Summary: Explore the transformative trends defining digital marketing in 2024. WSI Consultants guide businesses with a ‘human in the loop’ approach, ensuring success in the dynamic digital realm.
As businesses gear up for 2024, the digital marketing landscape is undergoing rapid transformations, ushering in new trends that wield considerable influence. For small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), navigating this dynamic environment requires a strategic approach. And as always, their WSI Consultants stand by as their trusted guides in the world of digital marketing.
Here are seven key trends tailored to the needs of SMBs:
Dominance of Interactive Content
While we all recognize that content is the king of the castle, what exactly is the distinction for ‘interactive content’? Simply put, interactive content means any type of content that communicates its message by encouraging user interaction or participation. Think of things like quizzes, surveys, videos, animated GIFs or infographics—anything that encourages active engagement is interactive.
And it’s no surprise that users are hungry for this type of content. According to Design Hill, only 36% of marketers believe that passive content is effective at engaging visitors/buyers. Another stat says that 49% of B2B Marketers see measuring content effectiveness as their biggest content marketing challenge. Other important statistics about interactive content include:
- Visual information constitutes 90% of the data transmitted to the brain, with visuals being processed 60,000 times faster than text.
- A staggering 80% of online visitors prefer watching videos over reading textual content.
- Marketers acknowledge that interactive content effectively engages around 70% of visitors and buyers.
- An impressive 88% of marketers affirm that interactive content is a powerful tool for distinguishing their brand from competitors.
- 93% of marketers recognize interactive content as an effective method for educating potential buyers.
- Articles enriched with images attract 94% more views.
- Brands incorporating creative infographic designs witness an average traffic growth of 12%.
- The usage of infographics among B2B marketers has surged to 51%, up from 38% in 2013.
- Video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic and an overwhelming 90% of Internet traffic.
- A notable 86% of businesses express their intent to repurpose content in various ways within the next 12 months.
Why It Matters: SMBs can elevate customer engagement by shifting towards immersive experiences like polls, quizzes, and augmented reality applications.
Actionable Insight: Prioritize interactive content creation to forge memorable connections with your audience.
More Data Privacy
With all the news items about data breaches and hacks, it’s no surprise that preserving personal data privacy online remains a paramount concern for the majority of internet users. Despite widespread apprehensions, many struggle to implement effective safeguards.
90% of U.S. Internet users acknowledge the importance of online privacy, according to Surfshark. While most Americans value their online privacy, 75% believe they could be vulnerable to cybercriminal attacks. However, there exists a gap between awareness and action, with only 64% utilizing tools for online privacy protection and merely 56% feeling in control of their data.
Norton’s 2022 Cyber Safety Insights survey, reflecting the perspectives of 10,000 adults across 10 countries, reveals that 85% of global adults aspire to do more to protect their online privacy. Amid these intentions, concerns persist, as 80% express worry about their privacy, 69% feel more concerned than ever, and 61% willingly sacrifice data privacy for convenience. Norton’s findings also highlight proactive steps taken by 71% of global adults to enhance online privacy, such as changing default privacy settings (29%), enabling multi-factor authentication (26%), disabling third-party cookies (26%), and using a VPN (16%).
Why It Matters: Addressing data privacy concerns builds consumer trust and ensures compliance with privacy laws, forming the bedrock of effective digital strategies
Actionable Insight: Embrace a privacy-first strategy, communicate transparently about data usage, and establish trust with your audience.
Sustainability And Ethical Marketing
Consumer trends in 2023 indicate a significant shift towards making purchasing decisions based on personal values and brand alignment. This is no surprise and something that WSI has been tracking for a while with purpose-driven brands.
Key criteria influencing these decisions include environmental sustainability and ethical practices. A Deloitte report from 2022 highlighted that 40% of UK adults chose brands with environmentally sustainable practices, while 37% prioritized ethical values. The relationship between a higher annual income and consumer attitudes towards ethical principles is noteworthy.
A DMA report revealed that 59% of individuals with an annual income over £75,000 (or $100,000 USD) would prefer the option to filter product lists based on their values when shopping online. However, the current cost of living crisis suggests that some consumers may compromise on affordability.
The 2023 Marigold report strengthens this perspective, with 60% of consumers expressing pessimism about the rising cost of living. Amidst this, half of them are making fewer impulsive purchases and waiting for sales, loyalty benefits, or special offers from their favorite brands. Marketers must navigate this volatile market by creating attractive offers and loyalty schemes to retain customers.
