2018 has come to a close and the new year has begun, so perhaps you’re reviewing your current marketing strategies and wondering what’s in store for the future. The constant development of new technology makes digital marketing a fast-paced environment, and if you’re not on top of the trends your competitors could pass you by.
It can be challenging to pick your way through the up and coming technologies and decide what’s here to stay, as well as what works for your business. So, what is the future of digital marketing? We’ve been looking into the emerging trends to find out.
Future Digital Marketing Trends
When you’re planning future digital marketing activities, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. It’s equally as easy to get so enthused about a new technology or trend that you want to include it in your strategy no matter what. Trying to force a trend into your plans that isn’t suitable for your market can be as bad as a lack of awareness. The key is to be aware of the trends and take the time to weigh up whether they really work for your company or brand.
Below, you’ll find the future digital marketing strategies that are predicted to be big in the near future. You don’t need to adopt them right away, and it could even be some time before they work for you. But having an awareness of what’s to come is sure to keep you ahead of the curve!
Automation: Chatbots and AI
An emerging technology that’s changing the face of digital marketing is the AI (Artificial Intelligence) that’s used to power chatbots. They’re big news, with 15% of consumers reported to have engaged with one over the past year, whether they were aware of the fact or not. They’ve already been proven to increase engagement and conversions, and also help with lead generation. This trend is set to continue, and marketers need to consider how to use this technology to their advantage.
The estimated number of worldwide users of digital virtual assistants is expected to exceed 1.6 million by 2020. Voice recognition and personalisation are constantly improving, making this the technology that consumers are likely to increasingly rely on over coming months and years.
Brand PR and Storytelling
In the near future, Generation Z will continue to hold most of the spending power. Marketers will need to pay particular attention to them for future success. Brands are likely to succeed if they care about the world around them, but they need to do much more than that. Consumers need to hear their stories loud and clear to find them relatable, which will in turn lead to brand advocacy. Brand PR will become crucial. If you don’t have a story to tell, you’re likely to struggle to compete.
The Power of Social
According to OfCom data, 77% of UK internet users have a social media profile, and while Facebook is still the most-visited platform, businesses shouldn’t ignore Instagram and Snapchat, particularly if they’re aimed at targeting younger customers (both platforms grew year on year in 2018, Instagram by 22% and Snapchat by 122%!) . With increased social usage, expect Instagram ad spend to increase, and expect social platforms to be even further integrated into third-party applications.
Improvements to voice search make it an area that’s only set to grow in future months and years. The ultimate in convenience, Alexa, Siri and Cortana are one step closer to the type of personal assistant seen in sci-fi films. This has a huge impact to the way content is created. Marketers will need to adopt a much more conversational and natural-language-based tone to capitalise on this development in search, and it could shake up the search landscape for years to come.
On the subject of search, another thing to watch out for is the ongoing evolution of Google’s search results (SERPs). Over the years, the search engine giant has tried many different features, from different ad placements, to site-links, to images, video and shopping. A big thing at the moment is related questions, which you’ve no doubt seen in the SERPs:
Each of these when expanded, links to a page that Google feels provides the best answer to that question. This provides additional exposure, so pages should be optimised with these SERP features in mind. Expect these to change as Google experiments with different SERP formats.
While digital is clearly where businesses need to be focusing their efforts, digital marketing on its own may not always provide the best results. Nowadays customers expect to be able to find information and make purchases on the go and via various different devices and touchpoints. This is why it’s important to be able to interact with your customers across all of your channels, and all of these touchpoints. It’s more customer-centric than multi-channel marketing, making for a seamless and consistent experience. If customers don’t get this, expect them to go elsewhere.
For more info, read our guide to building an omnichannel strategy
The Future of Digital Marketing in a Data-Privacy World
Despite some huge changes in digital marketing earlier this year around GDPR and data privacy, digital marketing doesn’t seem to have suffered in the way many feared.
However, data usage is likely to continue to be a hot topic and could potentially be one of the future challenges of digital marketing. A recent study found that 75% of respondents were concerned about how their shopping history was being used. This paves the way for even more stringent data usage laws in future which could make personalisation increasingly difficult.
There’s No Crystal Ball…
We hope you’ve enjoyed our glimpse into what the future holds for digital marketing. Unfortunately, we can’t see the future, but our best predictions are based on the technology and trends that are showing the most promise. This article only scratches the surface of some of the things to come, but ultimately, we think that machine learning will change the face of the digital world. Brace yourself for the future and make sure you’re on top of your game!