Top trends for your digital marketing agency in 2019…

So here we are in March already. 2019 is beginning to fly by. We’ve been thinking about some of the digital marketing trends that we think will continue to emerge and grow throughout the rest of this year.

Digital marketing is such a rapidly changing landscape that there may well still be a few surprises in store during 2019. But, with that caveat firmly in place here are ten of the trends to watch, and to consider incorporating into your digital marketing strategy if you have not already done so.

1. Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising digital marketing strategy. It is already being used in various areas – including customer experience, personalisation and analytics. It is proving to be a key tool in building links between the brand and the consumer.

One successful growing area of AI is the use of chatbots, which are likely to become more popular than mobile apps. They interact with humans in a more natural way – for example text chat windows – and unlike apps do not need to be downloaded or take up storage space.

Chatbots serve as a virtual curator to bring the point of sale to a consumer’s screen and assist them in completing their purchase or meeting their customer service needs. Chatbots are instrumental in enabling users to enjoy personalised and successful interactions and their use will continue to grow during 2019.

digital marketing agency demoing Augmented reality on phone

2. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is also now reaching the stage where it is being taken seriously as a marketing tool. It is already being put to use in various ways across many different sectors, and consumers seem ready and willing to use it even more. In fact, according to Gartner, 100 million people will be shopping with AR by 2020.

AR can be used for digital marketing to raise awareness, tell a story and build engagement. Many travel companies are using the immersive experience to give the consumer a vivid and realistic impression of different resorts. Other brands are finding success in promoting their products through gamification.

2019 is certainly the time to explore how AR might fit into your own digital marketing strategy.

3. PWAs (Progressive Web Apps)

Amongst all the AI and AR, there is one type of app that is still predicted to grow during 2019: PWA – Progressive Web Apps. PWAs combine the best of both worlds of a native mobile application and a mobile website. PWA content can be accessed offline because they store HTML files, CSS files and images in the browser cache.

This makes them faster to use than native apps, and they take up less space. There is currently no integrated payment facility in PWAs but this may well be added in future. But PWAs are definitely a trend to watch in 2019.

4. Voice search

Back in 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen and instead by other technologies, such as voice search. Since then, smart digital assistants such as Siri, Google, and Alexa have brought voice search capability to millions of consumers.

Along with the increase of consumer time spent on voice technology, marketers need to be ready to invest time and money in this trend. They need to optimise website descriptions to sound as good when spoken verbally as when read on screen. Content also needs to become more conversational: it needs to reflect what consumers want.

As verbal interaction with these devices continues to rise, advancements are also being made in natural language processing (NLP) which will make more complex applications possible.

5. Facebook vs Instagram

It has not been an easy few months for Facebook, but it is currently still the most popular social media platform. Interestingly however, it is now attracting more older users – the over 55’s- whilst younger people are beginning to prefer Instagram.

Instagram is one of the most rapidly growing social media platforms and now has over a billion users. Significantly, many of those users are a younger demographic: people under 30.

So when using social media marketing in 2019 it is essential to select the right platform for the market being targeted. Either way, the big trend at the moment is Stories. We explored this trend in our article How To Create A Buzz With Ephemeral Content.

There are over 400 million active Stories users every month and Stories are getting more engagement than social feeds, particularly on mobile. Brands can use Stories to share behind the scenes content, videos, polls, or any other type of ephemeral content that can also involve their followers. So Stories are a definite trend to incorporate during the rest of 2019.

digital marketing agency demoing native ads on facebook
Image source: https://gslpromotus.co.nz

6. Native advertising

Linked to social media marketing is the rise of native advertising. The increased use of ad blocking technology is reducing the effectiveness of traditional advert formats such as pop-up banners, and automatic videos.

These are being replaced with native adverts that match the look and feel of the media format in which they appear – for example social media feeds or recommended web content – and do not disrupt the user experience.

7. Transparency

Branding is evolving to become much more than just a name or a label. Today’s consumers are increasingly influenced by values and want real information about the products that they are buying. This is leading many companies to adopt greater transparency in terms of explaining more about the contents and production of their products.

It is also proving a successful marketing strategy to interact openly with customers on social media to resolve complaints. Those organisations that have embraced authenticity and transparency in different aspects of their operation are finding that consumers are then marketing on their behalf.

8. Personalisation

Content continues to be the lynchpin of digital marketing. The emphasis is still on quality but it is also essential to personalise content as much as possible. Personalisation will be more important than ever this year. Customers are increasingly expecting a great experience from brands and – despite GDPR – still seem willing to provide the required data to make that happen.

Effective use of this data in a data-driven marketing strategy is invaluable in helping brands learn more about their audience. This in turn enables you to improve customer experience by the use of personalisation and also create more effective strategies and ads to reach your desired target audience.

It is also increasingly common to run a multiple campaign rather than one large campaign, and generate numerous variants of content to dovetail with this. So for example, personalised content could target a particular age or gender or previous customers.

Personalisation is getting more advanced, and gaining a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of targeted markets and being able to tailor specific content for these markets will be a key to success in 2019 and beyond.

Digital marketing agency making a video

9. Video

The universal popularity of Youtube indicates the power of video, and this shows no signs of slowing down.

Well-produced video enables you to present not just information about your brand but also something of its personality. When you combine this with the availability of social media platforms there is the opportunity for an incredibly effective digital marketing tool. This effectiveness can also be measured by user metrics so that you can gain invaluable data on how your videos are performing.

As well as published video, there is a rapidly growing trend for live streaming. One of the key ways live streaming is currently being used successfully is when combined with influencer marketing ie with the participation of a social media influencer or well-known personality. A live stream with such an influencer – particularly if there is the ability to interact directly via comments – is a very big, high profile form of digital marketing for 2019.

Video ads are another trend to try out. According to Animoto, they are the primary way that consumers find out about a brand or product before making a purchase.

10. Visual recognition

Last but not least is the concept of visual recognition. Cookies can now be used to track consumer behaviour when interacting with images – for example shares and likes on social media. This provides insight into what products a customer likes, and can also unlock valuable information about a potential customer’s lifestyle.

So as a marketer, you can better understand the impression that an image is making on potential customers, and can also analyse the demographic details of these customers and trace their next steps on the customer journey. This in turn then enables much more precise targeting.

As we said at the beginning, life is full of surprises and there may well be other new digital marketing developments during the rest of 2019. But we feel confident that the above Ten Trends will continue to gather pace during the year, and will no doubt return to each one of the above at various stages during 2019.