I love that I can unlock my phone with my face, and that Google can predict what I’m thinking. And that Amazon knows exactly what I need. It’s great that I don’t have to hail a cab or go to the grocery store. Actually, I hope I never have to drive again or navigate or use cash or clean or cook or work or learn. But what if all this technology was trying to kill me? The same technology that is making your life easier is being weaponized. That feature that unlocks your phone with your face, here it is attached to a self-learning machine gun. It’s manufacturer, Kalashnikov, made this video to show the gun using object-recognition software to identify targets. They say it gets more accurate the more you use it. That drone advertised to get awesome snowboarding shots, here’s one that doesn’t require a pilot. This ad shows it with a high-explosive warhead. It hangs out in the sky, until it finds an enemy radar system, then crashes headfirst into it. Oh, and that driverless car you thought was so cool, well, here it is in tank form at a Russian arms fair. It’s called the T-14. Dmitry, here, says he sells them to the Russian government. That contract is part of a trend that’s changing the way wars are waged. Like all good stories, this one starts at a Russian arms fair. We’re a few hours outside of Moscow. Everyone from government officials to gun enthusiasts have come here to see the latest weapons. It’s a family affair. Buyers want to know how the 21st-century technology boom can give their armies a strategic advantage. They want to know: Can technology make war safer? But some fear giving weapons too much power because it brings us closer to machines that could go out and kill on their own. They say, we might not be able to control weapons like these, weapons loaded with artificial intelligence. “So artificial intelligence is a study of how to make machines behave intelligently, which means acting in a way that will achieve the objectives that they’ve been given. And recently, I’ve become concerned about the use of A.I. to kill people.” Stuart Russell. He was an early pioneer in artificial intelligence. He’s also been warning people about its potential danger for years. “So a killer robot is something that locates, selects and attacks human targets.” Stuart isn’t so worried about robots like this. We’re still pretty far from the “Terminator.” But Stuart says we’re not as far from something like this bee-sized drone. He imagined one, and made a movie that he hopes will freak you out. In Stuart’s movie, we see swarms of them armed with explosives set loose on their targets. “The main issue is you’re creating a class of weapons of mass destruction, which can kill millions of people, just like a nuclear weapon. But in fact, it’s much easier to build, much cheaper, much more scalable, in that you can use 1 or 10 or 100 or 1,000 or 10,000. Whereas with a nuclear weapon, it’s sort of all or nothing. It doesn’t destroy the city and the country that you’re attacking. It just kills all the people you want to kill, all males between 12 and 60 or all males wearing a yarmulke in Israel.” The weapon Stuart is describing is terrifying, if it works perfectly. With the current state of tech, many experts say it wouldn’t, but that could be even scarier. “The way we think about A.I. is we build a machine and we put the objective into the machine. And the machine pursues the objective. So you put in the objective of ‘find a cure for cancer as quickly as possible.’ Sounds great, right? O.K. Well, probably the fastest way to do that is to induce tumors in the entire human population, and then try millions of different treatments simultaneously. Then, that’s the quickest way to find a cure. That’s not what you meant, but that’s what you asked for. So we call this the King Midas Problem. King Midas said, ‘I want everything I touch to turn to gold.’ And he got his wish. And the, his food turned to gold, and his drink turned to gold and his family turned to gold. He died in misery and starvation. You know, this is a very old story. We are unable to correctly specify the objective.” Machines will always be limited by the minds of those who made them. We aren’t perfect. And neither is our A.I. Facial recognition software has had trouble with dark skin. Self-driving vehicles still need good weather and calm streets to work safely. We don’t know how long it will take for researchers to create weapons with that kind of flexibility. But behind closed doors, defense labs are working on it and they’re not working alone. “Militaries don’t have to invent A.I. It’s already being built — it’s being driven by major tech companies out in the commercial sector.” Paul Scharre, here, led a Department of Defense working group that helped establish D.O.D. policies on A.I. and weapons systems for the U.S. military. “The reality is all of the technology to put this together, to build weapons that can go out on the road, make their own decisions to kill human beings, exists today.” But it’s one thing to assemble a weapon in a lab, and another to have it work in any environment. And war is messy. “Machines are not really at a point today where they’re capable of flexibly adapting to novel situations. And that’s a major vulnerability in war.” Governments around the world see potential advantages in these weapons. After all, human soldiers — they get tired, emotional. They miss targets. Humans get traumatized. Machines do not. They can react at machine speed. If a missile was coming at you, how quickly would you want to know? Autonomous weapons could save lives. “The same technology that will help self-driving cars avoid pedestrians could be used to target civilians or avoid them, intentionally.” The problem is we’ve gotten this wrong before. “To really understand the growing trends of automation in weapons that have been growing for decades, you have to go all the way back to the American Civil War, to the Gatling Gun. How do I describe a Gatling Gun? Do I have to describe it? Could you guys show a picture of it? Richard Gatling was looking at all of the horrors that were coming back from the Civil War. And he wanted to find a way to make war more humane, to reduce the number of people that are needed on the battlefield. Wouldn’t that be amazing?” Four people operating Gatling’s gun could fire the equivalent of 100 soldiers. Far less people would be needed on the battlefield. It was the precursor to the machine gun. And it was born with the intention to save lives, at least for the army that had the gun. Of course — “The reality was far, far different. Gatling’s invention had the very opposite effect of what he intended. And then it magnified the killing and destruction on the battlefield, by orders of magnitude.” Gatling was wrong. Automating weapons didn’t save lives. And Dmitry, here, is saying something eerily familiar over 150 years later. And it wasn’t just Gatling. Revolutions of warfare have typically not gone well. “Before we ever developed usable biological weapons, the biologists said, stop doing this.” “All civilized countries today have given up chemical weapons as tools of warfare, but we see that they are still used by some rogue nations.” And then, there are nuclear weapons. Even with multiple treaties in place to police their use, the threat of nuclear obliteration remains a global anxiety. “Now, I am become death, a destroyer of worlds.” “Early in the war in Afghanistan, I was part of a Ranger sniper team that was sent out to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to watch infiltration routes for foreign fighters coming across the border. We drove all night, and then began to hike up a steep rocky mountain under cover of darkness. From our position on the ridgeline, we could see for dozens of miles in every direction. And by the time the sun came up, we looked down at this compound beneath us. We were basically in someone’s backyard. We were certain that people would be coming to take a closer look at us. What I didn’t anticipate was that they sent a little girl to scout out our position. She wasn’t particularly sneaky, to be honest. She was reporting back our position, and probably how many of us there were. We watched her and she watched us. And then, she left. And pretty soon after, the Taliban fighters came. The gunfight that ensued brought out the whole village. And we knew that many, many more fighters would be coming before long. So we had to leave that position as we were compromised. Later on in the day, we talked about what would we do in a similar situation to that? You know, one of the things that never came up was the idea of shooting this little girl. But here’s the thing: She was a valid enemy combatant, and killing her would’ve been lawful. So if someone deployed an autonomous weapon, a robot that was designed to perfectly follow the laws of war, it would’ve killed this little girl in that situation. Now, I think that would’ve been wrong, maybe not legally, but morally. But how would a robot know the difference between what’s legal and what’s right?” With so much at stake, you’d think a debate would be happening. Well, there is. It’s just that technology moves at a different pace than diplomacy. “We will continue our discussion on Agenda Item 6A, characterisation of the systems under consideration in order to promote a common understanding on concepts and characteristics relevant to the objectives and purposes of the convention.” “One of the things I learned very quickly was that the official proceedings at the United Nations appear to be completely meaningless.” “Thank you, Mr. Chairperson —” “Support continued deliberations —” “We need a normative framework —” “Difference in interpretation —” “The importance of a multi-disciplinary —” “Down the rabbit hole of endless discussions on a subject of —” “Thank you, Mr. President. We are not in a position to make a declaration right now.” “Good morning.” “How are you?” “I’m good. How are you feeling?” “Oh, I’m fine, except for the governments, you know, their do-nothing attitude.” “We’d like to hear about that.” Jody Williams, here, won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work banning land mines. Now, she’s part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. “Academics attacked the campaign in the beginning years, you know, saying robotics and A.I. are inevitable. Maybe they are, but applying them to killing human beings on their own is not inevitable, unless you do nothing. And we refuse to do nothing.” Today, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is staging a protest outside of the U.N. The group is made up of activists, nonprofits, and civil society organizations. The campaign’s goal? A ban on all weapons that can target and kill on their own. So far, 30 countries have joined them in supporting a ban, as well as 100 nongovernmental organizations, the European Parliament, 21 Nobel laureates, and leading scientists, like Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and Elon Musk, as well as Stuart Russell, and more than 4,500 other A.I. researchers. Protester: “Everyone, you can get up now.” “Yay.” [cheering] Jody’s here with Mary Wareham. “So this is the sixth time that governments have come together since 2014 to talk about what they call lethal autonomous weapons systems.” We’re going to apologize in advance for the obtuse use of acronyms in this portion of the video. “We’re not trying to prohibit the use of artificial intelligence. You know, it can be beneficial to humanity. We’re pro-robots. We’re just anti-killer robots, anti-fully autonomous weapons.” “The C.C.W., the forum of the Convention for Conventional Weapons, — which actually has a name this long, and I can never remember it — operates by consensus. Which means you either negotiate the lowest common denominator, which means doing pretty much nothing, or if the entire room of diplomats wants to move forward with a treaty, for example, and one state says no, then it goes nowhere. And that’s really a dictatorship by one.” “Once a bullet leaves a gun, the rifleman ceases to have control over that bullet. Autonomy is a way of extending human control beyond the time a munition is deployed.” That’s the United States arguing that A.I. will save lives. And remember, without their support, any kind of regulation can’t move forward. “Using algorithm and software to determine and engage target reduces people to objects.” “In the U.S. perspective, there is nothing intrinsically valuable about manually operating a weapon system, as opposed to operating it with an autonomous function.” The United States isn’t alone. The countries working hardest to build autonomous weapons insist we can’t regulate what doesn’t exist yet. And at the same time, their militaries are developing these weapons right now. “The line between a semi-autonomous weapon that has a human in control, and a fully autonomous weapon could simply be a software patch.” “Indeed, some may say it is similar to trying to discuss the internet in the ’80s, ’70s, ’60s at this stage.” “It is not necessary or desirable at this time, to define laws.” “This so-called difficulty of definitions continues to be willful obfuscation.” The truth is, whether they exist or not just depends on how you define them. We don’t have weapons with artificial general intelligence or A.I. that’s as smart as humans. But we do already have weapons that can use A.I. to search, select and engage targets in specific situations. And the technology is only getting better. “So it could easily take another 10 years before they even agree on a definition of what an autonomous weapon is. And by that time, it will be too late. I think for some countries, that’s the point.” In the ongoing race between technology and diplomacy, technology is winning because in this race, the dual-use nature of technology means software being designed to make your life easier clearly has military applications. “The A.I. community, myself included, we were sort of asleep at the wheel for a long time. And we weren’t really thinking about the ways that it could be misused.” Whether we like it or not, we’ve entered the age of the algorithm. And A.I. is changing our place on the battlefield. Is it possible the next generation of soldiers won’t have to kill? “Look, it’s an appealing idea that, someday, robots will just fight other robots and no one will get hurt. I don’t think that’s realistic.” “Unfortunately, if it worked like that, we could just say, ‘Well, why don’t we just play baseball and decide who wins or Tiddlywinks?’ No country is going to surrender until the costs that they’ve incurred are unbearable. So even if your robots are defeated, the next stage is that their robots will start killing your people.” “Because the unfortunate reality is that wars will only end when people die.”
