The future of digital marketing: Predictions and emerging trends
It’s no secret that digital tools have rapidly accelerated the evolution of marketing as we know it. Just a few years ago, digital marketing involved omnichannel maximization and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). As reality becomes increasingly virtual, businesses must continue to adapt to the seemingly limitless pathways through which to connect with users.
From virtual reality headsets to AI everything, businesses have the opportunity to offer bite-sized, personalized messaging through more channels than ever before.
As users become more entrenched in ever-changing digital worlds, it’s become essential for modern digital marketers to stay ahead of the curve. So which emerging online marketing trends are gaining the most traction?
What makes a trend
Trends exist in every facet of the digital marketing world, from the way a digital marketer collect data to the types of stories they tell consumers. These trends don’t just reflect what types of marketing tactics are most effective at driving revenue; they indicate how people live their lives and what they need as consumers.
Digital marketers rely on trends to remain relevant and build credibility with their audience. To identify these trends, businesses would be wise to analyze every facet of how their audiences consume content, use tech tools, and access information.
Data gathering: prioritizing privacy
Collecting information about user behavior is one of the best ways to identify upcoming trends and apply them to specific products and services. But the way businesses gather that data is changing, as questions about privacy and ethics rise to the forefront.
Many businesses have dipped themselves into hot water for misusing customer data and violating the privacy of their users. As users demand more control over their data, forward-thinking businesses are pivoting how they gather consumer information.
Businesses are transitioning away from using third-party cookies and toward collecting first-party data from users who opt into sharing their information. They’re also employing zero-party data—or information that a user explicitly volunteers to a business—through surveys, polls, and interactive UX design.
Not only are these users fully aware of the data they’re sharing with a company, but they can also enjoy a more interactive brand experience as websites highlight different products and information based on user selections. By involving their users in data collection, businesses empower them to assume a fully-informed role in what information they want to share, building a culture of trust and integrity that outlasts even the hottest digital marketing trend cycle.
Digital twinning: creating intelligent personas
While brands are currently focusing on collecting information from real users, businesses may soon focus on simulated user behavior to inform their interactions with real users. A digital twin of the customer (DTOC) is a super-powered customer persona based on aggregated information about user behaviors.1 But unlike traditional buyer personas, DTOCs take on a life of their own, providing dynamic predictions about their real-life counterpart’s behavior.
Although true digital twins are still in their infancy, advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence or AI technology may soon make the idea of DTOC more achievable than ever. Brands will be able to provide more accurate customizations for real user groups based on the patterns they observe in the digital twins, all while protecting any of the individual’s identifiable information.
Joining the chat: optimizing content for voice search
When it comes to the impact of voice-activated tools on consumer behavior, the numbers speak for themselves. 61% of adults in the United States use some form of voice assistant, with 57% of voice assistant users making voice commands on a daily basis.2 Smart speakers were introduced to the market for the first time in 2014, and now over a third of Americans have one in their home.
As more consumers rely on voice search to interact with content online, savvy businesses are racing to optimize their web content for use by smart assistants.
Although long-form content certainly has its place in the world of e-commerce SEO or search engine optimization, it’s likely that short-form snippets will be the key to harnessing voice search as well. By strategically organizing online content into concise excerpts, businesses can make their content more appealing to voice assistant algorithms. This involves both producing natural, conversational short-form content and writing long-form content where each sentence can stand alone in response to voice queries.
Servicing customers: utilizing advanced AI chatbots
Automated chatbots are nothing new, but the proliferation of advanced AI has firmly built them into the future of digital marketing. Instead of making users rely on search functions or complex FAQ pages, businesses can use advanced chatbots to simulate personalized conversation that engages their users instantaneously. And with chatbots now achieving satisfaction rates that exceed those of human representatives, businesses can implement them while upholding the integrity of their brand and customer service.3
To be successful, chatbots have to both correctly interpret user questions and respond to them appropriately—whether that’s providing information directly or connecting users to a human agent for more complex questions.
Backing up chatbots with a database of digestible information is the key to their utility, especially as they take on more and more advanced user queries. As the accuracy of chatbots increases, they’re likely to become a critical tool in keeping potential customers in the sales funnel, providing prospects with instantaneous answers around the clock.
