Digital marketing has come a long way since the early days of the Internet and it continues to transform the ways businesses interact with customers and prospects. Not only has digital marketing revolutionized how businesses reach out to customers but influenced how these users interact with each other, transforming a one-way communication channel into something where consumers now own the brand by shaping the conversation. Digital marketing also made consumer engagement more interactive, personalized, and efficient, resulting in higher ROI (return on investment) and revenue, as you can see in the survey results from marketing professionals shown below. In addition to being a must-have channel for communication, digital marketing is an important retail channel, as the pandemic proved. This retail channel continues to grow even as the world emerges from the pandemic cocoon. There’s no telling what the future of digital marketing holds but the trends taking shape can give us a glimpse of what to expect. Here are some of the innovative trends shaping digital marketing and what they could mean for your business.
Innovative trends shaping digital marketing
Technology continues to enable innovative trends shaping digital marketing as we move forward. Some technology-driven innovative trends shaping digital marketing are company-side technologies so hiring staff with experience and training in employing technology to fuel market performance continues to top the list of hiring trends. Other technologies driving innovative trends are observed in the increased adoption and enhanced implementation of technologies by consumers.
Let’s start by discussing how company technology adoption can help your business stay ahead of innovative trends in digital marketing.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is already transforming the digital marketing landscape and is set to become more prominent in the coming years. Here are just a few uses of AI that are becoming commonplace:
- Chatbots, which are a type of AI, are already used by many businesses to provide customers with instant assistance. Cheaper to operate than human customer service, chatbots never take a day off, never call in sick, and never take a break so they’re available whenever customers need assistance or ask a question. Of course, chatbots require extensive training or they cause frustration that can cost your company loyal customers and force prospective buyers into the willing arms of your competition.
- AI systems can effectively analyze data and detect patterns making it more efficient. Combining these two capabilities, you can use chatbot data to improve training the bot to make it better as well as find patterns to help direct queries to a human when the answer is beyond the capacity of the bot to perform well.
- AI presents an opportunity for businesses to create more personalized and targeted campaigns that deliver more value to customers using this pattern detection.
- Using AI for content creation offers a host of benefits including reducing the effort, time, and cost associated with creating the vast amount of content needed to rank well in search. While I don’t recommend you publish AI content, it’s a great help in writing the first draft and finding keywords to help you rank well.
Augmented reality/ Virtual reality
Augmented Reality (AR) and VR (virtual reality) have been around for some time, but it is only recently have these technologies become one of the major trends shaping digital marketing. AR/ VR allows consumers to interact with products and services virtually, providing a more immersive experience. Businesses that utilize AR/VR can provide customers with a more enjoyable and engaging shopping experience, resulting in increased brand loyalty and customer acquisition.
For instance, you can take a picture of your room and then see how furniture, flooring, wall treatments, or art might look in the room before buying. Such visualization helps overcome a natural reluctance to make such risky purchases. Or, save a trip to the store by using a virtual you to try on clothing before you buy, reducing this major flaw that keeps consumers from buying online. Finally, try out a new hairstyle, makeup brand, or other personal items using the virtual you to reduce the chances you won’t be happy with the outcome.
These uses of AR/VR are why the use of AR/VR is growing at nearly 30% a year and is expected to reach $442 billion by 2030. Digital marketers need to work towards creating AR/VR content that is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Personalization is another of the trends shaping digital marketing, although this one isn’t driven by adopting new technologies.
Every customer wants to feel valued, and personalization in digital marketing is one way businesses can achieve that. However, consumers want deep personalization, not simply adding their name to a generic message. By using data analytics to collect customer and prospect data, businesses can provide customers with highly tailored marketing messages that are more likely to convert. For instance, retaining information as a prospect or customer switches from a mobile to a desktop device or returns to your site after some time so he/she can pick up their search exactly where they left off makes the customer journey more efficient and increases the likelihood of conversion.
Personalization goes beyond customizing the messaging, it involves providing customized product recommendations, discounts, and exclusive offers to the customer based on their preferences and behavior.
