- Consumers increasingly expect authentic content
- The optimisation of mobile marketing and voice search
- Cutting-edge technologies play an increasingly prominent role in marketing
- It has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer
The business world is changing rapidly, and this is particularly true in marketing, where the rise of the internet, smartphones, and social media have completely transformed the way companies reach their audience. Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer at consumer goods giant Unilever, says “I’ve seen more change in the past five years…than I did in the 25 years I was in business before that.” And as the pace of transformation increases and advertising efforts go increasingly digital, marketers work hard to stay on top of their game. That requires knowing trends that shape today’s world, but more importantly, recognising trends that will shape the future.
One of the trends that’s expected to shape the marketing industry next year is that brands are increasing their spending on the creation of authentic and valuable content. Also, consumers’ desire to see how other users and people they trust benefit from a certain product before buying it will remain as strong as ever. At the same time, mobile marketing is poised to be further optimised beyond the existing mobile-responsive design. Voice search is on the rise, too, forcing marketers to adapt their SEO practices, while artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies are set to provide marketers with new ways of reaching and impressing consumers.
Consumers increasingly expect authentic content
As people's trust in traditional ads plummets, advertisers increasingly rely on content marketing to meet their customers’ demand for authenticity. Videos, e-books, articles, infographics, and any other type of content that provides value to consumers is crucial in getting the brand’s message across. Another way for companies to show that they are trustworthy is advertising through influencers that a have strong relationship with their followers. And since people perceive user-generated content as three times more authentic than content created by companies, finding ways to motivate your consumers to share their positive experiences is becoming increasingly important. Action camera manufacturer GoPro, for instance, took this tactic to a whole new level. Its customers now share almost 5,000 videos each day, showcasing their exciting adventures accompanied by the #GoPro hashtag.
This also illustrates the importance of video content, on which people spend a third of their time online. This fact prompted Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms to introduce live video streaming, enabling businesses to easily share video content and engage with consumers. As the marketing expert Solomon Thimothy says, “It’s a must-try tool for entrepreneurs in any industry.”
The optimisation of mobile marketing and voice search
Smartphones will remain the best way to reach customers as more than 50 per cent of searches are done via mobile phones. With this in mind, it’s important to know that mobile-responsive design alone doesn’t automatically make a website or app mobile-optimised. Dave Chaffey, a co-CEO and co-founder of marketing company Smart Insights, explains that “many mobile experiences are sub-optimal since they are not designed for ... ‘thumbs and fingers’ interactions.” In other words, users may find it complicated to zoom in, swipe, scroll, and perform a range of other actions on their mobiles. Companies that want to keep their websites mobile-and-SEO-optimised will also have to drastically improve their loading speed as Google’s Speed Update is coming into full effect next year. This could make things rather unpleasant for certain businesses with websites that fail to load quick enough as they will be penalised by a search ranking drop.
Another major trend impacting SEO marketing is the rise of voice search as consumers increasingly rely on virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. In fact, “one third of the 3.5 billion searches performed on Google every day are voice searches”. With the voice search industry growing the way it does, optimising websites and apps for voice search is becoming increasingly important, as is learning the tricks of voice marketing.
Cutting-edge technologies play an increasingly prominent role in marketing
Marketing is shaped by a range of technologies, with AI being one of the most important ones. It has, for example, enabled the development of sophisticated chatbots that can gather demographic user data – such as age or occupation – to help marketers optimise their campaigns. AI is also used for marketing forecasting as it can be trained with marketing data like clicks, views, and purchases to predict the outcomes of marketing campaigns, which can help businesses improve their advertising efforts.
Where AI really shines, however, is in delivering personalised and optimised ads. It relies on a range of data sets like user demographics, buying history, online behaviour, and which Facebook or Instagram pages they follow, to deliver ads for products that users might consider buying. AI can also deactivate underperforming ads and push better performing ones to give advertisers the best value for their money. Netflix, for instance, uses AI in “preemptive marketing” by analysing data and suggesting movies that users might enjoy.
AR and VR technologies will also play a prominent role in the future of marketing, as they engage customers in an immersive environment and showcase products in ways never before possible. Furniture giant IKEA, for example, developed the IKEA VR Experience shopping app, which enables customers with a VR headset to ‘walk’ through a virtual kitchen or living room and explore products before deciding to buy them. Amazon uses AR technology to allow customers to virtually place objects like tables or chairs in their own homes via their smartphones to see how they fit. Annie Eaton, a co-founder of the tech company Futurus, anticipates that “other (e-commerce) brands will adopt this tech and we’ll see a huge rise in the number of augmented reality experiences on the market”.
It has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer
The pace of change in marketing is relentless, and companies are forced to continuously learn and adapt. Marketing methods that worked last year could very well become obsolete this year, and staying ahead of the game requires knowing the trends that not only shape the present, but the future as well. Authenticity is one of the defining features of the market, but so is the rise of voice search, AI, and AR/VR technologies. And as mobile marketing becomes ever more optimised, marketers will have a wide array of tools to impress customers. As Weed concludes: “it has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer”.