Global digital ad spending is expected to grow steadily year after year, exceeding $517 billion by 2023:
To keep up with your competition, you must stay on top of the trends and realize that new advancements are constantly changing digital marketing. The best digital marketers today shift their strategy toward emerging channels and technologies to attract and convert customers. For example, there’s more emphasis on personalization, post-click experiences, automation, artificial intelligence, etc. than ever before.
Above everything, digital marketers must keep customer satisfaction as the number one goal and offer audiences an unforgettable, positive experience.
With all that in mind, here are 15 top digital marketing trends and tactics to incorporate into your strategy.
15 Digital marketing trends
1. Marketing automation technology
Automation empowers digital marketers to manage and measure activities and workflows to attract customers faster, leading to more business growth. It saves employees time and gives managers greater insight into what drives their business — all of which makes it an obvious choice to include in your advertising tech stack.
In fact, nearly half of all companies implement marketing automation technology and 91% of the most successful adopters say that it’s “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels.
Considering its benefits and future potential in areas such as:
- PPC advertising
- Social media advertising
- Programmatic advertising
- Native advertising
- Post-click experiences
…it’s no wonder automated technology is steadily taking over advertising.
In 2020, 80% of the advertising process will likely be automated, and the remaining 20% will simply be because certain advertising elements will always need a human connection (brand value, storytelling, and other experiential tactics).
2. Personalized experiences everywhere
To stand out in the oversaturated digital landscape, your marketing efforts must be highly personalized.
Consider these personalization stats:
- 63% of consumers are extremely annoyed with generic advertising blasts
- 80% say they’re more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences
- 90% claim they find personalization appealing
Fortunately, personalization is easier than ever due to the availability of customer data, behavior and purchase history, links clicked, and more. Look at Cadbury’s personalized video marketing campaign, for example:
The Cadbury marketing team created the campaign based on data from users’ Facebook profiles, including age, interests, and location. When users watched, they saw their name, Facebook images, and more embedded directly into the video content.
With this hyper-personalization, the campaign saw a 65% click-through rate and a 33.6% conversation rate, proving that personalization plays a significant role in the success of digital marketing.
77% of Americans own a smartphone, and 79% of those people have made an online purchase on their mobile device in the last 6 months. In fact, over 40% of people say they prefer to complete their entire shopping journey on mobile, from research to purchase.
However, most retail mobile sites take far too long to load. In 2017, Google reported an average retail mobile page load time of around 6.9 seconds. More recently, Forbes posted that it improved to 3.1 seconds. Either way, it’s too long considering 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and conversions fall by 20% for every additional second of page load time.
So, in an attempt to improve user experience by speeding up the mobile web, the AMP framework was launched to build “lightweight” pages that load at lightning speeds.
When built correctly, these pages load nearly instantaneously — a fraction of a second:
The only problem was that the new speedy experience didn’t translate to ads on AMP pages or their corresponding post-click landing pages. Yet, that changed when Google announced the AMP framework is no longer focused strictly on optimizing static content. Now, advertisers can create ads and post-click landing pages that load just as quickly.
4. Artificial intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is just as new-age and robotic as it sounds, referring to machines and technology having the high-functioning ability to perform like humans. AI has completely infiltrated our daily lives and tasks — like when Spotify or Pandora recommends a song, Facebook suggests a photo tag, or you talk-to-text using Siri.
As AI continues to grow in usage, digital marketers and advertisers will have no choice but to implement it into their campaigns.
In fact, Harvard Business Review predicted that by 2020, AI technologies will be pervasive in almost every new software product and service. Furthermore, PwC claimed that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, accounting for almost 70% of the global economic impact.
In digital marketing, AI helps audiences solve their problems quickly and accurately, without the constant support from a human being. Organizations are also adopting AI into their businesses for these reasons:
Artificial intelligence will soon be the driving force behind many services; however, it’s not meant to completely replace humans. It’s designed to improve and expand the ability to connect with audiences, helping them solve their pain points faster and more thoroughly.
