In the age of smart TVs, smartphones, and smart refrigerators, it makes sense to have smart advertising. Today, consumers experience personalized, targeted ads that cater to their particular interests and demographics, rather than ads that are not relevant or useful to them. To deliver this type of personalized experience, it takes a digital marketing professional who can leverage the latest advertising trends and technologies, including smart speakers, data-driven creativity, local influencers, and marketing automation. The future of marketing belongs to those who are able to use these tools to improve and personalize the customer experience. Earning an online bachelor’s in marketing is a great place to start.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Consumers are changing the way they listen to, watch, read, and otherwise interact with media. American adults now spend almost half of their waking hours consuming media, according to a 2018 report from Nielsen. This increase is largely thanks to the widespread accessibility of internet-connected devices such as smartphones and tablets.
With this increase in digital media use, a new era of marketing is upon us. More often than ever, marketing campaigns reach customers through digital marketing — which refers to efforts within the digital space, such as websites, email, social media, or search engine optimization (SEO). This is an evolution from the traditional world of marketing, which consists of print (newspaper, magazine, fliers, and brochures), broadcast (TV and radio), and outdoor (billboard) marketing tactics.
Digital marketing is a significant part of modern advertising plans because of its flexibility and adaptability, and the future of digital marketing calls for connecting with the customer on the channels they’re using most. These smart advertising tactics are also what makes digital marketing so cost-effective. Marketers are able to use targeting capabilities to reach only the customers that fit in their audience.
What Are Top Trends in Digital Marketing?
Marketing aims to reach a target audience with a message that compels them to take action. As digital media continues to rise in importance, marketing professionals are finding smarter ways to reach consumers. Here are four trends currently shaping the future of marketing and the skills sets marketers will need to gain to be a part of it.
Voice assistants have far more capabilities than just playing music and asking fun questions (although those are two of the most popular uses, according to a survey by Adobe). Of those surveyed, 47% use voice assistants to conduct online searches. Voice assistants are also valued for providing more accessibility and ease of use to consumers with vision impairments and other disabilities.
As the public continues to use voice assistants as a means of engaging with digital media, this trend will affect brands’ marketing strategies. For instance, the future of SEO will include content optimized for voice search, which tends to use more natural language than typing, so content best practices are adapting to this trend.
The wealth of customer data that is now collected and shared with advertisers and marketers, combined with the rise in popularity of voice assistants, provides marketers with new ways to reach their target audiences. Using this consumer data and knowledge, marketers can create personalized messaging and content delivered in an accessible format with the help of voice technologies.
Businesses collect massive amounts of data on consumer behaviors, from what you search for and buy to how many steps you take in a day. Today’s marketers must have a fundamental knowledge of how to leverage this data. For example, they may utilize tools like Google Analytics to analyze the behavior of visitors to their website, or use Facebook Analytics to gain insights on what type of social media content to post and when. But how do brands take this data and transform it into valuable strategies that help them reach their audience?
The answer is teamwork. Marketers need to collaborate with their data and analytics experts to find creative ways to leverage customer data. Working together, marketing and data science professionals can look for patterns of behavior by pulling data from multiple sources. For example, combining psychographic data to understand the reason behind a customer’s behavior with the demographic data of where they live can help marketers to craft and deliver a personalized, geo-targeted message to their customers. If a marketing team for a food retailer, for example, knows their typical customer eats an afternoon snack on their way to the gym, they can create a geo-targeted ad with a personal, located-based message.
Applying data-driven insights into marketing can not only improve the customer experience, but also contribute to company growth. Research from McKinsey & Company found companies that combine creativity and data have growth rates around twice as high as companies that manage those capabilities separately.
True influence is not just about reaching the masses, but rather reaching your target audience with a resonant message. Most businesses and brands rely on local marketing, which means their relationship with nearby influencers is key. An influencer is a person who promotes or recommends a brand’s products or services to their audience of potential buyers.
In the modern age, influencers use social media and other digital platforms to promote brands and products to their audience. Many social media influencers have extremely large followings; tapping into their audience often comes with a high cost for sponsored posts and promotions. Marketers must know how to identify and successfully partner with high-engagement local influencers so they can reach an audience primed to purchase their product or service.
The future of digital marketing will certainly include influencer marketing, and will rely on long-term relationships with local influencers. This will not only increase a brand’s reach and recognition in its target market, but also reach customers who are more likely to make a purchase.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are two technological advancements that allow companies to more easily interpret customer behavior by analyzing massive amounts of data. In addition to providing insights into consumers’ choices, AI helps marketers to separate their audience into segments, making it easier to personalize messaging and improve the customer experience.
Marketers can use automation for emails, social media, website actions, and even customer onboarding programs. Automation can help improve the quality of customer interaction with a brand by, for example, running A/B split tests on messaging to improve engagement. Marketers can also use automation tools to run multi-channel campaigns that use a combination of email, text messaging, and social media ads to reach the customer on different channels.
To succeed with marketing automation, marketers need to identify and utilize the right automation technology. Marketing automation is best for companies and brands with consistent communications that are organized into a process and database of leads, customers, or subscribers.
Using marketing automation tools reduces the need to manually respond to emails and inquiries, send bulk newsletters, and spend time on repetitive marketing tasks. Although not every form of communication should be automated, this tool can help companies communicate more effectively on a large scale, thereby increasing efficiency.
The Future of Digital Marketing Belongs to Intelligent Marketers
Keeping up with the ever-changing trends in digital media requires a strong foundation in marketing techniques and methods. Knowing how a customer navigates the journey from advertisement to purchase gives marketers an understanding of the importance of each step in the process.
In the modern age of marketing, new technologies are always emerging, so marketers will need to equip themselves with best practices to know which tools will work most effectively for their audience and brand. Marketing classes within a university degree program can help professionals learn the latest skills required to succeed in this dynamic career path.
Help Shape the Future of Marketing
If you’re excited by the prospect of playing a role in the future of digital marketing, consider pursuing Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Marketing, one of several online business degrees that the school offers. The program’s curriculum can help equip you with the skills you need to thrive as a marketing professional in the digital age.
CMO, “Study Finds Consumers Are Embracing Voice Services. Here’s How”
Maryville University, Careers with a Marketing Degree
Maryville University, Online Business Degrees
McKinsey & Company, “The Most Perfect Union: Unlocking the Next Wave of Growth by Unifying Creativity and Analytics”
Nielsen, “Time Flies: U.S. Adults Now Spend Nearly Half a Day Interacting with Media”