Digital marketing’s dynamic fields are known to go through constant and rapid changes. One area that remains a key driver of marketing shifts is consumer behaviour. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has forecasted that 2024 will see modest global growth and cooling inflation. However, they also note that consumers will continue to remain cost conscious due to external factors including high living expenses and the looming concern over rising interest rates.
Optimizing your digital marketing strategy’s performance in 2024 still remains fairly unpredictable. The high number of brands vying for the same user attention, competing for the same space and engagement has caused message overload. Algorithms attempt to tailor an experience towards users, which adds an additional challenge in that the ability of your message getting in front of users is based on their past interaction with similar content. In order to get ahead of the competition, there are emerging and already prevalent trends that can help drive your strategy to greater success as our economy slowly rebounds.
A BIGGER ROLE FOR AI
In 2024, AI’s role remains crucial for marketers and consumers. For marketers, AI will aid them in analyzing to produce personalized content, essentially in real time. Consumers will benefit with more tailored experiences in their interactions with brands. In other words, customers will indirectly become more reliant on the algorithm to find them brands to interact with, but their interaction with said brand will be more engaged and loyal.
Marketers will have to change their content strategy. While AI-generated content became trendy in the later half of 2023, mostly to speed up the writing process, large language model applications like ChatGPT will not be sufficient enough to attract new customers. As younger generations are becoming more aware of how AI is being integrated into the content they consume, and also being able to notice the patterns of AI-generated content, impactful connection and conversion will be greater when the content is human-driven. AI can be helpful with the forming of ideas, but the connection with the customer needs to have the emotional impact that comes from individual human experiences and perspectives.
AI, then, will prove to be more helpful in business operations. Marketers have a more direct connection with consumers. Their insights are crucial for adopting AI strategies in key areas, such as automation of tasks with digital assistants, creating more efficient communications to customers with large language models, streamlining customer service in the form of chatbots, and even in product design or improvement. Another particularly interesting area for AI to transform is how companies perform predictive analysis of anticipating and capitalizing on future consumer behaviour. With AI making these predictions more accurate than ever, marketers can gain valuable insight into sales trajectories, market trends, and changing consumer behaviour in response to market conditions (ie: streaming service churn due to an over-saturation of streaming services).
Video content takes centre stage in social media marketing, capturing viewers’ attention longer than static posts. Short-form videos, from TikToks, YouTube Shorts, to Instagram reels, are instrumental in driving engagement, particularly among millennials and Gen Z. Live streaming, coupled with influencer marketing, has emerged as a potent trend, fostering customer interaction and purchases during live streams.
In 2023, the global live streaming market reached $1.49 billion, marking a 20% increase from the previous year. The average weekly online video consumption rose to 17 hours. Short-form videos, exemplified by all the major social media platforms, will continue dominating in 2024. The unfortunate drawback to this in user behaviour is that attention spans will get shorter. Content that does not grab the user’s interest within the first couple of seconds will be disengaged with, and if enough users do this, the algorithm could flag the video as poor content. Despite this concern, brands are expected to leverage this trend for storytelling, product launches, and client testimonials.
With consumers relying on ratings, reviews, and product demonstrations, brands can not only create these types of videos, but they can also incorporate user-generated content (UGC) into their marketing strategy. By working with content creators to do reviews, unboxing videos, or even incorporating the product into a creator’s video, UGC is a cost-effective outsourcing of marketing efforts to your consumer base, particularly beneficial for teams facing budget constraints, a prevalent challenge as 36% of marketing budgets reported a decrease in 2023.
The dominance of video content is predicted to persist in 2024, shaping marketing strategies. For marketers, embracing short-form videos, live streaming, UGC, and interactive formats is crucial for effective audience engagement. Consumers can anticipate a surge in dynamic and visually appealing content, enhancing their online experiences.
Navigating data privacy regulations is one of the most critical challenges for marketers. Consumers can anticipate more transparent and secure data practices, fostering trust in how businesses collect and use their data. As data breaches and misuse pose significant costs, both monetarily and in terms of customer trust, it’s crucial for companies to be open and honest about their data usage. KPMG research reveals that 86% of Americans view data privacy as a growing concern, with 68% expressing worries about the extent of data collected by businesses.
Providing customers with control over their information is key, along with delivering value in exchange for their data. In a landscape where 89% of consumers desire more control over their data, this presents a substantial opportunity for marketers to build trust and distinguish themselves from less-trusted brands. Communicating about data security not only reassures customers but also encourages them to engage with various services without fear of data leaks or identity theft in the age of rising cyberattacks. Keeping abreast of data privacy regulations remains crucial for marketers aiming to establish and maintain consumer trust.
UX AND CONVERSION RATE OPTIMIZATION
User experience (UX) is paramount in marketing, encompassing how individuals feel when engaging with a company website or any system they release for others to use. Effective UX design ensures a positive experience that meets user needs, fostering loyalty to the product or brand. A well-designed website or app, considered a valuable marketing asset, significantly influences conversion to customers. Key aspects of UX design include a simple layout, user-friendly navigation, and mobile optimization, given that over half of global users browse the web on their phones.
Current UX design trends involve minimalism, voice-activated interfaces, hands-free controls, animated elements, block web design, storytelling, and bold colours. While search engines like Google can change how a brand appears in search engine results, optimized page speed and overall user experience to significantly enhance conversion rates is a crucial area of focus for marketers. Voice search in particular, propelled by 4.2 billion voice assistants in use, is reshaping the digital landscape. This is a key area that marketers can access to prioritize content with conversational queries, keywords, and web optimization.
Customer experience will be an area of interest for all digital marketing strategies. This shift means marketers need to prioritize technologies and strategies that create smoother, more personalized, and satisfying interactions with brands, benefiting consumers with an elevated and personalized experience across their brand interactions.
SUSTAINABILITY & DIVERSITY
The simple truth is that global society is becoming more integrated and culturally diverse, as well as concerned for the ecological sustainability of the products being consumed. This trend has steadily grown throughout the past decade, and many businesses have already begun changes to their operations. Marketers should highlight these steps in their strategies.
In the upcoming year, a significant prediction for marketing is the diversification of content to resonate with a global and multicultural audience. For marketers, this involves adapting strategies through content localization and cultural sensitivity to cater to diverse demographics. This shift is crucial for engaging a wider audience and fostering inclusivity. Additionally, consumers can expect more inclusive content that reflects their cultural backgrounds, contributing to the increased relevance of brand messaging.
Simultaneously, the focus on sustainability is becoming pivotal in consumer decision-making, with over 70% expressing a willingness to pay more for sustainably-produced goods, as per PWC’s Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey. This consumer trend allows individuals to align their purchase power with social and environmental concerns, giving companies pricing power for products or services that address sustainability. To stay ahead, companies are advised to audit their product or service lifecycle, seek customer feedback for improvement, and review their corporate social responsibility strategy to ensure a sustainable and socially responsible approach.
Marketing trends, evolving with technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences, necessitate a dynamic approach. Relying solely on established best practices is no longer sufficient for marketing leaders. The key lies in anticipating upcoming trends to stay competitive and formulate effective strategies. As we enter into an exciting new year, marketers will continue to face heightened interest and challenges, marked by emerging technologies and evolving consumer behaviours. This consistent need to adapt and change can yield many positive results, particularly in gaining a competitive advantage.