As we move into 2019, digital marketing is evolving at an ever-increasing rate, making it all the more important for us to keep our eye on the ball. This year, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and data utilisation are set to characterise how we work, alongside emerging content formats that will change the way brands connect with consumers.
Take a look at the digital marketing trends you can’t afford to ignore in 2019…
Developments in video
For years now, experts have been lauding video as the only format worth investing in, but now we’ve gone a step further to live video, which allows consumers to engage in real time and feel a more personalised connection to the brand.
2018 has also pointed to a potential move towards more long-form, episodic video content, with the launches of Facebook Watch in late 2017 and IGTV in June. No significant usage stats have as yet been released on these platforms, but it’s something to keep an eye on in 2019.
We’re only just starting to imagine the full potential of what AI could do for digital marketing. There are huge benefits to be gained in terms of increasing efficiency, reducing costs and removing the manual effort from simple, repetitive jobs.
In 2019 we expect to see more brands utilising chatbots in customer service, machine learning to determine email delivery strategies, and programmatic advertising to automate ad buying with highly specific targeting.
Going hand in hand with AI is voice search, growing in popularity due to the rise of Siri, Alexa and Google Home. As verbal interaction rises, search marketers will need to shift towards optimising content for speech rather than typed queries and focus on securing featured snippets for when a device responds verbally with one answer, rather than displaying a page of results.
E-commerce brands should also be thinking about how they can ease their buying journey with voice search; Domino’s are already ahead of the curve by allowing voice-activated ordering via Amazon Echo.
In September, Instagram rolled out product tagging on posts and Stories for Business accounts, providing a huge leap forward in social selling opportunities for brands.
We’ve also heard rumours that Instagram is creating a standalone shoppable app, IG Shopping, indicating that they may be moving further towards improving the e-commerce customer experience within the platform.
As the amount of data available to us increases, companies who don’t take steps to personalise will get left behind. Email is a great place to start with this, replacing generic sends to a whole database with timely trigger emails based on behaviour.
Online brands also need to be maximising personalisation within customer accounts, by offering features like recently viewed, related and recommended products or content.
The more personal, authentic Stories format has been around for a while now, but it’s surprising how many brands are still not considering them as a permanent part of their social strategy.
Facebook data shows that stories are growing 15 times faster than feeds, so brands need to ensure they’re considering both organic and paid opportunities in this area, whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube Reels or WhatsApp Status.
Smarter influencer marketing
From Listerine’s misjudged partnership with Scarlett London to the launch of Social Chain’s new tool claiming to identify follower fraud, influencer marketing has been put under the microscope in 2018.
It’s no longer enough to simply sign up the bloggers with the biggest follower numbers to promote your brand; in 2019 we’ll see a move towards more bespoke influencer targeting and utilisation of micro-influencers with smaller but more engaged audiences to reach the right people.
In September the ASA also released a set of guidelines requiring influencers to disclose ads. They’ve made it clear that both influencers and brands are responsible for adhering to this, so brands need to be actively encouraging collaborators to declare paid partnerships or risk backlash from both the ASA and customers.
2018 was the year of GDPR, and now the digital world is more accountable than ever for the ways it uses data. Whether it be social advertising, email lists or storage of information, you need to be regularly checking your practices to ensure you’re doing everything by the book.
It’s not just the experts who are keeping an eye out; in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, consumers are also much more protective of their personal information. So if you’re trying to engage customers by using data illegally, you risk alienating them instead.
Which digital trends are you embracing in 2019?