One of the biggest frustrations with online services — and 40% of consumers will agree — is the inability to get immediate answers to simple questions. This is important for advertisers to be aware of because when visitors can’t get answers about your products and services quickly, they’ll likely bounce away to a competitor.
Studies show that 63% of website visitors prefer an online chatbot to communicate with a business, over an actual person. This makes sense considering most chatbots often offer better customer service than any human can. In fact, SurveyMonkey Audience respondents agree that some of the top benefits chatbots provide are:
- 24-hour service (64%)
- Instant responses to inquiries (55%)
- Answers to simple questions (55%)
- Easy communication (51%)
Chatbots are also appealing to advertisers because of their ability to automate repetitive tasks using machine learning — saving time, money, and resources. By 2022, chatbots are predicted to help businesses save over $8 billion per annum, which is a huge leap in savings over the past several years:
Many brands, such as Lyft, already use chatbot technology:
Customers can request a ride from Lyft via Facebook Messenger, Slack, or Amazon Echo. The bot lets users know the current location of their driver, along with a picture of the vehicle model and license plate.
Other brands currently leveraging AI bots include Fandango, Spotify, Whole Foods Market, Mastercard, and Wall Street Journal. That’s not all — by 2020, bots are anticipated to power 85% of customer service.
This isn’t the only trending form of artificial intelligence, though…
6. Voice search & smart speakers
Voice-based assistants (Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby, and Microsoft Cortana) provide technology with a human touch. 41% of users feel like talking to a voice-enabled device is actually just like talking to a friend, yet it makes online search more interactive and convenient.
For that reason, the use of voice search and smart speakers has increased over the years:
- Nearly 34% of the total US population has used a voice assistant within the past month.
- 60% of smart speaker owners using their device at least 4 times per day.
Not only that, but this level of growth shows no signs of slowing down:
- Voice shopping is expected to jump significantly to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion in 2018.
- Overall, people plan to use voice assistants far more in the future:
This growth in usage makes it essential for brands to rework their digital marketing strategies to include voice-based capabilities.
Many brands, including Domino’s, PayPal, Nestle, and Tide, already include voice search in their digital marketing strategies. This should come as no surprise considering Google Assistant has 2,000 “actions,” and Alexa has 30,000 “skills” they can use to respond to users’ commands and queries.
Not only do these digital assistants answer short, informational queries such as, “What’s the weather like today?” They can now process more customized, and conversational search queries: “Where is the closest coffee shop?” “How late is it open?” “Does their menu include food?”
With this advanced functionality, businesses need to reevaluate and update the way they frame information. For example, framing your content around questions empowers users to get the answers they’re looking for.
According to Aja Frost, SEO strategist at HubSpot:
Businesses should look at a topic and say, ‘What questions could users ask about this?’ Then, they should plan sub-topics accordingly and look for opportunities to insert questions as headers. This will allow voice assistants to easily grab questions and recognize content as solutions.
“Adopting a voice search strategy isn't just about remaining relevant -- it’s also about creating a unique and optimized customer experience that will foster relationships and build brand loyalty.
7. Programmatic advertising
Programmatic advertising refers to the use of AI to automate ad buying so advertisers can target more specific audiences.
Before programmatic advertising, ad space was bought and sold by humans — sold by publishers and bought by advertisers. This method worked well until ad space supply became much higher than the demand and 40-60% of publisher inventory started to go unsold.
That’s when programmatic advertising automation developed:
- Cutting out the middleman to streamline the ad buying process
- Serving more relevant ads by targeting demographics and context rather than inventory
- Access to a greater pool of publishers
- Efficiently measuring ROI
This development changed the face of digital advertising significantly. It became more efficient and, in turn, increased conversions and decreased customer acquisition costs:
As programmatic’s sophistication continues to rise, utilizing it for advertising campaigns continues to trend upward. By 2021, nearly 88% of all US ad dollars will be spent on programmatic advertising:
8. Influencer marketing
This word-of-mouth strategy uses popular third-parties to drive your brand’s message to a larger market. While influencers can be celebrities or well-known leaders, more often they are Instagram or YouTube personalities with a large enough following to help spread the word about your product, service, or brand through their social channels.