6 essential marketing trends for 2020 | Smart Insights
Examples of digital marketing tools and techniques to give you an edge in the year ahead
Well, we’ve nearly made it! For years I’ve been looking to the future, predicting how innovations in digital media, platforms and technology will shape marketing in 2020. The cutting edge examples certainly show the exciting opportunities available – there is almost too much choice…
In this article, I’ll explore six key marketing trends based on examples and research on the adoption of the latest marketing techniques and technology marketers can use.
For recommendations on tapping into the innovations in different digital marketing channels, including email, social media and search engine marketing, see all the other posts from the Smart Insights team covering channel-specific digital marketing trends for 2020.
In 2020, we can see the huge impact that digital marketing has had over the last decade, and more. Looking at advertising alone, these eMarketer predictions show how the duopoly of Facebook and Google dominate paid media investments online, although offline media buys remain important for many larger brands.alfred
Trend 1. Lifecycle marketing
Although it’s often said that the ‘funnel is dead’ since consumer follows non-linear journeys, regardless of the product or service you’re involved with marketing, it will always be the case that to grow a business, your primary focus is growing awareness, closely followed by increasing customer leads and prospects.
This focus is shown by the latest Altimeter / Prophet State of Digital Marketing report, which shows a primary focus on increasing awareness.
The role of digital in creating a unified customer experience is also high in the response, but it’s shocking that digital marketing isn’t seen as a driver of boosting revenue from existing customers. It’s an artefact of the question since digital marketing is effective in achieving all of these goals, including customer retention.
A more practical way to plan to integrate online marketing into marketing activities is to consider communications from a customer point-of-view through the customer journey. I call this always-on lifecycle marketing and recommend you review your use of online AND offline media across the customer lifecycle.
An example of an audit is shown by this example of the use of marketing activities by a B2B company, which although strong at the top-of-funnel in terms of activities used, is less strong in the middle and bottom-of-funnel nurture and re-targeting activities. Many businesses are adopting marketing automation and account-based marketing technology to implement these touchpoints. See the article linked to above for all of the potential activities that can be audited.
Trend 2. Conversational marketing
For me, this is the most exciting trend in marketing today, bringing together rapid consumer adoption of smart speakers and innovation in search query processing, conversational interfaces and messaging.
Conversational marketing was highlighted as a key innovation in the latest Gartner hype cycle alongside Artificial Intelligence, which often fuels it. You can see that of the technologies on the Innovation Trigger slope, many aren’t expected to become mainstream for 5 to 10 years. Of those forecast to hit the mainstream within the next 2 to 5 years, the three most significant for marketers to consider are personification, real-time and conversational marketing.
“Conversational marketing technologies enable interactions between companies and customers that mimic human dialogue and do so at scale. This category is near the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase”.
Personally, I think the hype about smart speakers to support the purchase journey is just that. While some products lend themselves to purchase, where a choice is to be made amongst complex products, they just won’t cut it until we have truly intelligent comparison bots. However, the research suggests I may be wrong. A study of 2,000 British adults commissioned by Artefact UK, an AI and data-driven agency, reveals that:
“Six out of ten smart speaker owners (60%) have used them to make a purchase in the past year. In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) said they have done so within the past week”.
I believe that building in more relevant to web, email and mobile-based conversations can have a bigger impact by boosting relevance and speaking in a more personal tone. Persado is an interesting tech here.
Persado uses a copy impact classification applied to existing copy, which is used to tailor copy and calls-to-action on an individual basis.
For example, using Persado Natural Language Generation to run an experiment, Air Canada sparked a higher response using Anxiety language getting a 3% engagement lift, compared to a 5% drop using Exclusivity language, and a 3% drop using Safety language.
Another example of AI application is nutrition and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett using AI to provide better-targeted emails. This Machine Learning approach from Tinyclues goes beyond optimizing copy using a tool like Persado, instead, it also involves targeting based on the behaviour of individuals to create more micro-targeted campaigns.
Speaking at a session I chaired at the Email Innovation Summit, Richard Lallo, Head of Digital Marketing, described what he calls ‘strategic promotions and mono-product pushes’ in a campaign. The business was able to drive campaign revenue and increase re-purchase rate while sending emails. Campaign revenue increased by 27%, open rates increased by 19%, while email send volume decreased by 23%, which also gives cost savings.
Trend 3. Insights-driven marketing
At Smart Insights we’re huge fans of using analytics and insight to drive business performance and optimize the results from digital marketing. It’s why we’re called what we are.
Improving their data-driven marketing is an aim of many businesses indicated by the most desired skill amongst digital marketers revealed by the Altimeter/Prophet State of Digital Marketing report.
Businesses using this approach are trying to gain the benefits reported by Mckinsey research that suggested that:
Intensive users of customer analytics are 23 times more likely to clearly outperform their competitors in terms of new customer acquisition than non-intensive users, and nine times more likely to surpass them in customer loyalty.
In addition to advances in customer analytics supported by CDPs described in the next section, new Voice of the Customer (VoC) techniques, such as online-hosted customer communities, can improve customer preferences for future products and how they are delivered.
For example, Red Bull used insight platform Vision Critical to launch a community of consumers passionate about the energy drink category. By providing a deeper understanding of consumer preferences, the community challenges widely-held assumptions. The company, for instance, learned who consumes Red Bull drinks — and how and when they buy — were changing. Data from the community provides insight on the competitive landscape, revealing channels the company can enhance to improve growth. The community also helps Red Bull deliver more value to retailers.
Trend 4. Marketing technology
Today, Marketing Technology (Martech for short) presents a bewildering choice of software services for businesses looking to improve their management of digital media, experiences and supporting data. If your business and your agencies adopt the right blend of Martech, it can help give you an edge against competitors, but if not, you may be missing out on the insights and automation processes they are using.
The latest 2019 Martech supergraphic from Scott Brinker, a specialist who hosts Martech conferences and has advised on technology for HubSpot, has created this somewhat scary map of all the potential categories and services that companies can use.
To highlight the range of great services available and to simplify the options a little, we designed this essential digital marketing tools infographic to recommend the categories of tools you should consider across the Smart Insights RACE Planning system and highlight the most popular, most capable tools.
We will create the annual update for this in early 2020, discussing it recently on LinkedIn has highlighted some of the latest trends that aren’t evident from this version of the wheel. Raviv Turner, Co-Founder, of B2B service @CaliberMind said:
“No MarTech stack is complete these days without the third leg of CRM, MAP & CDP. The only way to map, store, analyze and act on the complete end-to-end customer journey is having all the data in one place using a Customer Data Platform (CDPs).”
