The marketing landscape is changing more rapidly than ever, with each new year bringing a fresh round-up of trends to stay on top of. In 2019, some of the key trends that companies will need to factor into their marketing strategies include:
Thanks to significant recent improvements in the sophisticated AI technology that powers them, chatbots have seen huge growth as a marketing tool over the past few years. According to speaker and author Jay Baer, as of 2018, 15% of American adults have used a chatbot to interact with a company (usually to perform tasks like resolving a complaint or problem, getting a more detailed answer to a specific question, making a reservation, or paying a bill). In 2019, experts agree that the influence of chatbots will continue to expand as more and more companies embrace the benefits they offer—most notably the ability to provide responsive, round-the-clock service to customers all over the world without the extra step of having to download a native app.
If video isn’t already a key part of your marketing strategy, you’ll need to work quickly to make it a priority for the year ahead. It’s hardly a secret that video’s dominance over other forms of digital content has been increasing in recent years, but even seasoned marketers might be surprised to learn that a remarkable 82% of web consumer content is expected to be video-based by the year 2020. Interestingly, this proliferation of video content is closely linked to another video trend that marketers should be aware of: an increasing focus on shorter videos, sometimes known as “snack ads,” that are less than 10 seconds long. We can expect to see much more of this bite-sized video content in 2019, as brands work to find creative ways to capture audiences’ increasingly shorter attention spans.
Will banner ads take their last gasp in 2019? Many experts seem to think so, given the extent to which interactions between brands and customers have changed since the dawn of the digital age. Today’s consumers are getting tired of the digital clutter that surrounds them, and are relying more and more on tools to help tune that clutter out. For example, according to a report from eMarketer, an estimated three in 10 Internet users were using ad blockers by the end of 2018. This means that traditional digital marketing strategies like banner ads aren’t going to cut it from here on; instead, companies will need to get creative with their content marketing and influencer marketing strategies, and find ways to offer their customers real value rather than advertising.
We’re living in a voice-activated world. With more and more consumers using voice-activated digital assistants and smart speakers like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home, companies need to get ready for a big shift in the way customers find and interact with their brand. In 2018, a BrightLocal survey of more than 1,000 US-based customers revealed that 58% of people had used a voice search to find information on local businesses within the last year. This suggests that brands need to think about how to optimize their brand for access via voice search, and work to incorporate more voice and audio content into their marketing strategies.
It might be surprising to think of transparency as a marketing trend, and yet that’s exactly what’s happening in this present moment of information saturation. Today’s consumers are hard to impress, and less likely than ever to be taken in by slick marketing pitches. Instead, they are increasingly turning to sources like online customer reviews and social media influencers to get what they perceive as more accurate and unbiased information about a company’s products and services. But rather than fighting this shift, smart brands are embracing it and adopting a transparent marketing approach that openly acknowledges (and actively seeks feedback on) faults or shortcomings. In addition, these companies are encouraging two-way communication channels with their customers, and working to build stronger relationships by addressing negative feedback directly.
Given the overwhelming dominance of digital strategies in today’s marketing landscape, it might come as a surprise to learn that there’s still room for old-fashioned tactics to make an impact. Recently, some companies have been turning away from e-mail marketing tools like HubSpot and MailChimp and instead sending print newsletters to their customers at additional expense. Interestingly, these print-based campaigns have proved highly successful at cutting through the digital noise and engaging customers on a different level. This is certainly not to suggest that brands need to abandon their digital marketing strategies altogether, simply that print and other out-of-the-box tools can still serve as a valuable complement to existing digital channels. Developing integrated campaigns that work to engage audiences in new and different ways—ways that competitors may not be considering—can help brands stand out from the crowd.