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The digital marketing landscape is changing rapidly. Just a few years ago, marketers were pouring their heart and soul into Facebook organic. Unfortunately, Facebook’s organic reach proceeded to take a nosedive as the efficacy of the platform’s paid advertising technologies became clear.
Then, marketers flocked to new social media platforms, like Periscope and Snapchat. But these channels soon were replaced with Facebook Live and Instagram Stories.
These rapid shifts illustrate the importance of identifying the right marketing trends to jump on. When you do, you can “ride the wave” as a specific trend grows in popularity. Finding the right digital marketing plan can lead to more brand awareness, traffic, leads and sales, among other things. In other words, the reason you do marketing in the first place.
While many marketers might be attracted to emerging technologies such as voice search, advertising on messaging apps and integrating natural language processing, most marketing budgets simply do not have room to take chances on these unproven digital channels.
Here are five growing trends in the digital marketing space that you can start using right now.
1. Email marketing 2.0
Email marketing is decidedly not a new marketing tool. In fact, it’s one of the original methods that businesses used to reach potential customers online and stay in touch with them.
However, email became uncool during the advent of social media marketing. Marketers wondered, “Why email people, when you can get in front of them where they already hang out — on Twitter and Facebook?”
In fact, many marketers thought that email marketing would be “dead” in due time.
Fortunately, email marketing never fell entirely out of fashion. In fact, email marketing strategies are making a giant comeback, especially with the proliferation of email marketing automation to aid in creating customer journeys.
Two microtrends illustrate email’s surprising return to favor.
First, there are many email service providers constantly entering the market. One of the most successful of these emerging players in the ESP space is ConvertKit.
This relatively new ESP has quickly grown to over $1.8M in monthly revenue, according to revenue analytics company Baremetrics.
Second, there’s a large amount of growth in the paid newsletter space. This is evidenced by the rapid growth of Substack, a platform for folks that run paid newsletters.
As it turns out, people want newsletters from people who curate the best content from pop culture, business, online marketing and fitness. And based on Substack’s rising user base, they’re willing to pay for it.
2. Influencer marketing goes niche
According to a survey conducted by Social Publi, 93% of marketers already use influencer marketing. That’s largely because influencer marketing can often bring in a higher ROI than search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing or PPC (pay-per-click) advertising.
However, as more businesses jump into influencer marketing, costs are rising. This market saturation puts a significant dent in influencer marketing’s formerly unmatched ROI.
Increasingly, brands are ignoring the Kylie Jenners of the world. Instead, they’re seeking “microinfluencers.” Microinfluencers are individuals on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok who have a relatively small following.
The advantage of microinfluencers is that their followers tend to be highly engaged. Plus, the users who follow microinfluencers tend to be made up of more specific demographics, compared with someone with 20 million followers. Marketers love this specificity as it makes reaching target audiences much easier.
But most importantly, microinfluencers generally charge much less than influencers with millions of followers, so that’s why brands of all sizes are starting to seek them out.
3. Chatbot use continues to grow
The results are in: chatbots are not a fad.
In fact, one study found that about half of all websites now use a chatbot, and the number is growing week by week.
MobileMonkey is a company that exemplifies the long-term sustainability of chatbot marketing. Although they focus on chatbots for Facebook, you can technically use the platform to build chatbots for your own site as well. Like many other companies in the chatbot space, MobileMonkey has seen sustained growth since launching in 2017.
4. PPC becomes largely automated
Using software to help run PPC campaigns isn’t new at all. In fact, almost as soon as Google Adwords (now Google Ads) came onto the scene, software programs emerged to help marketers optimize their campaigns.
What has changed is the dramatic improvement in machine learning technology over the past few years. This rapid advancement has caused many monotonous PPC-related tasks, such as manual bid optimization, to become a thing of the past.
A big reason for this adoption is that, unlike in years past, the ad platforms themselves now offer in-house automation tools. For example, Google Ads campaigns can now be managed with Smart Bidding, and marketers can use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative to quickly test thousands of ad variations.
5. Video becomes the default medium
YouTube reports that internet users watch 1 billion hours worth of videos every day. That’s a staggering number, especially if you take into account that YouTube is just one of many video-supported digital marketing channels out there.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Reddit all support video content, and many are transitioning to become “video first” social networks.
Marketers that learn the skills behind creating engaging videos (like planning, scripting, lighting, shooting, editing and graphics) will have a leg up over those that only write text-based blog posts.
If you enjoyed this dive into some of the latest marketing technologies, you can sign up for SmartBrief on Social Business for daily updates on digital marketing news and trends. For even more great news content, sign up for any of SmartBrief’s 275+ free email newsletters today, free.
Joshua Howarth co-founded ExplodingTopics.com, a platform that helps marketers find trending topics before they go mainstream, in late 2019.