I’m not sure ‘the only-way’ is accurate, but that is the sentiment.
Kristen Obaid, Always On digital marketing campaigns manager for an international Education company, added:
“The Salesforce and Adobe MAPs are underrepresented here (eg Pardot can be used for email, social, CRM, CMS, audience management, analytics. Krux is now SF. They can both be used as DMPs if the data is configured properly.) BI with simple data integrations (like Domo, Tableau) are also missing, plus Intercom for service CMS eg FAQs, and Drift for automated service chat”.
Trend 5. Consumer Privacy and KYC
Repeated privacy faux-pas by Facebook, Google and security breaches at other brands leading to the release of customer details have highlighted to consumers that their data isn’t as safe with online brands as they may have once thought. Privacy regulations like GDPR have been enacted to improve data privacy with increased fines.
Record fines have arisen in 2019 from the maximum penalty for contraventions increasing under GDPR to up to €20m (£17.5m) or four percent of global turnover – whichever is the greater.
British Airways, was issued with a proposed fine of £183m for a breach of customer data and a £99 million fine on hotel chain Marriott for failing to protect personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records.
While these may be more the concerns of the CIO or CFO rather than the CMO, it shows the need for marketers to work with colleagues to mitigate the potential impact of security breaches and reassure customers.
At the same time, we have seen a decreasing effectiveness of traditional identification methods such as cookies for tracking, which makes media ROI determination – supposedly one of the key benefits of digital channels – more difficult.
Emerging technologies can potentially help with both of these challenges.
New Identify Management or Know Your Customer solutions are being developed that can both improve security, reduce fraud and improve insight about customers across multiple devices.
For example, UK startup Hooyu blends traditional methods of customer verification such as database checks (where available) with ID document validation, digital footprint analysis, geo-location and facial biometrics. While this is most relevant for banks and other gambling applications, it indicates the range of data points that are now available.
With these consumer concerns and new legislation such as the EU ePrivacy legislation about to be launched and the inaccuracy of tracking online with increasing restrictions built into browser like Chrome and Safari it seems like the days of the cookie (and particularly third-party cookies) and digital fingerprinting may be numbered. This means that businesses should be considering other alternatives if they aren’t already.
Discussing Unified ID – Why Identity becomes a key success factor in the post-cookie era era – Alwin Viereck, Head of Programmatic Advertising and Ad Management, United Internet Media estimates that
“More than 20% of all cookies in a desktop environment do not live longer than a day and a further 15–20% do not survive a month. For vendors in a third party context (which are typically all participants of the programmatic ecosystem), the problem might even be worse.
Multiplatform consent solutions like Sourcepoint and Identity and Access Management integration solutions like Auth0 and OneIdentity will be adopted more widely. Within AdTech new solutions will have to be found in response to Google and Apples Ad-targeting limitations.
Trend 6. Digital transformation and Marketing Transformation
Our managing digital marketing research revealed many challenges in terms of how digital marketing is run in companies today. Problems included a lack of focus on integrated strategy, testing, and optimization and structural issues like teams working in silos or a lack of skills in integrated communications.
To counter these types of problems and to make the most of the opportunities for growing a business through digital marketing, many businesses are now putting a digital transformation programme in place.
The aim of digital transformation is to develop a roadmap to improve digital capabilities and skills, while at the same time, integrating ‘always-on’ digital marketing activities with brand and product marketing in the business.
This chart from the research shows that many businesses are active in transformation to try to achieve this aim through the success factors covered in this briefing.
Despite some talk that we might be in a post-digital world by 2020 and some traditional marketers suggesting that “it’s time to shut down digital marketing for good” the reality is that many specialist digital job roles and are needed to run digital marketing activities as my post ‘10 reasons you still need a digital team‘ shows.
A common practice that we can expect to continue in the future is a move to a hybrid approach to managing digital marketing with digital marketing skills being developed in marketing teams as suggested by this structure.
However, the label of a ‘digital department’ is outmoded, since the creation of large digital teams has caused silos to develop with other marketing and product teams. Instead, we can expect a continued move to a digital/marketing Centre of Excellence model. The DCoE will be smaller ‘digital services units’ that track the latest developments in development, advising on new digital techniques and technologies.
Through the year, we’ve been adding to our tools to help all members assess how well their businesses are adapting to using digital media and technology as part of Digital Transformation. To review your digital readiness, either for integrated digital marketing or individual channels, download our benchmarks or take our interactive capability graders.
All the best for grasping the opportunities from digital marketing in 2020 and beyond! To help you on your way take a look at our benchmarking templates, each of which will give you a quick review for digital marketing governance and the key channels like search, social, email marketing plus analytics, content marketing and experience.
📈 38 Digital Marketing Trends You Can't Ignore in 2022
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Updated October 2021
At one time, artificial intelligence, data-driven marketing and voice search engine optimization (VSEO) were ambitious concepts bordering on the ridiculous. Today, these are some of the top digital marketing trends.
And why wouldn’t they be? After all, if your business intends to remain competitive in this crowded online landscape, you must adapt to the latest innovations.
In this article, we’ll go over the 38 most important digital marketing trends you can’t ignore this year because they will help your business not just survive, but thrive in this age of never-ending marketing changes.
38 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2022
1) AI-Powered Optimization
Artificial intelligence is the technology behind many services, including content creation, chatbots and search engines, which has particularly ramped up since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a PwC survey from over 1,000 U.S.-based companies, 52% have accelerated their AI adoption plans. The main benefits include:
For content creation, Jarvis is an example of AI-powered software that is “trained to generate original, creative content.” Apparently, top SEO experts taught Jarvis to write blog posts and website copy.
AI can also analyze consumer behavior and search patterns, and use data from social media platforms like Instagram and blog posts to help businesses understand how customers find their products and services.
One such company that has made AI the center of its value proposition is Google. Over the last few years, their implementation of AI has allowed their search engine to understand with higher precision what people are looking for and what kind of content best serves their search intent.
Google understands what people are looking for and what kind of content best serves their intent. For example, if you search for ‘fish oil’, Google knows that the dominant search intent is to learn about the health benefits and side effects:
Therefore it’s highly unlikely you could rank #1 for this keyword with an e-commerce product page. If you get this step wrong, all the time and effort you spend on content production, promotion and link building will go to waste.
This means that it’s become more crucial than ever to nail the search intent, and content optimization is an excellent way to do this. The easiest way to implement content optimization into your SEO and content workflows is by using a tool like ClickFlow.
ClickFlow‘s Content Editor feature pulls data from the top 20 current ranking pages, and helps your writing team put together a perfectly optimized piece of content.
Using Artificial Intelligence to serve up subtopics and related keywords will make any article ultra-comprehensive and give it the best possible chance to rank on page one. It gives you a recommended word count, feedback on readability, and an overall optimization grade based on keywords and subtopics covered:
This was one of the key strategies used in this case study, in which ElectricityRates.com was able to increase organic clicks by 327% in 30 days. Using the Content Editor helped them identify that their existing content was not nearly in-depth enough and the important keywords that were missing:
Businesses adopting AI now will be able to cut staffing costs and accelerate growth, getting an edge over their competitors.
2) Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising is the process of using AI to automate ad buying. By removing humans from ad buying, companies receive a more reliable and cost-effective solution to their needs.
Here’s a quick look at how programmatic advertising works:
Global programmatic advertising spending has reached almost $130 billion, 61% of which comes from U.S. companies. According to eMarketer, U.S. programmatic display ad spending will grow 18.4% next year, a number that’s close to average what was observed in recent years:
According to SmartyAds, the power of programmatic advertising lies in its optimization scale capacity, which exceeds that of a human:
“Most search-driven manual advertising campaigns (even those performed with professional tools) take into account three or four targets: the keyword, time of day, and location.
Such tools like programmatic demand-side platforms can use hundreds of targeting signals to individualize the advertisement and even target according to lifestyle or behavior habits when integrated with customer data platforms.”
If paid media buying is a crucial customer acquisition channel, you should start paying attention to programmatic advertising.
One popular application of programmatic ad buying you should consider adopting is real-time bidding (aka. RTB), which uses real-time auctions to buy guaranteed ad impressions in advance from specific publisher sites.
* 5 Trends that Will Define the New Vision of Marketing Automation
* How Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing the Digital Marketing Sphere
* The Effects of Natural Language Processing (NLP) on Digital Marketing
3) Conversational Marketing
With all that talk about chatbots, the reality of modern marketing becomes clear: it’s more conversational than ever. People want it that way, and so brands are reacting accordingly. When consumers have a question, 82% want an “immediate” response.
Conversational marketing facilitates a personal, instant connection between marketers and customers:
Unlike traditional strategies, this form of marketing is now available across multiple channels, allowing brands to meet customers on their terms: on the devices, platforms and time schedules that suit the customer best.
David Cancel, founder and CEO of Drift, explains: “Today’s buyers expect to find what they’re looking for now, not later….[And in] the way people prefer to communicate.”