A focus on Gen Zs and Millennials reveals their inclination to make conscience-driven purchasing decisions. The DMA reported that in 2020, 53% of those aged 16 to 34 would be willing to spend 5% more on an ethical product. Young consumers between 25 and 35 years old, according to DMA, would prefer to filter product lists based on their values when online shopping. Gen Zs and Millennials are more likely to buy from brands advocating for social causes (Hubspot, 2023). The influence of these demographics on societal opinions is evident in their strong reactions on platforms like TikTok and Reddit.
Moreover, diversity and inclusion play a crucial role in consumer preferences. A Forbes report indicated that 61% of consumers find diversity in brand advertising important, with 38% being more likely to trust brands that showcase diversity in their campaigns and engagement. This trend emphasizes the broader ethical concerns consumers have beyond sustainability and the environment. Brands aiming to establish trust and loyalty must go beyond mere displays of sustainability and encompass wider issues like diversity and inclusion in their marketing efforts.
Why It Matters: Aligning with sustainable and ethical values resonates with modern consumers, fostering brand loyalty.
Actionable Insight: Showcase your commitment to sustainability and ethics in marketing narratives, emphasizing values that matter to your audience.
Voice and Visual Search Optimization
Voice assistants, utilized by 62% of Americans and with 36% owning smart speakers, have become ubiquitous across devices like smartphones, computers, and in-car systems. The dominance of Amazon Echo in the smart speaker market and Apple’s Siri leading in mobile device usage highlights the necessity of tailoring voice search strategies to these platforms, considering their unique algorithms and functionalities. Daily voice search usage in the U.S. increased by 8% in 2022, particularly among millennials, with a 58% daily usage rate, signaling resilience after initial challenges. Online businesses should integrate voice assistant support, understanding demographic preferences for an enhanced user experience.
Approximately 45% of Americans and over a third in the U.K. and Germany leverage voice search for information on smartphones, emphasizing the importance of voice search optimization. Ignoring this trend risks missing a significant market share. Local SEO tactics, such as optimizing Google Business Profiles, become vital for businesses aiming to feature in local voice search results, where users predominantly inquire about weather and local businesses. Health and beauty products, electronics, and household supplies top the list of products purchased through smart speakers, urging ecommerce businesses to optimize for voice-based purchases. Younger millennials (25-34) emerge as the primary demographic for voice shopping, making it a valuable and convenient option for retailers.
Companies with higher Yelp ratings and positive customer reviews enhance their visibility in Apple’s Siri replies, underscoring the need for effective online reputation management strategies in adapting to the rise of voice-activated technologies.
Why It Matters: To stay relevant, tailor your content for voice and visual searches as AI-driven advancements reshape search modalities.
Actionable Insight: Optimize content for multiple search formats, ensuring your business is easily discoverable.
One of the biggest strengths of AI is its ability to help create personalized content quickly. But Twilio’s State of Personalization report sheds light on challenges in the pursuit of personalized customer experiences (CX). Key issues include customers’ mistrust of AI handling their data, stricter privacy laws complicating data collection, and the growing difficulty of achieving effective personalization despite rising customer expectations. The report reveals that while over 90% of businesses leverage AI-driven personalization for growth, almost 60% of customers express discomfort with AI creating customized experiences. This suggests a nuanced market sentiment toward AI, expected to evolve as AI-driven experiences outperform traditional CX interactions.
Moreover, 49% of consumers lack trust in brands to securely and responsibly use their data, emphasizing the need for increased security investments. Paradoxically, despite significant focus and investment in AI and personalization, more than a quarter of consumers observed less targeted personalization over the past year. This regression is attributed to factors like data privacy regulations and Apple’s opt-out options for tracking. While personalization offers benefits, with over half of customers willing to become repeat buyers after a personalized experience, businesses face challenges in obtaining accurate data for personalization. The report underscores the growing importance of customer data platforms, heightened security measures, and continued technological advancements in navigating the evolving landscape of personalization and AI.
Why It Matters: Moving beyond conventional personalization, hyper-personalization leverages data insights to offer customized experiences at every touchpoint.
Actionable Insight: Utilize data wisely to provide personalized experiences, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Focus on Customer Experience (CX)
Customer Experience (CX) stands as a pivotal factor shaping the success of brands, with 77% acknowledging its significance as a key competitive differentiator. The global CX Management market’s substantial growth, reaching $8.8B USD in 2021 and projecting an annual increase of 18.1% from 2022 to 2030, further underscores its strategic importance.
