In a shifting, dynamic digital marketing landscape, trends come and go all the time. Some find immediate success and become mainstays; some evolve into viability over trial and error; some simply fizzle out. So, you may be rightfully wondering which digital marketing trends are worth your time. Well, nobody can truly foresee the future, but there’s ample data to make safe predictions and informed decisions. Therefore, let us explore the new and the tried and true, along with the ones you should steer clear of.
Starting with the latter, let us briefly delve into some practices you should skip with little thought. These trends to avoid come and go, but somehow persist in one form or another.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as we’ll cover below, is a tried and true digital marketing practice. It enhances online visibility and thus spearheads lead generation and acquisition practices. Here, there are two extremes:
Finding that golden balance is, of course, crucial because the buyer’s journey has become wildly erratic, as Forrester finds:
Similarly, social media marketing remains a tried and true digital marketing trend. Statista forecasts that there will be 4.41 billion social network users worldwide by 2025, and social media marketing will continue to offer an excellent way to tap into new, vast audiences. However, it too sees two extremes to be avoided:
Finally, it’s extremely common to conflate SEO with social media. You might have heard, for example, that social media signals enhance SEO. Certainly, some marketers have correctly identified that content that ranks well on Google also gets social media shares. Here, however, it is crucial to remember that correlation does not equal causation. That is, quality content does not rank well because it gets shares, or vice-versa. Rather, it ranks well and gets shares because it offers quality.
To back up this claim, let us cite Google’s John Mueller, who definitively claims the same: “Social media shares of a page and other social “applause” metrics simply don’t play into ranking”. Thus, the two can certainly denote overall success. However, conflating them will provide neither an accurate picture of your content’s effectiveness nor an actionable way forward.
Having covered the above, let us now delve into tried and true digital marketing trends. These have seen evolutions over time, but remain effective because of their robust foundations.
Starting with the aforementioned SEO, SEO remains at the forefront of modern inbound marketing. It has demonstrated, time and time again, its effectiveness at its explicit goal of optimizing content for search engines. In turn, it now encompasses or facilitates such lucrative practices as:
On the subject of the buyer’s journey, social media marketing also remains a potent practice. WeAreSocial and Hootsuite found there are 4.2 billion social media users – over 50% of the world’s population. What’s more, such audiences are typically more engaged with brands, increasing the chances for successful conversions and long-term brand loyalty. In turn, social media marketing espouses such forms of marketing as:
Still, Statista also finds topical variations in influencer marketing efficiency, which is noteworthy in itself:
Having mentioned it, let us conclude tried and true digital marketing trends with email marketing. Email marketing may be among the most famous digital marketing mainstays, and for good reason. Lyfemarketing finds that it has a Return on Investment (ROI) of 122%, far exceeding all other digital marketing channels. That said, email marketing belongs to both inbound and outbound strategies, depending on their form. Still, both can be extremely effective.
Moving on to the new trends worth your attention, there are ample examples of how technology has changed shopping. In turn, new marketing practices emerge out of said technologies, in many cases augmenting existing ones.
AI may be among the most commonly cited emerging technologies, so let us begin with it. AI now informs web design, powers analytics, and so much more. It is, of course, not without its flaws, but it remains an innovative technology to keep an eye on. So, among other practices, consider the following examples of AI’s promising applications:
Another oft-cited, futuristic pair of technologies is VR and AR. These technologies, albeit still not fully matured, continue to see use across industries and for different purposes. Examples include museums enhancing their visitors’ experience, the US army enhancing troops’ spatial awareness, and more. In terms of marketing specifically, consider 3 notable examples of successful applications:
For another notable example, The North Face has also seen tremendous success with VR marketing, as the following video showcases:
Finally, let us conclude with a soon-to-be digital marketing trend; in-email purchases. TechnologyTherapy cites Tom Klein, CEO of MailChimp, predicting that “this feature may actually be made available in the near, not far, future”. Following the trend of persisting social commerce, this practice seeks to augment the already extremely efficient practice of email marketing. It does so 2 in arguably very logical, grounded ways:
So, this emerging trend will very likely warrant the attention of email marketers in the near future.
To summarize, there is an abundance of digital marketing trends to observe in the debate of new vs. tried and true. SEO will likely reign supreme, as will social media marketing – especially with the support of AI. However, striking a golden balance regarding both will be crucial. Similarly, email marketing remains extremely lucrative, but emerging practices like in-email purchases only offer to enhance it further. Finally, as visual marketing remains effective, video marketing will continue to expand into VR/AR territory, evolving over time. Thus, the new will likely not dethrone the mainstays, but harmoniously synergize with them to pave the way forward.
About the author
Samantha Anderson is a freelance copywriter and aspiring web developer. She is passionate about all things marketing, from SEO to social media and PPC.