The primary goal of conversational marketing is to enhance the user experience through a feedback-driven model that fosters higher engagement, greater loyalty, and more sales.
In fact, Drift has found that 41.3% of consumers use conversational marketing tools for purchases.
Some methods companies use to execute a conversational marketing strategy include:
- Personalized videos
- Personalized emails
- Virtual selling assistants
One example of a company that benefited from conversational marketing is ThoughtSpot, which, after its implementation, saw 10X more sales conversations, 70% more marketing qualified leads, and 64% more meetings booked:
One implementation of conversational marketing is chatbots. Chatbots leverage AI technology to provide automated human-like messages to web visitors in real-time:
Surveys show that:
- The greatest benefits of chatbots for companies are 24-hour service (64%), instant responses to inquiries (55%), and answers to simple questions (55%).
- Uberall has found that 80% of consumers have positive experiences with chatbots.
- Juniper Research predicts that eCommerce transactions via chatbots will reach $112 billion by 2023.
- By 2024, Insider Intelligence predicts that consumer retail spends via chatbots worldwide will reach $142 billion — up from just $2.8 billion in 2019.
Many customers prefer interacting with chatbots because they are responsive 24/7, give answers promptly, and accurately recall their entire buying history. These virtual assistants offer outstanding customer service by meeting customers’ expectations and automating repetitive tasks, freeing your resources for more important work.
As more consumers become accustomed to chatbots, they will become increasingly crucial for a positive customer experience.
* 13 Messages Your Chatbot Should Be Saying to Prospects
* Why Chatbots Are a Must-Have for Businesses (and How to Build One!)
* Facebook Messenger Chatbots: The Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Massive Results
If you want to stand out in 2022, you need to personalize your marketing, which means personalizing content, products, emails, etc. It turns out that consumers like personalization:
- SmarterHQ found that 72% of shoppers act on marketing messages only when they are customized to their interests.
- A Salesforce survey found that marketers see the highest benefits of personalization on their customer experience (64%), a conversion rate increase (63%), and visitor engagement (55%):
Similarly, Kevin George from EmailMonks asserts that “personalized, triggered emails based on behavior are 3X better than batch-and-blast emails.”
When you want to study examples of the power of personalization, it’s hard to overlook Netflix and Amazon, with their incredibly successful tailored recommended products or movie titles. Here are a few other companies that are successfully using personalization today:
- EasyJet launched a data-driven email campaign that uses customers’ travel history with the airline to build personalized stories, suggesting where they might like to travel next. About 12.5 million unique emails have been sent, which had a 25% higher click-through rate than non-personalized emails.
- Cadbury’s created a personalized video campaign that matches a Dairy Milk flavor with users based on data from their Facebook profile, including age, interest and location. The campaign generated a 65% click-through rate and a 33.6% conversion rate, proving that the personal touch works.
- Starbucks uses a gamified mobile app that draws on data like purchase history and location to get as personal as possible, allows customers to customize their drinks, and encourages further use with its rewards system—which skyrocketed their revenue to $2.56 billion:
6) Video Marketing
Video marketing is one of the most important marketing trends today and likely for the next 5-10 years. A Biteable survey found that:
- 60% of businesses use video as a marketing tool
- 61% of marketers see video as a “very important or extremely important” part of their marketing strategy
- 74% say video has a better return on investment than static imagery
- 52% say that video helps them build trust with potential customers
When we talk about video marketing, don’t just think of YouTube. There are plenty of ways to drive higher engagement with your video marketing. For instance, you can make a video post or start a live broadcast on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. One way to schedule instagram posts for maximum engagement is by using RecurPost’s automation tool.
Video is a useful channel where you can repurpose and republish your existing content or vice-versa. On the one hand, that means taking a content piece like a blog post and turning it into a video.
For example, we have implemented this tactic with this Amazon advertising 101 article, which Eric repurposed into a video:
On the other hand, you can take a video, publish it on your website and YouTube channel, and then:
- Get it transcribed and publish it as an article (with an embedded YouTube video for better rankings)
- Upload the raw video with the transcription as subtitles to Facebook (native Facebook videos get a much higher impression share and engagement than shared YouTube videos)
- Rip the audio alone and use it as a podcast episode
- Use video thumbnails in your email marketing campaigns and the word “video” in subject lines, as that has shown to increase open rates by 19%
7) Social Messaging Apps
If you think social messaging apps are just for sending emojis to your friends, take a look at these numbers:
- The top three social messaging apps — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat — have 4.5 billion users combined, more than Facebook or YouTube.
- Over 56% of global messaging app users say they have messaged brands to get more information in all stages of the buyer’s journey.
Social messaging apps are another execution of a conversational marketing strategy. People expect businesses to have a presence on messaging apps because it’s a direct and easy way to interact with them.
Some reasons why your company should use messaging apps include:
- Cultivate contact
- Deliver timely information
- Involve people in events
- Regain potential customers
- Provide support and assistance
- Boost sales
8) Visual Search
Visual search is a new practice where people can upload an image into search. Although it’s relatively new, there are two companies that are leveraging visual search:
Pinterest jumped on the visual search bandwagon with the launch of Lens, a visual search tool that allows users to take a photo of an item to find out where to buy it online, search for similar products, or view pinboards of related items:
Pinterest’s Lens recognizes 2.5 billion home and fashion objects and has inspired over 600 million searches on Pinterest’s mobile apps and browser extensions. Since its launch, they have seen a 140% growth in Lens usage.
Pinterest has continued to update its functionality with the launch of the following features:
- Pincodes, which use QR codes to find inspiration while their users are out shopping or flipping through their favorite magazines.
- Idea Pins, a similar concept to Snapchat or Instagram Stories that use multi-page video formats for creators who want to publish high-quality, evergreen content directly to Pinterest. So far, it’s only available to users from the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
- AR Try, an augmented reality feature for testing new eyeshadows from leading brands such as Lancome, YSL, Urban Decay, and NYX Cosmetics.
B) Google Lens
Google Lens is a visual search engine by Google, which recognizes objects and landmarks through a camera app. Here’s what you can do when you take a photo of the following items:
- Apparel and home goods: Find similar products and where to buy them.
- Barcodes: Use a barcode to find info about a product, like where to buy it.
- Business card: Save the phone number or address to a contact.
- Book: Get a summary and read reviews.
- Event flyer or billboard: Add the event to your calendar.
- Landmark or building: See historical facts, hours of operation, and more.
- Painting in a museum: Read about the artist and learn more.
- Plant or animal: Learn about species and breeds.
9) Live Stream Shopping
Live streaming is a relatively new concept in the Western world, but in China, it’s common and extremely popular. If you think that’s an exaggeration, check this out: In the first half of 2020, one third of China’s internet users — which is roughly 309 million people — tuned in to a live streaming shopping session.
What’s more, in October of 2019, Viya, one of China’s most popular live streamers, earned roughly $49.7 million in just one day of live streaming: 🤑🤯
According to McKinsey, the most popular product categories for live stream shopping are apparel and fashion, beauty products, food, consumer electronics, and furnishing and home decor:
Coresight Research forecasts that live stream shopping will generate $25 billion in sales in the U.S. by 2023.
Two early adopter brands in the U.S., Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger, have plans to start running live stream shopping events. Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram are also in the works to make this a reality.
While live stream e-commerce is still new, McKinsey recommends starting with infrequent streams focused on 1-5 products and relying on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook or Amazon Live, and then moving on to a “dedicated in-house team or agency staff to plan and develop content for livestreams, including storylines, scripts, and hosts or influencers” and broadcast them across multiple channels.
10) Voice Search
The increasing use of voice search has pushed companies to rethink their digital marketing strategies. If you’re still unsure about voice search, consider this:
- 20% of all internet searches are voice-based.
- 58% of consumers used voice search to find local business information.
- 40% of adults use voice search daily.
- 1 billion voice searches take place every month.
Voice search already plays a crucial role in providing relevant information for search engine users. Google Assistant has 1 million actions and Alexa has over 100,000 skills, which represent functions that allow their voice assistants to react very specifically to user commands and queries:
Keep in mind that not only will more companies produce audio content in the hopes of gaining brand awareness (so you should, too), but ads are on their way next. This means that Alexa will tell you the answer to your question along with a “word from her sponsor.”
The latest data (which is now a few years old, so we can assume that this number is higher) shows that 27% of all mobile searches are voice-activated, meaning that they come from a set of “trigger words” such as “how,” “what,” “best,” and “easy.”
Keep in mind that voice search isn’t just another channel to force messaging and sales. Instead, marketers must develop a unique approach to consumer interaction, and this channel should be part of a broader, more connected brand experience.
Dive Deeper: 5 Steps to Optimize Your Content For Voice Search
11) Social Media Stories
Snapchat was the first company to ignite the concept of “Stories.” Then Instagram and Facebook came along, and eventually, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter unveiled their own story formats — albeit with different names.
