Are we entering a post-text world?

Buckle your seat belts because the digital experience world is quickly transforming, which means big changes in marketing and communications over the next several years. I went to the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference this week in San Diego and I attended a really exciting session on the advent of voice, video and other forms of communication and it blew me away! Below are some takeaways from the session.

According to Gartner, the next one billion people using the Internet will come online with voice, video and image-focused devices rather than text-enabled devices. This change will drive the usage patterns of tomorrow’s digital experiences, relying on chat bots, image media, and voice interaction rather than clicking away at a keyboard. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 50% of all searches will start with voice and not text. That’s a huge shift!

In addition, audio and social are changing the landscape. Nearly half of us are already using a streaming audio service like podcasts or Spotify and 800 million people per day rely on Instagram. Gartner says we are already past the peak for the SMS market (text communication). I can’t imagine a day when text goes away (can you?) and neither does Gartner, but they do say text will take a back seat to these other forms of communication. For example, remember when print magazines were huge? They are still around, but nowhere near the relevance of a decade ago and we’re noticing clients focusing on online coverage more than print, since it’s easier to capture, share and measure in many cases.

So, what should a marketer do to prepare for the changes happening so quickly around us? Gartner analysts offered some recommendations:

  • Think like a publisher. Create high quality content that is immersive and engaging.
  • Pick a few experiments. Have you tried Facebook Live? Snapchat? What about creating an app that engages your audience in new ways?
  • Make sure your content experiment maps to your business strategy. Which content types work best for your audience? Tie those to pivotal moments in the customer journey, then tie them to metrics to see what works.
  • Deploy quality. It’s important to not get caught up in the hype too quickly around these experiments. The analysts shared some horror stories as well, so it’s better to invest in one or two high-quality experiments than betting your entire marketing budget on them.

Other technologies that will play a part in our decreased reliance on text are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). The analysts believe AR and VR will take longer for widespread adoption but some – notably big retailers and those with the budget or savvy to pull them off correctly – are already using them to great effect. For example, IKEA is offering AR experiences to view interior designs in your own living room before making a purchase; retailer, Zara, is letting customers “try on” clothing in an AR environment (Hmm…I’m not sure how this actually shows the clothing fits but I can see this working for colors and style). One of my favorite examples was from Hyundai who offers an AR owner’s manual to help identify where parts are in the engine, when to fill the oil and more tips on how to maintain your car. I love the practicality!

What do you think will work in your market? We’re always here to help!

Anne Schneider

Author: Anne Schneider

More than 20 years of experience building and executing global communications programs and managing relationships with the media, industry analysts & other influential communities.