2024 feels like an equally exciting and terrifying time for ecommerce marketers. From A.I. and its rapidly-evolving impact on everything we do - to the true death of the third-party cookie - digital marketing is undergoing seismic shifts right underneath our feet.
To help you navigate the year ahead, we’ve pulled together a bit of a 2024 eCommerce marketing survival guide. With a selection of recommended tools and actionable techniques, it’ll help turn two of the biggest trends in marketing into success for your eCommerce business this year.
The impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning is already being felt in most aspects of our lives, and it’s no different in Digital Marketing.
But while the technology certainly opens up a world of possibilities, it’s also not quite the finished product in many ways.
The challenge for digital marketers in 2024 will be to work out where it can be a real game changer and where it’s still a distraction.
As we delve deeper into the realms of A.I., we’ll explore three critical areas where A.I. and machine learning will continue to transform eCommerce marketing this year - understanding customers, finding and targeting prospects, and driving conversions.
A.I.'s ability to process and analyse vast amounts of data is unparalleled. In 2024, machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics will continue to help us to uncover ever deeper and more effective insights about our customers and prospects.
Traditional methods of gathering customer insight and feedback - like analytics, surveys and focus groups - are often difficult and time consuming to interpret.
With the help of A.I., businesses can monitor customer interactions across a huge variety of channels - including your website, social media, emails, and support tickets - extracting insights, sentiment and intent more effectively and efficiently than ever before.
Modern analytics solutions like GA4 use enhanced machine learning to understand customer behaviour better. Tracking user interactions across the website, predicting purchase probabilities, and identifying which products are likely to perform well.
As with any tool though, the best fit depends on the specific needs, size, and complexity of your business.”
Customer service solutions like Gorgias offer A.I.-powered sentiment analysis and insights from a huge range of customer contact channels.
Adobe’s Sensei can offer A.I.-driven insights into areas like content effectiveness while predicting customer behaviour based on attributes, differences, and conversion factors.
All these tools provide a range of functionalities from understanding customer behaviour, personalising campaigns and optimising the customer journey, to predicting future trends and needs.
As with any tool though, the best fit depends on the specific needs, size, and complexity of your business, as well as how well it integrates with existing systems and processes.
The landscape of customer acquisition will continue to be reshaped by A.I. in 2024, with campaign types like Google's Performance Max and Meta's Advantage Plus Shopping campaigns at the forefront.
These tools are designed to automate and optimise ad placement across various channels, aiming to find and target potential customers wherever they may be. But while these solutions promise efficiency and broader reach, they also bring challenges - particularly in terms of control and visibility.
As marketers, the push towards these A.I.-driven models leaves us grappling with a lack of insight into exactly where ads are being placed and how individual channels are performing.
This can feel like a leap of faith, especially for those accustomed to hands-on campaign management. The sceptics among us might even question whether these platforms are designed more for the tech giants' benefit than for the advertisers.
And as we’re pushed ever-further in this direction, it’s worth remembering that the effectiveness of these A.I. models heavily rely on the volume and quality of data they're fed.
With increasing restrictions on cookie tracking, there's a valid concern that these algorithms might not have access to the robust data they need, especially for smaller businesses that naturally generate less data.
This could lead to less effective targeting and wasted ad spend.
Make sure your tracking is on-point: Ensure your tracking setup is as robust as possible. Utilise first-party data and make sure you're compliant with privacy regulations while gathering as much useful data as you can. This will feed the A.I. and machine learning models with quality information, making your campaigns more effective.
Be cautious of data-driven solutions if you’re a small business: Monitor your campaigns closely and be prepared to adjust if you're not seeing the expected performance. Remember, these models improve with more data, so as your traffic and conversions grow, the A.I.'s effectiveness should too.
Take a balanced and holistic approach: While embracing A.I. and automation, don't abandon the fundamentals of good marketing. Use these tools as part of a balanced strategy, combining automated targeting with your own insights and experience. Keep testing and learning to understand how best to leverage these platforms for your specific needs.
Keep up to date: The landscape is changing rapidly, and today's challenges might be tomorrow's old news. Stay informed about developments in A.I., privacy regulations, and digital marketing. Be prepared to adapt your strategies as new information and tools become available.
A.I. is helping to make your marketing efforts more persuasive than ever by enabling marketers to create better and more relevant content. Improved copy and imagery, automated personalisation elements, and dynamic pricing at scale are revolutionising the game.
