From artificial intelligence to chatbots, here’s the breakdown on how you can take advantage the latest business trends to stay one step ahead of your competitors.

Now more than ever, businesses must be up to date with the latest business trends. So far, 2018 has been a year of social media developments that are full of brand opportunities.

Social media has evolved into a platform that’s used for so much more than keeping in touch with friends. With the introduction of business pages and other marketing features, it’s the perfect place to promote and sell products online.

How to Use Social Media for E-Commerce

When social media first appeared, online marketers figured out smart ways to use these platforms to win over customers and promote their brand. Brand pages, social sharing, promo codes and social engagement became an important part of e-commerce.

It’s easier than ever to reach out and interact with customers thanks to social media. For example, you can now resolve issues, answer questions and deliver high-quality customer service.

Additionally, most social media platforms allow direct transactions to happen.

For example;

  • You can add a “Buy Now” button to tweets. This makes it possible for customers to make purchases without ever leaving Twitter.
  • Messenger Payments on Facebook can also allow transactions to occur.
  • You can turn your Instagram feed into an online show, thanks to the integration of Shopify on the platform.

The latest business trends show that social media serves as a mediator between customers and businesses. In 2018, this is only set to evolve even further.

E-commerce is set to Grow Even More in 2018

E-commerce has seen rapid growth over the last while and this is only set to continue. It’s expected that global e-commerce sales will increase by almost 250% by 2021.

87 percent of consumers say social media helps them decide what to buy. Digital commerce influences 56% of in-store purchases.

The e-commerce industry is booming thanks to;

  • Visible reviews
  • More choice
  • Easy comparison of products
  • Online communities being forged
  • Connections between companies and customers

With all of these advantages just waiting to be used, here’s some tips on how to make the most of them.

The Latest Business Trends for Digital Marketing

1. Videos and Visuals to Demonstrate Products

When you go to a store, there is usually a helpful staff member to greet you. They answer any questions you may have, offer advice and show you products. This interaction is missing from e-commerce.

To compete with in-store customer service, your business must offer the same information digitally. Videos and visuals are great options to demonstrate a product’s design and functionality.

Via video, you can transmit a lot of information quickly, videos are more engaging and attention-grabbing. Videos and visual marketing are also effective ways to build-up your brand identity and recognition.

You have probably noticed that many brands are using visual platforms already. Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube all allow users to browse products on social media.

To change browsers into buyers, you should offer the option of purchasing your products right from these platforms.

You can link to products directly from this visual content. For example, Pinterest allows users to “shop the look” to purchase clothing. However, this can be effective in many other industries too. You can make the most of your visual content by adding links in description bars or by letting customers swipe up to buy via Instagram stories, for example.

Read More: 11 Ways to Create a Strategy for Live Video Marketing

2. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality and virtual reality have seen some serious traction so far in 2018.

How amazing is that you can place a 3D piece of furniture in your home before you purchase it? AR and VR  are try-before-you-buy game changers.

IKEA has already set the ball rolling. Earlier this year, the homeware giant released an AR app. The app lets you see true to scale products in your home. Customers can make sure they fit and see what they will look like in their space.

If things continue this way, AR try before you buy will be a standard option in all industries.

Read More: In-App Shopping: The True Purpose of Augmented Reality Technology

3. Artificial Intelligence

You’ve probably come across companies using artificial intelligence for digital marketing without even realizing.

The popular face-filters that you can use on Snapchat and Instagram are also known as AI lenses. There’s no doubt that social media platforms are going to continue to push the boundaries of these in the coming months.

The face filters aren’t just entertaining. They also offer powerful advertising opportunities.

On Snapchat, brands can build customized AI filters for all users to use. This provides a fun and engaging way to reach an expansive audience.

However, releasing a filter for a short time period comes at a high price. You should carefully consider whether the initial investment will be worth the added benefits of the technology.

Read More: Experts say we Need to Start Over to Build True Artificial Intelligence

4. Automation and Chatbots for Online Ordering

Chatbots are popping up all over the social media landscape. From Facebook to Google hangouts, almost every platform has some version of this technology.

You can take advantage of this feature for advertising, customer service, marketing, and sales.

For example, Domino’s uses a chatbot known as Dom for online ordering. It makes the customers experience fast and simple. Chatbots can reduce costs and problems.

It also demonstrates that Domino’s is a forward-thinking company, always seeking to help its customers.

If applicable to your business, you can take the lead from Dominos. Incorporate a chatbot into your ordering process before chatbots go mainstream and lose their novelty factor.

Read More: Why Manners Matter More to Robotic Automation Than You Think

5. Voice Search Compatibilities

Voice-activated devices are on the up and up. With the release of Amazon echo and Google Home, voice search is set to become a more common way to search.

Walmart has caught on to this trend. It’s now possible to order products by voice and it soon will be possible to place pick-up orders on Google Home. Many other large companies are currently developing similar platforms that use voice search.

Not only is it more accessible, but it’s easier. In 2018, you should optimize your business for voice search. With many consumers set to make the move to shopping via voice-activated devices, you cannot afford to get left behind.

Read More: How to Optimize Your Content for Voice Search According to Google

If you look at the latest business trends taking off in 2018, it really feels like we’re living in the digital age. With things like AI and AR taking form, it’s time for your business to catch up.

You should start thinking about how you can take advantage of the latest business trends. Get your digital marketing team together and decide which could work best for you. With so many new marketing opportunities, 2018 is an exciting time to be a business owner.

How are you going to use the latest business trends in your digital marketing strategy? 

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