Envisioning the future: augmented reality
One of the common challenges all businesses face with digital marketing is making connections between the online representation of their products and their real-life implementations. Marketers help users envision what problems their product aim to solve through persuasive copy and campaigns, but these digital methods often lack tangibility.
Enter: Augmented reality.
Augmented reality (AR) tools combine real and virtual worlds by projecting digital content into physical environments, typically through the lens of a phone camera. Although AR first shot to popularity in the context of interactive gaming, there’s an emerging application for AR in the marketing sector.4 Businesses can create immersive AR tools that allow users to not just imagine how products would look in their space, but see them firsthand.
As AR tools become more commonplace, customers will be able to virtually test out makeup and stage furniture in their homes—all from the convenience of their iPhones.
AR encourages users to see, hear, touch, and feel how products align with their unique needs, helping them feel more confident in their purchases. With advanced motion capture, shadows, textures, and even sounds, AR provides users with an engaging, gamified way to shop.
Getting specific: utilizing microinfluencers
The era of influencer marketing is still in full swing, with influencers providing massive engagement for the brands they represent.5 One of the reasons influencers are such brilliant marketers is the trust they build with their audiences as individuals. But as well-known influencers skyrocket to celebrity status, consumers are left searching for something a bit more relatable and down-to-earth.
Microinfluencers fill this gap, providing trustworthy recommendations and testimonials to a relatively smaller, more localized or niche audience. While traditional influencers have a larger reach, microinfluencers often have a deeper connection with their viewers, which legitimizes their opinions.
Typically, microinfluencers have a certain specialty of interest, which gives brands the opportunity to leverage their expertise and connect with a passionate sub-group within their target audience.
Activating employees: sharing employee testimonials
Employee activation is an official company program that incentivizes real employees to become content creators. Businesses encourage their marketing team members to share videos and posts that highlight stories and topics related to their work, typically alongside other content about their day-to-day lives. By giving people a sneak peek into their work lives, employees become the ultimate brand ambassadors.
Unlike posts from official brand accounts, social content from employees provides a real-life perspective that users can relate to on a personal level. When someone highlights topics related to their job in a positive way, they can encourage a favorable view of their employer and be a real-life example of its positive company culture.
When implementing employee activation programs, authenticity and reciprocity are key. The content employees share should be related to their interests and genuinely represent their experiences at work. Instead of building content creation into every role at the company, businesses can encourage social posts by providing incentives, creating a culture that embraces social media, and providing employees with a workplace that they’re excited to brag about.
Diving in: staying up on marketing trends
Successful businesses know that even if their core brand and function remain the same, they need to keep up with how consumers receive their messaging. As attitudes evolve and new tech hits the market, it can be challenging to identify the marketing trend is a momentary fad and which are a long-term part of consumer culture.
Taking risks is part of staying on the cutting edge of digital marketing—innovative companies aren’t afraid to embrace new norms and pivot to a new marketing strategy.
As a full-service digital marketing agency, Power Digital provides businesses with the infrastructure they need to turn trending customer behaviors into long-term marketing campaign strategies. We empower businesses to become leaders in the digital landscape, leveraging innovative data-collection techniques to identify customized solutions. By applying trends across all marketing channels, our team of experts helps turn consumer behavior patterns into revenue.
Power Digital partners enjoy analytics-powered strategies that adapt to shifts in the digital marketing landscape while building an evergreen brand. Learn how the next generation of marketing tactics can work with your business by connecting with us today.
- Ad Exchanger. Digital Twins Of The Customer: The Future Of Data Collection. https://www.adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/digital-twins-of-the-customer-the-future-of-data-collection/
- NPR. NPR & Edison Research: Smart Speaker Ownership Reaches 35% of Americans. https://www.npr.org/about-npr/1105579648/npr-edison-research-smart-speaker-ownership-reaches-35-of-americans
- BloggingWizard. 29 Top Chatbot Statistics For 2023: Usage, Demographics, Trends. https://bloggingwizard.com/chatbot-statistics/
- Harvard Business Review. The Mainstreaming of Augmented Reality: A Brief History. https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-mainstreaming-of-augmented-reality-a-brief-history
- Influencer Marketing Hub. Key Influencer Marketing Statistics to Drive Your Strategy in 2023. https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-statistics/