Digital Marketing Predictions

It seems as though change is the only constant in digital marketing and industry disruption has become part of the routine. The emergence of so many content formats and strategies means professional marketers really need pay attention to stay relevant. With everything from chatbots, augmented reality, and partnerships set to trend over the next year.

We look at some trends and predictions that look set to play out in the near future:

1. Multi-Channel Will Grow into Omni-channel

While multi-channel marketing has dominated until recently, the lack of integration is proving to be an obstacle for online users. When brands instill a different strategy or message across various channels, it confuses users and leaves them feeling somewhat disconnected. For this reason, many brands are already moving to Omni-channel marketing in which they seek to create a streamlined shopping experience across every channel or device.

Sephora is a good example of a company which has successfully embraced Omni-channel marketing. Although the beauty brand has more than 300 products, it still provides a very simple shopping experience by using filters and preferences to customize each user experience. What’s more, the brand builds on this personalization by providing workshops and complimentary makeovers in store.

More and more brands are taking a systemic approach to digital marketing and embracing Omni-channel with the intention of creating a continuous experience for the end user.

2. Online Video to Take Over from TV screens

The demand for online video continues to grow and this year will be the first in which online viewing is expected to eclipse that of television.

In fact, recent studies show that the average daily online viewing time is estimated to reach 84 minutes by next year and this trend will see a decline in television viewing. This will result in major advertisers shifting their attention to online. The global budget for online video advertising is expected to grow by 17% and according to Yahoo and live broadcasts are likely to dominate the trend for online video.

So, what makes online video so incredibly popular among advertisers?

Well, online video is just as convenient for brands as it is for viewers. Almost every content format, from reviews and interviews to blogs and even podcasts, can be purposed and re-purposed for online video, For the viewers, online video is often more accurate, authentic and easier to digest.

3. A More Seamless Omni-Channel Experience

Customers expect much more from brands nowadays and a coherent buying experience is incredibly important. Customers expect the same experience online as they might find at the store and so merging these aspects is increasingly important.

For example, Google’s “Smart Shopping campaigns” enable omni-channel retailers to display their products across each platform owned by Google including YouTube, Gmail and Google Ads. This sense of continuation and consistency creates an omni-channel experience while the Google algorithm can focus on maximizing the efficiency and impact of the actual ads.

4. The Importance of a Mobile Experience

As the online world continues to evolve, user expectations are greater. Customers expect faster and better online experiences and mobile-friendly websites.

These websites need to be responsive and provide the same high standard from a mobile experience, as they might expect to find from the brand elsewhere.

Even minor delays can be enough to dissuade potential customers; statistics show that more than 53% of people lose interest when a download exceeds three seconds. With such an incredibly short attention span, speed is crucial for both customer acquisition and retention.

Mobile platforms are expected to be the most successful in the year ahead while Progressive Web Apps (PAW) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are also likely to feature due to the sophistication and speed they bring to the overall mobile experience.

5. Voice Services Will Boom

Voice services are ready to transform every industry. According to Google, voice is responsible for one in every five mobile search enquiries. So marketing tools will need to be integrated and fully compatible with these voice services in order to stay relevant.

The rise of Alexa products is one of the most obvious example of this growth. Almost every electronic product is now created to facilitate voice control and the potential of Alexa Skills is nothing short of mind boggling. Skills applications enable users to shop online, order food, search the news, reserve a taxi or simply browse the online world for some personalized beauty advice.

6. Partnership – A Catalyst for Growth in Retail

At a time when the online world is changing the face of retail, partnership is essential for long term growth. Alibaba and Amazon already demonstrate this importance by investing billions in technological investments every year and recent statistics show that retail is likely to account for more than 60% of e-commerce by 2025.

Many retailers are finding themselves unable to compete and instead of investing in their own online ventures, it often makes sense to collaborate with a major player. In this way, retailers have an opportunity to access experience and technology without having to take on any burdens associated with the online world.

7. Breakthrough Chatbots

Chatbots have changed the landscape for digital marketing and they continue to advance in terms of intelligence. Simply put, these chatbots are created to act like humans, to receive or deliver messages, and to improve the overall user experience. However, some challenges lie ahead for this particular trend.

When we think of communication online, we prefer another person at the other end. So there is still some resistance to the implementation of chatbots and according to Statistica, fewer than 35% of nine users prefer chatbots to communicating with another human.

Nevertheless, integration of chatbots is certain to increase and, according to Gartner, more than 80% of online interactions will occur without any human participation by the year 2020. In fact, studies show that more than 50% of all online traffic is already attributed to bots and as intelligence improves, chatbots are likely to reinvent the way businesses and customer think about communication.

8. Personalisation through Data-driven Marketing

Data-driven marketing is no longer just a case of measuring the bounce rates of a website or cost-per-click of online advertisements. Customers now fully expect a unique experience and one which seeks to connect with them on a very personal level.

Marketers are required to collect customer data and use this critical information to establish personalized techniques as part of an intricate marketing strategy. Interestingly, more than 88% of professional marketers say they purchase customer data from third party sources for this very reason.

Follain is a beauty brand which has perfectly demonstrates the many benefits and great potential of data-driven marketing. Follain makes a point of listening to customers and using medical research to create improved and personalised versions of their products.

9. Augmented Reality Will be Used More Widely

Augmented reality is the process of imposing virtual information on top of objects in the real world as seen through a mobile device. L’Oreal, Punky Color, and Madison Reed are among many of the top beauty brands who have successfully integrated augmented reality as part of their digital marketing strategy.

Although once considered a ‘gimmick’ or somewhat tacky, augmented reality has developed incredibly fast in recent times. Digital marketers are more and more interested in the interactive techniques which can transform ordinary ideas into colorful masterpieces that stand out.

Harvard Business Review estimate that global investment in augment reality development should exceed $60 billion over the next year.

10. The Value of Custom Content Will Increase

Research shows that trust and the reliability of information is the number one priority for more than 85% of online users.

But what information do consumers trust the most?

Most often, this trust is with other online users and so custom reviews, photographers, and videos are featuring a lot more in digital marketing strategies. This explains the rising importance of influencer marketing, which is still arguably the most affordable marketing strategy in terms of return on investment.

Digital marketing continues to evolve and we can expect to see many of these trends become mainstream over the next few months.