What’s New in Marketing as the New Year Approaches
When people think of “trends,” they often think of new yet often short-lived popular fashion, or “what the kids are wearing these days.” In the business world, a trend is a discernible pattern of change in market conditions, processes, or behaviors, which can be anything from a change in consumers’ buying habits to a new way to improve performance and more effectively achieve a company’s goals.
It’s not easy to predict what will be trending or why something is trending. Sometimes a trend simply rides in on a zeitgeist and the new technology, generational behaviors, or shifting consumer activities that come with it.
When it comes to marketing, staying on top of what’s next is vital for brands to keep up with competitors or even gain an edge by capitalizing on new opportunities before they do. The same goes for marketing departments and agencies knowing what the most-effective tools and tactics are at the time.
As we approach 2024, here are some of the latest trends in marketing to keep an eye on and maybe even consider when developing your marketing strategy should you see a potential advantage:
1. Hail to the New King
Content — the perennial marketing crown-holder — is far from dead, but it appears to have abdicated its throne to a wider focus on the overall customer experience. Nowadays, it’s not just about hooking your audience with engaging content but also about ensuring that every interaction — or touchpoint — with your brand is a satisfying one, from that first commercial, homepage, or mailer pitch to ordering, delivery, and ongoing customer service.
While value and quality remain key differentiators, today’s consumers have quickly become spoiled by speed and ease, expecting the utmost convenience and a seamless, user-friendly experience throughout the process. Achieving this takes a commitment to consistent messaging and an omnichannel approach that gets all the details, big and small, just right, including precise product descriptions and images, transparent pricing, an easily-navigable website, prompt/on-time delivery, and quick problem resolution.
Delivering the optimal customer experience is essential to attracting and keeping customers, and, now more than ever, that means making it personal…
2. Making Personalization a Priority
Whether it’s receiving an email that seems written just to you or coming across a social media ad offering the new style of the shoes you’ve been shopping for, personalized marketing involves messaging tailored to your unique preferences and based on customer data, buying habits, and recent online behavior.
Today, consumers demand more personalized experiences across all channels, from targeted ads and texts to mailers, social media, and other communications that (seemingly) speak directly to them. During a 2022 survey of consumers who purchased something online in the past six months, 62% stated that a brand would lose their loyalty if it delivered a non-personalized experience, up from 45% a year earlier.
To increase engagement and create stronger long-term relationships with customers, brands have to start putting more focus on delivering personalized, relevant content that addresses the individual interests and needs of their target audience.
3. Rise of the Machines
There’s no fighting it; the use of artificial intelligence and automation to manage tasks and create content is sweeping through many aspects of our everyday lives, including marketing. If you’ve interacted with an automated chatbot or read an A.I.-written blog that seems a little off, then you’ve already had a taste.
Automation involves programming a system to respond based on a set of predefined rules. A.I. is a form of automation which mimics human understanding and IQ and renders optimal decisions by harnessing massive amounts of data. The benefits of such technologies include quicker, more efficient, and more effective service as well as hyper-personalized processes.
It’s great for automating repetitive tasks and analyzing swaths of info to uncover important insight for improved targeting and interaction, but if you’re having A.I. write all your content or produce your designs, customers will catch on quickly and prefer the human touch of competitors to your machines’ cold, lifeless communications. Still, as the wind blows hard in the direction of more automation, your business may have no choice but to get on board at some point, as long as you don’t sacrifice quality for quickness.
4. Touting Values, Not Just Value
Saving money while still getting a quality product is the value that most consumers always search for. However, more recently, it’s the “values” of a company that has become a key deciding factor when consumers select one brand over another.
From social issues to environmental responsibility, more and more consumers are choosing brands that align with their own concerns, beliefs, and views of the world. This is why brands are amplifying their purpose in their storytelling more these days, highlighting sustainability efforts, diversification initiatives, and more.
While this may appear to limit your target audience, it actually allows your brand to hyper-target their audience and forge genuine relationships with them. Authenticity is key here, as your audience will hold you accountable, making sure your deeds match your words. Paying lip service won’t cut it.
5. Going With the Flow
We’re often advised to just go with the flow instead of swimming upstream or against the current, and that’s especially true going into 2024, as the trend toward streaming continues growing stronger.
People have been leaving cable TV in droves over the past several years, choosing instead to rely on a more curated, often more affordable route: streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, Apple TV+, and Disney+, whether on their laptops, phones, or app-friendly connected TVs.
This shift in media consumption habits precipitates the need for brands to take streaming more seriously and consider making this channel a larger part of the marketing strategy, since it’s where more and more of their audience is turning for their entertainment, news, and information. The nature of streaming apps aligns exceptionally with targeted advertising, allowing you to deliver personalized and impactful ads to viewers.
6. Micro-Influencers. Macro Results.
Speaking of authenticity, big brands often use big celebrities to market their product or service because of the major influence they have over much of the public. However, their notoriety comes with a disadvantage when speaking to the average Joe — a lack of authenticity.
Macro-influencers (1M-5M followers) are not only crazy expensive but also untrustworthy, surprise, surprise. Most people realize these celebrities are usually only in it for the money, knowing that even if the product or service sucks, they’ll survive.
That’s the thing about micro-influencers (500 — 100,000+ followers): their credibility is often the main reason their fans follow them. So when they promote a product or service, they tend to actually use and like it. They also typically share similar interests, pain points, and experiences with their audience, allowing businesses to target niche audiences through influencers’ UGC (user-generated content) that advocates for their brand or product.
For businesses looking to expand their reach and increase brand awareness, micro-influencers are the new stars of influence marketing. Micro-influencers such as local athletes are especially powerful for local and regional businesses due to their inherent authenticity and ability to relate.
At M:7 Agency, it’s our job to keep tabs on the latest behaviors, tools, and tactics, so our clients can always stay one step ahead of the competition. Whether your business is going strong into the new year or struggling to get real results, we’re here to help with your marketing and communications needs, no matter how big or small. Talk to us today about your goals or check out some of our work first.