As 2018 comes to a close and we reflect on what achievements we have reached in digital marketing, the time has come to look forward to next year and forecast what lay ahead for us.
Currently we’re operating within a level of marketing that has been prophesied over for decades, now that technology has caught up with this marketing ideology. The integration of technology into everyday lives has helped facilitate marketing in the increase of sales, efficiency and experience enhancement.
Customer’s personal devices, were once considered a useful tool which marketers could also utilise in order to remain front-of-mind but now, with enough time invested, customer’s have imprinted themselves on their devices and filled them with enough unique data regarding their own personal preferences that marketers are starting to view customer mobiles, tablets, laptops as external brains.
This makes digital marketing much more valuable than what it was even 2 years ago. If marketers can tap into customer’s “external brains”, both the highly viewed space along with the accessible information, allows for more of a direct and personalised approach, this becomes a catalyst to brands actually being in the consumer’s minds.
As Kristin Lemkau, the CMO of JPMorgan Chase puts it, “You’re no longer marketing AT people. You’re influencing them in an environment where they’ve already had a chance to form a view.” Most people are well aware of when they’re being marketed to, most people have settled into a way of thinking, having the ability to reach and inform people, as opposed to projecting your brand in a general way towards them is the key.
Personalisation & Machine Learning
One of the strongest ways that digital marketing has incorporated Kristin’s marketing view is through personalisation, whether that be through content, products, emails, and so on. This is made possible through the availability of data such as purchase history, consumer behaviour and links clicked.
What seems more effective, a real-time, behaviour-based email or an influx of automated emails? For me, I feel more respected when a brand approaches me in a more understood and personal matter, and 96% of marketers believe that personalisation advances customer relationships.
Consumers have been conditioned to want and expect personalised experiences from all the businesses they interact with, thanks in part to companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify, which have established a baseline for what personalisation means. Consumers think: “If Spotify recognises me from my search history, music choices and follows my activity from mobile app to the web, why can’t my bank do the same with transactions and purchases?
Cost and technical barriers to personalisation are lower than ever, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the immensely valuable tool that is machine learning technology.
The advancement of Chatbots has them on a trajectory towards passing the Turing test. Some Chatbots have gone as far as to have spelling errors and linguistic fillers, such as “Umms” and “Ahhs”, in order to disarm online viewers and simulate online chat between two people.
By 2019 we expect chatbots to be the first place someone goes to order a pizza, choose a mobile plan, or even book a hotel room. Chatbots enable your users to do all of this without the hassle of downloading a native app.
With 1.4 billion people interacting with chatbots, 80% of savvy businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots by 2020. And by 2022, chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per annum, especially in the banking and healthcare industries.
In addition to these interfaces, we predict huge advancements in hyper personalised experiences. This will be a game changer from a user experience perspective and further streamline the path to purchase.
AR,VR and MR technologies are currently in a stage of transition between being gimmicky trends and greatly utilised mainstream tools.
According to Statista, reality technology is becoming increasingly commonplace as a marketing tool for brands, with the reality tech market currently being worth 27 billion dollars, with an expectation to be valued at over 209 Billion Dollars in a four year growth period.
Ad buyers seem to be the most receptive to the developments in reality technology, as the moment social media giants such as Facebook and Snapchat start to adopt these technologies (which they have), Advertising and Marketing is not far behind.
Studies expect video to amass 85% of total internet traffic in 2019. Further, 54% of internet users already watch video on a social media platform monthly, and that number will only grow over the coming years.
Video ads are on the rise too. 65% of ad impressions on Instagram were the result of video content, and we’re expecting that number to grow even further.
For marketers that have not already adopted video into their social media strategy, they should strongly consider making the jump in 2019 for the following reasons:
- 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video.
- 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate.
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.
- 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video.
With ever-decreasing costs of film equipment and the increasingly high-quality smartphone cameras, businesses and marketers are heading for personalised video as the weapon of choice when it comes to communicating with customers. Short and digestible videos make both communication of a message more efficient and more enjoyable.
The importance of video cannot be understated according to Hubspot. Simply adding a video to an email boosts click-through rate by a staggering 200–300 percent, and putting one on a landing page increases conversion rate by 80 percent.
Following on from general video marketing, live video is seeing a strong emergence as it creates an authentic experience, something customers are hungry for this day and age. Think ‘behind-the-scenes’ tours of your office, product demos/releases, live Q&As, etc.
