The marketing world moves quickly: just as soon as you think you’re on top of it, the ground shifts beneath you and you’re flailing about trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. As a consequence, the best marketer has one eye on the present and another on the future — looking ahead to predict what might changes and advances might lurk just over the horizon.
And given how drastically technology in the field of consumer electronics has progressed in the last few years, anyone paying attention is fully aware of the opportunities out there for forward-thinking marketers to get ahead of the game. Here are 6 marketing trends you can expect in 2019, and some ideas for how you can use them:
Live video becoming more popular
The days of carefully-contrived business materials aren’t over, but they’re certainly under threat from generations of consumers who prize transparency and honesty over slick production skills — this is a net positive in general, because any brand with personality to spare will benefit from taking a more sincere approach.
Couple this with the ease and affordability of streaming high-quality video (you can get it done with an average smartphone and a solid internet connection) and you have a recipe for endearing behind-the-scenes content that’s perfect for blurring the line between corporation and influencer. Live video is unfiltered, requires no production values, and has a humanizing effect for a business.
In 2019, more businesses will feel bold enough to give it a try. To get involved, I suggest starting with Facebook live: you can show aspects of your business, or even just talk to people and earn brand recognition in a social way (the more people trust you, the better). You can also consider platforms such as Instagram’s IGTV or Amazon’s Twitch.
Brands being creative with AR technology
Now that almost everyone carries around a smartphone with a 3D-capable processor and a decent camera, AR apps are extremely accessible, and thus hugely valuable to retailers who can develop interesting and creative AR projects at fairly low cost.
If you have a new product to sell, you can develop a promotional app with a novelty feature, or even partner with an existing app (paying to have a particular type of filter added to Snapchat, for instance). When people play around with that AR feature, they’ll be reminded of the product — but you can be much more complex than that.
Ecommerce sellers are getting good at using AR-compatible content — 360-degree video, rotatable 3D imagery, real-world preview models — to overcome the trust gap endemic to online retail (when you can’t physically interact with a product, it’s harder to trust it). And the more popular it gets, the more the costs come down. If you sell any non-comestible products, it would be advisable to start investing in 3D preview scans.
SEO teams using topic clusters
Content marketing is a tough field, because it must always contend with Google’s ever-shifting algorithm — something that works one day won’t work the next, and it’s often unclear why. In general, though, we’re steadily seeing an alignment between what works for rankings and what works for searchers, which is a good thing.
To that end, a smart content marketer today won’t aim for scattered keyword-rich pages built to game Google’s systems: they’ll build content clusters, consisting of primary topic pages that branch out to linked pages. Think about the Wiki model of related sections. You could have a main SEO page, for instance, and link out to copywriting, PPC, influencer marketing, etc.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the name, Hubspot is going a great job of this, broadly adopting this model to great success. It meets SEO criteria without overloading pages, so try it yourself. Consider how you might rework your content (on your blog, most likely) to have some core pages that branch out to more specific topics.
Sellers embracing omnichannel retail
There are too many digital marketing platforms out there for any sensible brand to get myopic with their ambitions. If you market exclusively to a Facebook audience, you might miss opportunities on Twitter, or Pinterest, or in messenger applications. Omnichannel retail is all about being everywhere relevant at the right times.
This used to be much harder, but the advent of widespread platform integrations (and the rise in automation options) is making it easier to deal with traffic across so many channels. Sellers can configure systems to automatically share their content across all major forms of social media, adjusting images and text descriptions as required.
And this even extends to the point of sale. One-click ordering made the checkout process faster, but now that it’s possible to sell directly through messaging apps (often using chatbots), it’s difficult to justify leaving that option on the table. Think about how you reach your target audience at the moment — are you making the most of your opportunities?
Voice search rising in the ranks
Amazon’s Alexa was a trendsetter, and that particular trend doesn’t seem likely to stop for some time. Along with other systems such as Google’s Home, it is changing the ways in which people use the internet — instead of tapping away on their smartphones, they can simply talk to their systems and have their natural-language queries interpreted and actioned.
It’s far from perfect at this point, of course. It’s still quite commonplace for a query to be misunderstood or rejected entirely, and a lot of online content simply isn’t formatted for voice search: but that’s why marketers need to be aware of this trend, because they’re going to need to keep it in mind for their content production work.
If you want to be cited in response to voice searches, for instance, you’ll need to cater your content to featured snippets: the chunks of site-sourced data that Google provides first on its SERPs whenever possible (thus saving time). If you can optimize your content, you’ll have a chance of winning featured snippets concerning hotly-contested terms for which you’d never be able to top the organic rankings.
Social media advertising budgets getting bigger
PPC advertising is still a very tempting option for businesses of all kinds. It scales up quickly, it’s very customizable, and the CPC model makes it possible to ensure that you only pay when your ads actually earn clicks. That said, older forms of PPC are going through a tough time — people are less likely to click on Google Ads, and any ads of that kind through internet browsers.
Social media advertising, though, has a lot going for it, and it’s only going to get bigger. Let’s review the possibilities: you can include not just images but also videos with sound, be much more creative with colors and formats, and target very niche audiences using the rich profile information available through social media accounts.
And since most people access social media networks through mobile apps, it’s much harder for them to block ads, allowing them to operate much more effectively. Businesses that are currently investing heavily in Google Ads might want to shift some budget towards Facebook Ads in the coming year — and you should follow suit.
2019 is going to be a very interesting year. We’re likely to see social media continue to rise in value for business purposes, content marketing strategies move with the times, and brands search for creative new ways to reach their target customers. Think carefully about these trends — how can you move your business in the right direction?