The digital landscape is constantly changing, adapting and becoming better than ever before with new and improved tech innovations. So what can we expect to see in 2019, and what does this mean for marketers?
We can predict that some changes will likely be brought on by social evolutions, such as the power of the influencer, and others may be purpose-made, like Artificial Intelligence or Augmented Reality. Overall, digital disruption is now the social norm. It has moved from an infrequent inconvenience to a consistent stream of advancement that is redefining marketers, brands, industries and norms.
So, without further ado, here are our 6 predicted trends for 2019...
Our 6 Predicted Digital Marketing Trends for 2019
Smart assistants or voice assistants are pieces of software that recognise speech and can perform tasks, services or enter into communication with an individual. They come in a few different forms like in your phone or tablet (Cortana, Siri) or other digital devices such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home or the Apple Home Pod, for example. Voice is a growing part of technology that aims to recognise speech. It allows users to search by speaking aloud rather than typing questions or phrases into a search engine.
Voice search technology has been around for a while, but it is becoming a more common part of our daily lives. Around 27% of us currently use voice search on mobile. This is quite impressive when you take into account that this number doesn’t even include smart home assistants.
What are the benefits?
Voice assistants aim to make life easier. Whether it’s for business or personal use, smart assistants simplify, automate, engage and optimise tasks and communication for businesses and users.
To start, voice assistants are clever - as with most smart technology, it has the ability to learn and adapt. You can enable your smart assistant to remember your favourite takeaway order, ask it about trending news stories and global updates, or even get it to play games with you. And not only will the assistant do what you ask, but it will also learn from every interaction you have with it.
But the usefulness of smart assistants goes beyond entertaining you or reminding you to pick up bread on your way back from work. It can be incredibly helpful to businesses. Voice technology can be used in a number of ways, from speeding up operations and enhancing communication to creating new experiences for customers. Even cars are aiming to make voice assistant tech commonplace in their models so that users can search and interact without using their mobiles!
How does it affect marketing?
A huge way that Voice impacts marketing efforts is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Most brands will have already optimised content to suit SEO and perfect User Experience (UX), but the popularity of voice assistants means looking over our standard SEO approach and adapting to suit a different culture of SEO. Gartner mentions that, by 2020, 30% of all searches will be done without the use of a screen… so does that mean we have to change our whole marketing strategy? Well, not exactly. According to Neil Patel, an influential marketer and entrepreneur, in order to optimise for Voice, we simply have to embrace a ‘Long Tail’ approach.
Long Tail keywords are phrases that are more specific and used less frequently than simple keywords. They basically mimic the way people speak. For example, it would be unlikely for someone to say ‘buy boots’ into their phone or smart speaker, they are far more likely to say ‘buy green football boots, size 9’. It is thought that people who use voice search will be more specific and conversational, which makes Long Tail keywords the key to SEO success.
The impact of Voice and the importance of evolving SEO strategies will be even more obvious after you have a peek at these statistics:
72% of people who own a smart speaker say that their devices are used as part of their daily routine
40% of adults claim to use voice search at least once-a-day
Voice is thought to increase by 25% in the next 5 years
So if your target audience uses Alexa, Siri or Google Home you should optimise your SEO for voice (and if not, you should still do it, just in case). Voice assistants and smart devices are becoming more present in our daily lives, and all require changes to current marketing practices and goals. Marketing is all about adapting, so now is the time to get on board.
Voice is on the minds of consumers, brands and marketers alike; it is a valuable disruptor and so it's important to add SEO for voice onto your marketing to-do list if you want to keep ahead of your competitors. Voice search presents new challenges for marketers, but also so many opportunities.
This brings us to our next predicted trend… normalising human conversations with artificial, non-human entities.
2) Artificial Intelligence (AI)
What is artificial intelligence and what has it got to do with marketing? To start off with, AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence created by computing hardware. Essentially, the hardware/machine is able to learn, make decisions based on data and to recognise speech and communicate where necessary. Take Chatbots, for example - they’re literally robots that we chat with. Thanks to continuous advancements in technology, AI is becoming more popular and more sophisticated by the day. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that AI is dominant in our every day and working lives. Its ability to learn, interpret and reason make it perfect for carrying out tasks quicker, and often more effectively, than humans. However, AI still needs that all-important human touch to perform different tasks at different levels.
Whilst AI has been around for a number of years, it is fast playing a more significant role for consumers, brands and marketers.
So what are the benefits of AI?
Take chatbots, for example. Half of the time we can’t even tell that it’s not a real human we’re talking to. AI chatbots are built to learn, adapt and rapidly absorb information in order to optimise output and mimic human responses. They are given the responsibility of connecting and communicating with consumers with the aim of cutting labour costs for companies, aiding customers with any issues, and reducing the need for marketers to waste time on menial tasks.
Most marketers are already on board with the influx of AI and recognise its ability to draw valuable insights, automate tasks, and improve workflows. Around 51% of marketers currently use AI, and around 27% adding it to their list of must-dos for 2019.
Whilst some may see AI as being too much too fast, and very iRobot-esque, many people recognise its abundant benefits.
It’s easy for companies to employ chatbots, and why wouldn’t they? Bots have a huge array of uses from resolving complaints and managing sales funnels, to ordering food and setting up appointments. Chatbots exemplify the ways in which new technological innovations are changing lives.
