In any futuristic or sci-fi show, people can do anything by just giving an order aloud. Some magical computer picks up the command and takes action on the character’s behalf. Today the technology that was once considered a far-off dream is quickly becoming a reality. The Internet of Things, mobile devices, computer learning and virtual assistants are helping us realize our wildest Star Trek-inspired fantasies.

Aside from getting cupcakes from an ATM (also a Star Trek dream turned reality), the next way consumers will see this impacting their daily lives is in how they share information. Only a few years back, if you wanted to share info with a friend, you’d have to find their contact info, send them an email, text, or even call them. We’re at a place where, with a few taps, you can share anything with your friends in any number of apps. For brands, this raises an interesting question: what does the future hold for word of mouth marketing? How much easier can it get?

The answer: thanks to the rapid advancement of AI and IoT, a whole lot..

The answer: thanks to the rapid advancement of AI and IoT, a whole lot..

Hey Siri, Send Mary A Referral

Virtual assistants are everywhere. Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are both great at scheduling and doing quick Google searches. In fact, it’s predicted that over 50% of searches will be done via voice commands by 2020. With this kind of voice recognition technology, people will soon be able to send their friends referrals by just stating a simple voice command into their phones or standalone assistants, especially considering Apple has opened Siri to third-party developers. The potential is limitless, particularly when you look at how rapidly voice recognition has improved both in terms of speed and accuracy. Imagine you’re reading The New York Times on your phone and there’s an article about gyms. You remember you wanted to tell your friend about the amazing gym clothes you just purchased from a retailer that you know they’d be interested in buying too. Without disrupting your browsing experience, you could tell your phone’s virtual assistant to send a referral to your friend. Then you can immediately go right back to reading the news. Now that’s efficient.

Taking Jarvis Everywhere

By 2019, it’s predicted that 1.9 billion connected home devices will be on the market, and the power of the connected home lets users prompt an AI system to send referrals from the comfort of their couch. Imagine you’re watching Sunday football and see an ad for the new exercise bike, Peloton, which features built-in streaming spinning classes. You love yours, and you know your sister would love one too. Like thinking aloud, you could use a simple voice command recognized by the bike, it’s app, or even Alexa, to send her your recommendation and referral code. All with a simple voice command. As a marketer, something amazing just happened. An expensive ad seen by an existing customer, normally accepted as a cost of doing business, just generated demand – with more trust and authenticity than any message the brand could ever create. This kind of technology won’t be limited to the home, either. Have you ever been driving down the highway and seen a billboard reminding you that you owed your friend an email about something? I know I have. With sharing integrated into your car’s voice recognition, the power of seamless personal recommendation will go anywhere your customer goes.

With sharing integrated into your car’s voice recognition, the power of seamless personal recommendation will go anywhere your customer goes

Why it matters

ecommerce

Technology-powered word of mouth marketing will have impacts beyond streamlining the referral journey. A major factor behind the popularity of eCommerce sites over brick and mortar retail is ease-of-use. People like convenience in their experiences. A great way for retailers to remain competitive is to make the physical in-store experience, which still makes up to 98% of a retailer’s total sales, as seamless as possible, hence the rise of self-checkout machines, mobile payments, and beacons. By adding instant person-to-person marketing options to various in-store customer touch points, retailers can enhance the customer’s shopping experience, appeal to the human desire to share things they view as valuable, and increase organic customer acquisition all at once. It could be through standalone solutions that work specifically in-store or through integrations with mobile phones and smart devices.

The future is coming faster than ever, and person-to-person marketing is riding the wave of technological development. Soon enough people will be able to share what they love on-demand, and the effect of that capability will dramatically impact revenue for organizations that dare to dream about what might be possible.