As we step into 2024, the dynamic landscape of marketing continues to evolve, driven by tech developments, changing consumer behaviours and the ever-expanding digital realm. This year, marketers are set to embrace a host of innovative technologies blended with long-standing strategies to captivate audiences and stay ahead in the competitive market.
Our strategy and insight teams are constantly scouring the web to uncover trends, predictions and notable projects from across the world. We explore brands, industry experts and recognised futurists, before layering our findings with our own market research exploring consumer behaviour trends for the year ahead.
In this insightful article, we delve into the perceptive analysis of MTM Director, Wes Maynard, as he unravels the intricacies of the latest trends shaping the industry.
Embrace and harness the capabilities of artificial intelligence
AI has been a key consideration for the past couple of years, and more recent advancements has seen it become a huge topic of interest amongst brands and marketers globally. A report by Hubspot has revealed that 64% of marketers are already leveraging AI in their roles, and this number seems set to grow, as AI is highlighted as a leading trend for marketers in 2024. In fact, 92% of marketers predict AI as the top trend in 2024, based on market research by Brandwatch.
Conversations around artificial intelligence and content creation have sky-rocketed through 2023, with mentions on social media channels and forums increasing tenfold. As an example, between April and October of last year, mentions of ‘content creation and content marketing’ were up 91% on X and Reddit, and ‘tools and marketing automation’ weren’t far behind at +86%. These increases, along with 24 billion visits to the top 40 AI tools (between September 2022 and August 2023) offers no surprise that artificial intelligence is still at the forefront of marketing experts’ minds.
As is the case with most technology, we will likely continue to see rapid development of both generative and conversational AI, further assisting marketers in creating a whole variety of content and communication pathways with consumers.
Marketers who take full advantage of AI’s capabilities (alongside human expertise) can expect to benefit from streamlined content production and improved business efficiency. In addition, using AI to improve customer experience is imperative for 2024, but keep a close eye on strategies and how your business uses AI on the whole, as there aren’t yet consistent laws and regulations. Blending AI with human intelligence is still the most effective way to reach and retain customers.
Authentic marketing will flourish
On the other end of the spectrum, more and more consumers are craving human to human connection. With 86% of consumers heavily considering a brand’s authenticity when making a purchase (Brandwatch), it wouldn’t be wise to rely on AI to build and maintain relationships. There is, however, a large gap between what consumers and brands deem as authentic content. As part of Brandwatch’s market research, it concluded that 80% of brands believe they are being authentic with their content, whereas only 37% of consumers agreed. This highlights that brands still have work to do when it comes to proving themselves to their customer base.
In 2024 it will be important to showcase values and inject these into your content. Authentic, human-driven marketing is one of the best ways to portray this, especially when it comes to customer service efforts. Using testimonials to showcase your brand, utilising employee-generated content and exploring how competitors are interacting with their customers are all tactics you can employ to introduce a higher level of both authentic and user-generated content into your website.
Customer retention is another important factor here, and is highlighted by Marketing Week as something brands should pay attention to in 2024. Understanding what customers want and employing tactics such as loyalty schemes could pay dividends, and is an effective way to gain first-party data too.
Is social media the new search engine?
Another popular prediction for 2024 is the use of social media as a search engine, and with 76% of consumers using social media channels to discover new products or look for recommendations (Brandwatch), it’s looking highly likely that search is moving in this direction.
Google is prioritising experience-focused content, and this aligns perfectly with social media. This shift means brands will need to consider providing informational, educational and practical content on social channels that is specifically designed to answer user queries, the same as is expected for search engines. By looking at keywords and viral trends, brands will be able to build a multi-platform search strategy that powers social content.
The emergence of social commerce
Shoppable content is another key trend highlighted for 2024 and is expected to gain a great deal of traction. It’s a relatively new concept as it differs from the more established social media adverts. Sitting within the organic space, it allows brands to add links to purchase products such as within Instagram posts, or within TikTok videos.
With 87% of marketers believing that budget will be an issue in 2024 (Brandwatch), brands that are already employing shoppable content (that’s followed by a seamless checkout process) are ahead of the curve, as social commerce is expected to boom worldwide.
In line with this, affiliate marketing should also be a key consideration for brands in 2024. Although not a new concept, in 2023 affiliate marketing reached a five-year high, and as it’s a budget friendly option for ecommerce businesses, it can be an incredibly effective method for marketers to start, or continue to pursue this year.
A larger focus on sustainability
Every year, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the importance of sustainability, and 2024 will be no exception. Forbes has highlighted purpose-driven marketing as a key trend for this year, imploring businesses to adopt marketing strategies that honestly reflect their brand and its values. This prediction is further backed by research undertaken by Kantar MONITOR, a consumer insights platform, whereby it reported 80% of global consumers say they ‘make an effort’ to buy from companies that support causes important to them.
This forecast wholly supports authentic marketing, and organisations that already are, or can find a way to truly embody their values are more likely to attract, and most importantly, retain, a loyal customer base.
The MTM Agency’s Brand and Marketing Director, Richard Broughton, adds: “It’s more important than ever for brands to look at the bigger picture, and not simply home in on a handful of marketing techniques that have worked in the past. The landscape is changing rapidly, and with the potential value of AI blended with authentic content on the right channels, all brands should be considering exploring these trends, alongside their existing marketing strategies. It’s going to be an interesting year for AI especially, and I’m looking forward to seeing how businesses can find applications that genuinely move the needle.”
For further thoughts and discussion around how brands can maximise investment opportunities whilst still meeting the sustainability expectations of customers and stakeholders, watch our Think Tank Series video - The Race to Net Zero.
As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of marketing, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for businesses aiming to connect with their audiences effectively. The trends of 2024 reflect a commitment to personalisation, technological and social integration, and the continuous pursuit of innovative ways to engage consumers. By embracing these trends, businesses can position themselves for success in the dynamic marketing landscape of the future.