8 Emerging E-commerce Trends Marketing Experts Are Excited About

Trends come and go like the ebb and flow of a tide. It seems like with each new quarter we see e-commerce trends on the horizon that might have a massive impact on various industries. Companies that can spot these trends before they hit the mainstream can capitalize on their new knowledge. Because of how quickly trends can gain traction, a company that can prepare or pivot into a trend before everyone else can see a lot of engagement from their core audience. However, the key is figuring out which trends are the exciting ones.

AdAge Collective

In particular, e-commerce trends can be particularly fickle. Emerging trends, the ones that haven’t reached critical mass yet, are the ones that businesses should spend their focus on. An emerging e-commerce trend, if caught on the rise, can catapult a company’s popularity. When you find the most exciting emerging trends, you’re almost guaranteed to be the talk of the town.

These eight entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have become quite adept at spotting emerging trends and picking out the most exciting ones from the bunch. We asked them about the most recent emerging trends in e-commerce that we should be aware of. Their responses are below.

1. COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator
A trend I noticed is COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator. Huge brands had to dive into the direct-to-consumer (DTC) playbook. Mega-retailers being “forced” into e-tailing now are finding they can activate customers at mega-scale via video ads, gaining positive attribution analytics leading to redistribution of and more sales productivity for their marketing spend. – Sean Cunningham, VAB

2. Personalization improving the online shopping experience
E-commerce personalization will improve the online shopping experience. Customers want to feel cared for, especially when they are looking for a particular product. Algorithms can assist with making webpages, emails and even advertisements more personal. When the algorithms are properly trained, then businesses can use them to win over customers. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

3. Exponential growth of online grocery and last mile delivery
The greatest e-commerce impact of COVID-19 is the exponential growth in online grocery and last mile delivery. Consumer volume increased as advertising opportunities for brands beyond perishables have expanded. Now beauty, alcohol, OTC and other center-aisle categories must build strategies for “the third shelf.” – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Shopify’s integration with the Walmart Marketplace
Shopify’s integration into the Walmart Marketplace is big news. This sets up a positive network effect for Walmart, Shopify and Shopify’s sellers — more audience for Shopify and its sellers, more product diversity and revenue for Walmart to compete with Amazon. By linking advertising closely with demand, this will make the Walmart advertising platform more powerful for some advertisers. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. ML and AI for customer service increasing velocity
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service will help increase e-commerce velocity. Customer service is often an underfunded necessary evil for e-commerce brands, particularly when a burst of operational issues inevitably arise. Resolving customer challenges at scale keeps customers coming back because customers want to talk to “someone” who can resolve issues in real time. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. The rise of the curbside delivery concept
The game has changed completely for businesses that rely on in-person activity for revenue, such as restaurants, bars and events. The concept of “curbside delivery” has opened up new possibilities for taking a piece of that experience away to recreate in new and different environments. The more creative a brand is, the more they can still meet customer needs regardless of our changing world. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7. Growing importance of voice search
Voice search is coming, but it’s being ignored. With the rise of virtual assistants, e-commerce has been quick to understand the implications. When a consumer can order a product by simply saying “Hey Alexa, order X,” that changes everything from the standard web and/or social search. Marketers need to understand that voice is a completely different game to SEO — adopt voice early and they’ll be ready. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8. The surge of in-home training and mindfulness platforms
An exciting trend to watch emerge has been the surge of in-home gym equipment, virtual personal trainers and mindfulness platforms which allow people to feel part of a community without having to meet in person. This is a big area of opportunity for both the consumer and the advertising industry. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

10 Aspects Of Marketing That Will Never Change

As media, technology and customer needs continue to grow and change, so too does the world of marketing. While certain marketing trends come and go, others have withstood the test of time.

AdAge Collective

The members of Ad Age Collective have studied and experienced industry trends over the course of their careers. We asked a group of them to share some aspects of marketing they believe are here to stay. Below are 10 things about marketing that are unlikely to change, and what you can learn from them.

1. Needing the right message for your audience
Marketing is essentially about getting the right message to the right audience — that will never change. What does change are the tools to do that more efficiently and effectively. Your target audience and message can change too, but you will always need to match the two. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

2. Getting the product right
Now more than ever, marketers need to perfectly fit their product or services to the customer. If it doesn’t fit, the customer will quit. Customers can discover more products than ever, they are exposed to more reviews and they are less tied to heritage brands. Before, brand awareness and messaging could cover up inadequacies, but companies and products (and sourcing) are forever exposed. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

3. Time for creativity and inspiration
Creativity and inspiration have been at the core of marketing since day one. They remain the decisive factors in driving brand success, employee engagement and memorable ideas. Leaders must take time out to foster these and not get so caught up in business. Think Don Draper at the end of Mad Men. We find a way to allow for creativity or marketing will cease to inspire its audience. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

4. The need for ideas
It might sound trite, but the most valuable product an agency (or consultancy) can offer a client was, is and always will be big, bold, business-altering, projection-crushing, trendsetting ideas. Other “aspects” of marketing will evolve or disappear. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

