As we approach the end of 2023, marketers everywhere will start considering what they can expect from 2024. Driven by ever-evolving consumer demands, high inflation, and new tech, 2024 promises to usher in a fresh set of challenges you’ll need to navigate. Thankfully, there’s a host of digital marketing trends small businesses can use to hit the ground running in the new year.

From the rise in VR shopping to the influence of TikTok’s short-form videos, here are the top digital marketing trends we expect to see in 2024.

1. Virtual and augmented reality will continue to change the way we shop.

Over 2023, VR and AR marketing has become more accessible than ever. And it’s a digital marketing trend that isn’t going anywhere. From IKEA’s use of AR to help customers see how a product might look in their home to Volvo’s VR test drives, we predict that more and more brands will be using the latest hardware to bring their products to life for customers. 

Even outside of retail, VR and AR will be making waves. While gamified advertising is nothing new, the use of AR to encourage consumer participation has taken off in 2023. With brands like M&Ms inviting users to play in their interactive music lounge and Corona inviting shoppers to ‘Paradise’, we’ll see plenty more AR adverts in 2024.

Woman using AR to view product prices in a living room

For VR specifically, even B2B brands are discovering how it can support their marketing efforts. Those trained through VR classrooms report a 40% increase in confidence compared to a traditional classroom. And some brands are creating new ways to educate consumers through interactive VR technology. 

For small businesses, you can use AR to enhance everything from traditional business cards to VR recruitment to walk candidates through your office. 

2. Hyper-personal experiences, every single time.

Gone are the days when digital marketing was one size fits all. According to Forbes, 66% of consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 52% expect personalised offers.

And, as small businesses continue to leverage big data, you need to channel it into creating experiences that fit each individual customer. These experiences can be anything from demographic-led offers to personalised product recommendations.

Woman pressing projections in air in customer service

In fact, some are predicting that with the help of AI, we could even see individualised adverts for consumers, where each advertisement is tailored directly to their needs. From food and beverage brands only advertising vegan food to their vegan customers to clothing brands offering personalised recommendations by size and taste.

For small businesses, this can be as simple as personalised email marketing using your customer’s name or serving more specific adverts to niche demographics across social media. 

3. AI-driven interactions will continue to rise

While most small businesses are already aware of AI chatbots, 2024’s consumers want real-time engagement, no matter what the time. And, AI is probably the most popular digital marketing trend helping to plug that gap. 

However, this comes with a caveat; 78% of consumers prefer to speak to a real person over AI or a bot. That means AI isn’t necessarily the best trend to follow to maintain customer satisfaction. 

Need help finding the time to respond to calls and messages? AnswerConnect can give your callers real-time responses from trained receptionists.

Different image visual appearing over hand touching tablet

But if you have your heart set on using AI in some form, you’ll need to ensure your pages and key details (like your FAQ or shipping details) are as up-to-date as possible. Otherwise, consumers might not receive the correct information. As well as this, take the time to review your customers’ chatbot responses regularly. If your chatbots aren’t responding to queries correctly, you’ll need to update your scripts. 

4. Voice search is changing how we do SEO.

“Alexa, how can I blend long-tail keywords and more naturalistic language into my SEO?” 

As we continue introducing voice assistants like Siri and Alexa into our homes, we’re also changing how we search online. Instead of typing a query into our search bars, we’re now asking Alexa and our voice assistants will select the most relevant answer.

Man holding phone with microphone icon showing voice search

With almost 50% of homes in the UK now owning a smart speaker, blending conversational language, hyper-local SEO and frequently asked questions into your content can boost your prospects of showing up in voice search results and reaching a brand new audience. 

For help with getting started when researching conversational queries, check out a site like Answer the Public.

5. We’ll continue to see a rise in short-form video and content.

From dwindling attention spans to consumers feeling more time-short than ever, 2024 is the year of digestible content. Short-form content is super-sharable for mobile users. By using it to offer glimpses “behind the scenes”. It’s also far easier to produce consistently. And it’s more cost-effective than long-form content.

For small businesses, investing in a TikTok account to build social SEO can be a great way to find new customers, especially in the Gen Z and Millennial demographic.

Man recording video on phone with phone stand

But, if starting a TikTok account feels too much pressure, you can apply the same principles to other forms of content. From Instagram’s Reels function to bite-sized blogs, consumers are more impatient than ever for simple and authentic copy.

6. Data privacy is becoming increasingly important to consumers.

As we introduce more and more technology and automation into our lives, consumers are becoming increasingly more concerned with how much data they’re handing over. With 68% of us ‘concerned about our online privacy, businesses must demonstrate that they’re protecting our sensitive information. This is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses where consumer trust is essential. 

You can do this by conducting regular cyber-security audits. As part of that, you’ll need a clear plan of action in case of a data security breach, as well as highlighting the steps you’re taking to protect your customer’s data.

Man holding phone with padlock icon visible representing digital marketing security

In a world that’s changing faster than you can say marketing, staying flexible and creative are the keys to making your marketing work in 2024 and beyond. For brands that embrace virtual reality, hyper-personalised experiences and bite-sized, conversational content, the next year will bring even more exciting opportunities to connect with customers.

If you utilise any of these trends in 2024, you can expect a big bump in leads. But how will you ensure you capture all of these new opportunities? AnswerConnect can help you capture every lead and optimise your marketing spend in 2024. Book your free consultation today to find out how and start the new year off right.