Stories are posts that disappear after 24 hours. Despite representing such a simple concept (or, perhaps, thanks to it?), stories allow marketers to share genuine content and connect on a personal level with their audiences:
Here are some ways you can use social media stories to engage with your audience:
- Use polls within Instagram Stories
- Add links to your social media Stories
- Take advantage of Snapchat geofilters
- Add location tags
- Add mentions for other brands and your fans
- Give live video a try when creating Stories
- Invite followers to explore more with clear call-to-actions
12) Push Notifications
The launch of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and stricter privacy laws have dented the potency of email marketing. Moreover, younger audiences favor other methods of communication and prefer to deal with fewer touchpoints when engaging brands.
As part of the bid to engage users on multiple channels, browser push notifications are something you will see more and more brands adopting in 2022 — and they are getting more sophisticated and personalized. In fact, using personalized push notifications increases conversions:
- 7% open rate for segmented push messaging compared to a 3% open rate for generic, broadcast messages (a 2x improvement)
- 54% of users convert from a segmented push notification, compared to only 15% for broadcast messages (a 3x improvement)
Notifications triggered by behavior are being used to re-engage people who have shown interest but failed to convert, and to recover revenue from abandoned shopping carts:
Notifications can even include images and CTAs to maximize conversion rates from such efforts:
13) Social Commerce
Social commerce has existed for a long time but never really caught up until recently. Two platforms that have brought a new meaning to social commerce are Instagram and TikTok.
- Live Shopping: This is an implementation of live streaming (more below, on trend #31).
- Shop Tab Ads: Perfect for e-commerce stores that want to promote their ads on users’ shop tabs.
- Reels Ads: Just like Stories ads, but for Reels.
- IGTV Ads: The same as before, but for IGTV.
- Instagram Checkout: A seamless and secure way to sell your products directly on Instagram.
What’s more, a Shopify integration will pull products from their Shopify product catalogs and show them on a creator’s TikTok profile — basically, the same as the Shop Tab on Instagram. Users will be able to purchase a product without leaving the app, an identical method to the recently launched Instagram Checkout.
So far, TikTok Shopping is only available to Shopify merchants with a TikTok for Business account from the U.S. and UK.
14) Interactive Content
Speaking of instant access, that brings us to one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends in recent times: interactive content.
In 2022, we’re destined to see a shift from traditional text-based content toward dynamic, engaging content that offers users an immersive experience, such as:
- Quizzes and polls
- Embedded calculators
- Augmented reality ads
- 360-degree videos
Here’s an excellent example of a 360 VR video :
And here’s an example of our Marketing Impact Calculator to help you calculate how much more money you’ll make with marketing:
Interactive content is more engaging, more memorable and more likely to generate the results your business needs. People like it not just because it’s fresh and original, but because it makes them feel more connected to brands and more involved in the buying process. That’s why:
91% of buyers are actively searching for more interactive content.
15) Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing was one of the buzzwords of 2020. While the phrase may now seem a little worn out, the strategy is as ripe and relevant as ever.
Omnichannel marketing is the process of marketing across multiple platforms — such as social media, apps, email, and blog posts — to offer an enhanced customer experience and cohesive brand message that lead to higher conversions and loyalty.
Stats show that brands using three or more channels in an automation workflow can generate great results:
- Engagement rate: 18.96% on omnichannel vs. 5.4% on single-channel
- Purchase frequency: 250% higher on omnichannel vs. single-channel
- Average order value: 13% more per order on omnichannel vs. single-channel
- Customer retention rates: 90% higher for omnichannel vs. single-channel
With more and more SaaS companies providing the tools to manage multiple channels more efficiently, implementing an omnichannel strategy is easier than ever.
This is another area where AI and big data are playing a role by helping brands understand consumer behavior better and personalize at an individual level at scale.
16) Augmented Reality (AR) & Immersive Technologies
Although virtual reality (VR) gets everyone excited with grand sci-fi ideas, AR has been more realistic for marketers.
According to ARtillery’s forecast report, consumer and enterprise AR global head-worn revenue will grow from $1.6 billion to almost $18 billion:
Likewise, mobile AR global revenue for consumer and enterprise apps will rise from $6.8 billion to $26 billion in 2025— almost a 4x growth rate.
Facebook just unveiled its long-awaited smart glasses, and although the focus is more on taking photos than augmented reality, it’s the beginning of what could be a game-changing venture.
Other companies have launched their AR apps, like IKEA. Their IKEA Place app allows users to take a picture of a room in their homes with a smartphone camera (with just iOS 11.0.1 for now) to “test drive” IKEA’s furniture in it. Users can move the furniture around and check out how it looks from different angles:
With AR improving rapidly, we will see a huge uptake in brands finding useful applications for the technology in the future.
17) Predictive & Augmented Analytics
Predictive analytics is the practice of using data mining, predictive modeling and machine learning to identify patterns and attempt to predict the future. Due to its potential, it has become more sophisticated and widespread in many industries.
In terms of digital marketing trends, we can expect to see an even higher number of predictive analytics tools and applications, such as advanced lead scoring, customer segmentation, and personalization.
One such example is Amazon Assistant, a Chrome extension from the retail giant that allows users to permit product recommendations from Amazon to extend beyond the website to make personalized offers while they are browsing elsewhere on the web:
The differences between predictive analytics and AR lie in the technologies used:
“Where predictive analytics uses machine learning to predict what will happen, augmented analytics uses machine intelligence to boost human intelligence with the why, so we can work faster and smarter on ever-larger datasets.”
According to Gartner, 75% of enterprises will move to using AI for their operational needs by the end of 2024, driving a 5X increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures.
While the idea of marketing to people based on their location is nothing new, we do expect an increase in the use of geo-fencing, a market that is expected to grow to $2.4 billion by 2023 — along with the rise of mobile use:
Geo-fencing allows real-time targeting based on a user’s location. A target area is defined as, say, within a mile of a restaurant, and when a user enters or leaves this area, they receive a push notification, text message or another form of marketing communication.
According to Reveal Mobile, more than 50% of marketers surveyed see restaurants and bars, health and beauty, entertainment, grocery, and pet stores as the top five retail locations for geofencing:
What’s more, they found that geotargeted audiences tend to perform better or the same, on average, than other targeting tactics:
The American gas company called 76 uses Waze to mark their gas stations on a map throughout California. As drivers approach, a logo pops up on their map showing them where to stop for gas and offering entry to a competition if they fill up. Their “Tank 5” campaign resulted in a 6.5% navigation rate to fuel stations:
For industries that need to convert digital users into brick-and-mortar customers, geo-fencing will become more and more important in their marketing strategy.
19) Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Progressive Web Apps are websites that work like mobile apps but whose functionality resembles a native mobile app. PWAs offer fast load times, allow push notifications, offline usage and much more without being limited to either Android or iOS. PWAs enable development teams to create web apps for any device that works just like a mobile app.
By 2026, the number of smartphone users is expected to reach 7.5 billion:
With total page views on mobile increasing year-over-year by 57% worldwide, mobile is more crucial than ever to your digital strategy.
As such, PWAs are going to become ever-more prevalent as the mobile revolution continues at pace.
20) Newer Blockchain Applications
As defined by Blockgeeks, a blockchain is:
“A time-stamped series of immutable data records that is managed by a cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks of data (i.e., block) is secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles (i.e., chain).”
Here’s a visual representation of how a blockchain works:
Despite being initially focused on cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies and their applications are far more wide-reaching than just the financial world.
According to Leandra Monteiro from IBSintelligence, some key blockchain trends to follow in 2022 are:
- BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service), which represents the third-party creation and management of cloud-based networks for companies in the business of building blockchain applications
- Verifiable Credential & Self Sovereign Identity (Universal Identity), which will offer verifiable, globally resolvable, and privacy-preserving credentials to store and manage from the security of our own devices and can show it to anyone, anywhere
- DeFi (Decentralized Finance), which represents a shift from traditional centralized financial systems such as brokerages, exchanges or banks to smart contracts on blockchains
- NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens), which are a special cryptographically generated token that uses blockchain technology to link with a unique digital asset that cannot be replicated
- CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), a digital form of central bank money based on Blockchain, which is a legal tender created and backed by a central bank
21) Quantum Computing
Quantum computing is a new technology based on a quantum physics theory, which asserts that subatomic particles exist in more than one state simultaneously. For clarity’s sake, here’s how ITSPmagazine compares it to traditional computing:
“Traditional computers store data in bits, which can exist in one of two states: one or zero. Quantum computers, however, use a new unit of measurement, a single atom known as a qubit (literally ‘quantum bit’), which greatly increases the computational power of a system.”
Another way to visualize quantum computing is to imagine a huge library:
“While a classic computer would read every book in a library in a linear fashion, a quantum computer would read all the books simultaneously. Quantum computers are able to theoretically work on millions of computations at once.”
So how can marketers use quantum computing? Here’s what we can expect:
- Improved mobile data coverage
- More human-like AI, such as Google AI, which is developing quantum algorithms to drastically improve machine learning
- Increased relevance of ads such as the use of quantum annealing to let advertisements reach a wider range of people at a better cost
22) Big Data and Deep Learning
The big data industry will continue to grow exponentially. According to Statista, the total amount of data being consumed globally is forecasted to increase to over 180 zettabytes (that’s one with 21 zeros!) by 2025.
