If we were to describe the past year, we would use the word "unpredictable." Many pre-pandemic marketing trends never reached fruition; others saw the light of day with the help of quick and forced adaptations; some took the world by surprise, establishing themselves as absolute rulers. If by digital marketing you understand all the ways you can keep in touch with your audience, then the past year proved us the opposite by teaching a few valuable lessons.
What Were Last Year’s Top Digital Marketing Trends
One of the most notable digital trends that reshaped the world as we knew it was the upsurge of "online presence." If you are a website designer, you most likely had your hands complete with creating websites from scratch or updating old websites to meet the new UI/UX requirements & needs.
eCommerce sales went through the roof, and everybody used live streaming & video conferencing. People spent more time on social media more than ever before. Shopping for products directly from social media without ever leaving the platform was something we were all happy to experience.
Last year, even the smallest "mom and pop" physical shops built an online store too, contracted a home-delivery service, paid posts on social media, and tried to make the best out of a chaotic situation.
SEOs and digital marketers worked closely with web designers to boost their UI/UX strategies and stay ahead of the competition. This worked whether they sold products, delivered services, or created funny content to make peoples’ lives a little bit better and more manageable.
Top 7 Successful Digital Marketing Trends to Incorporate Into Your Business Plan From Now On
The question now is what digital marketing strategies that rose to power last year will set the tone in digital marketing shortly. Were they just fads, or are they here to stay? The Ucraft team has searched far and wide for the most relevant current digital marketing trends and identified 7 of them that will not go away any time soon.
If you want to stay on top of your marketing game and always be one step ahead of your competitors, then dive in! Let's see what digital marketing trends you need to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy this year!
1. User-Generated Content
Customer experience and engagement with a brand have never been as essential as they are now. If the past year taught us something, it taught us that the customer always comes first.
From how brands built or upgraded their websites to the customer support they offered, all businesses did everything in their power to offer their existing clients and prospects a unique, personalized experience.
We have talked about incorporating user-generated content in your digital marketing strategy as a surefire way to increase brand loyalty and boost sales. UGC is here, and it is going to get more prominent and more significant as time passes.
With so much Internet noise interfering with our decisions, brands fight for that flair of authenticity and trustworthiness that can separate them from their competitors. Here is where UGC comes in and makes the difference.
Please read the guide we mentioned above and draft a digital marketing plan to harness social media and UGC's power. You want to add value to your business, the community you serve, and your present or future customers alike.
2. Voice and Visual Search Optimization
It is no secret that smart speakers such as Alexa, Cortana, and Google Home have been rising lately. More and more people begin to show a preference for voice search over typing. Not only is it faster, but it's also much more convenient for our busy modern lifestyle.
Past estimates predicted that by 2020, approximately 50% of all internet searches would go through voice searches (Brafton, 2019). Now, with 1 in 4 American households owning a smart speaker, it is clear that voice search will change everything we know about SEO and digital marketing. To stay on top or get there in the first place, you need to adapt your marketing strategy to include voice search optimization:
Directly answer the questions you assume people are asking;
Get a Google My Business listing – as advised above: since people often use the "near me" term (e.g., "Hey Google, find a bakery near me"), your business should be registered online if you provide such services;
Optimize your blog content to increase chances of it appearing as a featured snippet on Google;
Improve your website loading time;
Use more conversational language in your content;
Keep these points in mind when rolling out new content and reviewing your older content for update purposes (more on that in a moment). Voice search is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends, so make sure you adapt your marketing strategy to include it.
Ad revenues for visual search are predicted to grow to $865 billion by 2022;
Research from ViSenze found that 62 percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers want to have visual search capabilities, and their appetite for the technology means that this trend is worth your attention;
Early adopters that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%.
The use of chatbots has been on the rise lately and have experienced their fair share of attention in 2019. Experts predict they will become even more common after the passing year, so they are crucial in current and future digital marketing trends. There is still some work to do in terms of chatbots to manage complex tasks, but the future seems bright, and the overall chatbot IQ is increasing quickly.
Using chatbots has become so prominent that, aside from saving time, they are also great at helping a business cut costs and generate more revenue. Chatbots have been a blessing for support teams worldwide, who now have time to answer complex customer questions as they leave the simple ones to chatbots.
The chatbot trend is also great for customers because they can get instant answers instead of waiting for the support team to answer phones or emails. After all, chatbots do not take bathroom breaks or get hungry.
If you are currently building a business website with Ucraft, check out all the integrations we offer. Get the best solutions for your business to communicate better with your customers and turn website visitors into loyal clients.
4. Influencer Marketing
Considering the massive popularity of platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and blogs, it's no surprise that more and more people are sponsoring influencers to promote their products. You have probably noticed this digital marketing trend yourself.
Both large and small influencers alike have been uploading sponsored content and doing brand deals, working closely with companies to get their message across. According to stats, influencer marketing became a $10 million market last year, and everybody expects it to grow.
As of late, brands are beginning to lean towards micro-influencers more than celebrities, especially after observing that the engagement rate is higher for creators with somewhat smaller audiences. This is because micro-influencers seem to have a closer relationship with their followers, encourage more trust, and look more authentic. Besides, for small and medium businesses, choosing micro-influencers over celebrities is much easier on the bank account.
Let's see how we stand on influencer marketing these days:
According to the 2020 Influencer Marketing Report, over 50% of digital marketers lean towards influencer marketing as an important and viable strategy.
It makes sense since 61% of consumers aged 18-34 admit they follow online influencers regarding product recommendations and purchase decisions.
Moreover, 90% of marketers also say that authenticity is key when choosing influencers to promote a product, so many marketers choose micro-influencers nowadays.
