Every year at Crux, we survey our team to identify emerging trends and interesting developments that will shape markets and influence audiences in the year to come. For 2024, our insights take us into a brave new world where creativity and emotion meet strategy and data, and artificial intelligence shakes hands with human authenticity.
Buckle up, and let’s explore the top trends we’re navigating for clients in the year ahead.
Strategy: Retention is the New Black
Gone are the days when mere engagement was the goal. These days, it’s all about retaining your customer and keeping your audience hooked. The focus has shifted from just catching eyes to keeping them glued.
Brands are increasingly tailoring social media campaigns to be more playful and imaginative, aiming to entertain, inform and educate. The future is bright with storytelling and strategies aimed at not just converting but captivating your audience for the long haul. Just as viewers binge on Netflix, customers are ready to binge on great brand content and experiences.
Creative Design: Embracing Wonder, Expressing Joy
In a world that often feels like a rollercoaster, consumers are seeking designs that serve as a comforting hug. Brands are responding with visuals that stir up feelings of joy, awe and a bit of magic.
Picture this: you’re scrolling through your feed, and you come across a design that’s not just pretty but makes you feel something. From the whimsical charm of “kidult” experiences to the opulence of AI-generated fantasy worlds, these designs are all about creating an emotional bond that goes beyond the screen.
Content: Micro-dosing Media
Long-form videos are taking a back seat as brands pivot to creating bite-sized, impactful content. Think a hundred reels instead of a single, lengthy video. Podcasts are also getting a makeover with improved analytics and more engaging formats.
Watch for new interactive features like live Q&A sessions, making podcasts not just a listening experience but a two-way conversation. It’s quick, it’s engaging, and it’s exactly what todays audiences of today craves.
Social: Authenticity Is Currency
Welcome to the new influencer era where follower count is out, and authenticity is in. Brands are forming long-term bonds with influencers who resonate with their target audience. And in the background, AI is quietly reshaping how platforms operate and creators create.
But amid all this tech, there’s a hunger for realness — for stories and connections that feel genuine. Brands have an opportunity to share their authenticity by working with employees as their influencers, giving authentic, behind-the-scenes access to your business and showcasing the thought leadership of your in-house experts.
Digital: AI Joins the Search Party
Google’s Search Generative Engine (SGE) is transforming the SEO landscape with AI-powered, conversational search experiences, which will further diminish website click-throughs as users get answers directly from search pages.
At present, 57% of mobile and around a quarter of desktop searchers leave the search engine result page (SERP) without clicking – a new, efficient zero-click search experience between a user and an SGE. Great for users, tricky for marketers.
In response, brands must prioritize creating content that not only fits this new AI-centric format but also resonates with Google’s EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) principles, emphasizing real-world expertise and credibility.
As search becomes more intuitive and self-contained, the value of authoritative, human-crafted content will become the differentiator in capturing user trust and engagement.
Digital: The Rise of Respectful, Responsible Website Experiences
Data privacy is no longer just a checkbox; it’s a cornerstone of customer trust. With increasing concerns over data breaches and misuse, transparency is key. Brands need to be upfront about how they use customer data, how aggressively they and their partners will be contacting their customers, and provide more control to the users. It’s a delicate balance, but get it right, and you’ll have a loyal customer base that trusts you with their data.
Digital accessibility has moved from a nice-to-have to a must-have, driven not just by social responsibility but also by a surge in legal requirements. With lawsuits on the rise against non-compliant websites, embracing accessibility is both a legal and ethical imperative. Think of it as not just making your site accessible to more people but opening your brand up to a whole new audience.
E-commerce: It’s Getting Personal
As brands jostle in a crowded market, offering the same old generic menu just doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s savvy shoppers seek a path to purchase tailored just for them, like a bespoke suit in a world of off-the-rack options.
Predictive analytics and AI will play a larger and larger role in making personalized experiences the norm across the customer journey, from social discovery to browsing and buying to user-generated content.
At the same time, customer service is getting a social makeover. Gone are the days when customer queries were relegated to the abyss of email inboxes or endless on-hold music. Now, it’s all about sliding into your customers’ DMs with the speed and savvy of a social media influencer. Businesses are embracing platforms like Facebook Messenger, making customer interactions more immediate and relatable.
PR: Crisis Comms for Resilience, not Rescues
Crises are an inevitable part of business, but how you handle them can make or break your brand. In today’s world, where news cycles spin faster than ever and social media never sleeps, businesses must always be primed for crisis management.
This is especially important during the uncertainty of election years. A swift and strategic crisis response goes beyond mere damage limitation—it’s crucial for preserving a brand’s trust and credibility.
Being proactive with a comprehensive crisis communications plan is the best defense in maintaining stakeholder confidence and steering through turbulent times effectively.
Find Your Crux
At Crux, we’re not just observers of these trends; we’re active participants, ready to help you leverage shifts in culture, technology, business and behavior to your benefit. Whether your goal is to grow your customer base, engage your community, or retain your valuable clients, members, donors, or employees, we hope these insights can inform your 2024 marketing plans.