They also forecasted that the big data market segment will grow up to $103 billion by 2027 with a share of 45% of the software industry:
As big data grows even more powerful, the demands for user data privacy become increasingly important (the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was a global revolution on data privacy, while the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was more local).
As such, big data is a double-edged sword, but one that many digital marketers will find hard to resist very soon.
Some uses of big data for marketers include:
- The implementation of low-cost KYC (Know Your Customer) processes
- The deployment of business intelligence and web analytics tools
- The use of advanced personalization and targeting methods for improved customer experiences and acquisition
- The use of data-driven attribution models (such as the one Google recently announced) to counter the loss of third-party cookies (more on this in trend #27)
23) SERP Position Zero
For the past couple of years, we have seen the rise of the featured snippet, which describes a page’s content in the search result. A page that receives a featured snippet is said to have a “position zero” as it shows up before the first result:
As Google explains:
“We display featured snippets when our systems determine this format will help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description about the page and when they click on the link to read the page itself. They’re especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice.”
Featured snippets may offer a seamless user experience, but for search engine marketers, they represent an enormous challenge.
First, featured snippets can satisfy a user’s search without generating a click. Yes, that means you may work hard to rank for a page, get the position zero, and still get no traffic. 😔
Second, there’s no way to optimize a page for a featured snippet, as Google says:
“Google’s automated systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet to highlight for a specific search request. Your feedback helps us improve our search algorithms and the quality of your search results.”
The rise of position zero SERPs means that nowadays, search volume, intent and organic competition aren’t the only things that define a keyword’s worth. You must also analyze whether a keyword has a featured snippet or not.
As Google adds more AI into its ranking algorithm, we can expect an ever-higher part of their results as zero-rank-based.
24) Voice Commerce
The launch of voice assistants has disrupted more than the search engine world. As it turns out, consumers don’t just like to use them to execute their search queries — they also like to use them to purchase.
To understand the power of voice commerce, we need to think about one aspect of the consumer’s purchase process: convenience. A consumer may not purchase a 55” TV through a voice assistant, but they are most likely to buy a small, low-priced product that’s too annoying to search for online.
According to Walker Sands, “food and grocery” ranks highest on the list (at 21%) of what consumers have purchased via a voice-controlled device, followed by Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) at 16%.
- One company that took the lead in this new trend is Walmart, which partnered with Google to launch the Walmart Voice Order feature. People who own a Google Home can now say, “Hey Google, talk to Walmart,” choose the product they want, and add it to their cart.
- Amazon also incorporated voice commerce with AmazonFresh, which allows customers to shop through any Alexa-enabled device.
Here’s how your e-commerce store can benefit from voice commerce:
- Treat your search strategy as a conversation. Design content with long-tail keywords as a searchable conversation with the customer.
- Focus on expected queries and suitable keywords. Make use of trigger words for voice searches (such as who, why, when, how, where, should, could, does, etc.).
- Do not limit yourself to exact words. Instead, consider the possible context of the customer’s queries and offer valuable content that answers the question.
- Blend multiple terminologies to create variable sets of keywords and phrases. They should naturally cover all the relevant data of questions.
- Come up with catchy product descriptions that sound great when read aloud. Write naturally to align with regular speech patterns.
25) 5G Technology
In a world gone mad for mobile, arguably one of the most significant digital marketing trends of 2021 is the dawn of 5G technology, or fifth generation of mobile technology. The update heralds a new era of digital communications, and its impact will be felt across virtually every industry.
According to George Slefo, a former tech reporter at AdAge:
“The arrival of 5G may also finally bring millions of rural consumers into the high-speed data lanes where marketers increasingly sell their products. It might even disrupt the digital duopoly of Google and Facebook by arming telecom companies with unprecedented data for ad services.”
T-Mobile points to the benefits 5G speed has for the burgeoning augmented reality industry, noting how it could be instrumental in developing a virtual heads-up display. As this picture below shows, 5G Internet speeds can help cyclists spot danger from all sides:
The European Union has an ambitious 5G action plan that includes uninterrupted 5G coverage for major roads and railways by 2025. What’s more, the technology is expected to power 100x more connected devices.
Undoubtedly, 5G technology will transform how we access online content, from digital marketers to the average user.
26) Green Marketing
Green marketing, also called “eco-marketing” or environmental marketing,” is the practice of developing and advertising products based on their real or perceived environmental sustainability.
Green marketing represents only one part of a broader movement toward sustainable manufacturing methods that include:
- The use of recycled and/or recyclable materials
- The use of renewable materials
- Limiting the use of packaging
- The development of repairable products to avoid being thrown away
Green marketing can give your business access to new, younger markets and provide a competitive advantage over other, similar businesses. It can also increase brand loyalty and boost your brand image.
According to a NielsenIQ report:
- Consumers have spent $128.5 billion on sustainable fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products.
- 90% of Millennials indicated a willingness to pay more for products that contain sustainable or environmentally friendly ingredients.
- 48% of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
Allied Market Research projects the global green technology and sustainability market size to reach $48.36 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 24.3% from 2020 to 2027.
Some tips to get you started:
- Get certified with certifications such as Green America, Green Business Certification Inc. or Green Seal
- Promote your green strategy in the different marketing channels you use, such as blog posts, social media, and so on
- Incorporate green practices into your company culture
- Support eco-friendly programs and initiatives
27) First-Party Cookies
The EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA were passed into law to put limits on the way companies use their customer’s data. Since then, dozens of the largest companies in the world have been fined exorbitant sums of money due to user privacy violations, such as:
- Amazon — €746 million ($877 million)
- Google – €50 million ($56.6 million)
- H&M — €35 million ($41 million)
- TIM – €27.8 million ($31.5 million)
- British Airways – €22 million ($26 million)
The implications of the new privacy laws are far more reaching than economic. Marketers are now faced with a situation that has always been their biggest nightmare: the end of third-party cookies.
Cookies allow marketers to collect all sorts of data to measure, personalize, and develop their ad campaigns. With the slow but steady end of third-party cookies — such as the ones most marketing tools used to power their technologies — companies can only rely on their own collected data.
First-party cookies will force marketers to be mindful of the data they collect and how they use it. Although the future is still uncertain as to how much will this change affect marketers, in the meantime, here are some recommendations you should start to deploy before it’s too late:
- Use an omnichannel marketing strategy (see trend #15) to get data in every touchpoint while respecting the user’s consent.
- Use an invitation that’s highly visible, explicit, and personalized.
- Present the first-cookie data collection form/checkbox in a friendly manner, as if you were issuing an invitation to a loyalty program.
- Explain every data attribute you collect from your visitors, what it means, and how you use it for full transparency.
- Allow your visitors to modify their data collection and usage preferences through your preference center.
28) Website Security
In the same breath as privacy, website security is becoming more important than ever.
When a visitor lands on your site for the first time, they’ll make up their mind about your security within seconds. If they don’t feel safe, they won’t stick around, which leads to a lower dwell time, which is a relatively recent Google ranking factor.
That means you may see a decrease in rankings if people don’t feel safe on your website.
What’s more, with the Core Web Vitals update in 2021, websites must have secure sites. From now on, the bare minimum is to enable the HTTPS protocol for your site, which will show your visitors a little green padlock icon in the URL:
In addition, prominently displaying a security seal of trust or trust badge on your website will reassure your site visitors that you take their safety seriously:
* How Poor Website Security Negatively Impacts SEO Rankings
* How to Prepare Your Site for the New Page Experience Update
* CWV Update: Why Google Keeps Changing How It Measures Your Site’s UX (and What to Do About It)
29) Mobile Commerce
We’re living in an ever more mobile-centric world. Consequently, mobile devices will play a much larger role in the consumer’s purchasing cycle.
To make mobile commerce more user-friendly (and profitable), Amazon recently launched Amazon Pay, its own online payment processing service, which lowers checkout friction:
Merchants also get easy access to millions of Prime members with this service., which is why they have added Amazon Pay as a payment vehicle to increase sales.
Similarly, Google revamped its Google Pay app for Android and iOS users, which includes checking and savings accounts in partnership with Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
Here are a few tips to help you ride the new mobile commerce wave successfully:
- Make your website responsive. This tip may be very 2008, but it’s so crucial that you can’t ignore it.
- Use mobile payments. Registration data gets stored on the mobile device itself, which helps to reduce wait times.
- Make good use of the space. Feature important elements on the upper section of your home page and ensure that the search window is visible.
- Make the call-to-action big enough to attract the attention of online shoppers and easily tap on with your finger.
- Tailor the online experience to your target audience so they have a reason to keep coming back.
- Remove all distractions from the checkout process so that customers near the “finish line” can easily cross it.
- Provide access to different digital wallets while keeping everything on your website secure.
30) The Creator Economy
We’re no longer in the era of large-scale TV productions. Some even have said the “golden age of TV” has ended. We’re now in the era of creators, one where consumers can communicate directly with independent content creators, such as those you see on YouTube and niche Substacks.
