By ?Kelly Ehlers, President of Ideas That Evoke

It should come as no surprise that 2020’s marketing trends will center around technology. For decades, we’ve forecasted robots and flying cars -- and we now have at least one of those things.

Voice search capabilities are making their grandstand in the e-commerce world, among other changes to give brands top conversions. Meanwhile, the quality of immersive software, such as AI and AR, is continually improving to become more accessible for marketers.

Read on to learn which four trends will define the marketing landscape in 2020.

Can You Hear Me Now: Voice Search

Sure, we can change Siri’s accent and ask Alexa for a drink recipe, but smart speakers and programs (e.g., Alexa, Siri and Google Home) have more potential than fleeting novelty. A 2019 and Voicify survey reports that 66.4 million U.S. adults have purchased smart speakers since 2014 -- a 40 percent jump over last year -- so marketers can expect to implement this technology in the new year.

Optimizing content for voice search starts by exploring what questions smart speaker users will ask that could lead to your website. Similar to how we pursue SEO optimization, these search results are anchored in key phrases. However, voice search doesn't stop at buzzwords. Because smart speakers use natural language, phrases are developed based on how consumers talk, not type.

Marketers must consider what questions will lead to their content, as well as how these questions will be asked. Develop a more conversational pathway to products and services, and route these phrases to a FAQ page or blog post to get your best results.

I’m Here to Help: AI

We’ve discussed the power of automation for years, and chatbots may be the most undervalued tool in our industry. Their ability to provide 24/7, instant customer service appeals to our web-native customers. Plus, they save time for customer service teams by fielding repetitive FAQs. Marketers who introduce chatbots in 2020 are sure to see huge savings in time and financials.

Chatbots’ customer service capabilities have become their most popular function, with many brands using them to welcome online customers and offer assistance right at the gate. Doing so addresses customer concerns quickly and efficiently, preserving the transactions and potential sales.

The skills of these chatbots expand beyond directing customers. A few of the other common tasks include sharing product information, publishing push notifications and tailoring customer offerings based on metadata.

Pro tip: Develop a tone for your bot that reflects its task, and strive to maintain a human, conversational voice. Once you’ve mastered one channel, this technology can expand across SMS, voice, web and apps like Messenger.

Now You See It: AR

AR has also become an accessible tool for marketers, specifically for use in the e-commerce sphere. Integrating this technology allows brands to create extremely immersive, interactive experiences for their consumers -- and not just the tech-savvy ones. According to BRP Consulting, 48 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that provides AR experiences.

The power of this technology lies in addressing one of the biggest e-commerce concerns for consumers: testing the product before purchase. AR creates huge opportunities here, with various companies offering “try before you buy” options, such as show and fitting rooms, as well as in-home product projection.

As Apple and Google both launch AR technology for app development and Chrome AR begins supporting AR-enabled websites, a growing number of brands can develop more realistic AR experiences for customers. The possibilities are endless, from remote assistance at home to in-store point-and-shoot services that give pricing information, product features, discounts and additional recommendations.

I’ll Hand It to You: Investing in E-Commerce

The top priority for e-commerce companies has always been staying above the noise. With the digital playing field growing more saturated every day, asserting a brand above competitors takes investing in emerging features for web and social. Additionally, brands with brick-and-mortar presences should supplement their in-store efforts with e-commerce strategies.

Google Shopping results always precede websites -- meaning these are the first products offered to consumers. By registering for free with the Google Merchant Center and meeting Google’s ad requirements, brands increase the visibility of their products, with the potential to boost conversions by over 17 percent, per a Marketing 360 case study.

Additional changes to e-commerce strategies include taking full advantage of shoppable features on social media, such as product tags and links. According to Avionos, 55 percent of online shoppers have purchased products directly through a social post. Flexible payment options make sales even more likely.

There is plenty of opportunity for marketers to increase their bottom line in 2020. With so much potential, maybe the auto industry will get back to us on the flying cars.

?Kelly Ehlers is the president of Ideas That Evoke, a social media and PR agency, the 24th Fastest Growing Agency in 2016, Inc Magazine.