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Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends in 2019

It’s that time of year again, when we’re all placing bets on the hottest trends for the next year. So you know I couldn’t miss out on that. But the thing is, most trends don’t just appear out of the blue…

When we look at trends for 2019, a lot of them build on things we’ve seen and experienced over the last couple of years. In fact, if you look back at our predictions for 2017, we’re seeing a lot of momentum still on those items.

Let’s take a look at the trends that will continue to influence us and some new ones in 2019:

1). Voice Search

One word: yep. We said that was coming in 2017, and we’ve seen it continue in 2018 with no end in site for 2019. Voice search has grown as the Internet of Things (IoT) and various IoT devices continue to explode. We’ve seen Facebook and Apple enter the fray while Amazon and Google improve and expand. Whether you’re asking Alexa, Siri, or Google, you’ve seen these devices all over this year and will continue to next year. If you haven’t planned how to handle voice search, now is the time.

2). Quality Over Quantity Continues. Authenticity Wins.

Another definitely yes in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The battle for attention has increased, with no end in sight as influencers, brands (often one and the same), and everyone in-between battle for attention. It’s often a quiet battle, and we’ve seen shifts, but while the tools keep expanding and improving, getting the right information in front of the right people continues to be both a joy and a challenge.

Look for authenticity to continue to win every time.

3). Artificial Intelligence Knows You. Or wants to.

AI has expanded leaps and bounds this year in its mainstream use, with machine learning part of so many projects we can’t list them all here. Whether it’s self-driving cars learning from mistakes or powering up Amazon’s SageMaker to build a neural network quickly, AI, deep learning, and neural networks burst into the mainstream and are here to stay. That is, until they evolve. Or take over the world. You know.

Anyway, how will we see these leveraged in 2019? Some obvious wins include advanced personalization, predictive content, and expanding the use of chatbots. Many organization already employ chatbots via messenger apps or websites to improve on customer experience. No wait time, no barriers, a brand can direct visitors to the right purchase, answer questions, or help select an entire wardrobe. It’s a cost-effective way to interact and as this technology improves, it will be even more ubiquitous in 2019. The question is, will you even know if you’re chatting with a human or not? And would you care?

4). Customer Journey Continues to Evolve.

Customers don’t behave perfectly in our marketing-automation funnels, and the finely crafted content and moments we have. Of course we get as close as possible, but we’re all increasingly aware that the funnel isn’t a linear process as leads interact with branded content and create their own content across media.

We’ll continue to see this evolve in 2019 as brands better harness multiple opportunities to connect (and track data to improve those connections). Expect to see more focus, particularly in the business to consumer and direct sales arenas, on micro-moments.

Micro-Moments aren’t new. In fact Google talked about them way back in 2015 as part of a winning mobile strategy.

They’re key because of the user’s intent, and the action-oriented nature. These are the know, go, do, or buy moments. It’s when you (or better yet your customer) reaches for a device to answer a question, look up your hours, get help to do something, or make a purchase.

If you haven’t been factoring this micro-moments into your mobile strategy, now is very much the time.

5). Privacy Concerns Become Increasingly Mainstream

2017 saw the introduction of GDPR and the scramble by organizations around the world to make sense of the new regulations on personal data and privacy. We saw a lot of change, a lot of threat of change, and not as much action in the United States in terms of regulations. Many companies have already adapted to serve their global audiences.

Privacy and data policies will remain at the forefront in 2019 as consumers, companies, and governments work through the implications of data privacy and all of the pros and cons in this space. Plan for this to remain on the radar for at least the next few years.

6). Define Reality: AR, VR, and more

Augmented and virtual reality allow customers to try out spaces and feel truly immersed in an experience. To get a sense of scope, the economic impact of AR and VR is predicted to reach $29.5 billion in 2020. (I know, I know, we’re talking about 2019 here but now you have an extra sneak peek into the next year, too.)

While IKEA and Lowe’s used the technology to show you what your space could look like with new furniture or renovations, we’ve also seen other types of immersive experiences. Toms created a virtual giving trip experience, placing you in a trip to deliver shoes to school children in Peru. Now companies and non-profit organizations can show (not just tell) customers, donors and other supporters how they’re making a difference in the world.

As devices proliferate in 2019 and 2020, expect to see more of these immersive experiences.

7). Social Media Integration

Social has been on the rise for so long that some are now saying it’s stagnant, with others arguing it’s still on fire. I think it’s more complication than that: it’s evolved.

We know it’s no longer enough to be on a platform pushing out content on a regular schedule. Expect to continue to pay to build and reach a targeted audience, and to engage that audience in creation and conversation.

For brands and marketing opportunities, we expect to see live video expand as people look for authentic, unedited experiences. Look for Facebook Live and YouTube to continue to capitalize on this.

We know how much these networks know about us, and we’re still evaluating that line where privacy and data play, where people are comfortable vs. where they’re creeped out. And that line varies by country/location/culture/person. But while that’s still a work in progress, we know social media is integrated into the daily lives of most Americans and many others around the world.

We expect to see more data integration opportunities as social platforms grow and create partnerships. We also expect to see privacy concerns grow, with different actions taken in different governments, and with the platforms grappling with how to keep monetizing data while keeping services free and people engaged. Look for this tension to continue.

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