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What The Future of Digital Marketing Holds | Bullseye Strategy

by | Apr 6, 2021

We live in an era where the digital landscape is continuously evolving. In 2010, the number of internet users worldwide peaked at just over 2 billion. By January 2021, more than 4.6 billion active internet users worldwide account for a staggering 59.5% of the entire global population. At this rate, a world without digital connectivity is simply unimaginable. We’re living in a modern information society, and at the heart of it are the digital marketers who make global access possible. 

Yet, when the term “digital marketer” was first coined in the early 1990s, no one could anticipate the countless ways traditional marketing would evolve. Back when the Internet simply meant access to the World Wide Web, it sounded outrageous to assume that one day, any website from anywhere in the world would be available in the palm of your hand. Today, the future of marketing encompasses technology like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, both of which may sound just as futuristic now as they did back in 1995.

But it’s not just the digital marketing landscape that’s evolving: 26.7% of the American workforce is now fully remote, with an estimated 36.2 million Americans transitioning into remote work by 2025. Reliance on asynchronous communication technology has soared, and the digital marketing landscape has rapidly adjusted to keep pace. After decades defined by emerging digital technologies, these are the online marketing trends that will define the future of digital marketing. 

Digital Marketing is Constantly Evolving

The only certainty in digital marketing is that tomorrow will be different than yesterday. Case in point: The rapidly expanding amount of marketing channels up for grabs. Since digital marketing first became known as a profession in the early 1990s, the internet itself has exploded into an ever-expanding library of information. Marketing professionals are now responsible for connecting with consumers through various channels while prioritizing certain digital marketing services, such as SEO.

Of the advancements that changed the tide of digital marketing and content marketing, some of the most noticeable trends include:

  1. Increased focus on search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. The emergence of social media marketing
  3. Development of hyper-targeted advertising
  4. Expanded interest in customer experiences 

Before diving into the digital marketing trends to expect next, let’s take a deeper look at the factors that have dramatically influenced digital marketing’s evolution over the years.

1. Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The term “SEO” was first used in the digital marketing industry back in 1997, an entire year before Google search existed. At the start of the internet boom, blogging was the hottest online trend. There were no rules about how you could use keywords, so most digital marketers used “keyword stuffing,” jamming the exact phrase into the copy as much as possible. Fast forward to 2011, and Google introduced the Panda Update, which was designed to combat “Black Hat SEO techniques” or methodologies frowned upon by search engines.

The Panda update began to reward brands that provided value for their audience. Google quickly became the authority among search engines, and the algorithm changes they’ve made have evolved SEO immensely. Organic search now dominates 53.3% of all web traffic. And with the number of searches made on users’ mobile devices and smart devices increasing year-over-year, best practices continue to shift regularly. 

2. Rise of Social Media Marketing

Over time, social channels have quickly transitioned from networking opportunities to advertising opportunities, with sponsored posts, advertisements, and social media “influencers” raging in popularity. Even Twitter, which started as a micro-blogging site, now features sponsored Tweets and trending hashtags sent out to more than 69.3 million active users daily.

Consider the rise of social media marketing this way: In 2010, Facebook had 500 million users. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 2.8 billion, with nearly 2 billion active users each day. Not to mention, Facebook also has ownership over Instagram, the second-most popular social media platform for marketing. Instagram boasts its own 1.074 billion users, with individuals spending an average of 53 minutes per day on the platform. There’s even an entire sub-category of Instagram SEO best practices. 

3. Development of Hyper-Targeting 

An online marketing trend that’s highly prevalent over the past decade is the development of hyper-targeted advertising and cookie tracking, and data usage. Hyper-targeting tracks a web user’s digital footprint across the internet, from the websites they visit to the language they use in the communication. Digital cookies are stored, analyzed, and sold to identify users as they use a computer network and monitor their purchasing history. However, an increase in ePrivacy concerns will impact this trend in years to come. The decisions by companies such as Apple and Google to eliminate third-party cookies have cemented the need for brands to acquire and manage customer first party data such as email addresses, mobile numbers, and more developed customer profiles than ever before. 

4. Interest in Customer Experience 

Recent years have seen an increased focus on customer experiences, with brands striving to provide the most painless user interface. To streamline how a customer interacts with websites’ help interfaces, chatbots and self-service knowledge libraries have seen a spike in usage. Following a 25% rise in the number of chats in 2019, over 50% of enterprise companies are predicted to spend more money on chatbot development than mobile apps in 2021. It is a welcome change to consumers, of which 56% prefer chatbots to customer service phone calls. 

What Does the Future of Digital Marketing Hold?

Though change is a constant in digital marketing strategy, that’s not to say that the upcoming wave of online marketing trends is impossible to predict. Rather, the past decade has paved the way for the future of marketing, from technology down to consumer preferences. With the recent evolution of popular digital marketing strategies top of mind, it’s time to look at what the future of marketing now holds. 

  • Dynamic content optimization and advanced video marketing
  • The rise in programmatic advertising campaigns
  • Growing focus on privacy protection and consumer experience
  • Growth of alternative browsers 
  • Importance of socially conscious and inclusive marketing 
  • Increased use of augmented and virtual reality
  • Higher-level integration of artificial intelligence

Dynamic Content Optimization and Advanced Video Marketing

For B2C marketing, expect to see a rise in dynamic content optimization as well as advanced video marketing. Dynamic content optimization (DCO) is a content strategy that focuses on delivering the right message at the appropriate time to maximize the possibility of a sale. DCO harnesses the help of AI and machine learning to track a consumer’s demographics, buying history, and location. This process helps better the customer experience, as it helps ensure that a consumer is met with the most appropriate message at the right stage of their customer journey. 