However, companies face immense pressure to deliver exceptional CX, as evidenced by statistics revealing that 86% of consumers would abandon a brand after just two poor experiences, and 49% have already left a brand in the past year due to subpar customer experiences (Emplifi). The financial impact is significant, with US businesses losing $35.3 billion annually in customer churn caused by avoidable CX issues, highlighting the tangible consequences of inadequate customer treatment. And executives are acutely aware of the risks, as 83% believe that unimproved CX poses considerable threats to revenue and market share.
In the pursuit of great CX, companies find that it leads to happy customers and positively impacts the bottom line. A considerable majority of consumers, 61%, are willing to pay at least 5% more for products or services that promise a good customer experience, emphasizing the monetary value attached to CX. Additionally, 56% of consumers place the quality of customer service above all other criteria in shaping their positive perception of a brand.
Building on this, CX plays a pivotal role in cultivating fruitful customer relationships, with 66% of consumers expressing a willingness to share personal data if it enhances their overall customer experience. These statistics collectively emphasize the central role of CX in shaping consumer perceptions, loyalty, and the overall success of businesses.
Why It Matters: In 2024, a superior customer experience becomes a crucial differentiator for SMBs.
Actionable Insight: Align digital goals with improved customer experiences, ensuring your business stands out in a competitive landscape.
Short-Form Videos and Social Ecommerce
Short-form videos, popularized by platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, have become a prominent content format, allowing brands to infuse a personalized touch into their advertisements. For aspiring content creators and advertisers, exploring short-form video statistics provides valuable insights into this emerging trend.
According to TechJury, 26% of marketers already leverage short-form videos as an advertising format, and by 2023, a staggering 90% of global advertisers plan to increase their investment in this dynamic content style. The effectiveness of short-form videos is evident, with 85% of marketers attesting to their impact, and these videos are found to be 2.5 times more engaging than their long-form counterparts. Cultural moments and news stories drive 63% of video engagement, while 40% of marketers rank User-Generated Content (UGC) as a high-return format in social media. Emphasizing the significance of influencers, 66% of marketers’ companies collaborate with influencers on the TikTok app, while only 16% engage with celebrities. These statistics underline the growing prominence and effectiveness of short-form videos in the realm of digital marketing and content creation.
The prevalence of social commerce in the online shopping landscape has reshaped the way businesses engage with consumers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and WhatsApp. These channels, already hosting thousands of marketing-savvy businesses, have seamlessly integrated shopping and payment functionalities, enabling users to make direct purchases within the platforms. To navigate the dynamic landscape and optimize online strategies, it’s crucial to delve into social commerce statistics that shed light on the current market trends and effective practices for attracting buyers and expanding businesses. As of 2023, 27% of consumers prefer discovering new products through social media, with 41% having found a product on social platforms in the past three months, marking a 14% YoY increase. Impressively, 67% of consumers have completed purchases through social media platforms, and 53% globally express their intention to shop more through these channels in the future.
Trust remains a pivotal factor, as 54% of social media users express concerns about the legitimacy of companies selling on these platforms. While 47% of social media marketers state that their brands sell directly within social media apps, only 41% of users feel comfortable making purchases on these platforms, and merely 37% trust social media platforms with their card information. The evolving landscape sees 30% of ecommerce companies already engaged in social media sales, with an additional 12% planning to join this trend in 2024. These comprehensive social commerce statistics offer valuable insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and the evolving dynamics of online business strategies.
Why It Matters: Short-form video dominance persists, and the integration of social commerce offers seamless shopping experiences within social platforms.
Actionable Insight: Invest in creative short-form video content and explore social commerce to enhance your online presence and drive sales.
While we covered a lot of ground in this blog post, for SMBs, these trends represent actionable opportunities to enhance their digital presence, engage customers effectively, and stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital marketing realm. That’s why it’s essential to stay informed on everything going on with AI and digital marketing because it impacts SMBs just as much as it affects enterprise-level companies.
WSI Consultants are poised to provide valuable guidance tailored to the specific needs and goals of SMBs, ensuring a strategic and successful digital marketing journey in 2024. Have questions? Get in touch!
About the Author
Rick spent 20 years in the insurance industry in finance, primarily developing reporting platforms for B & C stakeholders. His ability to speak to consumers of data (managers and analysts) and translate their needs to programmers led him to start his own digital marketing agency in 2004 to develop data driven solutions for business owners.
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