The latest digital marketing trends, Part 01

Greater personalization

Marketing has been internet-based for many years. And because marketing trends change rapidly, you’ll want to ensure that your organization takes full advantage of recent changes. –We’re seeing a historic shift in beliefs about what marketing is. It’s no longer about convincing people to buy from or work with your company.

Instead, the priority has become almost entirely customer-focused with psychographic algorithms that capture the needs and interests of your demographic targets in first-page search results.

Every part of digital marketing — social media newsfeeds, display ads, social ads, search engine optimization, and even email — is becoming algorithm-driven. Increasingly sophisticated algorithms can capture whether your products and services match what customers want. The stronger the overlap, the more likely a Google search will rank your brand above your competitors. These algorithms all optimize for the same essential thing: user experience. This transition includes a new, more focused SEO.

So the emphasis now is on providing exceptional, individualized customer experiences that will keep people coming back. Customers respond to personalized messaging that helps them solve problems to make informed buying decisions. Customers want more than just basic information. This demands an individualized customer-focused process that defines their customer journey. Interestingly, “Seventy-three percent of people say that customer experience is an important factor in their buying decisions, but currently, only 49% of US consumers say that today’s companies provide a good experience.” (source). Building customer loyalty is more important than ever. As the management experts at Bain and Company point out, a mere 5 percent boost in customer retention increases profit by 25 percent. (source)

Efficiency, convenience, knowledgeable and friendly service, and easy payment options are what people value most in their customer experience. But aspects more traditionally considered as marketing’s domain are cited too: up-to-date technology, an easy mobile experience, brand image, and design all contribute to the overall customer experience.

The technology available has made personalized content more accessible, and it draws in consumers far better than broad marketing. Therefore, personalized marketing is expected to play a more significant role moving forward. It can be used in many ways with more customized content, selection of products, and individualized emails. Personalized content can be approached in many ways, from product recommendations to personalized video campaigns and apps that display user data in interactive ways. For example, you can send emails that target specific customers. In fact, more than 70% of shoppers only act when marketing messages take their interests into account. (source).

Security is paramount

Digital marketers need to adapt to tighter privacy restrictions that are changing the way they can track their users’ behavior. Google announced its curtailing of third-party cookies by 2023. This means many marketers and advertisers will need to revamp their strategies. The key is to allow customers to opt-in for data tracking and analysis so they know how their data is being used. Eighty percent of consumers are concerned about their data privacy. (source)

The loss of third-party data is a catalyst for innovation in data collection, igniting new and creative ways to collect direct, first-party data through, for example, surveys and newsletter subscriptions. Learning how to continue tracking audiences and optimizing the available data is now a hot topic for marketers.

Leveraging first-party data

Above all, consumers need to trust the brands they do business with, and they want to feel like the brand is guarding their information.

This massive digital marketing shift requires reliance on first-party cookies, which means that markets are becoming more reliant on their own data. It’s important to understand that the same rules apply to first-party cookies as they do to third-party privacy: you need to be completely transparent and give consumers control over what data they share.

Adapting to the loss of 3rd party cookies has cultivated a movement back toward traditional first-party marketing. Getting closer to your audience and creating a personal, retention-driven relationship continues to evolve as businesses adjust to losing what was once expected in third-party data.

Another privacy requirement for consumers is HTTPS protocol. If there is a deficit with something so expected and basic, people will turn and leave. The same is true of websites with obvious errors and slow load times. These things reduce a site’s trustworthiness and cause consumers to navigate away quickly, hurting rankings.

Conversational marketing drives engagement

Eighty percent of frequent shoppers will only shop with brands that personalize their experience. So, it becomes essential to explain the value proposition of data collection to reassure consumers about privacy and understand what is valued most. (source). The internet is so flooded with content that it’s becoming increasingly challenging for customers to absorb all the presented data. So, to stand out from the crowd, delivering informative yet simple, clear, actionable content is the way to go. And taking a conversational approach to communication helps build critical brand loyalty.

Consumers want to reach and communicate with a business immediately and at all times. They want their questions answered, and if that does not happen, they often go elsewhere. Conversational marketing uses the desired dialogue-focused communication style to reach its goal. It needs to work on multiple channels because consumers want to reach you anytime and anywhere.

Fortunately, Improvements in technology such as the latest AI combined with increased data collection and insights from social media and other sources have made it possible to personalize everything from content to design to product recommendations.

Social media stories

If you have a good product, it might speak for itself, but consumers are no longer interested in hearing about how good it is compared with the competition. What consumers want is a story, one that is directed at how a brand’s product or service benefits them. The key is to deliver a story that illustrates to consumers how they will benefit and succeed if they utilize the advertised product or service.

