Every year, there are new developments in digital marketing that offer opportunities for both marketers and consumers. Advances like artificial intelligence, chatbots, voice search, social media stories and video have caused a massive shift in how brands connect to consumers online. These shifts are enabling more personalized interactions, automated marketing, and better experiences for all. Here are six digital marketing trends we expect to see more of in 2019.
“I envision some years from now that most search queries will be answered without you actually asking. It'll just know this is something that you're going to want to see.” — Ray Kurzweil
AI is transforming the marketing landscape right in front of our eyes. Tools once only available to the largest of companies are becoming accessible and affordable to medium and small businesses, helping brands enhance almost every aspect of a customer’s journey. Across all platforms, AI is making an impact, taking care of time-consuming analytical work and freeing up marketers to spend more time on strategy, brand messaging and creative tasks.
Artificial Intelligence uses data and machine learning to create highly personalized consumer experiences, automate media buying and bidding, create content, and deliver real-time customer insights. It also makes data-driven decisions in real time that humans cannot do as efficiently at scale. What this means for marketers is specifically tailored ads and experiences created in real time for the customer – whether it’s using responsive search ads in Google, LinkedIn’s dynamic ads or automated bidding strategies for PPC – ultimately delivering a higher return on investment for businesses.
"It's the businesses that adopt AI-powered attribution tools that will have a leg up on the competition this year.” — Carl Schmidt
Artificial intelligence is especially good at responsibilities involving data, and repetitive tasks and businesses should take advantage of AI wherever applicable. This allows marketers to spend less time on tasks that can be automated to devote more time to other important tasks that machines cannot do, such as customer outreach, qualitative research, and innovation. AI allows marketers to spend more time creating a deeper connection to their customers, creating ads that resonate with their prospective clients and spend time innovating their products or services to create more value for the end consumer.
Related Article: Google's Responsive Search Ads: Everything You Need to Know
"By 2020, there will be almost a million minutes of video per second crossing the internet.” —Cisco
Video rules today’s digital marketing landscape. The importance of video marketing is not a new trend, but the ways consumers watch and interact with video continues to evolve. 360-degree video, live video and over the top (OTT) video are unveiling multiple paths to connect to customers and rise above the competition. In fact:
Creating videos, specific for audience interest, increases shareability by 83% (HubSpot).
Live and 360-degree video are both proving to be unique and interactive ways to boost brand awareness and connect with your current, past and potential customers. In fact, viewers will watch a live video approximately three times longer than pre-recorded one (Social Media Today), and 360-degree video is proving to be an interactive experience that can drive higher purchase intent by showing consumers a unique story (IPG’s Magna and Media Lab). Both live and 360-degree video immerse your audience members in an experience, allowing your brand to show them why you are what they’re looking for.
As cord cutting continues to accelerate, more people are consuming TV on their phones and/or computers with services such as YouTube TV, Amazon Prime, Roku, Hulu and more. Over the Top (OTT) advertising presents a modern-day vehicle to get in front of your audience as they cut the cord. OTT for advertisers offers superior reach and targeting capabilities to its counterpart – traditional television commercials. With streaming television expecting to reach 190 million in 2019 (e-marketer), the trend is clear.
Whether on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, or other online channels, video is being watched, interacted with and influencing customer decisions regularly. But because there is so much out there, just offering content in a video format is not good enough – video must always be valuable to the consumer. A video that is shareable, optimized for mobile, and findable by your target audience is critical.
In fact, according to Ascend2’s State of Content Marketing, 64% of marketers see a video as the most challenging content to create. But given the receptivity of audiences, developing strong video content is well worth the investment.
“20% of people will read the text on a page, but 80% of people will watch a video.” (HubSpot)
According to Pew Research Center, 77% of adults own a smartphone in the U.S, and Statista predicts the number of smartphone users worldwide will reach 2.87 billion this year. The rise of smart phone usage for shopping, entertainment, and utility continues to rise—and the way consumers use them continues to evolve—which means marketers need to evolve with them. In fact:
Given these overwhelming statistics, marketers must optimize for mobile usage, making sure all of our content and ads look good to the user from their devices. When optimizing for mobile consumption, another thing to look at is site speed. Consumers want speed, so websites need to load fast to avoid losing potential customers. According to Ominicore, mobile sites that load in five seconds or less will result in a viewing session that’s 70% longer than their slower counterparts.
How your content, website, and digital ads stick out needs to be top priority when it comes to mobile. When using their smart phones to scroll through social media, watch videos, or search for services on Google, consumers are scrolling at a speed much faster than they would on a laptop or desktop computer; the key is to grab the consumer’s attention so they don’t swipe or scroll right past you. For videos, the first three seconds are the most critical in grabbing the attention of your audience; for content, the title and first few sentences need to be compelling; and for images, it’s imperative they are device-responsive so that they do not get cut off or cause friction for the consumer, no matter the type of smart phone they are using. In summary: it is more important than ever to creating eye-grabbing marketing content for smartphones.