According to SignalFire, there are 50 million creators, 2 million of which make a full-time living (4%), and some 47 million that make a part-time income:
The creator economy has been driven partially by the desire to make a living with a job that’s fulfilling and autonomous. On the other hand, consumers want to connect with people they can relate to.
With the rise of the creator economy, brands will have to engage with these independent content creators who command highly engaged audiences.
In this regard, three trends we expect to see are:
- Creators moving their top fans off of social networks and on to their own websites, apps and monetization tools (such as Substack)
- Creators becoming company founders, such as fitness YouTubers who start their own supplement brands
- Creators gaining power in the media industry as fans connect with individual content creators rather than TV companies
Keep Reading: What Is the Creator Economy (& Why Should You Care)?
31) Live Streaming
Video content may be the future of social media, but live streaming is the most preferred video marketing channel. In fact:
- The live-streaming industry is predicted to reach $184.3 billion by 2027
- 80% of consumers prefer watching a live video to reading a blog
- 63% of Millennials watch live streaming content regularly
- People spend 3X longer watching live videos compared to pre-recorded video
Consumers want authentic, unique content with the opportunity to interact or connect with the creator. Live streaming offers a viewing experience that puts them closer to the action. As a result, more and more companies use live video for business.
Instagram has recently ramped up its live streaming capabilities with the launch of Live Rooms, a feature that allows users to run a live stream with up to three people:
Moreover, Instagram has allowed viewers to support their favorite creators with Badges, Shopping, and Live Fundraisers.
Both companies want more creators to leverage their platforms to raise a following and grow their business there. Likewise, your business should consider using either of these social networks to create highly engaging live streaming video content.
Twitch, a live video streaming service subsidiary of Amazon, deserves a mention all on its own.
This platform boasts more than 30 million daily active users. Although Twitch has focused almost exclusively on the gaming community (specifically, watching gamers play) since it was founded in 2011, it has recently expanded to other activities such as painting, cooking, and music.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitch has grown even faster than before, as the following metrics can attest:
Companies have been using Twitch as part of an influence marketing strategy. Similar to what can be seen in other platforms like YouTube and Instagram, Twitch influencers have a strong relationship with their followings.
As Game Skinny puts it:
“One of the great things about online gaming is the formation of the community that plays that game. Much like that, channels and streamers on Twitch foster their own community.
People who enjoy the game, enjoy the person streaming, and maybe even enjoy hanging out with like-minded people. Successful streamers embrace this and some even do in-game activities with supporters of the stream.”
However, unlike other platforms, Twitch has a stringent policy towards publicity, as it doesn’t allow sponsored links, a key part of a YouTube marketing strategy. Similarly, Twitch doesn’t offer content to its users; instead, users get notified when a creator uploads a new video or starts a live stream session.
Given the tight connection between creators and followers, brands will be adopting Twitch as another marketing channel to promote their content and engage with new target audiences.
Gaming may have been the main use for Twitch so far, but marketers are starting to see its use to promote events, classes, workshops, and interviews.
33) Amazon Ads
When you think about online ads, you probably think of Facebook and Google. What about Amazon?
Believe it or not, Amazon’s “revenue contribution is now 2.4 times as large as Snap, Twitter, Roku and Pinterest combined, and it’s growing 1.7 times as quickly.”
Boasting over 200 million worldwide Prime customers, Amazon is an ideal place for e-commerce brands that want to expand their reach. Amazon doesn’t rely on third-party data to boost its targeting options; it owns the data, and it lets you use it for your own good.
What’s more, Amazon’s ad platform can target consumers based on their purchase intent. For example, a Google search for “best 4K TV” is broad and generic; users may be looking for information, for product comparisons, or anything else. The same search query in Amazon is more likely to come from users who are actively looking to buy a 4K TV. Can you see the power of Amazon ads now? 😉
Amazon Advertising offers a wide variety of ad products, four of the most popular being:
- Sponsored Products: Self-service, CPC-based ads for individual product listings that appear in shopping results and on product detail pages
- Sponsored Brands: Self-service, CPC-based ads for brands that appear in shopping results and feature a custom headline, brand logo, and multiple products
- Sponsored Display: Display ads that use automatically-generated ad creatives from relevant Amazon shopping interests
- Stores: Free, multi-page brand destinations that feature a product portfolio and help brands tell a story
The enormous opportunity Amazon advertising platform offers is undeniable and likely to grow in the years to come. As such, you must take advantage of it before it’s too late.
People like listening to podcasts, whether they are from individuals or companies. One source indicates that 80% of people will listen to most of a podcast episode.
And with Google now displaying podcast episodes directly in its SERPs…
…you must put more emphasis on optimizing your podcast.
Additionally, “people are set to interact with voice-enabled devices more often, so podcasters can increase brand awareness and audience engagement with voice SEO tactics,” including:
- Choose a keyword for each podcast episode
- Create a specific page for every episode
- Create a blog post of ~300 words for each episode
However, podcasts can be tricky for marketers as listeners may not be prompted to take action, such as signing up for an email newsletter. In the next few years, marketers will take a more user-friendly approach that will prioritize:
- Using one call to action per episode
- Summarizing the episode’s key points
- Making it easy to listen to a podcast — that means not requiring a sign-up, download, or any other issues just to listen to an episode
35) Native Advertising
Is it a surprise to say that people hate online ads? It shouldn’t be, considering that 763.5 million people worldwide use ad blockers to avoid ads, which forces marketers to try new acquisition channels.
Among the many options available, some of which we mentioned here, marketers have found native advertising.
Native advertising is a type of non-disruptive digital advertising in which the ad seamlessly blends in with the design of the web page it is published on. Consumers usually can’t distinguish native ads from the content in which they show up — hence the name “native”:
An AppNexus study found that native ads see an average CTR of 0.80%, while display ads see 0.09% — that’s 8.80x higher than display ads:
ADYOULIKE has revealed that native advertising spend is expected to increase from $85.83 billion in 2020 to a total global value of $402 billion by 2025, which is a 372% increase:
As a consequence, native ads will continue to grow in popularity, making them a staple on a marketer’s overall advertising strategy.
36) IoT Advertising
The “Internet of the Things” (IoT) has been making a lot of noise over the last decade. To understand its marketing potential, let’s quickly define it:
The IoT represents a network of devices, from smart cars to household appliances to wearable tech, that are connected between each other and the Internet. In this network, the connected devices can gather, share and analyze information and create actions synchronously.
By 2025, there are expected to be more than 75 billion IoT devices worldwide, with an estimated global spending of $1.1 trillion.
Which means, of course, that brands and marketers want to use (or are already using) this data for their own business and advertising purposes. For example:
- Johnnie Walker has a Blue Label bottle with built-in electronic sensors that can tell if the bottle has been opened and where it is in the supply chain.
- Malibu, another drinks company, takes it a step further, using their “connected” bottles as digital touchpoint to promote exclusive content.
The opportunities for IoT advertising are just surfacing, which may disrupt the industry in ways we can’t imagine. The only challenge ahead is privacy. Given the detailed amount of data IoT devices gather, marketers will have to use it in ways that are relevant and respectful of the user’s privacy.
37) Inclusivity and Diversity
Inclusivity and diversity no longer belong to the HR world. In 2022 and beyond, it’s a marketer’s job to elevate diversity in all of its forms, represent the marginalized or underrepresented, and reduce long-standing cultural biases to strengthen connections with customers and foster a culture of positive social change.
Companies need to be careful that their messages, images, voices and values represent the full spectrum of potential customers and not leave anyone out due to their own unconscious bias.
In 2019, Adobe conducted a research report of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers and discovered that:
- 61% found diversity in advertising important
- 38% said they are more likely to trust brands that show more diversity in their ads
- 120 million Americans (out of a 332-million population) don’t see themselves portrayed in ads
A Nielsen report shows that:
“With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the U.S. identifying as African American, Hispanic, or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy.”
Some ways that brands can make their marketing more inclusive include:
- Tone: Take a deep, careful look at how you represent a subject — say, an average member of your target audience. Analyze the words and expressions you use in your ads and content to represent them.
- Language: Pay special attention to the words, symbols and phrases you use to describe people and their problems.
- Representation: Before publishing a content piece or ad, ask yourself: Does this reflect society? Are we elevating diverse voices?
38) Alternate Search Engines
Research from StatCounter shows that about 92% of all traffic on search engines is through Google, dwarfing its “closest” rivals, Bing and Baidu:
Although small, it’s worth noting the changes: Google’s market share dropped almost one percent, while every other search engine grew. Here are the numbers from two years ago:
It’s hard to fathom a catastrophic collapse happening to the world’s most dominant search engine any time soon.
That being said, DuckDuckGo – a privacy-focused search engine founded in 2008 that has gained a niche popularity among privacy-minded users – has made some waves recently with its tagline “the search engine that doesn’t track you” because “search engines don’t need to track users to make money.”
According to DuckDuckGo’s general counsel and head of policy, Megan Gray, this model is profitable: “We make a ton of money. We are a privately held company, so I can’t tell you exactly how much we make. But we are subject to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which requires at least $25 million in annual revenue, and we are well above that.”
