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5 Technology Trends Impacting How Local Businesses Should Market

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Trends tell us what’s happening in our world today. They give us insights into what the future will look like. As marketers, we look to digital marketing and internet trends specifically to assist in planning marketing strategies for our clients.

Every year, Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers (KPCB) shares her highly-anticipated Internet Trends Report that highlights the most prominent trends in consumer behavior and digital marketing.

Today I’m going to take a look at five of these trends from the 2017 KPCB report and explore how you can leverage them to help the clients you serve.

1. Internet Usage Continues to Grow

While it seems like everyone is already connected to the web 24/7, internet usage is actually continuing to increase each year. The report shows average internet usage is experiencing small (but steady) growth of 4% year over year.

internet-usage-2017

OK, but then just how much time does the average consumer spend online these days? In the USA, most of us spend 5.6 hours online per day. If we assume this average holds steady over time, that’s about 23% of our lives.

Despite all this, desktop usage continues to decline – meaning mobile is leading the charge powering growing internet usage.

In fact, consumers are spending around 2 hours per day on desktop computers, down from 2.6 hours per day five years ago. And mobile usage? That’s up to 3 hours per day, compared with only 1 hour per day five years ago.

2. Mobile Screen Time Has Doubled Since 2014

While no one needs an official report to tell them that consumers love their mobile devices (just look around!), this year’s Internet Trends Report highlighted just how much our dependence on the smartphone has grown over the past few years.

mobile-usage-2017-stats

Let’s go back to 2014: users were spending an average of 2 hours 17 minutes per day on their mobile devices. Move up to today, and these devices are holding our attention for a whopping 4 hours and 14 minutes every day! As the smartphone takes on a more active role in every aspect of our lives, we can only expect mobile usage to increase.

Businesses need to make sure their websites are easy to find – and navigate – on mobile. It’s a literal need rather than a get-around-to-it-whenever option. It means optimizing a business’ local presence to increase visibility in search results, while also  ensuring that the website is designed to give smartphone users a great experience. Businesses that keep pushing this task to a future date are missing out right now on a major opportunity to connect with the on-the-go shoppers who are actively seeking them out.

3. Geo-Targeted Ads Drive Local Traffic

Google’s geo-targeted ads play a major role in directing foot traffic to local businesses. Meeker’s report shows that the number of geo-targeted ads responsible for directing customers right to  stores has grown by 500% since 2005. Yes, it’s verifiable – geo-targeted local ads are turning online searchers into in-store customers every day.

google-geotargeted-ads-2017

This particular takeaway really resonates with me, since I’m passionate about helping local businesses manage their location data and increase online visibility. And I’m sure it’s doing more than just piquing your interest as well!

We need to help local businesses understand the importance of managing their location data because many of them still don’t have the full picture. Because geo-targeted Google ads are such a driver, maintaining an up-to-date, optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing is not an option, it’s a must.

4. 20% of Mobile Queries are Done Using Voice Search

Consider your daily behavior: How often do you ask Siri or Google Now for suggestions, rather than typing out a search query on your phone? If you’re anything like the average consumer, you rely more heavily on voice search than ever before. Today, 20% of all mobile queries are made via voice command. Again, expect this percentage to increase over time.

voice-search-stats-2017

So what does that mean from a marketing perspective? Businesses that want to improve their SEO need to write content for humans, not for robots or algorithms. Some may look back fondly at the days of keyword-stuffing, but believe it – that technique’s time is past. In addition, swap out industry jargon and use  less technical lingo instead. Yes, you can do it! Make it your mantra to stay consumer-centric as it will be rewarding for everyone.

Since 70% of all voice searches use natural language, businesses must keep this in mind when creating new content. Incorporating conversational language does two important things: it communicates more clearly to the audience and it can increase visibility. Call that a win-win.

5. Artificial Intelligence is Learning All the Time

The popular AI device, Amazon Echo, is proof that machines are not only learning more, as they get smarter they’re also learning faster. In May 2016, Amazon Echo had learned under 2,000 new skills. That’s a respectable number, right? But fast-forward to April 2017, and Amazon Echo has learned more than 12,000 skills! Yes, that learned-skill number is increasing every day.

amazon-echo-stats-2017

Conversational language is good for a business’ online presence in yet another way – it is preferred by Google’s RankBrain AI over more a formal style. RankBrain is designed to go beyond the literal meaning of the words a searcher speaks or types to serve up results that match searcher intent.

In the world of local search this is huge – but it’s also just one example of how artificial intelligence can and will disrupt digital marketing. There’s an obvious question for digital marketers of course: Will you be ready?

From local presence management and local-focused advertising to voice commands and machine learning, technology is always evolving and changing the way customers interact with brands and businesses. As a dedicated digital marketer, start by addressing these 5 technology trends. The results should show your clients that you are ready indeed!

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