Every business, no matter what sector it operates in, now works in a crowded global marketplace. The power is firmly with the consumer as companies race to establish brands, gain a share of voice, and convert casual customers into loyal brand advocates.
In this landscape, digital marketing has a very clear role to play. Successful digital advertising is at the heart of every good business strategy, helping companies carve out a niche, target their advertising and connect to the right customers
One of the key pillars of success is being able to adapt to shifting trends and customer expectations – and that means keeping your finger on the pulse when it comes to the fast-paced world of digital marketing.
So, what does the future hold for digital marketing? Which strategies are the winning ones? Let’s take a look at some of the emerging and dominant trends this year that will shape how businesses market themselves online.
Optimized Content for Voice Search
The rise of verbal searches and voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri is only set to become more intense in 2021 and beyond. In fact, 62% of smart speaker users say they will make a purchase using voice-technology within the next month. This type of activity is directly related to the acceleration of the instant gratification culture we are living in these days. As humans, we are hardwired to always choose the quickest, easiest route that still gets results, and voice search taps directly into this.
Voice search offers the immediate results that customers want in today’s marketplace, and the smartest marketers will be investing resources in getting geared up for it. This involves optimizing your website for both zero-click search activity and making the best use of featured snippets – as most voice assistants only pick up the top entry on the search page.
Using natural language and questions to optimize content instead of the usual keywords, and tailoring your content to directly answer common questions is the way forward. In support of this trend, Google has updated it’s search algorithm to process natural language better than ever. With that in mind I’d say it’s time to start molding the content and design of your website to prioritize simplicity and clear communication.
Search, social, and ecommerce advertising are all increasingly blending together, reflecting the always-connected consumer of today’s marketplace. It’s not enough to simply have a presence on all of these channels anymore. Marketers now need to deliver a cohesive journey with their cross-channel strategy. Instead of focusing on each channel individually, you should start focusing on a holistic approach designed to meet customers where they are with the right message at the right time.
Your ads on each channel need to work in harmony, like instruments in an orchestra, to create one seamless customer experience. That means taking a deeper look at the audience you are serving on each channel and matching your messaging and calls to action appropriately. To help with this you should look at your cross-channel strategy as one big funnel, and then determine where each platform falls in the funnel. From there your goal should be to create a strategy that pushes you customers down the funnel as they move from one channel to the next.
Layering Audiences Over Keywords
Paid search advertising has continued to refine and improve over time, and this year will be no exception. Gone are the days when audience targeting was reserved exclusively for display and social campaigns. Now audiences work in conjunction with PPC keywords to refine targeting and deliver a better user experience for search engines. Layering sharp audience targeting on top of tightly matched keywords is the wave of the future in paid search advertising.
Using Emotional Intelligence
As Artificial Intelligence continues to improve and grow, it’s unlocking new frontiers in marketing that could have only been dreamed off even a few years ago. Now, the new buzzword is all about AI developing emotional intelligence.
Tools for analysis have been developed that will investigate the words a customer enters into a search engine against a known database of research to conclude what emotion that person is feeling. This information can be used to tailor marketing messages and product offerings in a hyper-localized way, and to target potential customers when they are “emotionally tuned” to your offer.
As far into the realms of science fiction as this one sounds, it’s quite far advanced already and 2021 will see the adoption of emotional data on a much larger scale.
The Development of Video Channels
Videos and livestreaming have slowly started to take over for traditional television, and the nature of advertising is following suit. 2021 will see the expansion of video advertising away from its roots and into augmented reality.
With new technological developments in virtual reality – experiences such as allowing a customer to virtually ‘try on’ an item of clothing, or see exactly how a piece of furniture or paint colour would look in their home will soon be possible. The merging of virtual reality technology and digital advertising will allow marketers to create the ultimate personalized experience. Savvy businesses and marketers will use this technology to bring their products to their customers rather than waiting passively to be found.
With so many developments, keeping up with the latest marketing trends can seem like a daunting task. But businesses that manage to be first off the blocks to use these technologies to their fullest extent will reap the benefits in 2021, and beyond. Even if you start small and choose one or two of these areas to focus on, your digital marketing strategy will be better for it.
John Thornton is the Founder and CEO of Black Propeller, an industry-leading google ads agency. Since launching in 2012, Black Propeller has helped over 1000 businesses grow with ROI-Driven pay-per-click advertising strategies.