Marketing is a dynamic field, this much is well known. What nobody seemed to see coming was the impact of emerging technology on the marketing world over the past few years. Automation, big data, artificial intelligence (and all that it enables), and even the ubiquitous nature of smartphones have all shaped the direction of what was formerly seen as a staid business function.
With that said, the industry move toward more adoption of these technologies shows no indication of slowing. In fact, the trend is solidifying and even accelerating in some cases. These are our picks for the top marketing trends to keep an eye on as we enter the new year.
Here’s the thing—people trust people. And user-generated content offers companies an inexpensive way to do multiple things. Engagement on UGC is high (see comment about trust), the company can use the content to show off social proof of the validity of their claims. And on top of that, it encourages new users to come on board by showing the product being used in the real world by people just like you.
Social Messaging Apps
This one’s a numbers game. WhatsApp has 1.6 billion regular users and Facebook messenger has 1.3 billion. Add an additional 1 billion from WeChat and you have a massive global audience to target. And adoption is already commonplace, with 50% of respondents to a recent poll saying they would give their business to a company who uses one of these social messaging apps to communicate with their customers. The key to successful messaging is to highlight content, interact with customers on their terms, and be able to respond in-channel to customer questions, comments, or issues.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This entry is a blanket of sorts, seeing as how several of the other items on our list rely on an underlying use of AI to function. What we’d like to highlight here is the ongoing and increasing use of the algorithms and machine learning technology that powers these new technologies. Things like Chatbots powered by natural language processing (NLP) that can learn how to better answer the public’s questions the more questions are asked. Estimates are that 85% of customer service interactions will be conducted by these chatbots by the end of 2020. Then there are the automation solutions being developed and deployed. Emails, social media posts, blog articles, and programmatic advertising are all examples of tech to watch this year, all powered by AI.
One of the specific abilities of AI technology we’re watching is the ability to personalize nearly every aspect of your campaigns. From segmenting your contact lists to better target niches of your audience, to tailoring offers for users based on their purchase or browsing history. The easy availability of data will continue to power innovations in this sphere and smart marketers will be keeping an eye out for new opportunities since 80% of consumers say they prefer a company that offers this sort of personalized experience.
We know. Video has been heralded as the next great thing for marketing for several years now. And that greatness just hasn’t materialized for the most part. But the thing is, video is pretty great, and it is proving it’s staying power by not only not going away but actually steadily increasing its share of eyeballs. The proliferation of mobile computing has led to a decrease in long-form content consumption, while ubiquitous broadband connection speeds have led to an explosion of video content consumption and video content customers. To the point where 63% of consumers say their favored method of learning about a new product is via short videos.
Home smart speakers and mobile devices are behind this trend, along with what are referred to as “micro-moments.” These are when people decide they need information on a subject in the spur of the moment, and whip out their phone, tablet, or ask their home device to look it up. Semantic search optimization is the term given to the segment of SEO that focuses on the way people ask questions vocally, as opposed to how they used to type questions into search boxes. This form of optimization will soon be a requirement for any business wishing to reach the 50% of internet searchers expected to be using voice commands by the end of 2020.
Omni-Channel Marketing Strategies
Omni-channel refers to marketing strategies that encompass multiple outlets such as blog posts, paid ads, social media offers, and TV spots all in one campaign. This contrasts with campaigns that consist of only one media type, say a billboard. Maintaining a consistent voice across channels not only boosts engagement, it goes quite a long way toward engendering trust amongst your audience.
Content Marketing Will Continue to Dominate SEO
The numbers are still being crunched from Google’s latest algorithm update. What we do know, however, is that 88% of B2B marketers say content marketing is the way to generate trust and beneficial feelings among consumers by steadily increasing SEO pull. This shows us that content marketing isn’t going anywhere but up in 2021 and the current content marketing trends will continue. The reduced costs involved, combined with the additional lead generating power it offers over traditional outbound techniques are behind the continued adoption of content marketing across sectors. Add to that the fact the growing numbers of internet users who install ad blocking extensions in their browsers, this software effectively quashes your paid search ads, and the importance of organic SEO reach becomes clear.
All of the items on our list can be boiled down to one main focus—the customer experience. If not for your customers, what would be the point of all this investment of time and energy marketing your product, right? And study after study has shown that the way to keep customers happy is to constantly work on improving their experience from the first time they see your content, through their research and learning phase, and all the way through becoming that happy customer. Keep your eyes on these trends and implement the ones that fit your needs and you’ll be well on your way toward cultivating an army of happy customers of your own.
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