With regard to B2B marketing, given that emotional factors account for nearly 70% of economic decision-making, striking the right chord with your digital marketing is critical. Messages are increasingly delivered through video content, with 86% of all businesses utilizing video as a marketing tool. For instance, a new potential customer could benefit from a brand marketing video. A customer still weighing their options may prefer a video testimonial. DCO and machine learning can help decide which video content type is appropriate and when. 

The Rise in Programmatic Advertising Campaigns

It’s estimated that 88% of American digital display marketing is completed via programmatic advertising. Programmatic advertising and marketing are methods for marketers to automatically buy and optimize digital campaigns conducted in real-time auctions as they load a web page. 

Programmatic advertising has trickled into all marketing channels, from display and mobile to social and video. Even streaming programs can utilize programmatic advertising, giving marketers a more cost efficient alternative to traditional marketing ads on cable. Powered by AI and machine learning, programmatic ad campaigns make it significantly easier for smaller brands to compete with companies with larger budgets.

Growing Focus on Privacy Protection and Customer Experience

Following a recent announcement that Google intends to remove support for third-party cookies, there’s been a growing focus on privacy protection and its influence on the customer experience. As previously mentioned, cookies track consumer behavior and can be sold to advertisers to provide details on users’ browsing habits. Now, Google will no longer sell web ads targeted to browsing habits, and its Chrome browser will not allow cookies that collect such data.

This very recent shift toward privacy protection, from phasing cookies out to other privacy-centric initiatives, marks a trend toward putting privacy first and prioritizing the end-user experience. A whopping 85% of consumers say that privacy and cybersecurity are among the largest risks facing society, and they want brands to acknowledge their concerns. More than ever, consumers feel companies are responsible for keeping their data safe, and it’s on marketers to acknowledge and protect user privacy.

3rd-party tracking cookies haven’t disappeared yet. It’s expected that by mid-2022, Apple and Google will have removed this practice. The future of targeted ads will rely much more heavily on first-person data; data collected about their own customers, website visitors, app downloaders, and email recipients will play a much higher role in targeting.

Growth of Alternative Browsers

Gone are the days of relying on one or two browsers for your marketing efforts. Despite recent moves by Google to protect user data, consumers actively seek alternative outlets that support higher privacy demands. The future of digital marketing is ripe with alternative browsers and search engines beyond Google and Bing.  New search engines that marketers should monitor and possibly start to include in marketing plans down the road include: 

  • Brave
  • CC Search
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Ecosia
  • Gibiru
  • Search Encrypt
  • StartPage
  • Swisscows
  • Yandex

Importance of Socially Conscious and Inclusive Marketing 

In the year 2021 and beyond, all marketing should be inclusive of all people—with no exception. It is essential to construct marketing campaigns that speak to marginalized groups of people. In particular, marketing must be geared towards ethnic and racial minorities, women, and the LGBTQ+ community who have been dramatically underrepresented in the past. To open marketing efforts to people of all backgrounds, marketing teams might find it helpful to tap into influencer marketing to better understand and connect with lesser engaged target audiences. 

Increased Use of Augmented and Virtual Reality

When the term digital marketer was first used, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) weren’t a consideration in a marketing campaign. However, both technologies are being readily (and successfully) deployed as marketing techniques. VR completely replaces a user’s vision with a total simulation. AR adds content to what a user sees in real life.

Let’s take a deeper look at each technology, how they’ve been used, and where they’re going. 

Augmented Reality: AR is frequently used in mobile apps on smartphones or tablets to project images into a user’s field of vision. Beauty brands such as Lancôme, Urban Decay, and NYX Cosmetics use Try on, powered by Lens, to allow users to test makeup shades digitally. Furniture retailers like IKEA also use AR to insert couches, lamps, and bookcases straight into a user’s home. This technology allows marketers to encourage consumers to become more familiar with their products and test them risk-free from home to boost brand recognition and trust.

Virtual Reality: Unlike AR technology, which can incorporate a user’s camera in collaboration with an app, VR technology completely covers and replaces a user’s vision. VR allows marketers to create fully immersive experiences for consumers, even amid a global pandemic. Marriott International utilized VR-powered headsets to provide a 360-degree, 3D view of custom-designed room set-ups. TOMS shoes created “a walk in their shoes” campaign to highlight how impoverished children benefit from consumer purchases.  

Higher-level Integration Of Artificial Intelligence

More commonly dubbed AI technology, artificial intelligence is tackling everyday digital marketing tasks at an unprecedented pace. There are estimates that 80% of technology will be built on an AI foundation by 2022. With this data in mind, it’s no wonder digital marketers, and marketing teams can anticipate higher-level integration of AI technology in years to come. 

Consider just a few of the benefits of incorporating AI:

  • AI Content Optimization: AI tools can help marketing teams establish SEO and keyword strategies, flag duplicate content, and self-optimize mobile content. 
  • AI Hyper-Personalized Content: Machine learning can identify potential customers along the customer journey to offer personalization on items like targeted advertisements and email subject line copy.
  • AI Predictive Analytics: AI predictive analytics can record market intelligence data to decipher and predict consumer behavior.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with Responsive Marketing Services

In the digital marketing ecosystem, no single trend will ever reign supreme. Instead, you need to stay ahead of the curve with a holistic strategy that harnesses responsive marketing services. Bullseye Strategy is a Fort Lauderdale marketing agency specializing in media planning and buying, SEO and content marketing, and social media marketing. Let us help you enter the future of digital marketing today.

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