The next big thing in digital marketing isn’t just one, singular trend. It’s an amalgam of technologically-driven changes that are paving the road to the future. We’ve seen how chatbots impacted 24 x 7 sales in 2016. But chatbots were just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve identified six burgeoning trends that will continue to change the course of digital marketing’s future.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Again, chatbots seemed to be the first widely-known feature that harnessed the power of artificial intelligence or AI. But the big payoffs were only beginning to emerge. AI is now capable of automating virtually all of your digital marketing campaigns. Blueshift reports that 28% of digital marketers rely on AI for their products; 26% utilize AI to power their campaigns.
There seems to be an emerging theme that digital marketers love AI and for good reason, they depend on it. A recent study from AppNexus shows that 86% of all digital marketers say that AI makes them more effective at their jobs. In fact, companies across the globe spent $6B in AI marketing throughout all of 2018. If anything is truly future-proof in digital marketing, it’s the power of AI, as it helps marketers reach unfounded performance and unprecedented scale.
2. Voice Search
Smart speakers, smart fridges, smartphones. The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow —and with it grows the importance of voice recognition and voice searching. This advent will mostly impact the way in which we approach SEO tactics going forward. Will short- and long-tail keywords still remain important? Definitely — mobile and desktop search won’t disappear any time soon.
However, you have to ensure that your company and/or products can be found with voice search. The number of individuals using voice search continues to grow. So what should you do? Ensure your content is excellent, conversational, and well-written. Google and Bing give praise to relevant, informative content. Both short-form and long-form are important. However, the focus going forward is how conversational (understandable) your content is — as this largely determines how relevant you are by voice search.
3. Influencer Marketing
Using the power of influencer marketing is also the next big thing in digital marketing. In fact, if this is the first time you’ve heard the term, chances are it’s not the first time you’ve encountered influencer marketing. Have you seen professional athletes endorsing a certain company’s goods on Instagram posts? Maybe you watched the documentary on the Fyre Festival scandal and saw how Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner were paid substantial amounts of cash to promote the greatest party that never happened?
That’s influencer marketing. The latter example might be more libelous than others, but it’s still a valid point: influencer marketing is powerful. By utilizing your network or connections with people who have a wealth of followers on social media, you can tap into a plethora of new leads.
You can even hire professionals renowned in their field to promote your products/services— just make sure you’re telling an honest story. Why? Because, as humans, we tend to trust those who we find to be valid and credible sources about a product. The bottom line: find a celebrity or well-known individual who falls in line with your brand and have them passively or actively market your product.
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4. Messenger/In-App Ads
It probably comes as no shock to realize mobile traffic is becoming more relevant. But what you may not know is how much advertising spend has increased in terms of optimizing for mobile. Since 2013, mobile ad spend has increased (globally) by $176.35B. Yes, billion with a “b.”
And with the popularity of apps, such as Whatsapp, boasting 450 million daily users, it’s obvious to see the apportunity (see what we did there?). In fact, research guru AppAnnie predicts that store and app ads will deliver $189B in revenue by 2020. That’s a 2.7x figure from 2015, with a recorded $70B in revenue.
5. User-Generated Content
Slightly-similar to influencer marketing, user-generated content is using your current (satisfied) customers to provide reviews or insights into how your products work. Now, of course, this could be a double-edged sword. You want to ensure your customers are happy with your product/services before you want to have them speak on your behalf.
And, typically, the cost to create user-generated content is honestly how much you’re willing to spend on a project. You could simply do case studies, guest blogs — even videos from the perspective of happy (and we emphasize happy) customers who can share the good news of what issues you’ve helped them solve.
In fact, National Geographic is famous for using user-generated content to help promote their brand. They encourage amateur and professional photographers alike to enter photography contests. All winning photos appear in upcoming issues of the magazine and result in cash prizes. The result? An increase in brand awareness and passive income from a $15 entry fee.
6. Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
Both augmented and virtual reality have made massive impacts for various marketers. Both of them require some pretty hefty work, from a technological point of view. And for good reason: they give the buyer an “inside scoop” about your product or service.
Augmented reality allows prospects to “test” whether or not your product or service will work for them. And, it’s a really useful tool. Ikea made headlines in 2018 by launching its augmented reality app, letting users test whether or not furniture would be a good fit in their living space. Virtually reality, on the other hand, is exactly like how it sounds: it requires a VR headset (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, etc.) and a well-programmed set of information. Imagine a virtual world where you get a tour, training, or demo of a product or service.
It worked for Lowes. The DIY home-improvement company spent time (and a lot of money) developing the Holoroom Test Drive, where home improvement hobbyists can master carpentry skills and try out virtual versions of new products before they make a purchase. Imagine testing the power of a new bush trimmer in a completely safe, danger-free space.
It’s clear to see how much technological prowess is advancing digital marketing’s best practices. The power of AI is undeniably the next big thing in digital marketing, as the technology allows newer and more exciting opportunities to flourish. But it doesn’t stop there. So many other tactics and best practices exist under the umbrella that AI brings.
Are you up to date with the next big thing in digital marketing? Any tips or advice you’d like to share? Before you do, we recommend taking a look at what AI and automation can do you for your paid media accounts.
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