The rate of innovation in the digital marketing industry has never seen as large a boom in innovation as it has in the past 5-10 years. Assuming this trend will either intensify, or at the very least remain constant, digital marketers everywhere have a lot to look forward to in the near future. But what should we expect? Well, to glean insights about the future, one must observe the trends of the past.
There are few activities more gratifying than looking back through history at all of the instances when people made overconfident predictions about the incredible technologies and whimsical living conditions of the future. “What a bunch of clods,” you may think to yourself, “Flying cars? Moon mansions? Robot shoe-shines? They weren’t even close!”
But, despite our mockery of our ancestor’s sci-fi predictions of our modern world, we as a society still enjoy making sweeping predictions about what magical advances the future will bring. Based on historical precedent, these predictions are sure to fall far short of reality, but they’re indicative of a deeper societal desire to solve a certain problem with a form of technology which, at this point, doesn’t exist. If you view these pie in the sky ideas more as general indicators towards an eventual solution as opposed to genuine expectations than these silly guesses can actually provide some real value.
With that in mind, here are some fantastical predictions, based on considerable research and experience in the industry, of digital marketing in the world of tomorrow!
Email is the technology of the future! Pretty breakthrough stuff, right? No? Tough crowd. The folks at the 1964 New York World’s Fair ate that line up. Well I should clarify by saying it’s not email itself which will dazzle our future campaign recipients, rather it is the incredible innovations dictating our usage of said emails that will change everything.
Think of the problems that confront email currently:
- Too much clutter
- Clunky navigation
- Watered down messaging
- Front-end-heavy campaign development
As tech gets better and AI gets smarter, all of these problems will slowly fade away, leaving email as the optimal form of digital communication. Imagine an email inbox which can recognize where you are and what’s happening at the time, and update the order of your emails accordingly. For instance, if you’re watching the season finale of your favorite HBO show late on Sunday night, the top email in your inbox is from HBO with the episode analysis and deleted scenes. Then, the next day you head to the store for groceries and the top email in your inbox is your grocery list and a coupon from WholeFoods. The continued increase in real-time data (including geo-location) will make email marketing incrementally more 1-to-1 which will eliminate most of the issues that plague email today.
In order to achieve this level of personalized communication, the dynamics of marketing automation as we know them have to evolve past the simple timing-and-sequence-based automation we have today. Although this type of automation allows you to scale and personalize you campaigns unlike any tool currently available, in order for email marketing to continue to progress it needs to shift focus from the order of the sequence to the specific user behavior.
Utilizing behavior data from across every available channel in the most efficient way possible will allow you to personalize user experiences far beyond our current capabilities. Whether it be extremely personalized subject lines or email copy, recognizing the time of day the user is most active or identifying which type of content a user responds most to and adjusting accordingly, the more personalized email marketing becomes in the future, the better the results will be.
With content marketing on the rise for 2017, it is easy to infer that by 2020 content will truly be a marketing force to be reckoned with. According to Nichole Elizabeth DeMere, Community Growth at Inbound.org,
We’re going in a direction in which we’re no longer used to sitting still and passively listening to or reading things, we also want to interact with them. Interactivity is the best way to learn and is the future of both education and content marketing. And content marketing is all about educating potential clients.”
For the past two years, there’s been many talks about dynamic content and its values for the marketing industry, and it is very likely that by 2020 dynamic content will be a fully integrated part of email marketing campaigns.
Content in 2020 isn’t just content. With multimedia and digital technologies continuously changing and shaping our perceptions of information and art, truly successful content is more than a blog post, more than regular blog posts even. Quality is more important than ever and quantity is yesterday’s beat.
Content is a multidimensional and curated piece of art that encompasses text, visuals in the form of photos and/or video, interactive graphs and charts and it is built around real-time data driven algorithms. User Experience (UX) dictates winning content and the demand for design is greater than in 2016.
When toying with the idea of marketing’s future, it is impossible to not talk about social media and search marketing. Both, in some respects, derive from content marketing and are often perceived by financial marketers as secondary, yet important additions, to email marketing.
The results of a recent Litmus research showed that 67.7% of people think Facebook will exist in 10 years, thus ranking as the second “future-proof” channel after email (70%) and before Twitter (60.2%). It can be inferred that there’s a high chance for social media to continue dominating as one of the primary means of content distribution, the queen of inbound marketing.
Looking into to the not-so-distance future 3 years from now, social media is likely to be more heavily dominated by multimedia content. With the anticipation of video being central to 2017’s marketing, by 2020 there will be more interactive and engaging content; maybe virtual reality content will become common and widely spread.
Based on the historical trend of a rise of a new social media platform every couple of years, we can expect that a new channel will join the current A-listers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. It is possible that it will be another temporary social media where posts get deleted after a certain amount of time.
Similar to email, thanks to machine learning and data mining social media will become extremely personalized, which will have a tremendous effect on advertising and search marketing. On the PPC (Pay-per-Click) side of search, it is expected that geo-location will come to play an even bigger role in targeting and building advertising campaigns. In addition, the usage of mobile and wearable tech devices over desktop/laptop will continue increase. Thus, rich answers will become more valued in organic search and Google will have polished its real-time penalties filters for mobile unfriendly pages.
While there’s no space for flying cars in our 2020 marketing predictions, in the spirit of futurism, we believe that greater things await the marketing community. One thing we know for certain is that email marketing is not going anywhere. As far as content, social and search go – the possibilities are endless. There’s a high chance that new technology will keep pushing us outside of our comfort zone into the unknown but isn’t that what digital marketing is all about? We just have to stay up to date and keep reading and clicking!
Find out more about the current state of digital marketing from the experts at StoneShot!