Digital marketing used to be less complicated. The internet marketplace was powered by viral videos, random influencers and Facebook likes, and strategy was more straightforward.
But times have changed. More than 80% of Americans go online daily, often spending more hours there than in front of the TV, and 1.5 billion social media users are active worldwide. Consumers’ behavior and expectations have evolved; so have the digital world’s platforms, technologies and business models. Savvy marketers have learned to pay more attention to the shifting patterns of digital marketing and quickly change their strategies to take advantage of new technologies and consumer preferences.
Let’s take a look at five digital marketing trends that will undoubtedly change the landscape in 2023 and beyond.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic caused many retailers to move live events online. In the first months of the COVID-19 restrictions, 68% of B2B marketers replaced some or most of their in-person events with virtual events (B2B Marketing Zone, 2020). While the jury is still out on the continuing strength of this trend, virtual events are still popular with many companies. In a recent PCM survey, 48% of respondents said hesitancy to travel will remain strong in the coming year.
Going virtual means rethinking the way events are presented. In the U.S. 71% of event planners are including Q&A sessions, chat rooms and other interactive features in their virtual events. Sixty-nine percent said they will continue to employ a webinar format and 62% are inviting livestream speakers (PCMA, 2020).
One emerging trend of the last few years involves taking full advantage of the growing differentiation or “channeling” of media markets. These channels can include websites, apps, social media, email, and traditional marketing platforms such as brick-and-mortar retail stores or company events. While it’s tempting and useful to focus on the most likely platforms for your customers, there’s a growing consensus that omnichannel marketing is the smartest way to go.
Omnichannel marketing is the collaborative integration of the channels that organizations use to interact with consumers to create a convenient, seamless user experience with multiple avenues to purchase. It allows you to keep track of all customer interactions and helps maintain a strong sense of your brand identity across different channels. For example, a customer with an issue might use a contact form on your website leaving their mobile phone number. You respond by text or phone, then check back later on their preferred social media channel to see if the problem was resolved. Omnichannel marketing creates marketing synergies that smart companies know how to capitalize on.
Artificial intelligence enables machines to perform tasks the way humans do but much faster and more efficiently. And like humans, AI-assisted services are able to adjust to situations and improve with experience. AI software employs advanced technologies such as natural language processing and deep learning to recognize patterns in vast amounts of data.
Blueshift recently reported that 28% of marketers employ AI for product recommendations and 26% use it to optimize ongoing campaigns. Marketers use AI and analytics to collect and analyze data and automate marketing-related processes such as content creation.
AI and analytics are employed by companies such as Amazon to learn customer preferences and buying patterns. Using AI to keep up with trends can help you improve your overall digital marketing strategy with a minimum of extra work.
One of the biggest advantages of AI is that it removes guesswork. It allows you to be more data-driven rather than letting yourself be governed by intuitions, past performance patterns and wishful thinking.
Recently, AI has made even more dramatic advances. ChatGPT, a next-generation chatbot developed by San Francisco research lab OpenAI, was released in December 2022 to positive reviews. The New York Times labeled it “the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public.” The Guardian noted that it was able to generate “impressively detailed” and “human-like” text. The implications for the marketing sphere are huge.
Video has always been a hugely popular internet activity, and it shows no signs of slowing down. This year, it represented 82% of all content online, generating $90 billion worth of business, according to financesonline.com. A 2021 Renderforest survey found that video helped businesses increase brand awareness by 70%, traffic by 51%, and sales by 34%. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are the top five platforms for video marketing.
Smart marketers know there are many ways to harness the power of video: brand identity, customer support, lead generation – the list goes on. The most popular videos for marketing purposes are:
- Demo or product videos – short educational video clips that explain how your product or service works.
- Behind-the-scenes videos that give your audience the opportunity to meet the crucial people in your company and understand how your product is made.
- Customer testimonial videos that show how your product has fulfilled a need or desire from a typical consumer.
Videos are becoming increasingly sophisticated, using the latest production and editing techniques to produce a professional-looking result. Be sure to invest in quality editing software and dedicate the time needed to make good-looking videos.
Smart Speakers and Voice Search
Smart speakers and voice searches are rapidly becoming a worldwide phenomenon. While the U.S. grabbed about 24% of the global smart speaker market last year, China more than doubled that number (51%). Alexa, Siri and Cortana are becoming a regular part of consumer life, and smart companies are capitalizing on the trend.
In 2022, 40.2 percent of Americans used voice search features, and 71% of consumers prefer to conduct queries by voice instead of typing (eMarketer). And devices such as watches, clothing, TVs and home appliances are beginning to offer more voice search features.
More than half of all online shoppers in the US use voice assistants to help them research products, while over one-third use them to add new items to their shopping list (Narvar). About 30% of online shoppers use it to track their packages, 20% leave reviews or ratings, and 17% use voice search to repurchase items.
Most purchases made via voice are for health and beauty products. Between August 2019 and August 2021, about 8.9 million health and beauty products were bought via smart speakers. Close behind is the electronics category, which saw 8.8 million purchases (oberlo.com).
Voice commands are often used to buy household supplies. Some 8.5 million household products were bought via voice from August 2019 through August 2021, and that trend is growing quickly (oberlo.com).
Overall, 2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year for digital marketing. With the rise of AI and machine learning, the increasing importance of virtual events and omnichannel marketing, the rising popularity of smart speakers and the accelerating shift towards visual and video content, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers in new and exciting ways. By staying on top of these trends, businesses can ensure that their digital marketing efforts are effective and successful.
By the way, that concluding paragraph was written with the help of our new friend and artificially intelligent overlord, ChatGPT.