answering questions and filtering enquiries. As you get driven around in one of these cars, you will have more time to view the adverts inside the vehicle. You just try avoiding them! The adverts will end up paying for the cars.

Flying is less of a time suck now as we can use our wireless devices onboard, watch as the airlines work out how to get involved in what you see on your screens as you fly in their confined spaces, as a captive audience. What is the etiquette on a plane, do you type or talk your questions?

It is all about the money in advertising, so everywhere you go, you will be subjected to advertisements and the people paying for the adverts need to work out how best to get your spend, on order to fund all this technological advancement.

Blockchain and Crypto currencies may change the way we all pay for goods and services, but the truth is that we will pay for it all by buying in to some of the advertisements that appear before our eyes or ears. Augmented Reality or AR will even allow us browse a complete virtual store, walking around choosing which products to study, just the way we do today on the High Street. Is you web presence optimised for this?

Where do you get your advice on how the future will change for your business? If you do not get with the future trends soon, you will get left behind in the past very quickly.

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