Digital marketing is constantly evolving. New channels and apps are always entering the market. Consumer behaviors and content preferences are always changing. Fresh algorithm updates are impacting brands’ discoverability online.
Amidst all of that, there is one constant: Digital marketing allows you to reach your customers effectively and at scale. Perhaps eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar said it best: “We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people.”
How you use that technology and execute your digital marketing strategy will allow you to harness those connections. Below are eight trends that you should consider as you build out your plans and investments for the coming year.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
Thanks to the hype surrounding ChatGPT, AI is undoubtedly the buzziest topic in digital marketing right now. Its power lies in its ability to sift and analyze large amounts of data, even among separate databases, to help you better understand your business and your customers, and make more effective decisions.
AI can also be used to power always-on customer service tools like chatbots or to automate the creation of marketing copy and graphics. Some services like the graphic design tool Canva and ecommerce platform Shopfiy are embedding AI tools to help users create graphics and product descriptions on demand.
The balance between personalization and privacy is a hot-button issue right now. New privacy standards have changed how marketers approach personalization using first-party data that is acquired through a POS system, loyalty program, online ordering and customer-facing WiFi. But the good news is that customers want, and expect, personalized experiences, so they are open to businesses who use their data in a meaningful way. In a recent PwC survey, the two most commonly requested benefits served by personalization were discounts or rebates on regularly used products and flexible loyalty program rewards.
Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be a vital way for new customers to find your shop, restaurant, ecommerce site or service. Enlist friends to Google your business and the type of service or products you offer in your area (if you have a physical location). If your business website isn’t ranking high in searches, you have work to do.
A key SEO tactic is frequently updating your website and content. When was the last time you updated your website? Is it built with responsive design standards so that it looks good on any device? Does it feature relevant keywords, text-based information rather than images or PDFs, useful content and schema markups and on- and off-page optimization? If you’re not in tune with the latest best practices, consider hiring an SEO consultant or specialist that can help you reach your goals.
4. Voice Search
Voice search is just the marketing term associated with asking our Google, Apple and Amazon devices for information, and it continues to gain steam. Half of consumers use voice search daily and another 34% use it weekly, according to UpCity. It’s no wonder: One-third of U.S. consumers (35%) own a smart home device, while 85% own a smartphone. Similar to SEO, there are many factors that go into increasing your visibility in voice search, such as updating your Google Business Profile, SEO optimization, and positive reviews.
Video is the go-to content format online, from longer-form videos on YouTube to quick-hitting social media videos on TikTok and Instagram Reels. A staggering 65% of Internet traffic is video, according to Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report. And ads can be just as important as your organic social posts: According to Animoto, in 2022, 58% of consumers watched more social media ads than TV ads, a jump from 39% in 2019. And most businesses (93%) landed a new customer after sharing a social media video.
Videos can also do double-duty, as you can use them across platforms and on your website. Animoto also found that website landing pages with a video received 41% more traffic from search than those without a video.
Automating processes frees up staff and/or consultants from basic tasks and goes hand-in-hand with advances in AI and machine learning (ML). Common marketing tasks that can be automated include campaign management; sending welcome and follow-up emails; running reports on email and other marketing performance; scheduling social media posts; responding to social media mentions; running contests; generating and retiring coupon codes; and more. Automation is also used a great deal with customer service to handle simple customer queries, like questions about shipping, returns, open hours, and more.
7. Social Shopping
By 2025, social shopping — which means purchasing items directly from social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat – is poised to become a $1.2 trillion channel, according to Accenture. The goal is to create the shortest path from discovery to purchase, so that consumers don’t have to leave their favorite apps to order a pizza, buy shoes or make other purchases. If you have a product that can be purchased online, this is an important channel to consider, especially if you have a strong following on any of these platforms.
8. Influencer Marketing
The influencer market is expected to reach $21.1 billion in value this year, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub. Its survey data revealed that 39% businesses preferred working with nano-influencers (1K-10K followers) and 30% preferred micro-influencers (10K-100K followers) over macro-influencers (100K-1M) and celebrities at 19% and 12%, respectively. These numbers are significant because it shows that small businesses can still get in on this channel and may, in fact, better benefit from micro, local and regional influencers who are more collaborative and cost-efficient than influencers bombarding national and international feeds.
The hottest platforms for using influencer marketing is TikTok at 56%, followed by Instagram at 51%, Facebook at 42% and YouTube at 38%, the report noted.
This piece was adapted from an article initially written by Denise Greer, who is the Executive Editor of Pizza Today.