Flow Communications

Technology’s influence on marketing makes for rapid change. All the time. Get 2020-ready with this list of some of the bigger trends:

Artificial intelligence

Sure, there’s a lot of hype about artificial intelligence (AI), what it can do and how much machines can perform the type of cognitive functions usually associated with humans. Thing is, amid the hype there’s truth.

Perhaps the surest sign that AI is becoming critical to business survival is that businesses are investing in it. A study by EY and Microsoft found that South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey are the top three countries in the Africa and Middle East region when it comes to investing in AI over the past decade. Collectively, these three countries have spent $1.6-billion on various AI formats.

AI is getting the most attention at company board level, but interest at lower levels is gaining ground, according to the study. In the region, AI is used most for research and development, and in information technology processes such as cybersecurity.

AI is also being used in consumer-facing commercial functions such as marketing, sales and customer service. This is where new technologies such as chatbots and robo-advisers come in, to deal with first-line customer requests.

Companies are using AI to gather and analyse data on how customers behave, what they spend their money on and how they make decisions. All this data can be filtered into marketing, to better shape it to suit customers’ needs, which brings us to the next trend:


We all get annoyed by generic ads, wherever they appear. That’s why it is great news that these days marketers can use data to offer customers more personalised information. We can deliver it to them through content, products and services tailored to their particular interests and needs. That’s why brands need to work hard to engage customers with compelling, contextually relevant experiences, with “experiences” being the key word here.

Because of the ubiquity of information, by the time a customer knocks on your door (physical or digital) they probably already know quite a bit about you and your competitors. Marketing is no longer just about attracting attention; it must delight consumers from the moment they step over the threshold.

An offshoot of this trend is:


What’s that, you say? Well, you’ve almost definitely had many. A micro-moment is that instant you want to know, do or get something, and your first port of call is a device – most often that smallish one you keep in your pocket or bag.

That’s when brands have to be there, ready with compelling information. As Google puts it: be there, be useful, be quick. If you are, you up your chances of winning. Marketers identify consumers’ wants and needs and provide information relevant to those moments when someone searches for whatever it is they want.

Combine this knowledge with this other trend:

Social media stories

From Snapchat’s My Story to WhatsApp’s status updates, social media stories are big – and ephemeral – news.

Because these “stories” disappear after a set period of time, marketers can take advantage of that not-all-that-modern phenomenon: the fear of missing out. We can use social media stories to increase brand awareness and encourage customers’ engagement with their products.

One of the best ways to do this is to market through live video:


Yes, video marketing is just not going away. It remains one of the most important trends, with some saying video drives up to 50 times more organic search results than other forms of marketing.

There are easy ways to get video going (if you haven’t already, what are you waiting for?) – Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. Be sure to optimise those videos using search-engine optimisation, thumbnail images, text overlays and closed captions. (Closed captions are the type of captions that assume the viewer cannot hear the video.)

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