It can be challenging to tell a convincing, engaging story that stands on its own merits. Weaving in stories and testimonials is an excellent way to go about digital storytelling, and if done correctly, it will elevate the relatability and overall value.
What begins as a trend on a single platform can evolve into something seen on every major social media service. A story, even one lasting only 24 hours, facilitates-

  • Companies and brands sharing more genuine posts
  • Content targeting people who actually want to see it
  • Posts connecting with audiences on a deeper, values-based level

People feel the need to stay connected with a brand they like

There are many ways to use stories. They can be a live video that feels authentic and serves as a call to action. Customers don’t want to talk to someone following a script; they want help specific to their needs and situation. They also want immediate response times, which means fewer formal communication channels.
Digital marketers can leverage stories as a great way to gather information through polls and quizzes. Moreover, using location and geofilters, stories can reach specific, targeted audiences. One example–companies don’t run the same commercials with the same actors from one part of the country to another.

So, sales and customer service reps (and bots) chat with customers through instant messages. The interactions are ideally like those you might have with a friend, centered around the need for personalization and more human-centered interactions.

Featured snippets and other “on SERP” information (what you see at the top of most search results) means that you don’t need to click through to a website to get the information you’re looking for anymore because it’s right there at the top of the Google search results. This position has been dubbed “position zero.” As it’s often the only information that a searcher will view, it’s highly coveted. Over 60% of search results returned by Google are now featured snippets. (source).

Brands are still trying to figure out how to achieve the “position zero” because it requires different SEO techniques than those employed for a standard listing in the SERPs. If you can be the first in your industry to master how to get there, you’ll gain a considerable advantage over your competitors. So expect to see more SEO companies offering this service over the next year.

 Customers Respond Favorably to Chatbots

Chatbots are a combination of conversational marketing and AI technology. They are capable of providing real-time automated messages that have a human-like quality. When effective, they are an excellent implementation of conversational marketing.

Chatbots provide a positive customer experience for most customers. Because of that, and with AI technology becoming increasingly sophisticated, chatbots are expected to become ever more critical. And, of course, Chatbots free up resources, customer support especially.

Social media commerce

Social media user numbers have surged in the past 12 months, too, with 520 million new users joining social media in the year to July 2021. That equates to an annualized growth of 13.1 percent, or an average of 16½ new users every second. (https://datareportal.com › reports › digital-2021-july-gl).

Reviewing social media trends, the Global Web Index considers social media’s influence on purchase intent. They note the continuing importance of influencers, particularly in some age groups, reporting that: 27% of Gen Zs say following influencers is one of the main reasons they use social media, ahead of seeing content from their favorite brands. (source)

More generally, their research shows the relative importance of different social networks on purchases. As expected, Facebook and Instagram are significant players. In addition, this report highlights the influence of TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest, suggesting the importance of consumer brands having an effective presence on all of these networks.

Meta takes prominence.

Facebook has officially changed its name to Meta. Facebook is betting big on the Metaverse, a term for virtual and augmented experiences. This constitutes a big bet on the future of the web. Facebook now has almost 3 billion users, and the user numbers grow every month.

So we’re not referring to Facebook [entirely] here. The Metaverse refers to the virtual world of augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D holographic avatars, and video—and not just one-off experiences like with gaming, but a persistent environment where people work, play and socialize. That’s in part because it has the potential to offer an entirely new set of performance metrics.

“Marketers will be able to experiment with how long virtual objects are held, how much space they take up in a user’s peripheral vision, and even where users are looking when experiencing an ad. These insights have the potential to completely re-map what you know about your audience, providing invaluable direction going forward.” (source).

Brands should begin thinking about this virtual Metaverse space as part of their marketing. Retailers ranging from Walmart to Saks have been experimenting with social commerce on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. This will continue as brands seek to shorten the distance from discovery to conversion.

But this marketing trend isn’t limited to big brands. According to CEO Jena Joyce, clean skincare brand Plant Mother saw a “100% increase in revenue and a 1280% increase in referral traffic after launching an Instagram shop in November 2021.
Being a new brand that can’t compete with large beauty companies with hefty advertising budgets, Instagram shopping proved to be a profitable alternative to paid ads,” she said. (source).

Related Social Media Trends

  • TikTok will continue to grow & brands need to take it seriously
  • Social commerce is becoming more seamless
  • YouTube advertising is exploding
  • Marketers need to upskill in digital
  • The digital gig economy is on the rise
  • The competition for digital marketing talent is intense

Websites are getting faster, upgrading your website is vital

Website traffic is overwhelmingly mobile; however, most websites still don’t have fully mobile-optimized experiences. As Google launched Core Web Vitals, speed will become ever more critical. It’s vital that you optimize your website.