No Crystal Ball, Just a Look Ahead to 2019

Staying abreast of trends in advertising and marketing will keep your brand on track for success in 2019. The further ahead you can look, the better prepared you’ll be to deal with changes and updates that come along. While many things discussed below are not new, per se, they are rapidly progressing technologies and concepts and will necessitate that brands either adapt or be left behind.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning These technologies will greatly impact marketing automation and lead generation by providing vastly improved predictive lead scoring. The software will learn as it analyzes consumer behavior data and will reduce the guessing that has, historically, been involved in the process of lead scoring. These tools will assemble information from multiple sources to predict what content might be of interest to a consumer. Now is the time to investigate whether or not your current software has a plan to incorporate such machine learning. Changing software requires significant lead time and you don’t want to be caught unprepared.

Beyond lead scoring, artificial intelligence will permeate into many different aspects of marketing and will provide increased efficiency and productivity as efforts continue to improve the user experience of customers interacting with computers. Artificial intelligence processes data in real time and allows brands to make more informed marketing decisions. This technology will give businesses a better chance of providing the right content at the right time as the software pulls multitudes of data to predict more efficiently and accurately the best target audiences.

Chatbots are the future of lead generation. The software that allows everyday businesses to incorporate bots into their 24/7 online customer service options is rapidly improving. As we move into the next year, chatbots will be more the norm – more useable and widespread. Brands are rapidly able to use chatbots to prompt interactions, answer questions, and assist customers throughout their time on a website. While the concept of bots has been around for a while, the new and improved versions benefit greatly from continuing efforts to create a more human-like experience.

Voice Search is predicted to account for half of all searches by 2020. Paired with smart speakers, this technology trend will force an increase in the amount of audio content being published and will require marketing with a more conversational tone. Business will need to anticipate longer queries in varied formats and create content that embodies and aligns with everyday language as the average person speaks it.

Social Listening utilizes tools to discover what is being said about a brand (keyword) on social media or the Internet. This technology goes beyond monitoring brand mentions as it allows an organization to respond to mentions from outside of its followers and gain insights into the general public perception of the brand. The technology can be customized to suit an individual brand’s needs making it even more worthy of research.

Semantic Search Engine Optimization Google and other search engines are learning to go beyond simply looking for the words typed into a search box. They are learning to identify the intent of a search, to understand similar phrases in order to decipher what someone really meant by the words they used. This will require brands to move past keywords and to create target pillars, or topics, and related content clusters around those topics. Consider the topic “dogs” – a search engine won’t just spit out sites that rank with “dogs”, it will try to determine what, specifically, the searcher wants to know about dogs. Your content will need to include words concerning training, food, toys, leashes, collars, grooming, veterinarians, etc. to signal to search engines that you are a broader topic expert and should be included in search results.

Augmented Reality increases customer engagement by providing an immersive brand experience. It allows businesses to engage consumers with their products or services to generate excitement and encourage better informed purchasing decisions. Customers can actually experience products before making a commitment to buy – they can be active participants in the encounter. While augmented reality offers endless marketing opportunities, there is still much work to be done in order for this technology to be more readily utilized.

Visual Search is still a limited technology. It is, essentially, the reverse of what currently happens when we type in text and receive multimedia information in return. Visual search allows a consumer to take a picture and receive text-based results of information about the image. Machines are still learning to recognize a number of things (sizes, shapes, colors, etc.) in the same way the human mind does.

Influencer Marketing The importance of influencers in digital advertising is increasing and many brands are looking to build long-term relationships with these not so formal spokespersons. Non-celebrity influencers and micro-influencers will be a continuing trend. They are effective because consumers relate more closely to them than either celebrity influencers or traditional brand advertising. In general, consumers will place their trust in others’ reviews, star-ratings, and referrals before they trust businesses. Influencers can help build a relatable brand although past misuses have necessitated some regulations that impact this strategy a bit moving forward.

User-Generated Content When brands post pictures, videos, and personal stories from their loyal customers, the content is perceived as more authentic than a traditional sales pitch. User-generated content moves beyond talking about products or services to showing actual people interacting with a brand. This type of content is engaging, provides social proof through relatable content, and will continue to grow in popularity and effectiveness.

Video will continue to attract top levels of consumer interest. By 2019, video will account for, more or less, 85% of Internet traffic. Regular video will need to be exclusively in square format to accommodate mobile users and more and more brands will find ways to incorporate video into the sales cycle. Live video of things like concerts and sporting events will increase the likelihood of a consumer investing in a similar event from the simple opportunity to experience it first online.

Native Advertising will continue to grow in popularity as it offers a gentler approach to sales versus intrusive or distracting traditional ads. We will also continue to see the impact of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and similar United States laws regarding practices for gathering, storing, and utilizing consumer data such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018 and a multitude of states’ new and/or strengthened data breach notification laws.

New legislation, consumer opinion, and developments in technology will continue to drive the ever-changing world of digital marketing. As you look ahead to 2019, know the experts at Strategy Driven Marketing can help you prepare for your next steps. Contact us today.