The events of 2020 have pretty much shaken the world to its core. No one could really predict that life as we know it was going to change as drastically as it did.
For most organisations, going digital was the best bet in order to continue operating amid seemingly perpetual lockdowns that disallowed face-to-face interactions, while some industries had to close down temporarily. This meant that digital marketers had their work cut out for them.
Now that it’s more than a year since the pandemic began, it’s worthwhile to look at some of the top digital marketing trends across the planet. Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as one of the top technologies transcending multiple digital marketing solutions you might want to incorporate in your digital strategy as you’ll see below.
- Artificial Intelligence
AI is quite a robust technology and is helping digital marketers perform a variety of tasks faster and more optimally. This then results in better customer and user experiences leading to increased conversion rates.
E-commerce has become one of the major market segments benefitting from AI. One example of AI-based technology is how it helps to personalise user inputs on search engines or email marketing.
Another example is AI-powered chatbots that many businesses are now engaging in their digital strategies. More on these below.
The use of chatbots is growing rapidly as they improve customer service response rates. Apps such as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger use chatbots to respond to user queries or questions in the absence of real customer services agents.
This allows customers to receive responses instantly to any common issue at any time, while also shortening waiting queues of helplines. Any frequently asked questions will have pre-programmed answers, with all difficult ones being deferred to human agents. The market is expected to grow at 35% per annum for the next five years to over US$102 billion.
- Virtual assistants
Voice searches via AI-powered virtual assistants are becoming increasingly popular and these are available either as device apps or as standalone smart speaker devices. Currently, the most common virtual assistants are Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.
In addition, the global smart speaker market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 27% until 2025, signalling increasing demand for virtual assistants. Incorporating voice searches in your digital strategy ensures customers have an enhanced customer experience, and ultimately brand loyalty.
- Personalised marketing
To create marketing material that is unique and creates a more engaging user experience, personalisation is the way to go. This is being achieved through email campaigns, products and services. One study found that 80% of consumers were more likely to buy a product when the brand personalised the experience.
Rather than doling out generic content to your audience, personalisation uses AI to provide content suggestions based on data points like previous purchase behaviour and seasonality. One of the best examples of this are streaming media service providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that give movie and TV show recommendations.
It’s no surprise that media, particularly video, makes marketing material more engaging, thus driving up conversion rates. With the age of social media, video marketing can lead to content going viral in a matter of minutes, drawing millions of audience to a brand.
Video platforms such as TikTok have grown aggressively over the past few years, particularly due to their primarily Gen Z and millennial audience. Additionally, the video content can be cross-shared on various social media platforms, leading to increased brand engagement. They can also be personalised via AI.
- Social media
With most people involuntarily confined to their homes at the beginning of 2020, social media (particularly Facebook, Instagram and TikTok) saw a significant rise in usage as people wanted to stay in-the-know on pandemic news and for entertainment. This trend is expected to continue in 2021 although at a slower rate.
Social media ads are expected to grow to about US$111 billion in 2021, and continue on that path at an annual rate of 5% for the next few years. This is particularly being driven by the 2020 e-commerce boom, leading to the rise of social commerce.
- Social commerce
The combination of social media and e-commerce is being used by brands such that purchases can be made directly from social media ads (e.g. on Instagram) without having to use multiple apps for one transaction.
This results in increased online customer purchase completion rates. Several brands are also using omnichannel marketing techniques to provide maximum value to current and potential consumers.
- Content marketing and SEO
The method by which people search for content online is becoming a major talking point. Users are increasingly using visual searches in addition to text and voice searches.
Semantic searches are also seeing increased usage with search engines using AI to find contextual or implied meanings from text; Users do not necessarily have to use exact wording to find useful results. By using similar and related words, content marketers can reach their audience better than from only keywords.
The use of well-known celebrities and internet personalities for digital brand promotion has undoubtedly increased in popularity in the past few years. Their large audiences can connect positive views of the influencer to the brand they are promoting, thereby driving brand engagement.
Unlike with traditional ads, users tend to trust the influencer and are more likely to purchase something they are promoting as a result. The influencer market is worth approximately US$10 billion and the number of influencer agent firms has increased, with this trend set to continue.
- A/B testing
In marketing, it’s important to test the engagement rate of content to figure out which versions being published produce the highest impressions, and to then push out those. By using SEO analysis tools such as A/B testing, your brand can spend more efficiently for a higher return on investment on ads and maximise conversions.
These are just 10 of the most popular digital marketing trends at the moment, and as we have seen, they are all quite connected in some way, particularly as most of them use AI.
At Digital Grind, we have the right tools and capabilities to help you build and execute an effective and successful digital strategy, increasing engagements and gaining a higher ROI. Talk to us and we’ll help you jump onto these trends and see your brand grow.