While Google has been embroiled in data scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica fiasco in 2018 and was officially charged with antitrust violations related to its search and advertising businesses last year, DuckDuckGo has meanwhile been quietly growing their privacy-first search engine, hitting 92 billion all-time searches with nearly 29 billion searches in 2021 alone:
Even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey uses it:
Ultimately, marketers should consider their audience and think about where their brand’s content is likely to be viewed. With that in mind, optimize your content for more than just one search engine.
Final Word on Digital Marketing Trends
So, there you have it — our definitive guide to the 38 most important digital marketing trends you can’t ignore in 2021.
As John F. Kennedy once said: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
For anyone in digital marketing, change is an integral part of the job. You must keep looking ahead and strive to embrace new technologies, tools, and strategies to gain an edge over your competitors.
9 top digital marketing trends for 2021 – 99designs
So far, the digital marketing trends for 2021 seem to revolve around two distinct, but almost contradictory concepts. First is a general humanization, addressing real issues and tailoring content to suit the individual (as opposed to mass appeal) for more personal engagement. Second is a much more mechanical and technical optimization, fine-tuning the behind-the-scenes areas like SEO and how you structure campaigns—the nitty-gritty that your satisfied customers don’t see.
Below, we’ll cover 9 of the hottest digital marketing trends of 2021, to give you a head-start over your competition. Take these marketing trends to heart and consider them when outlining your own digital marketing strategy for the new year.
Here are the 9 best digital marketing trends of 2021:
- Featured snippets & no-click searches
- Sustainability: loud and proud
- Ad-blocker blockers
- Image and video SEO for visual searches
- Interactive content
- Customer segmentation
- Local SEO
- Oldies but goodies
One look at the front page headlines shows the significance of inclusivity in our current time-and-place in history. Greater numbers by the day, especially younger audiences and marginalized groups, want to see a more optimistic depiction of equality in the content they consume and the brands they purchase from. Or more accurately, they don’t want to see the same homogeneous content we’re accustomed to from previous decades.
In 2021, digital marketing includes media and subject matters that cover a variety of races, sexualities, religions, etc., as well as representation for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. This includes the content for your imagery and videos, but also the topics you discuss in social media and blogs, or even the line of products you offer.
According to Accenture, this cultural shift is already affecting purchasing behavior: 41% of shoppers “have shifted… their business away from a retailer that does not reflect how important [identity and diversity] is to them.” The same study showed that 29% of consumers are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t showcase enough diversity—and that percentage just goes up for ethnic minorities and the LGBT+ community.
2. Featured snippets & no-click searches
For many, many years, the goal of SEO has been to get your listing in the “position number one” spot of search results. Now, going into 2021, the end-goal is continuing to shift to more SEO visibility in “position zero.”
Position zero refers to Google’s “featured snippet”, and 2021 SEO marketing trends are prioritizing it above all else. The featured snippet works differently than other search results entries—for one thing, it’s separated by a small box and located at the top. More importantly, it also displays extra, relevant information with the attempt at answering the user’s question without them needed to click on it, prompting the nickname “no-click search.”
Although it sounds counter-intuitive to forego someone clicking on your link, the recognition you get as a thought-leader outweighs a single click/visit. Moreover, featured snippets are sometimes read aloud with Google Assistant voice searches.
If you’re going to target a featured snippet yourself, there’s a few things to know. For starters, featured snippets are mostly for long-tail keyword phrases like questions (such as “how to design a logo”). They come in different forms, from step-by-step lists to straight-up definitions to even videos (and more), so match your content with the appropriate format.
3. Sustainability: loud and proud
Just like the digital marketing trend of inclusivity, people in 2021 are similarly passionate about environmentalism. They want to make sure the brands receiving their money are just as concerned for planet earth as they are.
With 81% of consumers strongly feeling companies should help improve the environment, what we’re seeing is a popularity boost for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, especially for younger consumers. This goes well-beyond the market for green products—every brand can benefit by broadcasting their sustainable practices.
The key is communicating your sustainability through your branding and content to make environmentalism part of your identity. There are plenty of different ways depending on your branding style, such as displaying a banner prominently on your site, or discussing it repeatedly on social media. You can even opt for more subtle methods, such as branded reusable tote bags or conveying green themes through your brand’s visual identity.
4. Ad-blocker blockers
The digital marketing trends of 2021 aren’t all about positivity and progress—it’s also about overcoming obstacles like ad blockers. With 27% of internet users expected to use ad blockers in 2021, many marketers are having their primary stream of traffic automatically cut off at the source, including PPC campaigns.
First, you want to check how big of a problem it is for you—your ad data and analytics should tell you what you need to know. Depending on your target audience or where you post ads, the damage might be negligible.
If your ads do fall victim to ad blockers, your best strategy is to adapt—don’t waste time trying to convince potential customers to change their own preferences. Readjust your advertising budget to suit other, more fruitful campaigns, like influencer marketing or sponsored content. Younger audiences don’t respond well to display ads anyway, but they do respond well to influencer marketing, so making the switch is advisable in any situation.
5. Image and video SEO for visual searches
You already know you can search for images and videos by typing in keywords, but did you know you can also submit existing images for a search, or even take original photos and search for context? As more users discover these visual search techniques, it changes the overall landscape of SEO in general.
To capitalize on the increased amount of visual searches, you want to make sure your image and video SEO campaigns are in tip-top shape. For starters, apply the basics:
- always include alt text in your image descriptions
- add images to your sitemap or create a dedicated image sitemap
- include your target SEO keywords in the file name of your image
- use top-quality images and videos, including HD
Moreover, familiarize yourself with Google Lens, especially if you’re an ecommerce brand. Handle your SEO techniques right, and you can take traffic away from competitors when shoppers conduct picture searches for products or barcodes.
6. Interactive content
Here’s a trend that’s technically been around for awhile, but it’s just now being recognized as a best practice. Interactive content doesn’t just promote more engagement, it also improves the user’s enjoyment.
Interactive content like quizzes, open-ended questions, surveys, contests, giveaways, polls, calculator widgets, etc., can do wonders for your brand. At the very least, they increase the length of time users engage with you, which helps your standing in algorithm-based searches and feeds. But more importantly, people want to be engaged, so interactive content almost always improves your user experience.
Interactive content is part of the greater trend towards personalization; by allowing the users to answer for themselves or have their opinion heard, they feel a more personal connection to the brand. Don’t forget it can also be used to collect data on user preferences, such as for product or site improvements.
7. Customer segmentation
Another trend that’s not new but rather newly popular is customer segmentation. The idea is simple: instead of a small number of large marketing campaigns targeting general audiences, it’s better to have a large number of small marketing campaigns targeting specific audiences.
Customer segmentation means grouping your target audience by certain traits or behaviors, such as demographics or shopping habits. This allows you to more accurately tailor your content to suit their preferences; for example, having two separate email lists for big spenders and small spenders, and sending different newsletters to each that feature different products.
This strategy works best for personalization and customer engagement, as your followers receive content hand-picked for them. Beyond email lists, you can apply customer segmentation to specialized ads on different sites, categories of blog content and social media content for multiple communities.
8. Local SEO
Google frequently updates their local SEO algorithm, so if you’re a local business, you should continuously update your business’ appearance in local results too. In a way, local SEO is even more powerful than broad SEO—people searching for a specific type of business with their geographic location have more intent to purchase, so it’s easier to convert them.
For starters, you have to get verified by Google. You can do this by signing up for Google My Business and either claiming your listing or creating a new one. This helps you rank higher in Google SERPS, and also gives you the chance to offer additional information about your company to online searchers.
Additionally, you want to incorporate local keywords prominently into your SEO strategy. Obviously, prioritize the name of your city or town as a top keyword, but you can go the extra mile by also incorporating related keywords. If your location has a famous landmark or quirky claim-to-fame, mention it once or twice.
9. Oldies but goodies
Not all of the best digital marketing trends of 2021 are from 2021. Plenty of marketing trends from last year or the year before are still going strong, and will continue to be game changers throughout the next year as well. And if you still haven’t implemented them yet, there’s more urgency now than ever before.
In particular, don’t forget about these ongoing digital marketing trends from 2020:
- Shoppable Posts: social media posts that directly connect users to product checkout tend to increase conversions by streamlining the payment process. See if you’re eligible for Checkout on Instagram.
- Gen Z Marketing: last year saw the eldest of Gen Z turning 18 and entering the workforce. If you want to infiltrate this young market, first understand the best practices for marketing to Gen Z.
- Microinfluencers: as opposed to premier influencers, microinfluencers are more like average people who have a larger-than-average social media follower. If you attract enough of them, typically through social media contests and giveaways, you can achieve the same numbers as top-level influencers at a fraction of the cost and effort.
- Voice Search SEO: since voice assistants first hit market a few years ago, voice searches have been upending traditional SEO tactics—people don’t use the same keywords when they talk as when they type! Try altering your SEO strategy to incorporate speech keywords.
Keep checking back with the 99designs blog throughout the year to stay up-to-date on all the latest digital marketing trends yet to come!
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