In the past, marketers tended to choose Instagram influencers over creators from other platforms, focusing on finding Instagram influencers and creating partnerships with them. Nonetheless, YouTube also remains incredibly popular – especially for vloggers, video podcasts, and beauty channels. A great thing about the future of micro-influencer focus is that they are often easier to contact and start partnerships with, so consider this when doing your research.
You should know that UGC marketing, influencer marketing, and affiliate marketing are different strategies altogether. Before you jump the bandwagon of popular digital marketing trends to boost sales, do your research and understand which of these paths work best for your brand and customers.
What are podcasts? They are audio recordings of discussions on particular topics without any cuts. In other words, they are organic conversations recorded for listening purposes. Nowadays, podcasts often come together with a companion video, making the listener/viewer feel like they are in the studio with the people on screen.
Podcasts have been around for some time now, but nothing can compare to the growth they have witnessed in the past couple of years. According to recent reports and statistics:
Around 55% of Americans listen to podcasts; such formats, while lacking some finesse and style, bring that much-sought authenticity and direct user engagement than other "old-school" marketing strategies do;
- Podcasts have piqued advertisers' interest, too, as they seem more willing to invest in this branding and content type
There is an exciting podcast out there for all audiences to enjoy. We are talking about everything in between, from iTunes to Spotify and YouTube. Not everyone is Joe Rogan, of course.
Still, this realization is not even that important. As long as you have engaging topics to discuss, you will find your audience and possibly gain a considerable following. However, if you are not about the podcast life, you can still team up with podcasters themselves and advertise on their channels. If you wonder why podcasts work, let us give you some arguments in their favor:
One of the reasons why podcasts are such an effective marketing channel is that they encourage a more attentive audience than text or classical advertising. People often listen to them for knowledge-building purposes and entertainment.
As we've mentioned before, authenticity is super important, and podcasts convey this type of authenticity very well.
They allow direct and genuine interactions with the public. If you want to step up your game and organize live podcasts for your audiences, you encourage live interventions, comments, Q&A sessions, and more.
Generally speaking, there are two types of podcasts: audio-only and video. Likewise, there are two main ways to incorporate podcasts into your digital marketing plan:
Start one yourself;
Find podcasters willing to collaborate and advertise your product/service during their ad time slots;
Starting a podcast yourself/with your organization is a great idea, but you need to make sure you have quality equipment and quality content. When starting a podcast, you decide when to promote your business and how much you want to promote it (although it's better not to go overboard since people will see your entire recording as one full ad).
Let's assume you want to speak about marketing. Here is what you should do:
Watch a few marketing podcasts and see what kind of format would suit you and your business best.
If you don't have the time or resources to record podcasts yourself, conduct some market research and choose podcasts that best suit your niche.
After that, contact the producers and see if they are willing to work with you and decide on the ad content and placement.
6. Video Marketing
2020 was the year we said a big goodbye to traditional marketing and welcomed video marketing in its place. YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are all huge when it comes to video advertising, as a good majority of internet users watch video content daily.
According to the Search Engine Journal, over 60% of consumers reported that video was the only type of content that was truly engaging for them and regularly consumed it.
Convince and Convert reports confirm that approximately 80% of people also consider video search when doing product research. Over half of the total people surveyed claim that online video has helped them pick out the right product.
If we consider influencer marketing, this makes sense since there are tons of product reviews on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and even Facebook. However, in the spirit of authenticity, brand storytelling, and engagement, many companies start using DIY-style videos instead of super professional-looking video advertising campaigns. Consider this when you design your future user-generated content marketing campaigns, you might get amazing surprises.
Once again, video marketing goes back to authenticity and trustworthiness, which – as you may have guessed – are probably one of the leading digital marketing trends this year and beyond. In terms of video marketing that possesses an authentic vibe, there are various options available out there, with some of the main ones being live streaming, video podcasts, vlogging, IGTV, vertical videos, and more.
We dedicated an entire blog post to video marketing to emphasize how important video content and momentum are. Check it out!
7. Artificial Intelligence
Our list of successful digital marketing trends is about to end. The last trend pinpoints artificial intelligence for marketing. AI takes over many basic jobs, but experts predict it to be at the center of global business marketing soon.
There are various benefits to AI:
it gives companies a competitive advantage
allows them to enter into new markets
and reduces costs (among others)
Examples of artificial intelligence applications in marketing include AI-generated content, programmatic advertising, chatbots, and AI marketing analysis, to name a few. Companies can now use predictive analytics based on consumer data to forecast the customers' purchasing decision process and supply them with the most relevant information to make things easier and more effective.
Overall, artificial intelligence seems to be a revolutionary marketing tool in the upcoming years. We can see proof of it already, as AI is present in everyday marketing practices. A good start is to incorporate chatbots into your customer support system and move from there. For more information on AI in marketing, check out our article, "What artificial intelligence can do for marketing."
Digital Marketing Trends to Incorporate into Your Business Plan: The Future Is Bright
We live in an era where digital marketing slowly replaces traditional marketing, and many things are possible. You can be more creative than ever with your advertising. Keeping these ten trends in mind, revisit your digital marketing strategy and see what you can add or tweak. You may have noticed that one of the key themes was authenticity, which is rapidly replacing blunt, pushy marketing as we speak.
Remember to stay authentic, make the most out of modern technology, and engage your current and future consumers to build customer loyalty and trust. Don't be afraid to stray from your usual digital marketing plan and do something different this year. We hope our post inspired you to continue your big entrepreneurial dreams!
Before we leave you to your research, we'd love to hear from you! Are these digital marketing trends relevant to your brand? What will you incorporate into your business and marketing plan from now on? How do you think they will help? Please share your thoughts and experiences, and let's all have better customer engagement and sales together!
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