5. Telling stories that connect to the heart
The days of scream and tell are gone. Find that authentic story that showcases your brand’s uniqueness and feel proud of that. Now that the story is in your heart, find the best way to tell the story so it lands in the heart of your target audience. Stories have been there from the beginning of time and are eternal. Make sure your stories land on your audiences’ hearts. Have fun storytelling! – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

6. Human-to-human communication
Marketing has gone through so many iterations. Indeed, the current obsession with measuring and tactics (as seen in the rise of the discipline of “growth hacking”) has forgotten one crucial, unchanging aspect of marketing: communication. As much as you want to focus on data, don’t forget the key to successful marketing is communicating thoughtfully to the human on the receiving end of that message. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7. The use of psychology
Marketing relies on psychological concepts to make its strategies effective. FOMO, discounts, two-for-one, giveaways and many other marketing strategies are all based on influencing people’s feelings. This fundamental link between marketing and psychology will stay strong for good. What this means for leaders is that they would benefit from learning more about psychology. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. Measuring your ROI
One thing in marketing which will never and should never change is ensuring you are getting a return on investment for your marketing spend. A brand should always ensure they are not only branding, but are also growing their business with direct ROI at the same time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. The human imagination
So much has been automated and made efficient over the past two decades of marketing innovation. We now have great tools to eliminate the need for routine strategies and tasks that sucked up our time and money. What will never be automated is the human imagination. What we need now and always are powerful ideas. Ideas drive the purpose and possibilities we need to thrive as a culture and industry. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

10. Authenticity
The one thing that will never change is being authentic to your brand. In the last few months, we have seen campaign messaging shift, but the creative executions that resonate with consumers are the ones that stay true to their brand message. Honing in on your message and mission will help brands develop stronger connections with consumers and stakeholders. – Cathy Oh, Samsung Ads

Is That New Marketing Trend Right For Your Business? 9 Ways To Decide

Marketing is an ever-changing industry. With new trends constantly on the horizon, it’s difficult to tell which to adopt and which to ignore. Often, it simply comes down to using your best judgment about what will help you achieve your overall business goals.

To help you make this choice, we asked a panel of Ad Age Collective members what strategies they use to decide when to pursue a marketing trend or let it pass by. Their best answers are below.

Marketing Trands

1. Determine if it’s customer-centric.
An important aspect of any marketing trend is, “Does it keep my customer at the center of my strategy?” If it does, then it’s a trend worth watching. Identity resolution is a priority, and one that will continue to be so. The more you understand about your customers, the more relevant messages you can deliver. And a good starting point is using advanced analytics, such as machine learning. – Kevin Dean, Experian

2. Conduct a stress test on the trends.
Hopping on a marketing trend can do a brand more harm than good if it’s not authentic to that brand or its audiences. So conduct a stress test on each new trend against the core beliefs of the company and against the day-to-day interactions of the target audience. If your target audience is not engaging with the new platform, new idea, etc., it will come off as inauthentic. Look carefully before you leap. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

3. Understand whether your audience has ‘gotten wise’ to the trend.
It’s vitally important to be a trend connoisseur — to recognize when something has become a trend, and when your audiences’ culture begins to recognize that trend as a “tactic“ and resist it. Be early to know when your audience has gotten wise to it, then consider how to go against the grain of a trend at the right moment to help create surprise, delight, wit, freshness and shareability. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

4. Be clear on what you stand for.
If brands are clear on what they’re about, then as trends come and go, marketers know whether or not the trend makes sense for them. There is no silver bullet for building and cultivating a brand, but brands should always have a perspective about the world they live in. So, when a new trend arises, a brand with a point of view can weigh in on it, and sometimes weighing in means staying away. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

5. Start with your strategy.
When you’re approached with a new-fangled marketing trend, the key is to evaluate it against your pre-defined marketing strategy. Of course, that presumes that you’ve defined a marketing strategy and KPIs. Then it’s just a matter of assessing if the new trend can deliver against your KPIs more efficiently than your current plans. If you think so, then “test and learn” is a safe approach. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

6. Don’t chase shiny new objects for the sake of it.
Never chase a fad just because it’s the shiny new object. Always start with the basics: who is the audience, what need or problem are we solving for them, what’s the best way to communicate this message — then determine if there’s relevance. Also see what others are doing. Fast following is a proven strategy, and in many cases, there’s little benefit to being first! – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

7. Stick to the tried-and-true.
When planning a cross-channel attribution plan, be sure to stick with tried-and-true core verticals. Leave a portion for testing, which can be either untested media or new emerging platforms. If it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to report on it, remove it from the plan and move on to other emerging trends. Stick with the tried-and-true, but keep a portion of your budget for testing. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

8. Be where your consumers are.
You need to understand who your consumers are, where they are and what is relevant to them. Be careful not to chase trends just because of marketing hype or competition focus. If a channel, platform or marketing trend fits in your overall vision and strategy, build it in there! In rare cases, specific marketing trends (e.g. TikTok) require you to divert your strategy and execution. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

9. Base your decisions on audience data.
It all comes back to who your audience is and what channels they are using to get information, to communicate on and transact with. Also, how many of them are spending with each channel is important, as that will help inform how many resources the marketer needs to spend on building experiences for each of these channels. These experiences are built to reach the majority. – Raashee Gupta Erry, UPLEVEL – Digital Media Consulting