Image credit: PublicDomainPictures
With each new year comes new digital marketing and technological possibilities.
Things change so quickly in the digital sphere that it’s only when we look back to, say, five years ago, that we realize how drastically things have changed under our noses.
And while this pace is exciting for consumers, it’s both exciting and pressure-inducing for digital marketers, because they need to keep up.
After all, that strategy you ran with for your 2017 campaign might have been very successful, but that doesn’t mean it will get you anywhere in 2019.
If you want to continue getting the results you want, you need to look ahead and gauge which way the winds are blowing.
To that end, we’re going to look at 10 transformational trends that are already affecting the digital marketing industry and will continue to exert their influence in 2019. Let’s begin.
The term customer success has picked up some buzz in recent years.
Though it’s taken a while for everyone to get to grips with what it actually means (and what renders it distinct from other methodologies).
If customer satisfaction is the traditional goal of customer service, and customer happiness is one step beyond that, customer success is the logical continuation.
Customer success isn’t about simply leaving the customer satisfied with their experience, or even leaving them happy with it.
It’s about doing both of those things while finding as many ways as possible to ensure that the customer gets as much value from the experience as possible.
Imagine that you ran an ice-cream stand and assumed that you only needed to fulfill your orders in a satisfactory way — that your ice-cream only had to be adequate.
Your customers wouldn’t be unhappy, but they wouldn’t be impressed.
They wouldn’t recommend you.
But what if you exceeded their expectations with a delicious product, a huge range of options, and the friendliest service in town?
Then they’d remember you, be eager to return, and want to tell all their friends about you. That’s the power of customer success.
Social Media Advertising
As quickly as old PPC methods lose their potency, new ones come along to revitalize the industry, and social media advertising will continue to flourish in the next year.
What’s so powerful about digital ads running through social media is that they reach people when they’re most engaged (browsing through their feeds) and can take advantage of remarkable data-driven targeting possibilities.
Look at how broad the parameters of Facebook’s ad platform are: you can get very granular, targeting people who’ve liked specific pages or who work in certain industries.
Then consider how platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are changing what online ads look like.
You now have the option to pursue influencer marketing, embracing ads that are more freeform and capable of reaching huge and hyper-relevant follower bases.
In 2019, more businesses will begin experimenting with more varied forms of digital advertising, devising omnichannel campaigns that can reach potential customers anywhere.
Expect all the major social media platforms to see major PPC boosts soon.
Image credit: Instagram Business
Corporations displaying their ethical codes might not be new, but it has never before held such significance.
While social media came along and started humanizing brands, younger generations were entering adulthood with major environmental and political concerns.
This combination led to previously-guarded companies needing to open up about their practices.
Today, a business that doesn’t want to fall victim to a social media firestorm must operate with a solid level of transparency.
Admitting its flaws, showing humanity, and avoiding acting in clearly-unscrupulous ways. Does this mean a corporation can’t get away with being secretive and standoffish?
Well, no — if you have enough money, you certainly can. But for most companies, there’s more value in courting support from the ethically-minded.
When Instagram launched IGTV earlier this year, it was continuing a trend that had already been gathering momentum for a while.
Now that the smartphone is easily capable of recording and playing back HD video, and internet infrastructure (in the Western world, at least) is quite robust, any business that feels like it can start providing live video content.
Why would they want to? Well, there are various reasons. Live video is cheap to provide, requiring no editing and no impressive production values.
It feels honest, real and vibrant in a way that recorded content rarely can. It also allows for excellent engagement with customers, clients, and anyone interested in knowing more.
You can shoot a behind-the-scenes video about the inner workings of your business for almost no money and win a lot of goodwill as a result.
Since its inception, online retail has been very disconnected and mechanical. You go online, search through products, pick out what you want, and order it.
No interaction required, but also no interaction readily available. You might as well be rummaging around an uninhabited warehouse.
What happens if you get lost? If you can’t figure out the way, you’re likely to leave.
Conversational commerce is all about finding ways to reproduce the supportive atmosphere of brick-and-mortar retail in the online world.
