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Practical Tech Trends to Implement Today

This industry loves its buzzwords, but within that soup of trendy topics - what are the things that are really going to matter?

You’re probably used to seeing “top digital trends” pieces in the early days of each calendar year. They’re a ton of fun, but they’re rarely practical for most brands to implement. How many companies would really benefit from “the current state of nanobot-wearable-VR-cypto-whatever”? After all, while technology moves quite quickly, web leaders can’t afford to run too far ahead or fall too far behind. This roundup isn’t about the bling or the shiny new thing. It’s about the practical advantages that newer platforms, processes, or approaches will bring to your organization. Trends you can actually use and execute.

Personalization

Personalization has been on tech trends lists for a couple of years now; what’s changing is how and to what degree user experiences are personalized. McKinsey & Company has called personalization at scale the Holy Grail of marketing—“done right, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want.” The important thing to note is that personalization converts. In 2019 research by Evergage, more than half (58%) of respondents reported seeing a lift of more than 10% as a result of their personalization efforts; 15% reported a lift of 30% or more. If you’ve got customer data, it pays to use it to personalize the customer experience, but personalization at scale presents some significant challenges. It’s no wonder that data management platforms have emerged to help brands organize, analyze, and leverage the often immense amount of data they collect.

Personalization is something any company, regardless of size, can implement now. And it all starts with good data. According to Gartner, “You don’t need to collect every piece of data imaginable. Instead, collect high-priority data and use it well.” Besides data, you’ll need technology, people, content, and strategy.

The good news? You probably already have much of what you need to get started. And there are lots of great platforms to help you out.

If you’re a bit further along in your personalization strategy, this list has several personalization tactics your competitors probably aren’t using.

Design Inclusivity

Inclusivity is the new accessibility. Accessibility has been a growing focus for a while, and it’s only becoming more relevant. But conversations around digital inclusivity are newer, and broader. Technically, accessibility is just one part of inclusivity. Inclusive design is about making digital products relevant to, and usable by, all people. Full stop.

You should read this recent article about how to better serve transgender people in your design work.

Voice

Fast Company calls voice the “most important tech boom designers are ignoring.” And a boom it is—Juniper Research reports that there were 2.5 billion voice assistants in use at the end of 2018. By 2023, it’s expected to be 8 billion—which, if you’re counting, is more than one for every person on the planet. That’s a lot of Alexas. According to research by ComScore, 50% of all online searches are expected to be voice-based by next year. Obviously, searching without a screen has huge ramifications for how content is presented. Enter structured content. In “Conversations with Robots,” Andy Fitzgerald quotes content strategist Karen McGrane, who writes: “You don’t get to decide which platform or device your customers use to access your content: they do.” It’s getting more and more important to design user experiences and manage content in a manner that allows users to search on a number of devices, in a range of ways.

So how do you optimize your content for voice search? These days, SEO is all about semantics and context. That’s even more true when it comes to voice search. When designing for voice, Fast Company recommends beginning any project by talking it out and making a script. Ask yourself what a user might ask Alexa on the fly. Menu suggestions? Event tickets? The opportunities are real.

Cross-Platform Experiences

According to a recent HubSpot report, companies rate the ability to engage customers in cross-channel, real-time conversations as both their top priority and their top challenge. And now that customers interact with companies across an average of 10 channels, ensuring a seamless, channel-appropriate experience across every touchpoint is getting increasingly challenging. Your website is just one part of a digital ecosystem—and, according to 80% of customers, the overall experience that this ecosystem provides is as important as a company’s products and services. You can have the best product in the world, but if your digital ecosystem isn’t up to par, you could be losing big. If you’d like an example of a modern digital ecosystem at work, check out our latest case study about our years-long collaboration with Cafe Bon Appetit Management Company, which includes solutions for web, email, print, mobile, and digital signage…and we’re just getting started!

Headless

These sophisticated tech ecosystems have galvanized the evolution of a new generation of content management systems (CMS). Traditional content management systems (CMS) serve every piece of content (e.g., a financial aid page) identically for each visitor on every device. But in 2019, CMS are beginning to serve targeted content based upon user, device, and context. To achieve this elegantly, the modern CMS enables your team to manage content from one place but distribute it across a vast array of user touchpoints. Now when users visit your traditional website, launch a mobile app, view digital signage, read a newsletter, glance at their watch, or listen to Alexa, the content comes through a structured and coordinated platform. This separation of content structure from display layer is lovingly called “headless.”

Beyond a multitude of users and touchpoints, your content also no longer lives in one single database. On our latest project for Disney, we are aggregating content from most of their key brands and serving personalized content to users coming from hundreds of different end-points. The evolution of the CMS is a fascinating and nascent journey highly worth watching.

Do you need a headless CMS? Maybe, maybe not. 

If you’re sifting through all the digital opportunities for your brand, we’d love to be a resource. Give us a holler at hello@tri.be.