search engine optimization

Technology Will Push Market Researchers into New Depths

Just as the venerable Sears & Roebuck catalog is fading away, consumers will have new options to search for what they want. That, in turn, will create new challenges for market researchers to understand emerging trends such as voice search and to evaluate immersive consumer experiences made possible by virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Just as the venerable Sears & Roebuck catalog is fading away, consumers will have new options to search for what they want. That, in turn, will create new challenges for market researchers to understand emerging trends such as voice search and to evaluate immersive consumer experiences made possible by virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

You don’t typically associate artificial intelligence, blockchains and search engine optimization with research. But you should, based on predictions for market research trends in 2019.

Focus Pointe Global shared five market research trends it perceives in 2019.

  1. Artificial intelligence combined with automation makes it possible to learn from all customers, not just a select sample. AI advocates say this will enable brands to have a deeper, more authentic understanding of their customers – and potentially gain a competitive advantage.

  2.  Online searches for content, special offers, reviews and pricing is an important tool for consumers – and a critical channel for brands. Google Home and Amazon Echo are extending consumer reach with voice search. Not far behind is visual search in platforms such as Pinterest, Bing and Google Lens. These new avenues will require website optimization and close attention to see how, or if, voice and visual searches differ from online searches the “old-fashioned” way on computers and tablets.

  3.  Researchers won’t have to ask consumers to describe their daily lives, they will be able to capture them on video in their daily lives. Brand managers can see for themselves how consumers engage with a product display or interact with a sales representative. This video evidence can be combined with geo-location technology to trace quite literally the consumer journey. This trend on steroids would extend to virtual reality that allow consumers to experience products.

  4.  All these techniques that can be quite intimate with consumers also must contend with existing and more stringent future privacy protection regulations. The European Union has adopted privacy protections and California has adopted legislation embracing similar protections. Other states are likely to follow, maybe even as soon as this year when most state legislatures convene.

  5.  New avenues for research will require closer partnerships between brand managers and market researchers. The expanding possibilities will demand hand-in-hand working relationships as research techniques become more fully embedded into the consumer purchasing process. Partnerships also will be necessary to interpret accurately and fairly increasing amounts of emotional intelligence about products and the people who buy them.

Writing for Forbes, small business contributor Lilach Bullock offered her predictions for market research trends in 2019. She agrees voice search is on the rise, predicting 50 percent of all searches will be via voice by 2020.

Bullock notes 35.6 Americans use a voice-activated device at least once a month and one in six Americans own a smart speaker – all of which point to new optimization strategies based on how consumers ask questions and search engines respond.

Other trends pointed out by Bullock include steps to speed up searches. Mobile-first indexing and faster-loading websites will be essential to improve the consumer experience, which market researchers will be tasked to monitor. Blockchain technology to create secure, trustworthy transactions also can be used to verify a consumer or brand is who they say they are. Bullock indicates security will become a new imperative alongside privacy.

“It might not be clear what the future will bring exactly,” Bullock concludes, “but it’s clear that emerging and older technologies are starting to have a huge impact on search engine optimization – if it’s not already happening, then at the very least it’s bound to happen soon.”

 

PR Upswing Keys Integrated Solutions

A reputable study says private and nonprofit organizations are using social media more and relying on public relations professionals to assist them. Nonprofits rely on social media more heavily than private businesses because it is more cost-efficient than paid media.

These findings come from the seventh biennial Generally Accepted Practices report on PR, produced by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The report marked huge increases in Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online video since 2009, when the last study was conducted. More energy is being devoted to search engine optimization and less to wikis and virtual worlds.

One of the most striking findings is that business and nonprofit executives view social media as the domain of PR professionals who generate content. But increasingly, executives also believe PR pros should take charge of messaging for customer relations and internal communications.

Increasing numbers of PR professionals have a seat at the table of top executives in their organizations, which translates into communications strategies becoming a more critical part of overall strategy. As consumers demand a larger voice in brand decisions, organizations have turned to PR professionals to make effective connections.

The bad news for PR firms is that corporations are discarding the concept of "agency of record." The percentage of companies with a single PR firm fell from 58 percent in 2002 to 18 percent for private companies and even lower, 15 percent, at public companies.

Despite the reliance on PR to manage social media and brand conversations, PR budgets are up only slightly, according to the report. Flat budgets may not be cause for a party, but they are better than plunging advertising budgets, which have shuttered some agencies. In-house marketing departments also have suffered declines.