Ah, digital marketing. It’s everywhere, isn’t it?
In fact, it’s so ubiquitous it’s easy to get yourself into a bit of a knot with exactly what digital marketing is. Certainly, keeping up with the latest trends, news, must-haves and must-avoids is increasingly difficult.
This makes a ‘what does the future of digital marketing look like’ blog rather tricky to write, but write it we must, because it’s that time of the year when we all need to do a bit of educated guessing about what’s to come next year and beyond.
The good news? We immerse ourselves in digital marketing daily, and the work we undertake with clients gives us the perfect insight into what works now and what’s likely to make a difference in the future.
So, here’s our take on where you should focus your marketing sights next year and beyond.
Accessible influencer marketing
Not everyone can afford George Clooney when it comes to promoting their brand of coffee, but if we’ve learned one thing over the last twelve months it’s that influencer marketing is no longer reserved solely for those with deep pockets.
If you think about it, influencer marketing has been around for an awfully long time – it was just once known as ‘word-of-mouth’. If you’re a business owner, you’ll almost definitely have benefitted from it already. A customer testimonial or brief, positive reference of your brand over dinner is influencer marketing.
So, what’s going to change? Smaller brands are gradually beginning to realise that they can harness the power of influencer marketing without dipping into the marketing coffers.
Put simply, influencer marketing is becoming more recognisable and YouTube personalities revered rather than laughed at. That’s great news for them, but it’s brilliant news for ambitious start-ups and established businesses alike.
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation (we’ll get onto those in a moment), influencer marketing will become far more accessible during 2020. The ability to identify influencers-in-waiting by monitoring mentions of your brand on social media will be further bolstered by profiling capabilities that help brands discover the perfect influencers.
Your influencers are already out there – it’s simply time to identify them and use their significant powers to drive more people towards your brand.
AI-powered programmatic advertising
Two letters which are seemingly vastly overused these days: AI. Artificial Intelligence. The Terminator. Impending doom at the hands of ones and zeros.
Call it what you like – AI is set to take the digital marketing world by storm. In fact, many would argue it’s already doing just that.
Anything we can do, machines can often do better. And, far from Arnie taking over your digital marketing department and Hasta-La-Vista-Babying your budget into oblivion, AI will probably make you much better at paid advertising.
If you’ve invested any amount of time in pay-per-click (PPC) ads on any platform, you’ll know it’s cumbersome, expensive and near impossible to generate a decent return unless you spend three months on a course (after which the material learned will be out of date, regardless).
With AI and programmatic advertising, advertising space can be bought automatically and audiences built by software that understands your market and knows exactly where to look for potential clients.
Using data to determine the exact audience you should be targeting is far better than anything you’ll learn in the classroom. Thanks to AI’s continued commoditisation, it’s thought 86% of display ads will be presented by automation by 2020.
Hey, Siri – what’s voice optimisation?
Chances are, you probably searched for the answer to something this week by talking to your phone. And it didn’t feel weird, stupid or likely to produce zero results, did it?
Fifty percent of all internet searches are expected to be carried out by voice by 2020. That means every business – big and small – needs to start focusing on an SEO strategy that puts voice increasingly above traditional text searching.
That’s a big shift for most businesses, and will likely require an uplift in SEO spend, but if you avoid jumping on this particular trend now, you’re likely to miss out on a huge number of leads as people continue to speak more regularly with their technology.
It doesn’t take long to realise that the key to a successful content marketing campaign is conversational content.
That could be a blog post, podcast or video, but whatever it is, the tone needs to be natural and no different to what you’d expect from a one-to-one conversation with someone over a pint.
Conversational content is the future of content marketing. Traditional sales tactics which rely on generating demand by being overtly commercial rarely work these days. Personalising and humanising your content does.
It’s a slow burn. People will now take longer to convert from strangers to paying customers, but the wait is worth it, because conversational content creates a bond between brand and customer that’s hard to break.
As a result, you can expect video content to continue its dominance. Thanks to the increasingly impressive video capabilities of smartphones, video can literally be produced by anyone. For some businesses, it might even become the only type of media into which they invest their marketing time and effort.
So, why is so much changing in digital marketing?
There’s a simple reason the above trends are so transformative; it’s all about the customer being put first.
This hasn’t always been the case. Brands often put their own egos before the needs of the customer and focus on beating the competition rather than highlighting the major benefits of their product or service.
Ask yourself this: are you putting the customer at the forefront of your digital marketing strategy? Until now, doing so has admittedly been difficult; working with data and scheduling marketing campaigns was once a manual affair, but thanks to AI, automation and easily-accessible big data, we can now leave it to the machines.
Identifying marketing bandwagons you should avoid isn’t easy, but you can rely on this blog to keep you in the know about the future of digital marketing. So, stay tuned and spend some time looking into the trends above – I promise it’ll save you time in the long run.