24. April 2024

Your Digital Trends Report for 2024

Digital Trends Report

We may already be well into 2024, but the digital landscape is as dynamic as ever this year. Let’s take a look at the big digital trends we’ve seen this year and report on what is going to be important in shaping the landscape in 2024.

User Generated Content Will be Ubiquitous

UGC or User Generated Content sees an uptick. We’ve seen this trend across several digital channels in 2024. On social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, brands often ask users to post or share content related to their products. These are reshared by the official pages of the brand or sometimes the process is simplified where users can simply tag the brand in their content. For example, Ikea encourages users to post videos of how they use their products through a hashtag called #IkeaHomeTour.

User Generated Videos on Instagram showcasing Ikea products

Similarly, on websites, this trend is seen especially in an eCommerce context. For instance, Target shows UGC on its product pages making products more credible and usage more relatable to potential shoppers.

Digital Trends Report User - Generated Content on product pages
User-Generated Images on Target’s Product Detail Pages

What’s The Benefit?

There are two clear benefits to leveraging UGC, the first is credibility. By seeing products through the eyes of similar users, potential buyers come to trust products. This is especially useful for conversion online where shoppers do not have the luxury of testing products in-store.

The second benefit of this digital trend is increased engagement. Encouraging users to actively share content and participate in a movement helps them feel included and thereby increases engagement. Further, there are opportunities for reposting and the content becoming viral without heavy advertising investments from the brands themselves.

Generative AI Enhances Every Digital Channel

It goes without saying that Generative AI will be included in any digital trends report for 2024. AI will be leveraged to generate content for various digital channels.     

The simplest application would be within SEO articles. Large language models can help with rudimentary keyword research. They can also help marketers formulate articles on various topics in a way that content can be scaled quickly and efficiently. In an eCommerce setting, brands and retailers can leverage AI to generate everything from product descriptions to images and videos. Further, AI-enabled dynamic content means that users can also benefit from product try-on experiences online. For instance, shoppers on Zalando can try on clothes by uploading an image on their Virtual Fitting Room.

Digital Trends Report - AI Virtual Product Trials
Zalando leverages AI to provide Virtual Product Trials

Similarly, on channels such as email, websites, and apps, Generative AI can crerate content and personalize it dynamically based on user behavior and preferences. In email marketing, AI can help marketers test and dynamically optimize subject lines as well as personalize content. On brand hubs such as websites and apps, brands can dynamically load content based on user profiles and past behavior. Recommendations for articles, products, etc. can be better customized and scaled.

Why it Works

It works simply because it’s a simpler way to scale. Achieving personalization at scale is a massive challenge that can be minimized through the use of AI. Personalization also increases engagement thereby improving chances of conversion.
Furthermore, scale and personalization can be achieved cost-effectively.

What are its Limitations?

While the expecation is for large language models and Generative AI to get increasingly more advanced in 2024, brands need to maintain authenticity. Further, consumers are becoming more interested in the values and the voice of a brand in addition to what it represents. While AI-generated content can always be a good starting point, it will be crucial to supplement this with human verification, proofing, and contextualization.

SEO Moves Towards Human and Authentic

Google conducted its last big algorithm updates towards the end of last year. However, it would be remiss if we didn’t review the impact of these updates in a 2024 digital trends report. The algorithm had an update that prioritizes Helpful Content. This means that answering frequently asked questions, and fulfilling the user’s need for information is paramount. As always, the relevance and quality of content will determine your rankings’ outcome. However, the update also prioritizes first-person or anecdotal experiences and perspectives over reused material.
This means that while Generative AI can help you structure your thoughts and give you a foundation, it will be necessary to create content that is unique, relevant, relatable, and ultimately fulfilling user needs.

What Else You Need to Know

Further to the helpful content update, Google also released information that their ranking systems will focus on better showcasing ‘hidden gems’. This means that pages that have useful content and didn’t manage to get enough visibility before, now have a chance to appear as a hidden gem. This move supports Google’s aim to serve search queries with helpful content irrespective of the size of the source

Details of how the Google algorithm will find hidden gems

Zero & First-Party Data Become Crucial

Zero-party data is the data that your customers share willingly with you. First-party data is what you can collect on your properties based on user behavior, preferences, etc. A major digital trend in 2024 is the shift towards gathering and leveraging this type of user data.

3rd party data is already spotty and less reliable due to GDPR and similar privacy and data protection measures. With Google moving to GA4, data organization is different. This will require users to undertake advanced setup processes.

This means businesses have to rely on generating their own user data, either by having DTC (direct-to-consumer) channels or by building sustainable and differentiated loyalty or membership programs.

What’s the Benefit?

By setting up avenues to collect zero- and first-party information, brands can have complete ownership of their data. Further, because of the proximity of data collection (compared to 3rd party data), quality is higher and more reliable.
This data enables brands to drive hyper-personalization and thereby engagement and conversion. A good example of this is having an effective loyalty program.

For example, Sephora offers a multi-tiered, points-based program that offers users real benefits such as free samples, exclusive offers, loyalty points, etc. This enables them to collect reliable and consistent data. This in turn helps them personalize communications, offers as well as product recommendations.

Digital Trends Report - Sephora's loyalty program
Details of Sephora’s Beauty Insider Program

Experiential or Immersive Marketing Becomes Essential

Users shift seamlessly between on and offline experiences as part of their overall consumer journey. Due to this, experiential marketing has to be part of a 2024 digital trends report. We’ve seen this concept both on and offline.

Experiential marketing ranges from small interactive elements on various channels all the way to merging the on and offline user journey. On social media, brands engage users by posting quizzes, polls, or stories with interactive elements. In an eCommerce context, we’ve seen it in the form of live stream commerce, guided selling through self-service tools, etc. These are simple ways in which brands can create an experience for users. Especially because the touch-and-feel benefits of in-store experiences are hard to emulate online.

In the luxury and premium retail sectors, brands, and retailers have used experiential marketing for years to create a differentiated and memorable user experience. This takes on new forms in 2024 due to the seamless nature of on and offline journeys. A good example of creating a 360-degree experience comes from Nike. The brand’s websites and apps serve as online hubs for interaction. Furthermore, Nike Club memberships allow users to integrate products with sports and fitness tips, creating a lifestyle around Nike products. This experience is further translated into the offline world through something like the Nike+Run Club which creates offline events to bring running enthusiasts together.

Digital Trends Report - Offline and Online Nike Experience
Nike+Run Club integrating products and experiences on and offline

What’s the benefit?

Experiential marketing allows brands to better understand as well as cater to complex consumer journeys. They allow for better integration of their products and services into their consumers’ lives thus increasing customer LTV (Lifetime Value). Plus, it is a way for brands to stand out and offer something that competitors cannot easily duplicate. By definition, experiential marketing means offering unique experiences.

How Does Your Marketing Strategy Compare?

Does your marketing strategy incorporate any or all of these trends? Remember that while we’re reviewing them from the perspective of a digital trends report, some of these implementations will become inevitable. These shifts will impact your content strategy, outreach strategy as well as user data collection.

What’s Next?

Interested in seeing how optimized your brands or your competitors brands are? Talk to us about a Digital Marketing Audit for Brands. Write to us at moin@watersky.digital

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