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Dec 19, 2023 BY Jarrett Way Marketing

2024 Marketing Trends for Mission-Driven Organizations

Mighty Insights

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It’s the end of the year again? Already?? If you’re anything like us, you’re finalizing budgets and your annual marketing plans, and generally just getting your house in order before the start of 2024. Not to go all “Spotify Wrapped”—but it’s been quite the year in digital marketing. Some of the hits are familiar, like rapid changes in consumer privacy regulations. Others, like Artificial Intelligence, are topping the charts and sweeping the industry.

As the marketing landscape continues to transform year after year, we’re here to make sense of the trends as they relate to mission-driven organizations. Here are our insights for 2024, and what you should be paying attention to as a mission-driven marketer.

Artificial Intelligence

Among other marketing technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely becoming more and more integral to your marketing strategy. It’s been a constant conversation this year, and it seems that everyone is rolling out some AI-enhanced product to help you do x, y, or z. At this point, we have unprecedented opportunities to incorporate this technology to further (and develop!) our strategies and objectives. You can use AI tools like ChatGPT as part of your overall organizational strategy to help with content ideation and creation.

Of course, there are plenty of implications and considerations when using this kind of technology. AI models evolve, and their outputs may change over time. Organizations should implement mechanisms for continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement of AI systems to ensure they align with ethical standards and organizational values. Above all, this technology will always—we mean, always—require human oversight to be the most optimized for your organization. In 2024, strike the balance between using AI as a tool, not a crutch.

The Challenge of Personalization

Personalization is becoming increasingly difficult due to privacy changes and the decline of cookies. For instance, Apple and other tech giants have long begun the process of eliminating IP address targeting, disrupting traditional targeting methods. So, what can mission-driven organizations do to adapt? One way to address the challenges of personalization (and as an extension, attribution) is to shift the focus toward what are often labeled “vanity metrics” in brand marketing, such as impressions. While user-specific metrics like conversions are valuable, measuring those higher-level metrics can provide a more sustainable approach, especially in paid digital marketing.

Leveraging Video Content

Short-form video content on social media platforms has continued to gain immense popularity. Video as a format offers an engaging way to connect with your audience, and short-form video can provide opportunities to increase awareness, conversions, and more. In an era where attention spans are shorter than ever, these concise and visually appealing videos are ideal for capturing the audience’s attention quickly. Mission-driven organizations, which often rely on emotional narratives to convey their purpose, can utilize short-form videos as an effective means of storytelling.

TikTok As a Search Engine

When you think of trends, it’s easy to think of TikTok. But, did you know that over 40% of Gen Z are using TikTok as a search engine? Consumers are finding information in a more interactive, engaging way through video content. If you’re a university, that means that your potential students will search for your university through TikTok to gain a better understanding of your student experience. They’ll learn about campus life, residence halls, sports programs, greek life, and everything in between. Unless you’re a dominating voice in that space, most of that learning will come from others (like influencers—but more on that later). The same is increasingly true for your donors if you’re a nonprofit, or your potential and current members if you’re an association. While unconventional, TikTok’s powerful algorithms allow for a different experience in information finding. People aren’t reading walls of text anymore—they’re experiencing nearly first-hand the things that they’re interested in learning more about.

Brand trust is non-negotiable. Not only because of how it impacts your relationship with your audiences, but because it can affect your visibility online. Google recently completed its 4th core update of 2023 to their algorithm, favoring websites that create valuable, reliable, user-first content.

Google now emphasizes E-E-A-T (Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in site rankings. This trend is expected to gain even greater significance as ‌ standards for content creation have lowered with the advent of Large Language Models (LLMs). While LLMs make it easier to generate content on topics one may not be knowledgeable about, this shift presents a dual opportunity and challenge. On one hand, organizations possessing genuine expertise and experience have a chance to distinguish themselves from others relying on boilerplate AI-generated content. On the other hand, platforms, particularly Google, are becoming more discerning about the quality of content they display. As a result, LLM-generated content that lacks depth poses a threat to long-term success.

The Rise of Ethical Marketing

Another important facet of brand trust involves how ethical your practices are. Consumers increasingly expect companies to do good in the world and take a position on current issues. In fact, 70% of consumers want to know how you’re addressing social and environmental issues. 46% of consumers pay attention to those efforts when engaging with your brand! Does your organization have values? How are they communicated? It may be time to examine the ways you show up in the world and the causes you’re aligned or associated with. Focusing on ethical marketing can strengthen your brand’s reputation and appeal to a socially conscious audience.

The Power of (Micro)-Influencers

That’s right—influencers! You may be primed to think that your nonprofit, association, university, or government agency wouldn’t have relevant use for influencers, but we’d invite you to reconsider what an influencer can be. “Influencing” doesn’t always have to be someone famous talking at a camera, creating content for you to share. There are influencers of all sizes, some working in specific spaces that you have alignment with. “Nano-influencers” (1K-10K followers) or “micro-influencers” (10K-100K followers) can be valuable allies for mission-driven organizations. They provide a low-risk approach to help you reach your objectives. These influencers have built more trust with their audiences and can offer a more authentic endorsement or partnership.

Hyper-Targeted Advertising

Selling niche products like certifications or specialized degree programs, particularly for higher education and associations, involves catering to a specialized and narrow audience demographic. Hyper-targeted advertising relies on data-driven insights and advanced targeting tools to deliver tailored content to specific groups of individuals. You may be surprised to find out how affordable some of these advertising options are! Explore cost-effective ad spaces, such as podcasting, streaming services, and platforms like Hulu, to reach your audience.

As a mission-driven organization, it can be a struggle to keep up with the constantly shifting marketing environment—and to sort our what’s most relevant for your audiences. If you can keep a pulse on these trends throughout the year, you’ll have a leg up before everyone is talking about the next big thing. Stay informed, be flexible, and continuously refine your strategies to achieve your mission and connect with your audiences effectively.

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