Instead of having conversations with store assistants, you have exchanges with smart chatbots that can point you in the right direction.
Instead of getting a call from your favorite store about a new product being in stock, you can get a Facebook Messenger notification from a store chatbot.
In 2019, due to improving payment and natural language processing (NLP) systems and greater experimentation from big brands, expect to see commerce get much more conversational.
If you buy a lot of furniture, you might not be a huge fan of online shopping. You can’t quite tell how big something is or how it will look in your home (or workplace).
You can’t touch the material, gauge the real-world color, or feel the weight.
There’s a big experiential gap between brick-and-mortar retail and online retail that causes some significant problems.
Through AR apps and websites, though, it’s become possible to narrow that gap.
IKEA’s Place app allows you to preview an item in your chosen environment, automatically scaling it to an appropriate size and giving you a reasonable (though far from realistic) visual approximation with which you can more accurately judge your interest.
More and more companies offering products will provide AR options in 2019.
Twitch has cornered the market in the unexpectedly-lucrative market of video game streaming.
Subscribers either deal with Twitch ads while watching their favorite channels or pay monthly subscription fees to have those ads removed and gain some other minor benefits.
And with internet video consumption now overtaking TV content consumption, it seems like a matter of time before conventional TV programming is fully obsolete.
As such, TV marketers looking for new avenues would be wise to look to Twitch.
Not only can content be targeted with just as much accuracy, but it can be much more directly actionable (instead of someone seeing an ad on TV and whipping out their phone to visit a URL, they can just click on a link and head straight there).
There’s also the value of channel endorsement: find a suitable channel and supply it with products to use on the stream, and get publicity that way.
Efficient Content Production
There’s no shortage of content online, yet there’s always room for more. People search insatiably for new high-quality bloggers and influencers, and they can now afford to be much more selective about their choices.
Anyone who wants to make the most of content marketing faces a major challenge. How can they keep up with the demand while maintaining quality?
There are podcasts (very fertile ground now, and useful for research), infographics, edited videos, live videos, blogs, articles, guides, courses, ebooks, stories, and numerous other formats to choose from.
A resulting trend is a big move towards making content production more efficient through creating content that can be adapted to different formats.
Here’s an example: suppose you have a high-quality blog that you want to get optimal mileage from, but you can only promote that specific piece so much.
What can you do? Well, you can convert it to different formats.
You can read it out and expand upon it slightly for a podcast, have a camera running for a video tutorial, condense the copy and images into an ebook, or turn the underlying theme into some kind of UGC contest for your followers.
The days of the desktop Google bar being dominant have come to an end, supplanted by this era of diversified search.
If you want to know about something, you can type it in on deskto, laptop or smartphone, use voice search, use image search, or even use contextual search (something that is now common on smartphones, automatically picking out page elements you might want to research).
To adapt, digital marketers must understand how the content they produce is going to be analyzed and parsed in the future.
It’s no longer adequate to cater to readers and search engine crawlers for SEO.
You now must also optimize for voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, and ensure that the content is available through numerous channels.
And when you’re trying to reach prospective customers, you need to be aware of the various ways in which they might be able to find you.
Old SEO methods led to companies producing countless pages featuring many keywords but not that much content.
Google has cracked down on this, but the idea of doing isolated pieces of content on an ad-hoc basis to target specific keywords persisted and still persists.
There are plenty of marketers who continue to dole out piecemeal content.
But what the more forward-thinking companies have realized now is that the content hub model — that of creating a hierarchy of interconnected resources pages instead of treating them as distinct — is a better way to approach SEO.
Some companies have done this very effectively by producing comprehensive high-level topic pages and fleshing them out with relevant internal links.
If you want to rank for a particular thing in 2019, start by creating a vast hub page, and then add to it with supplementary links over time.
There you have it: 10 digital marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2019 as they change the industry. How different will things be as we enter into 2020? Only time will tell.
Kayleigh Alexandra writes all about the entrepreneurial tips and hacks for Micro Startups, a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Stop by to read about the latest developments in the startup world, and take a moment to follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.
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