Expect disruption ahead. Here are the 2024 marketing trends you can’t afford to ignore.
If you thought last year brought blockbuster-level change in the tech and marketing spaces, prepare for an even-bigger sequel in 2024. Expect disruption ahead.
With great disruption, however, comes a great opportunity to stand out.
While 2023 was all about AI experimentation, this year demands an informed, thoughtful approach to AI and a clear system for implementation. Brands that do so will create content that truly resonates – and still cash in on time-saving benefits.
AI is also expected to impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, shifting the focus from written content to visuals for the strongest optimization benefits. Marketers who understand the new principles for ranking will win a serious advantage over their competition.
Despite these massive changes, content marketers are stressing a return to fundamentals, as audience-focused messaging and human-created content are expected to stand out among an onslaught of AI-generated marketing campaigns.
Most importantly, consumers still expect ethical and purpose-driven ways of doing business, which means brands that showcase their values are likely to win the most hearts and minds.
This could be the year of paradox as tech takes over, but humanity shines.
Here are the 2024 marketing trends we think you cannot afford to miss.
2024 Marketing Trends To Watch
1. Conscious Consumerism
Keeping in line with trends from recent years, consumers will continue to choose brands that align with their values. They want to see brands with purpose – brands that are doing more than just selling products but also investing in positive solutions for the future of humanity. It’s a big ask, but it’s also an impossible trend to ignore at this point.
“The new research tells us that 82% of shoppers want a consumer brand’s values to align with their own, and they’ll vote with their wallet if they don’t feel a match,” according to a study by Consumer Goods Technology. “Three-quarters of shoppers reported parting ways with a brand over a conflict in values.”
While different audiences align with different values, a few key trends include sustainability, transparency, data protection, privacy and inclusivity.
“It’s not enough to showcase eco-friendly initiatives. Instead, brands must actively incorporate sustainable practices, support social causes, and authentically validate their purpose,” writes Lomit Patel for Forbes. “In today’s era of conscious consumerism […] companies that adapt to these trends will meet the expectations of their audience and position themselves for sustained success in the ever-changing world of marketing.”
2. Evolving Search Practices
One of the biggest ways AI is already affecting us, as marketers and consumers, is through its impact on search engines. Google has already begun rolling out AI-generated search responses, which means it’s using AI to generate content that answers your questions and search queries, right at the top of the page. It’s no longer just pulling content from other websites and spitting it back out onto the search results page. AI is generating content, too.
Additionally, people are starting to show preferences for other search engines besides Google – namely social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
“Marketers have long optimized their websites and content to rank higher on search platforms like Google and Bing – but increasingly, the most cutting-edge marketers are optimizing the social media content with equal detail,” writes Katy Finneran in a 2024 marketing trends report for Forbes. “Last year, the top search engine in the world, Google, reported that roughly 40% of Gen-Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google. That’s why, it’s more important than ever for digital marketers to consider nuances such as keywords and metadata on social media posts.”
The bottom line? AI-assisted and social media search engines are already changing the way we search, as well as the way search results are presented. It’s crucial to pay attention to these evolving search practices, or get lost in the shuffle.
3. Click-Through Rates
As Google’s AI-generated answers begin to show up in search results, people may be less likely to click on websites to find the answers to their questions, as they’ve already found the answers they needed at the top of the search page. Some marketers are predicting this could impact click-through rates, as fewer people click on websites to find more information.
“From a traffic perspective, we are anticipating this could potentially decrease click-through rates for websites below this [AI] snapshot, which is scary for us in SEO,” shared SEO expert Nikki Lam in an interview with Digital Marketing Institute (DMI).
For this reason, some marketers are moving the goalpost this year. Instead of focusing their efforts on engagement and attraction, they’re focusing more heavily on increased click-through rates and customer retention. Digital Marketing Institute suggests proactively monitoring how and when you appear in AI-generated content to better understand the data once the full rollout goes into effect this year. As far as 2024 marketing trends go, this one is still in development!
4. Audience-First Approach
Though this is less of a trend and more of a “back to basics” reminder, content that is genuinely valuable to your audience will reign in 2024. Besides being a logical way to serve people, this strategy also puts you in Google’s good graces. Here’s why: Google releases a set of guidelines that describe what types of content it will boost to the top of the search page. The main points are best explained by its well-known acronym, EAT, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Recently, Google updated these guidelines to include “experience” and is now calling it EEAT.
“Google looks for content that gives users a satisfying experience and lives up to its promise,” explains Evgenia Verbitskaya in an article by Semrush. “In other words, just like your audience, Google values content that was designed primarily to help by answering real, relevant questions in a way that makes sense.”
Essentially, Google is continuing to prioritize audience-oriented content, especially content that provides a valuable experience in addition to reliable information.
“This is significant as AI cannot generate real-world experience like people can,” adds Emma Prunty in an article by DMI.
So how do you create this type of content?
“Have conversations with your audience. Then take what you’ve learned and use it to improve your content,” explains Semrush search expert Kyle Byers. “The more valuable you can make it, the better your results will be.”
(These 2024 marketing trends can be tricky. Ready to implement them? We can help!)
5. High-Quality Production
One of the best ways to provide a valuable experience for your audience is through high-quality content. This isn’t a new concept. In fact, 44% of marketers said that improving content quality and value was a key contributor to their success last year, according to Semrush’s 2023 State of Content Marketing report. But this concept is more important than ever.