For most businesses, the mobile audience is the most important audience. Although mobile consumption statistics are staggering, the way people use them is even more so. Most notably, mobile devices are heavily used while in stores, to get directions, to make purchases, and to make calls, especially in emergencies. It goes without saying that creating content and ads around how consumers use their mobile device can benefit your marketing strategy: optimizing for a seamless mobile experience that ensures information is readily available and digestible for your audience, is key. The reward is increased sales and customer retention.
In December 2018, there were a reported 119 million smart speakers (Amazon Alexa, Google home, etc.) in U.S. households. This was a 77% increase from December 2017. Of those households, 52% have more than one smart speaker (Statista).
Voice search and voice assistants are becoming integrated in everyday life, training consumers to shout out their needs in order to find a solution in real time. The technology that supports smart speakers continues to get better: Google Home, for example, now has 95% word accuracy. These devices are changing the way consumers search for products and services, so it’s imperative that marketers meet them where they search.
With search queries evolving from text to voice, requests are longer and more conversational. Therefore, your website content needs to mimic the way people talk if we you want your business to be the solution to questions like, “Alexa, what is the best nursing home in Buffalo, New York?” or “I need a Buffalo roofing repair company.”
As the way we search for information and connections continues to evolve, it is essential to focus on the customer and how they interact with different voice assistants, as their searches will differ from device to device. Brand awareness, of course, is also important when it comes to creating avenues for customers to interact with your brand from voice and will prove to be beneficial in your overall voice search marketing strategy.
Related article: The Future Of Search Engine Marketing
In 2018, the use of chatbots grew exponentially, and 2019 will be no different. Although chatbots are typically known for customer service, they are proving to be a communication channel that drives leads, sales and engagement. Chatbots provide an opportunity to respond to potential and current customers around the clock, perform outreach, and personalize brand messaging. These automation tools help minimize inefficiencies, increasing productivity with no need for an employee around-the-clock.
Chatbot growth is staggering, and the acceptance of them by users is growing. In fact, a study by Humanity In The Machine found that 63% of people would now consider messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a business or brand. Facebook also notes that 2 billion messages are sent between businesses and people monthly, and 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses they can message.
This shows us that customers want another avenue for communication in addition to phone calls, emails or face-to-face interaction. The best place to begin using a chat or messenger bot is Facebook or on your website. For example, your business can set up a Facebook Messenger bot that will quickly and directly reply to a customer when they interact with your ad to provide them with more information, answer a question, or refer them to a piece of content on your website that may help solve their problem. This can happen 24/7, in real time—saving you time and money while increasing sales.
In a world where consumers want instant responses and 24/7 shopping, a chatbot strategy can increase your company’s brand awareness and loyalty and improve sales. Whether using chatbots for customer service, to answer potential customer questions, or drive awareness, they’re smart tools to incorporate into your marketing strategy.
Social media stories exploded in popularity on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook over the last year – LinkedIn is even testing out its own version of stories. The “stories” format offers an incredibly visual, authentic way to connect with your followers. They disappear after 24 hours for all platforms except for YouTube which lasts for 7 days, creating a raw, in-the-moment content space for you to experiment and have fun while engaging with your audiences. This is a great opportunity to build trust and relationships with followers on a more personal level.
Consulting firm Block Party found that content sharing via stories is growing 15x faster than feed-based sharing, which means that stories present a great opportunity for brands to enhance word-of-mouth . And, with favorite third-party apps like Soundcloud, Spotify and GoPro now being incorporated into Facebook and Instagram stories, we are sure to see this platform grow even further.
The biggest differences between stories and feed-based content is that feed content is permanent, whereas stories disappear after 24 hours (with the exception of YouTube). Approaching a strategy for creating story content is going to differ from that of your feed. For stories—whether sharing pictures or videos—it is best to post spontaneous, behind-the-scenes content. For example, you could provide viewers with a look into the everyday of your employees, a sneak peek at a new product or service, fun polls and questions, quick interviews with clients, special discounts, or sales offers. As social media stories explode, businesses need to create content and ads utilizing the story platform.
Last year, a lot of new features, tools, and opportunities came into their own. This year, be sure to integrate these new trends into your marketing plan and explore what they can do for you. Whether it’s using AI to increase your ad relevance; using video to increase landing page conversions; optimizing your content for mobile consumption; using chatbots to improve customer retention; or using stories to improve engagement, leveraging these six digital marketing trends can open your brand up to new opportunities and help increase your ROI in 2019.
So, which digital marketing trends will you try in this year?
If you're looking for help implementing these trends in your plan, schedule a free consultation with us here. We 'd love to help!