The 10 Biggest Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2024

  • July 1, 2024
  • SEO
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This year has been marked by significant disruptions in the digital marketing arena.

Presently, the industry is grappling with the integration of generative AI and its implications on user behavior and search dynamics, compounded by Google’s relentless updates.

SEO is undergoing substantial changes, and the industry must adapt while navigating uncertainties.

Nonetheless, this period of change presents considerable opportunities for those ready to embrace innovation and evolve.

To assist marketers and brands in succeeding amidst these challenges, I’ve compiled key trends to focus on, drawing on strategic insights and Yogi Berra’s timeless wisdom:

“Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra

Digital marketers can certainly resonate with Yogi’s sentiment, understanding the challenges ahead.

Here are the top 10 digital marketing trends for 2024:

1. Strategy: “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going, You Might Wind Up Someplace Else.”

Why is strategy deemed this year’s foremost trend over the latest technology? As Yogi wisely noted, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

According to Spencer Stuart’s 2024 CMO Tenure Study, the average tenure of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) at Fortune 500 companies in 2023 was 4.2 years.

The study also revealed that CMOs at B2B companies had an average tenure of 4.5 years, those at B2C companies averaged 4.0 years, while CMOs at the consumer-heavy top 100 advertisers averaged only 3.1 years.

Therefore, developing a robust digital marketing strategy that delivers outstanding results within a few years is crucial for job security and career advancement as a CMO of a major brand.

In essence, while mastering new technologies is essential, it’s the capacity to formulate impactful digital marketing strategies that truly propels digital marketing leaders and executives towards their goals.

2. Generative AI: “Predictions Are Hard, Especially About The Future.”

Yogi aptly remarked, “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” Asking generative AI tools to predict their own trajectory can be tempting.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT 3.5 states:

“AI and machine learning have transformed digital marketing for years, but 2024 will see these technologies play an even more pivotal role. From chatbots and predictive analytics to personalized content and ad targeting, AI will enhance customer experiences and drive efficiency. Brands leveraging AI can expect improved ROI and deeper customer insights.”

Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard) asserts:

“AI is no longer science fiction. It’s revolutionizing digital marketing, from creating high-converting chatbots to optimizing campaigns with pinpoint accuracy. Embrace AI, don’t fear it!”

And according to Anthropic’s Claude 3:

“AI writing assistants like Claude are gaining traction, and in 2024, these tools will become mainstream in content marketing, facilitating scalable content creation while maintaining quality.”

However, AI lacks the ability to see the holistic picture for your organization, empathize with people, and exhibit creativity. Hence, human guidance remains paramount for leveraging AI effectively.

3. SEO: “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.”

Speculation about SEO’s demise is premature, much like Yogi’s declaration, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

SEO professionals excel at adapting to change and new information, often adjusting to the latest Google algorithm updates or responding to significant incidents like the Google API “leak.”

For instance, experts such as Rand Fishkin and Mike King highlighted the significance of these leaks. While Google confirmed the authenticity of these internal documents, it also advised caution over making premature conclusions.

SEO professionals should heed Fishkin’s advice, emphasizing:

  • Hiring writers with established reputational authority recognized by Google.
  • Supplementing link-building with public relations to drive branded search demand.
  • Considering SEO as being geographically specific, even for web search results.
  • Adopting a mindset of experimentation and testing to discover effective strategies.

4. Link Building: “Always Go To Other People’s Funerals; Otherwise, They Won’t Go To Yours.”

I identified this trend years ago. At SES London 2009, during the session “Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Mentions Online,” I stressed the importance of quality and ingenuity in securing links.

I shared case studies on how to approach journalists, bloggers, and authoritative sources to boost your online reputation, with or without acquiring links. However, the concept of gaining mentions without links was initially misunderstood.

Rand Fishkin’s recommendations at MozCon help clarify the importance of supplementing link building with public relations. He explained that a sudden influx of links might indicate manipulation, suggesting authentic mentions should follow organically if you’re a notable brand.

5. Paid Media: “It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again.”

The race to integrate AI into advertising platforms is reminiscent of the frenzy to integrate programmatic solutions a decade ago. As Yogi said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

This means digital marketers can transform their “programmatic” workflows into “AI” best practices.

