To ensure you see the highest return on your digital marketing investment, it’s crucial to take current and emerging trends into account.
The digital sphere is advancing rapidly and constantly and marketing campaigns must adapt and evolve.
What may have been a sure-fire hit just a few years ago might not resonate with audiences in the same way in 2024.
Here are the most important trends you’ll need to know for the year ahead.
Questions about AI
AI grabbed more headlines than perhaps any other technology in 2023, fueled in part by the launch and immediate impact of ChatGPT.
But while the possibilities are certainly exciting, it’s not yet clear how AI can best be used by businesses and their marketing efforts.
For example, AI has proven excellent at analysing data, identifying trends and predicting future behaviour. Businesses are using it to understand their customers better than ever before, enabling them to communicate, build inventories and market products and services with great precision and to big rewards.
AI has also been used to generate content, but this has received a much more lukewarm reception. On the one hand, one positive example is the use of chatbots on websites which enables businesses to ‘interact’ with customers and answer their questions around the clock without any human input.
But it has also been used to create content, such as blog posts and email campaigns, and so far this has been much less effective. Studies have shown that people would prefer to read articles written by other humans. The data backs this up – AI-generated content is (so far, at least) performing much less well on social media sites and search engines. Whether this proves to be a dead end, or something which is refined enough to become effective, remains to be seen.
The question which poses the biggest potential problem to digital marketers is how businesses will adapt to the new wave of search engine developments. Up until now, search engines have returned lists of websites and the fight has been to rank higher than your competition in order to attract more clicks.
Search engines are beginning to move away from lists of links, returning AI-generated paragraphs which seek to solve the user’s questions instead. What role will brands play in these answers, and how will they convert this into traffic through to their websites remains to be seen.
As technology becomes more powerful and the internet becomes more capable, businesses are taking the opportunity to provide personalised experiences for visitors to their websites.
This can come in various forms, such as online quizzes and calculators, which allow people to input information to find solutions to their own particular situations. For example, input your needs and find which product best suits you, or enter your current costs to find out how much you can save.
More advanced is the use of virtual reality and augmented reality. This can be used to give potential customers not only a 3D view of the product they may be looking to buy, but to position it in their own hands, home or workplace.
We’ve long known that high quality images help sell products, and that video produces a further bump. Allowing a user to view the product in the setting of their choice adds a further layer of interest and increases the chances of a sale further still.
Individuals are becoming more tech savvy, and part of this is a greater understanding of just how much information companies are able to collect about them, especially online.
More and more users are becoming less happy to hand over details about themselves, their interests and their purchasing habits.
To this end, the cookie – the most powerful tool in collecting data about internet users so far – will effectively be phased out in 2024.
But that’s not to say that individuals won’t give out any information at all – they’re just more discerning. Or at least, more demanding of something in return.
Email newsletters have seen a resurgence in recent years, with customers happy to give a business their contact details in return for discounts, useful information, priority access and so on.
Tesco’s clubcard scheme remaining one of the most popular loyalty schemes of all time just goes to prove handled effectively, consumers will still engage with businesses. They’re just more selective and data has to be earned by the business.
Making the most of tools
With the internet providing so many options to consumers, from international brands to independent sellers, customers are less likely to go out of their way to track down a particular business.
Therefore, the more places a business can be seen, and the more ways it can be contacted, the more appealing it is to potential customers.
Businesses have been interacting with the public through their social media accounts for years, but more recently messaging apps such as WhatsApp have become key tools in connecting with customers.
The reason is simple: most people have WhatsApp on their phones, and it’s increasingly important for businesses to be wherever their customers already are.
Another tool which helps businesses to better understand customers and their behaviour is Google Analytics, which received a major overhaul in 2023.
The full extent of its new powers is still being explored, but already it’s proving excellent in tracking users across their phones, tablets and computers – which is a much better reflection of modern consumer behaviour. Find out more about the changes on our blog.
These are just two examples of a wider point: there is a wide variety of apps and programs out there, many free or available at affordable rates, which are powerful tools for connecting businesses with their customers.
The best digital marketing campaigns of 2024 will be those which use them the most effectively.