Video content dominance
Have you noticed how video content has taken over our social media feeds, dominates as a content choice on websites, and fills our email inboxes? Everywhere we go, there’s a new video waiting for the user to watch. From quick TikTok clips to longer YouTube videos, the trend toward video content dominance is a continuing trend shaping digital marketing. Not only does video attract more attention and get shared more extensively than text or image-based content, but it also generates behaviors that make your cash register ring, as you can see from the image above.
And marketing performance isn’t just about the length of the videos either – short-form and long-form content are in high demand. Even live streaming and interactive videos have become popular strategies for engaging with audiences. It’s all about giving people what they want, and it looks like they want to watch videos. Modern businesses are already ahead of the game by incorporating video into their marketing strategies. The future looks bright for video content in marketing, so get those cameras rolling!
If the pandemic taught us nothing, it showed the viability of e-commerce and encouraged some of those still reluctant to shop online that this is a safe and reliable source for a wide variety of products. As you can see in the image below from the International Trade Association, online sales as a percentage of retail sales shot up in 2020, which coincides with pandemic-related shutdowns. This escalation has continued at a steady pace, although not as quickly as the first year of the pandemic.
Not only are consumers more comfortable shopping online, but they also developed habits during the pandemic that made online shopping their first choice to satisfy their needs. Logistics channels adapted to handle the increased volume generated by online sales so now they function much more efficiently and cheaply than before.
A new way to buy online also emerged as social media platforms sought to take advantage of this increased willingness to shop online. Picture this: you’re scrolling through Instagram and stumble upon an ad for your favorite brand, or a needed product, or become aware of something new that’s intriguing. You think to yourself, “I’ve been wanting to buy that for ages!” or “That looks like a good option”. Normally, you’d encounter a link taking you to the company website where you’d complete your purchase.
With social shopping, instead of being redirected to the brand’s website, you can make the purchase right then and there, without ever leaving the app. Welcome to the world of social commerce. This is one of the biggest trends shaping digital marketing as we know it, and it’s only getting started. From TikTok’s new shopping tab to Instagram’s in-app checkout, brands are finding new ways to leverage social media to increase sales and visibility, while embedding shopping within a social community that influences purchase decisions. The future of social commerce is looking bright, with even more platforms and strategies on the horizon. Who knows, one day you might be able to buy a pair of shoes just by double-tapping a post. Now that’s a shopping experience we can get on board with.
Now, let’s move on to some consumer-facing technologies and tactics that are some big trends shaping digital marketing.
The rise of smart speakers and voice assistant technologies like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri which are embedded in everything from smartphones to stand-alone devices has changed the way consumers search online. According to research, it is predicted that 55% of households will own a smart speaker by 2022.
In the old days, search engine queries were a single word because that’s the way content was categorized. Content creators used words related to their content, called keywords, to help bring their content to the attention of users when the query matched the brand’s content. This transformed into multiple-word queries (still called keywords although they were, in effect, keyword phrases). Since many consumers now use voice search, keywords must now become not only longer phrases (average 3-5 words) but conform to natural language since users speak a query differently than when they type it.
Voice search optimization is becoming increasingly essential for businesses. Brands that optimize their content for natural language queries stand to benefit from this trend, creating more engaging and conversational content that appeals to users seeking instant answers.
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for businesses seeking to leverage social media. Brands increasingly partner with influencers who have large, engaged followings to promote their products. Experts predict that the trend is set to continue as businesses seek to connect specifically with their target markets through influencers who have a dedicated following. It is essential for businesses to focus on authentic product demos and testimonials, where influencers use and showcase the product to the audience.
Digital marketing offers an ever-evolving landscape of innovations and possibilities for businesses to promote their products and services; While it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends, it is essential to adopt some of the trends shaping digital marketing; from AI to AR, to voice search and personalization, these top trends we’ve discussed can help businesses create better customer experiences and more engaging content. By staying ahead of the curve, businesses can reach their target audience more efficiently, and stand out in an increasingly competitive digital marketplace.
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