These non-celebrity personalities are sometimes referred to as micro-influencers — promoters with a smaller niche following (typically thousands to tens-of-thousands of followers) on various social media platforms.
Although a micro-influencer may have fewer followers than celebrities, for instance, their posts are often more meaningful and effective at connecting with audience members, boosting brand awareness, and even converting leads, due to their higher level of engagement.
Additionally, since they’re considered more average/normal and reachable/approachable than celebrities, political figures, leaders, etc., prospects tend to view micro-influencers in a different light — more like friends and family. Therefore, they’re more likely to trust their opinions and recommendations.
Influencer marketing is a trend that shows no signs of going away anytime soon. By 2020, it could even reach up to $10 billion in ad spend.
9. More focus on landing page media
Anything that makes your post-click landing page more visually appealing to visitors is a win, and that includes making sure your media is relevant, accurate, and high-quality.
Some ideas and tips on how to do that include:
- Product screenshots — This technique is popular among many SaaS businesses because they can feature a variety of screenshots of the app on a longer page
- GIFs for product demonstration — Compared to videos, gifs explain how a new product or feature works in a more compact way, with minimal impact to your page loading speed
- Realistic stock photography — Avoid overly staged photos, people with fake smiles and non-realistic reactions, etc. as these make your page look phony and reduce your credibility
- Illustrations — Many businesses are using on-brand, relevant illustrations instead of images on their post-click pages
- Accurate content images — Online users want to see exactly what they will receive upon converting whether it’s an ebook, white paper, infographic template, etc.), so show them a preview of your offer to persuade them to convert
10. Visual search
Visual search is taking the user experience to a whole new level. Across various networks, people can now upload an image to conduct a search rather than typing or speaking anything into a search bar.
For example, Google Lens (Google’s visual search engine) recognizes objects and landmarks through a camera app:
Some features that Google Lens offers include:
- Scan text in real time to translate it, look up definitions, add events to a calendar, call a number, etc.
- Snap a picture of an outfit, furniture, home decor, etc. and find similar styles without having to describe what you’re looking for in a search box
- Take a picture of a menu item to look it up and see what people have said about it in reviews
- Show a specific landmark or location to learn more about it, see its ratings, hours of operation, historical facts, etc., explore nearby places, and more
- Take a picture of a plant or animal to identify it and learn more about it
Bing also has visual search that functions the same way and provides a similar user experience:
Pinterest has jumped on the visual search bandwagon too with Pinterest Lens, helping users discover fashion ideas, home decor tips, recipes, and more, inspired by anything they point their camera at.
These are only a few of the visual search options, so if you’re not already optimizing for visual search, it’s time you start because:
- The global image recognition market is projected to reach over $86 billion by 2025
- As of 2018, there are now more than 600 million visual searches on Pinterest each month
- Over 62% of millennials are more interested in visual search capabilities than any other new technology
Micro-moments are minor interactions between larger interactions within the user experience to help you deliver your message in the right format at the right time. The perfect combination of content, plus the time at which your message is conveyed, both help deliver the best possible outcome of your marketing campaign.
The trending of micro-moments means advertisers must rethink the linear buyer funnel (awareness, consideration, and decision) because the customer journey is much shorter, direct, and immediate. Today, people think of, see, or talk about something and they suddenly need to learn about it, watch it, buy it, etc. right away.
Mention explains, “When we act on our needs in the moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. This makes the quality, relevance, and usefulness of marketing more important than ever.”
Advertisers can use this idea and the following marketing tactics to get the most out of micro-moments:
- Identify consumers’ “I-want-to-buy” moments
- Be ready in these moments of need
- Deliver highly relevant content
- Make it easy for them to convert
- Measure every moment that matters
Micro-interactions are similar but these occur on mobile pages, enhancing that specific part of the overall experience. They are smaller interactions in between larger ones, letting visitors know they’ve already performed a particular action. For example, clicking a button and witnessing the color or shape change, or hearing a particular sound after you perform an action:
12. Social media stories
Recently, though, ephemeral content marketing has also been on the rise.