For instance, Google’s five-step programmatic workflow included:

  • Organize audience insights.
  • Design compelling creative.
  • Execute with integrated technology.
  • Reach audiences across screens.
  • Measure the impact.

Today’s AI processes aim to fulfill the initial promises of programmatic solutions, although with an enhanced capacity for integrating advertising with analytics platforms to measure campaign impacts on brand awareness and lead generation.

6. Analytics: “You Can Observe A Lot By Watching.”

Performance marketers have long integrated their advertising and analytics platforms to measure campaign impacts, particularly conversions.

However, brand marketers typically overlooked analytics data for measuring brand awareness.

Following the rollout of Google Analytics 4, a notable change occurred. Brand marketers can now track business objectives such as “Raise brand awareness” and “Generate leads.”

Digital marketers can measure valuable user actions including:

  • Scrolling through 90% or more of a blog post.
  • Downloading whitepapers.
  • Subscribing to newsletters.
  • Playing at least 50% of product videos.
  • Completing tutorials.
  • Submitting registration forms.

As Yogi noted, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

7. Content Marketing: “When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It.”

In 2020, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs discovered that content marketers had adeptly tackled the challenges posed by the pandemic.

B2B and B2C marketers:

  • Increased customer interactions.
  • Reexamined customer personas and journeys.
  • Adjusted targeting and messaging strategies.
  • Changed their distribution and editorial strategies.
  • Enhanced social media and online community efforts.
  • Modified their websites.
  • Introduced changes to products and services.
  • Updated key performance indicators (KPIs) and content marketing metrics.

2020 was a year of rapid adaptation or comprehensive overhaul of content marketing strategies.

Currently, content marketers are preparing for a substantial shift triggered by Google’s Search Generative Experiences (SGE).

As Yogi suggests, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

8. Video Creation: “If You Can’t Imitate Him, Don’t Copy Him.”

I teach an online course at the New Media Academy in Dubai on “Influencer Marketing and AI.” Despite seeming like an unusual combination, these topics are interconnected, complementing another course on “Engaging Audiences through Content.”

I emphasize to students that creating compelling content is challenging. This difficulty leads marketers to leverage influencers or AI for creating engaging video content, only to discover additional complexities.

AI can generate realistic and imaginative scenes from text prompts, but lacks human creativity. The essence of great videos remains centered around human-led, innovative, and surprising content.

I showcase “OpenAI Sora’s first short film – ‘Air Head,’ created by shy kids” by a Toronto-based production company.

Subsequently, students use AI tools like Synthesia, Runway, or invideo AI to develop short videos for their projects.

They then realize that while AI can create realistic scenes, it lacks the creativity possessed by even shy children.

Yogi’s advice rings true: “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”

9. Influencer Marketing: “Nobody Goes There Anymore. It’s Too Crowded.”

The Influencer Marketing Hub indicates that most marketers struggle to find and select the most relevant influencers.

This is ironic, given that HypeAuditor’s influencer discovery platform provides a searchable database of 137.5 million influencers across platforms like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and Twitch, with filters to pinpoint ideal partners.

This contradiction echoes Yogi’s sentiment: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Marketers should reconsider their approach to influencer identification. They can use tools like SparkToro to gather audience insights and identify high-affinity influencers.

Image from SparkToro, June 2024

Screenshot of a list showing accounts related to Dubai, their affinity scores
Image from SparkToro, June 2024

SparkToro identifies key sources of influence and hidden gems among this audience, helping marketers make informed investments.

10. Social Media: “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be.”

I am a strong proponent of “the rule of three.”

So, I was intrigued when Jennifer Radke invited me to a webinar on using ChatGPT for social media.

I was startled by Katie Delahaye Paine’s revelation that only 28% of marketers have received AI training. And I was shocked by Mark Ritson’s argument that AI could turn social media into a “cesspool of synthetic content.”

Having witnessed the birth of social media with Chris Shipley in 2004, I recall when social media held great promise.

Yogi’s observation resonates: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Social media marketers have three paths:

  • Acquire skills to use AI tools proficiently.
  • Enhance their ability to identify effective influencers.
  • Consider new career opportunities.

Picking Digital Marketing Trends Is Like Playing Moneyball

Some skeptics might question this unconventional lineup of the top 10 digital marketing trends for 2024, suggesting my approach deviates from conventional wisdom.

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