Connect with us

Featured

How to ride the next wave of website strategy – Godaddy

Published

on

By STEFANO MARUZZI, Vice President for EMEA at GoDaddy

Since optimising their websites for mobile devices a few years back, many South African companies have mostly made small and superficial changes to their digital presence. But the growing maturity of the next wave of emerging technologies means your website could look very different by 2023 compared to how it looks today.

Here are four major trends that could change the game for small local businesses over the next few years:

Chatbots

Conversational agents, commonly known as chatbots, are one of the hottest topics of the digital world. These artificially intelligent systems can understand human conversations via text input and respond to people with useful information, presented in a natural way. It is possible to interact with chatbots via text message, websites and, most commonly, though social networks.

Chatbots are getting more sophisticated all the time. Already, they’re capable of having full conversations regarding most customer concerns. In 2019 and beyond, chatbots are going to become cheaper, more capable, and more accepted by the general population.

The potential of chatbots for small businesses is immense. As a small business owner, you probably cannot afford a 24/7 call-centre or a large sales team to handle sales and support. But you can afford a chatbot that answers simple queries and helps customers get responses quickly or while they are actively considering your small business.

Chatbots are becoming smart enough to answer a range of customer questions, which means your prospects and clients can get meaningful answers when they need them. They are useful for answering the routine queries that account for the bulk of calls most businesses receive. For example, a customer changing an address, getting a quote, or troubleshooting a technical problem.

Voice-optimised interfaces

Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana, plus smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, are seeing a surge in growth. Towards the end of 2017 and throughout 2018, consumers started to grow comfortable with these audio-based digital assistants. By 2020, they might be a common feature in South African homes.

This means ordinary users are going to grow accustomed to interacting with online material through their voices. If you want your brand to stay relevant in the long term, you’ll need to adapt.

In some cases, that means optimising your content to better address simple user questions (so you can be featured in the rich answers at the top of Google’s search rankings). In others, that means simplifying your content so it can be easier to engage with through smart speakers or mobile devices.

How are some ways you can already excel at voice search and SEO:

1.     Look at your “Google My Business” listing: When you claim your company, you add a range of useful information to Google that increases your website’s chances of appearing for voice search queries.

2.     Adapt keywords for natural speech: People talk to Siri in a more natural way than they phrase a search in Google. Think about the questions people may ask a voice assistant about your business or product range, and optimise accordingly.

3.     Build a search-optimised frequently asked questions (FAQ) page: You can use your FAQ pages to create question-based keywords that align with the sort of questions a user might ask a voice assistant like Siri.

VR/AR content

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have yet to be widely adopted. When the Oculus Rift VR headset came on the scene, some international brands were excited about the marketing possibilities. Due to a combination of factors, sales were lower than expected, and VR remained a niche technology. Microsoft’s HoloLens is another good example.

Now, global headset sales are taking off, and more people are warming up to the idea of VR (and by, extension, AR). It’s still in its early days, but we can expect to soon see some pioneering South African companies introduce VR- and AR-based content for their websites and apps.

So, what is the technology all about? AR uses a camera to superimpose a computer-generated image on your view of the real world – a simple example is how a smartphone app translates a street sign in a foreign country into your own language on your screen. Conversely, VR immerses you in a virtual artificial environment through a headset.

VR and AR both offer some interesting ways to blend your real-world and digital presence. A virtual tour of your store, an immersive 360-degree experience of an event you’re attending, or an AR game that keeps your customers engaged – the possibilities are numerous. In a world where people are hungry for interesting experiences, AR and VR might create new opportunities to engage with your customers.

There is still a long way to go, but the technology is improving all the time. Customers are already interested. In a consumer study by GfK South Africa, 59% of respondents said they are more likely to visit a retail store that offered some sort of VR/AR experience.

Live video

Internet users are increasing their consumption of online video. The 10th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecasts that video will make up 73% of mobile data traffic in South Africa by 2020, compared to 52% at the end of 2015. Globally, video will comprise 82% of all IP traffic by 2022, according to Cisco.

To remain competitive by that date, you’ll want to become comfortable with video as part of your web content strategy. With so many other businesses competing for attention in the space, you’ll need to find ways to set yourself apart.

One way to do that is via live videos. Stream yourself during a speaking engagement or host a live Q&A session to engage further with your audience. It’s authentic, fun and spontaneous. It can help you to get closer to your audience on a reasonably small budget.

Closing thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for how and when to adopt these technology strategies, or how to balance them. Different brands and audiences require different combinations – and it’s up to you to figure out what those combinations are. Don’t be afraid to experiment. That can be a great way to learn and to get a head-start on your competitors.

Featured

Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC

Published

on

International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

Region2018
Shipments
2018 Market
Share
2023
Shipments*
2023 Market
Share*
2018-2023
CAGR*
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%
Total175.8100.0%332.9100.0%13.6%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

Continue Reading

Featured

Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s

Published

on

Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2019 World Wide Worx