Brands are increasingly using ephemeral content in their ad campaigns for multiple reasons, including:
- Fear of missing out (FOMO) — The short-lived nature (usually only 24 hours) of ephemeral content creates urgency, fueled by the fear of missing out, which helps elicits an immediate response from viewers — a quick decision to sign up, purchase, download, etc.
- More engagement — Engagement tends to be more personal than other forms of advertising because of engagement-boosting features like branded filters and geo-filters, polls and questions, live video, and user tags, location tags, and hashtags.
- Higher reach — Since Stories appear in a separate feed on all platforms, it’s a way to beat the algorithm and increase reach. Also, when users go “live,” their followers get a notification, even if they’re not using the app at that exact moment. Not only that, but Stories are inherently shareable and visibility-boosting because it only takes a single tap for viewers to send someone’s Story to another person.
- Increased trust — Ephemeral content makes your brand feel more humanized and relatable because it’s more informal and spontaneous. This helps your followers gain a greater sense of excitement, trust, and loyalty for your brand.
Because of their unique, fun, and informal vibe, advertising with social media Stories is soaring in popularity.
13. Social commerce
With the ecommerce industry and social media usage both growing at outstanding rates, it’s no wonder advertisers are pairing the two together to form this new trend.
Many users don’t want to leave a social environment to complete a purchase, and social commerce makes it so users don’t have to. It serves as a way for brands to sell their products directly through social media platforms, providing:
- More effective social advertising
- A more seamless, frictionless buying experience
- Maximized sales opportunities
- Reduced potential for confusion and abandonment
Some of the most common social commerce features advertisers are using include:
- Buy buttons on social media posts
- Shoppable posts and Stories
- Peer-to-peer buying and selling
- Social commerce plugins and apps
Rather than sending users away and potentially losing them as customers, use social commerce to capitalize on their purchase intent when their enthusiasm for your product is at its highest.
People today carry their mobile devices everywhere, and a proximity marketing strategy can take advantage of that. With geofencing, marketers can reach consumers with specific ads once they enter a certain zone or come within a set distance of a storefront or product.
This allows marketers to better serve their target audience based on hyper-relevant locational data. For instance, they can deliver push notifications and text messages with things like coupons and shipping discounts for specific content within physical reach of customers.
Take this case study for example:
The American fuel chain 76 used Waze to mark their gas stations on a map throughout California. As drivers approached, the 76 logo would pop up on their map showing them where to stop for gas:
Tapping the logo triggered drop-down, billboard-style messages promoting a 1 in 5 chance to win money at the pump. This incentive helped generate a 6.5% navigation rate to fuel stations.
How else do we know this is such an important marketing trend? The global geofencing market is on track to climb to nearly $2.4 billion by 2023:
So especially for industries trying to convert digital users into brick-and-mortar customers, geo-fencing is something you should consider implementing.
15. Insights over data
Various analytics and reports are an important part of every marketing and sales technology product today. In fact, improving data-driven marketing is a top priority for many businesses, indicated by the Altimeter/Prophet State of Digital Marketing Report:
But knowing what that data tells you, and precisely what to do about it, is what matters most for acquiring new customers, maintaining customer loyalty, and boosting customer retention. That’s why insights are becoming the new currency of marketing, advertising, and sales — because those insights are driving action plans and improving campaign results.
There are tools, such as MAXG that can help with this. MAXG is an insight and recommendation engine that tells marketers what to do with their insights, and in what order to do it. Also, rather than providing generic recommendations, it provides recommendations based specifically on your company’s data, goals, strategy, and tactics.
Pair these marketing trends with a fully optimized post-click experience
With global digital ad spend expected to reach over $517 billion within the next few years, you must stay on top of each trend — shifting toward new mediums and investing in advanced technologies.
That includes creating personalized and optimized post-click experiences at scale. Request an Instapage Enterprise Demo today to see the world’s first post-click automation solution in action. Start turning more clicks into conversions, today.