“That’s why this tactic is quickly turning into the number-one success factor for generating meaningful traffic, engagement, and conversions,” explains Verbitskaya for Semrush. “And a staggering 53% of our survey respondents state that improving content quality helps them rank higher in search.”
What constitutes high-quality content? Key attributes include: real-life experience and expertise; unique insights you can’t find anywhere else; easy-to-follow steps and practical advice; and superior user experiences that prioritize visuals, structure and coherence. Most importantly, experts stress that high-quality content is available to brands of all sizes.
“It doesn’t matter if you head up a Fortune 500 company or run a small family business – you can create content that offers real value to your audience,” explains Semrush content expert Margarita Loktionova. “Get it right and you’ll see more website visitors, click-throughs, and conversions.”
6. Human-Generated Content
As Google prioritizes the user experience, and AI-generated content continues to flood our feeds, content made by real people for real people will stand out. Many marketers are predicting that 2024 will be characterized by a “let’s try and see what happens” AI approach that could be disappointing for audiences. As more and more brands use AI tools to shortcut their content production, our audiences will get better at spotting it.
“There’s a downside [to using AI tools in marketing]. There will be mass production of non-original, fluffy and inaccurate content,” explains content expert Julia McCoy in an interview with Semrush. “Humanly-researched, high-quality, unique content will stand out more than ever.”
Some marketers are even predicting a potential backlash.
“But there will be light at the end of the tunnel when this strategy proves to be a race to the bottom for brands – and customers stop responding to content the way we’re used to,” predicts content specialist Ellen Lichtenstein in an interview with Content Marketing Institute. “Maybe by the end of 2024, human creators will be even more valuable than ever as a backlash against bad content begins.”
Marketers may be presented with an interesting paradox: Human content will stand out, but AI cannot be ignored. Experts suggest striking a balance.
“Relying solely on AI for content won’t cut it,” explains Prashant Puri in an interview with CMI about 2024 marketing trends. “If brands want to connect, generate quality leads and tell their story, AI can assist with 45 to 50% of the job, but human-written content will be essential for impact, connection and conversion.”
7. Intentional AI Strategy
In 2023, AI was driven by hype, novelty and experimentation; in 2024, AI will be harnessed as an effective support tool with a documented strategy. The question is no longer whether or not we use AI but how we can use it best.
“Content marketers should prepare for generative AI to move beyond novelty and hype and become a normal part of our day-to-day workflow,” explains content strategist Carmen Hill in an interview with CMI. “To make the most of the upside potential while mitigating risks, we’ll need to pay just as much – or even more – attention to the unsexy bits like process, policies, and governance. All that time you manage to save with AI can then be reallocated to improve your content structure, metadata, file naming conventions, brand guidelines, and the like.”
CEOs and thought leaders are stressing the importance of a documented AI company policy that clarifies common questions – should you disclose content that’s AI-generated – and clearly outlines procedures, such as fact-checking and editing.
“In 2024, a cohesive AI strategy will be a must, especially since only 15% of organizations have a clearly defined and well-understood one, according to Mesh-AI research,” explains Erica Santiago in the 2024 HubSpot trends report.
It will require leadership and specialists to work together with eyes on the future.
“Set the pace and train yourself and your teams,” Jessica Hreha explains to CMI. “Be the rising tide that lifts the AI literacy of your organization. Your leadership will thank you, trust me.”
Above all, marketers say it’s crucial to use AI generation as a support tool, or marketing assistant, rather than relying on it as a fully functioning member of the team. When used in this way, AI is an absolute game-changer. For example, marketers can use AI to: speed up tedious processes, such as transcribing or repurposing content; create marketing personas you can interact with; or generate ideas that are strengthened by human creativity. Most importantly, think outside the box to determine how AI can be best used within your brand, and keep learning.
“Set aside two hours a week to learn about AI – newsletters, webinars, following industry leaders on LinkedIn – and three hours a week to apply new tools to your job,” suggests marketer Jim Sterne to CMI.
8. Video Prioritization
Video has long reigned as the top content choice and will continue to maintain its stronghold, as AI-generated written content floods the internet and gives greater weight to video and photo optimization benefits. But most importantly, short-form social media video still consistently performs best when it comes to ROI.
“Who hasn‘t spent way too much time scrolling through TikTok? I’m not afraid to admit I‘ve bought clothes, pet supplies and other products after watching a few too many reels, TikToks, and YouTube Shorts. And I’m not alone,” writes Erica Santiago for HubSpot’s marketing trends report. “According to a recent survey, 56% of U.S. consumers said they bought something based on an ad they saw on TikTok, and 36% said they were willing to.”
Why is video so persuasive?
“Video creates a deeper connection with your potential customer base, and it is easy for brands to repurpose video content into podcasts and text-based content,” shares digital marketing expert Neil Patel.
Plus, visual elements – such as video and photos – may be the answer to the SEO challenges ahead.
“SEO doesn’t just involve changing the text on a page. It can also include choosing and optimizing suitable videos or images for a page to help it rank in Google images or search engine video carousels,” writes Santiago. “Currently, 53% of marketers who leverage SEO have a strategy for optimizing videos and images. Of those marketers, 49% say image and video optimization is their most effective SEO tactic.”
Marketer and CEO Vahag Karayan agrees in a CMI interview: “Content marketers must prepare for a seismic shift towards video-centric SEO, necessitating the mastery of visual storytelling and metadata optimization to ensure discoverability within search engine algorithms. Your website will be 70% short-form videos — get ready now.”
Not sure how to implement these 2024 marketing trends? We can help!
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