By Jason Caston
Welcome to 2022 my friends! To say it’s been an interesting last few years would be quite the understatement. We have witnessed generational changes in numerous areas of our lives; every week it appears to be something else.
The interesting aspect of this time frame has been the acceleration of technology and its adaptation and adoption of things that we thought would take years to manifest. While I thought I would never see the entire world shut down, I also never thought I would see “working from home” become commonplace. With that being stated, I wanted to take a quick look at some emerging trends that will help organizations excel in these ever-changing times.
They are as follows:
- The benefits of email / SMS marketing
- Voice assistants will become commonplace in homes (Alexa, Siri, Google Home)
- Augmented reality and virtual reality merging into mixed reality
- What is the metaverse, how is it accessed and how can we utilize it?
Some of these are goals that you surely have heard before but for some reason, organizations don’t take advantage of these digital solutions. Let’s take a quick look at each and how they are very beneficial to your 2022 digital outlook.
The Benefits of Email / SMS Marketing
Email marketing has been around for a long time, but it’s still one of the most effective ways to reach customers (or, in your case, your church attendees). According to MarketingSherpa, email marketing yields an average return on investment (ROI) of $44 for every dollar spent. That’s because email allows you to target specific subscribers with laser precision, delivering messages that appeal directly to their interests. Email campaigns allow you to improve your team’s productivity by automating the process for sending emails at specific times or when certain events happen. According to MarketingProfs, email marketing can be anywhere from 40-60% cheaper than other forms of advertising.
Every year for the last 10+ years, we have mentioned that organizations should be collecting emails to stay connected with their audience, and this year is no different. Email marketing should be a priority this year for your organization.
SMS marketing continues to be one of the most effective and efficient ways to connect with your audience. For many, SMS has become a go-to communication method because it enables them to be nimble and quick when reaching out to customers. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it works! Since most people have a cell phone, sending text messages is a great way to get in touch with your attendees. You can use SMS marketing to inform subscribers about sales or promotions, remind them of subscribed newsletters they haven’t opened yet, share information about their ministry opportunities, etc.
Just as mentioned above, organizations that are looking to stay connected with their audience should be gathering phone numbers and emails as often as possible. For both of these initiatives, all you need to get started is a simple signup form (email and SMS) on your website asking people to stay connected.
Voice Assistants Will Become Commonplace in Homes
Digital assistants such as Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Siri, and Google Home have become increasingly popular in recent years. These voice-activated devices can be used to control various aspects of your home, from turning on the lights to playing music. In 2022, it is estimated that over 50% of households will have a digital assistant installed.
One of the key reasons for their growing popularity is the fact that they can provide users with a more convenient way of accessing information. For example, you no longer have to type out long search queries or browse through different websites in order to find what you’re looking for—simply ask your digital assistant and it will answer your question(s) immediately. Voice assistants can also be used to control various smart devices within your home. They can be integrated with other technologies such as ‘smart speakers’, which are able to stream music, set timers, create shopping lists, and play games through voice commands alone.
The beauty of these devices is that they are easy to get content onto via apps. For example, organizations can create routines (apps) for Amazon Echo devices where users can easily access their content with a few key phrases. These routines can be created for FREE and accessed by millions of Amazon Echo users. These voice platforms are a great opportunity to reach millions with content that is already available.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Merging into Mixed Reality
As technology advances, we’re seeing augmented reality merge more seamlessly with traditional screens—think Microsoft’s Hololens that allows people wearing AR glasses to walk around an office space while interacting directly with the environment they see through those lenses instead of just looking at a computer screen. And with the increasing popularity of virtual reality, it’s only natural that the two technologies will merge into what is being called mixed reality.
This new form of reality will be even more immersive than either AR or VR on their own, blurring the lines between what is real and what is simulated. In fact, many believe that mixed reality will eventually become the dominant form of digital interaction, as it allows people to engage with both the physical and virtual worlds simultaneously.
So where do our organizations start with implementing this technology? Well, I am glad you asked. The first step is to establish which platforms we want to use. Apple and Google have established AR platforms, with Apple glasses coming in 2022/2023. Additionally, Facebook (Meta) and Roblox have established VR platforms, with Facebook (Meta) Oculus Rift headset devices being the main way to access VR currently. My initial choices are the Apple AR platform and Facebook Horizons for VR.
What Is the Metaverse, How Is it Accessed and How Can We Utilize It?
The metaverse is a virtual reality world that incorporates aspects of both augmented and virtual reality. It can be accessed through VR headsets and allows users to interact with each other in real time. The metaverse is an immersive experience in which users can create their own environments or participate in shared experiences with others. The metaverse offers the ability for developers to create virtual worlds like Second Life (2003) and Sansar (2017).
The metaverse could be considered a much more advanced and immersive version of Second Life, as it takes virtual reality to its next logical step. Instead of just creating an avatar for themselves in a simulated world that’s separate from our own, people will actually start visiting these avatars inside their homes thanks to augmented reality.
The metaverse will make connecting with audiences easier than ever before—allowing businesses to interact with customers in a much more personalized way. The metaverse isn’t just for businesses, though. It has the potential to revolutionize how we learn and educate ourselves. Imagine being able to visit ancient Rome or walk through the Louvre without leaving your living room! The metaverse could also be used for training and simulation purposes in fields such as medicine and engineering. We’re still in the early days of the metaverse and there are many potential applications that have yet to be explored.
One of the interesting things I remember from 2010 was when I first helped an organization get on Facebook. The leadership initially thought social media was just a phase and didn’t believe it would grow into anything. Fast forward a few years later and they were all in on social media and saw how millions of people could be reached easily with a few clicks. The metaverse is at that same early phase where early adopters are getting in and taking advantage of these opportunities before everyone else comes running. It will be interesting to see how this virtual reality world evolves over the next few years.
So, take some time and think about how you might be able to utilize these new digital trends this year and in the years to come. You may be able to reach more people by thinking outside the box than you ever thought possible.