Live video has been a rollout success due to its functionality across multiple social media platforms, not to mention Facebook’s algorithm has made branded content being seen organically a challenge, live streaming is becoming an important tactic for many organisation’s social media strategies.
Live broadcasting through Facebook Live or YouTube Live provides a platform for raw conversations with your customer community, in the form of new product announcements, host interviews, and live demonstrations in a broadcast to your followers. Followers can ask questions or make comments in real time, emphasising accountability and genuine two-way communication.
Next year, live video feeds will continue to explode, but the important aspect going forward will be originality. Interactive video and imaginative video marketing that encourages user engagement will quickly outpace video for the sake of moving pictures. Consumers become bored quickly — brands that use video to engage and excite users will win.
While influencer marketing has been around for about as long as social media has, the focus on local influencers has not been as prevalent until now. Unless you run a massive global brand or an e-commerce business, chances are your marketing is mostly local.
Influencer marketing has seen to yield strong results at this point and will continue to, however with the increase in average people becoming strongly aware of the corporations behind influencers, the corporate distrust grows, all the while accessibility to the internet widens.
This will greatly heighten the value of the influencer in question and the authorship that comes with them. With the pay-off being greater and the stakes being higher, it’s going to become of greater importance to know—personally—who you’re getting your content from. Individual personalities are going to make or break brands, and the value of a post can increase exponentially based on who writes or shares it.
Because people generally trust consumer opinions over corporate statements, going into 2019 it may be of greater value to ditch the celebrity endorsements in favour of real people, tapping into a dedicated community of “micro-influencers” can see a greater increase in local growth.
One of the finest examples of innovative and lateral thinking, visual search expands the horizon of future internet searches. They say a picture says a thousand words, and if you don’t have the words in the first place, having a visual search function can be of great benefit.
Not surprisingly, Pinterest has jumped on the visual search bandwagon – they came out with Lens, a new visual search tool that allows users to take a photo of an item to find out where to buy it online, search for similar products, or view pinboards of related items.
Google Lens is another example a visual search engine, which recognises objects, landmarks and other things visually through a camera app (currently only available on Pixel phones).
Imagine giving customers the ability to point their camera at one of your products and gather an instant review, or attain instant business and sales information. Visual search is the obvious next step within our current instantaneous culture.
As 93% of consumers consider visuals to be the key deciding factor in a purchasing decision, visual search engines are bound to revolutionise the retail industry. Marketers can get the edge on their competition by adopting the visual search trend in 2019.
Voice Search & Smart speakers
Currently, almost one third of the 3.5 billion searches performed on Google every day are voice searches. Smart speakers like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomePod have made waves in the consumer technology market over the past couple of years.
Going into 2019, we expect to see more ads on these platforms—after all, publications need to monetise content. Amazon, Google, and Apple may very well launch their own advertising platforms for this, making it easier for companies to buy and sell ad space. Think Adwords but for your Google Home.
According to SEOPressor; By 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches as per ComScore. This makes it important for digital marketers to optimise their websites and apps for conversational keywords rather than long-tail keywords as most of the queries of users are in natural, conversational language.
There will always be a need to identify key demographics and invest into building longterm loyal customers, but with the mentality of the modern consumer and the resulting current marketing landscape, you would be depriving yourself of immediate sales if you fail to harness the micro-moments that occur on a daily basis.
The micro-moment is a new type of consumer behaviour, which occurs when people reflexively turn to a device, usually a smartphone, to act on a need to learn, do or purchase something. According to Think with Google, consumers experience “micro-moments” on average 150 times a day. People tend to make instant decisions within these moments, which is why they are of such great value.
To take advantage of micro-moments in 2019, be where consumers search for information in the moment – such as Google, Google Maps, Amazon, YouTube, and anywhere else people search for information at a moment’s notice.
2019 will be strongly focused on providing a seamless customer experience through forms of personalisation, automation and AI-powered technology, so to stay ahead of the curve and increase conversions in the coming year, you’ll need to get better at producing custom, conversational content – particularly audio and video content – to share with your better-targeted audience.
A lot is happening in the world of marketing with respect to technologies like AI and machine learning. Marketers need to see this technology beyond its data analytics capabilities. It is time to think of this technology in terms of consumer needs and not just submit to the inflow of technological innovation.
It is understandable that change is the only constant. The trends of digital marketing will keep on changing and improving but it is undeniable that it allows for marketing to be much more optimised, refined and calculative.
Bring on 2019.