While some people are sitting down to write out their list of resolutions, us digital marketers have a different kind of new year’s list on our minds — what we need to look out for in 2019. Sure, some things will stay the same, but we all know the more likely scenario is that a lot will change. Here are the digital marketing trends you should get on your radar now so you can take on 2019 like a champ.
First, a couple no-brainers to start us off…
This summer, Recode wrote about a Zenith study that predicts in 2019, people will spend more time online than they will spend watching TV. The difference between time spent isn’t drastic (170.6 minutes each day online vs 170.3 minutes watching TV), but it’s the first time the internet has overtaken TV. We’ve already seen predictors that ad budgets are swinging from TV to online, but this little tidbit makes an even more compelling reason to take another look at how you’ve allocated next year’s budget.
According to another Zenith study, of total internet use around the world, 26% will happen on mobile, up from 19% in 2016. Another figure in the study illustrated just how much and how quickly mobile has grown. In 2019, people will spend an average of 122 minutes a day on mobile internet. In 2010, that number was just ten minutes a day. What were we doing with all that extra time?! So if mobile hasn’t been at the forefront of your strategy, 2019 is the time to give that baby a kick to the starting line.
AI + Machine Learning + Automation
Why do the work yourself when you can get someone else to do it, right? And in the case of AI, machine learning, and automation, that usually means the job can also be done faster, more efficiently, and cheaper. But don’t worry, the robots aren’t taking your job! They still need someone to push the buttons…
The Rise of Chatbots
These helpful little bots have been around for a while, but 2019 will see more and more companies relying on them, and more customers becoming comfortable talking with a non-human. Earlier this year, Drift, SurveyMonkey Audience, Salesforce, and myclever got together to create The 2018 State of Chatbots Report: How Chatbots Are Reshaping Online Experiences. From a survey of 1,000+ adults, ages 18-64, 64% of consumers said they preferred talking to a chatbot for quick communication with brands. If over half of your customers say they want something, you better give it to them. Chatbots are probably most well-known for providing a 24/7/365 open communication channel between you and your customers, but chatbots can also be used to send out mass communication and more importantly, on any occasion, make for “a more personalized and interactive user experience” as we covered in our post An Unconventional Guide to Chatbots for PPC Marketers. This excellent article from Chatbots Magazine cites a Juniper Research data point that by 2020, 85% of all interactions between a business and customer will involve a chatbot at some point in the cycle.
Easy ad creation through automation
In July, Google, at its annual keynote event, Google Marketing Live, introduced a whole host of machine learning-fueled ad capabilities that automized a ton of work for marketers. Their new responsive display ads are created by algorithms after assets are uploaded. Google says the new ad types not only save time but also extend reach since the ads can resize to fit most of the platform’s inventory, including banner ads and text ads. And if you’re a small business without the experience or time to create your own assets? No worries. Google’s algorithms have your back there. “Smart Campaigns,” is a technology that creates sample ads using information and images from a business’s website, as well as other mentions of the business across Google.
Machine learning for the right ads at the right time
Instead of spending all your time bucketing up your different audiences and pushing them down different marketing funnels, let the machines learn everything they can about a person, then automatically send that person down the funnel most likely to appeal to them. Sprinkle a little machine learning onto your ad buying, and you’ve got programmatic. As we previously stated in this article, programmatic technology allows advertisers to take everything they know about their own customers and potential customers, and deliver a unique experience at every step of the customer journey. That means automating your ad buying through real-time bidding or auctions so you can target more specific audiences. According to a study from Invesp, in 2018, programmatic will have accounted for 82% of digital display ad spending.
Speaking of the right ads at the right time, consumers already demand tailored content, and that demand will only increase in 2019. People are well aware their data, behavior, likes and preferences are being tracked and recorded, so at the very least they expect to be surprised and delighted with the ads they’re bombarded with as a result. According to a study digital marketing agency Adlucent shared in 2016—just two years ago—71% of respondents said they preferred ads tailored to their interests and shopping habits. And according to this Campaign Monitor guide for creating amazing customer experiences with insanely relevant content, some marketers see a 26% increase for open rates for personalized email campaigns, while other marketers saw a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
Marketing for the sales team
This year, we’ll see marketing teams being held more accountable for higher quality leads that sales teams can then turn into customers. Quality over quantity, if you will. An MQL vs an SQL. Sure, marketing managers can tweak and test content; track, measure, report, and revise; do their best to deliver the right message at the right time; but in their busy world, marketers will look to products that can help them do this more efficiently.
New ways to search: Voice + Visual
Text is dead! Ok, it’s not dead, but visual and voice search have sharpened their elbows in the quest for airtime. As we touched on above, artificial intelligence is getting crazy smart, and consumers are enjoying the convenience of being able to shout anything at Alexa, Siri, Google, Portal, etc. According to Comscore, 50% of searches will be done by voice by 2020. And we already know from the two companies announcing it that 20% of mobile searches on Google and 25% on Bing are voice searches. Thirty nine million Americans already own a voice-activated smart speaker, and that number will only increase (and probably soon, since they make great holiday gifts!).
Visual search allows users to find what they’re looking for using an image instead of typing keywords into a text box. Pinterest has its e-commerce focused tool, Lens, which allows users to find out where to buy something online, surface similar products, or view pinboards of related items. Google also has a Lens tool that can do a whole host of impressive things, including save contact information from a photo of a business card, give you details about a landmark or building after you upload an image of it, and serve up reviews and other details about a book from an image of the cover. Recently, Bing expanded on its visual search technology with new capabilities including Text Transcription, which allows you to quickly copy and search the text you see directly through your camera; Math Solver, which helps you solve equations simply by taking a photo; and updates to the Visual Search dialog box to make it easier to drag/drop, copy/paste, or take a photo with which to start a search.
Visual search is still pretty new for digital marketers, so here are just a couple things to keep in mind as you take a look at your roadmap for next year.
If your business is e-commerce, know that visual searchers are coming in with a pretty strong idea of what they’re looking for. Tighten up your product descriptions and provide some compelling product reviews and you could easily get someone to make a quick purchasing decision.
If your brand is big on Pinterest, or there’s untapped potential there, be sure to amp up your visual search efforts here since Pinterest’s search engine only redirects searchers to posts on Pinterest.
Video, especially live
Video has been king for the past few years, and it won’t be dethroned any time soon, especially as new capabilities like AR, 360-degree video, vertical content, Stories, shoppable, and more continue to roll out across all platforms. But in an effort not to spread yourself too thin, in 2019, focus on live video. This Livestream study found that 80% of respondents would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and Cisco estimates video will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Those two stats paired together form a pretty compelling case for your brand to prioritize live video.
Having trouble thinking up content for live video? Viewers love behind-the-scenes looks they might not otherwise get. That could include:
Interviews with partner experts or staff
A peek at a day at the office (great recruiting tool!)
Fireside chat with customers
Whatever it is, be sure it’s authentic and not too scripted. Overplanning a live video is a guaranteed way to get some eye rolls and a quick click of the “stop” button.
How marketers should proceed
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all things digital marketing in 2019. Here a few things to keep in mind as you make decisions about next year’s roadmap.
Narrow your focus. Do not try to dip your toe in every little bit of water. Decide what makes sense for your brand, audience, and strategy and stay in that lane.
Keep your audience top of mind. Just because the martech world is going buck wild for something doesn’t mean it makes sense for your audience. Do some research. Test hypotheses. Send out some surveys. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something your audience will find value in.
Assess the risk and reward. Basically, what do you want out of adopting a new trend, and how much are you willing to lose if it doesn’t catch on with your audience?
Now, here’s to 2019 being your best year yet!