Tools like ChatGPT and Jasper can help you to fine-tune your written content. Design platforms like Canva offer A.I.-enhanced design assistance, while platforms like AdCreative.ai help you to create and test new visual creatives at scale.
Video translation services like HeyGen can convert your new and existing videos into other languages, with the original presenter’s face and voice. This is super useful if you’re thinking about international expansion and improving the conversion potential of your content overseas.
With increasing restrictions coming from Apple’s iOS updates and other browsers reducing the effectiveness of the third-party cookie in advertising in recent years, 2024 looks set to be the year that it all ends.
Google will start testing their new Privacy Sandbox solution in Chrome from January and it’s expected to be rolled-out to all users by the end of the year.
As the effectiveness of the third-party cookie wanes this year, brands must pivot towards first-party data, contextual targeting, understanding owned channels, and other privacy-proofed solutions to enable continued growth and success.
Transparency and trust are the new currencies in this post-cookie landscape. Embrace consent-based marketing, invest in CRM systems, and explore partnerships with platforms who offer robust targeting capabilities without compromising user privacy.
Here are a few of our tips for continued success as we move through 2024 and beyond.
The deprecation of third-party cookies makes your first-party data even more important. Unlike its third-party counterpart, first-party data is collected directly from your audience - offering richer insights and a more robust foundation for personalisation.
Focus on building direct relationships with your customers, encouraging email sign-ups and interactions that yield valuable data. Also use this opportunity to review your CRM capabilities, join together data silos, and maximise your ability to leverage first-party data effectively.
Solutions like Google's Enhanced Conversions and Meta's Conversions API are becoming indispensable.
These tools enable you to send hashed first-party conversion data from your website to the respective platforms for more accurate attribution and optimisation.
They represent a bridge between the accuracy of past cookie-based tracking and the more privacy-focused future.
With third-party cookies becoming relics of the past, thematic and contextual marketing are taking centre stage.
Rather than relying on pervasive tracking, marketers should consider shifting towards targeting strategies that align ads with the content or theme of the placement in which they’re displayed.
To make this approach a success, it’s important to have a deep understanding of your customer and your product, to match them to the correct placements.
In a world where third-party data becomes scarce, your owned channels – your website, email, and organic content – become your bastions of customer connection and data collection.
Investing in content marketing and SEO will ensure that you’re providing more cookie-agnostic opportunities for your brand to be discovered by your target customers.”
Investing in content marketing and eCommerce-focused SEO will ensure that you’re providing more cookie-agnostic opportunities for your brand to be discovered by your target customers. Stay on top of 2024's SEO trends and understand how content can work for you.
Balance this with data gathering opportunities like valuable gated content and interactive tools that provide both value to the user and data to the marketer.
As privacy becomes a paramount concern for consumers, marketers must get used to working in this new environment. Part of that involves working with platforms that respect and protect user data.
GA4 is much better equipped for the post-cookie world than its predecessor, even if many of us might still be struggling to get to grips with its nuances. Platforms like this rely on first-party cookies and come equipped with advanced predictive analytics that try to fill the gaps in the data we can see.
So, if you’re still burying your head in the sand with GA4 - now’s the time to deepen your knowledge and make the most of it.
As the tracking of individual user journeys becomes more difficult, incrementality testing is gaining importance. An incremental approach helps us to understand the true impact of our marketing efforts by comparing the results of a targeted group against a control group.
It's a powerful way to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns beyond direct tracking methods. Consider reintroducing geographical split testing or similar traditional methods of testing - the likes of which we used to rely on before the days of big data!
As our ability to collect data becomes increasingly challenging, as does our ability to attribute value across the customer journey.
Where enough data exists, we need to lean on predictive modelling and analytics to plug the gaps in tracked data. But you might find, particularly if you’re a small business, that the numbers just never add up.
Focus back on your strategy. Gather what insights you can, and build a plan that focuses on those.”
This year might just be the year that you stop looking for absolute perfection in your tracking and attribution. Sure - make sure your setup’s as good as it can be. But also remember that it will never be perfect. Absolute truth in analytics does not exist - so don’t tie yourself in knots chasing it.
At the end of the day, we need to take all the figures we look at with a pinch of salt. Take a balanced, blended and holistic view of performance.
Acknowledge where the gaps exist and account for them. Focus back on your strategy. Gather what insights you can, and build a plan that focuses on those.
Use the data that you can see to help judge performance but be wary of looking for gospel truth.
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