AI is important to our digital development as a whole, but it’s significant to marketers in particular. Take marketing automation, for example. Marketing automation does what it says on the tin - it automates repetitive marketing efforts so that you, the creative marketer, can focus on the more complex, interesting and artistic aspects of marketing life. There are a whole host of benefits with marketing automation: it reduces business costs, minimises human error and easily tracks your return on investment (ROI).
AI and marketing automation are both impressive in their combined ability to improve the user experience. Marketing automation tools have enabled marketers to identify users’ specific behaviours and therefore send behaviourally triggered notifications, such as push notifications or emails, with the right content and at the right time. This ultimately helps improve the relationship you have with your customers which, in turn, should improve their loyalty and increase their lifetime value to you.
There are plenty of marketing automation tools out there, so you might find yourself asking which one is right for you? If your strategy involves a lot of social media, then look towards products such as Hootsuite. This platform allows you to manage and schedule content from multiple social networks in one dashboard. If your strategy involves a lot more content, then Hubspot may be exactly what you need. They have packages to suit every marketing budget that will help you schedule and analyse everything from your email content and timings to your blogs. If however you are looking to automate something like your marketing segments, and integrate your marketing tools, then something like Hurree is your answer, it ensures that your customer groups and categories are always up to date depending on how your customers interact with your brand online.
It's important to note that artificial intelligence is still developing. The overall goal of AI in the workspace is to utilise your data in order to discover and implement valuable insights, on a large scale, that help humans.
3) Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR). Is that the same as VR? Surprisingly, no. AR integrates digital creations with a user’s surroundings, literally overlaying digital information on top of an individual’s existing environment. Put simply, AR is interactive CGI (computer generated imagery); combining a user’s natural environment with projected, digital images. If you’ve ever played Pokemon Go or used specific Snapchat filters, for example, you’ve experienced AR.
To some, AR may seem like a gimmick - almost cringey, as if it’s been taken from an outdated Sci-Fi film. However, the digital revolution of AR is rapidly moving from novelty entertainment to a sophisticated tool.
How is AR used in our everyday lives?
Hubspot notes that, in 2014, Pepsi installed AR technology in a bus shelter in London, making it appear as though lions, robots and UFOs were interacting with people on the high street.
Unsurprisingly, the campaign gained a huge amount of attention, displaying the effectiveness of AR and showcasing Pepsi’s playful brand personality. This is a good example of how some may see the technology as just a bit of fun, but a lot has changed since 2014. Here’s an example of how AR is being used to educate those in the medical industry and transform healthcare:
What impact will AR have on marketing?
As AR technology becomes more prominent, the likelihood of consumers accepting the concept and expecting to see it in day-to-day life will grow, and the technology will rapidly advance and become a normal part of digital promotion and interaction.
The graph above shows a huge increase in market revenue for AR in the upcoming years. There’s a stark contrast between the market size in 2016 to 2018, and then an incredible projected increase in 2022. If nothing else, this demonstrates society’s view of AR and its potential in the coming years.
Marketers can use AR to create innovative campaigns that stand out and set them ahead of their competitors. That being said, once AR technology is everywhere marketers will have to produce campaigns that are clever, innovative, creative and (potentially) shocking if they are to compete and succeed in their industries. AR proves to be a useful tool when it comes to advancing technology and society, as well as adding a little bit of extra, visual fun to marketing campaigns across the globe.
Influencers are people who have the power to affect and, as the name states, influence the thoughts and decisions of their audience. How? Because they tend to be trusted by the general public due to the ’'one-of-us’ vibe they give off. Viewers see influencers as normal people, more similar to themselves than celebrities or big brands. Influencers are typically online and social media-based. They’re important, particularly to marketers, as they hold a lot of power when it comes to persuading and advising new and large audiences.
The dominance of social media is the main reason we’ve seen a boom in influencer culture, particularly on Instagram. Whilst this is the norm for most, The Guardian mentions that some people get a kind of repetitive, empty, ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling when they see influencer content on instagram, saying that they post similar photos, in similar cities and in similar hotspots, regularly. Whether or not you enjoy influencer content is kind of irrelevant as it’s undeniable that they hold a strong place in modern day culture, marketing and promotion.
Unlike mass advertising campaigns, consumers see influencers as genuine, normal people. Meaning that the general public tend to trust social media influencers over big brand ads and corporate figures.
According to Forbes, 58% of millennials don’t like advertisements but wouldn’t mind watching them if they featured their favourite digital personalities. In the minds of many consumers, influencers aren’t trying to trick you into buying a product, they’re merely sharing their experiences and recommendations.
What are the benefits?
If you want to beat competitors, keep up with trends and reach new and exciting target markets, then why not add a little influencer culture into your marketing campaigns? If you find the right person to fit your strategy then this is sure to bring more recognition and success to your brand. However, finding the right influencer for you is hugely important.
The rising popularity of influencers in social media culture indicates that modern day marketers would be foolish to not take advantage of this growing trend. Incorporating influencers into your marketing strategy is a surefire way to engage a new audience, promote products in a new and exciting way and to organically grow your customer base.
5) Snack Videos
Before you think it, you should know that snack videos aren’t about treats. They are in fact small videos that are entertaining, educating or awareness-raising, and, typically, they are around 10 seconds long. We live in a visual culture. Take the likes of social media - the boom of Snapchat can partially be attributed to the allure of only being able to see a video or photo for a certain amount of time until it’s gone forever. TikTok videos and Instagram stories show that our culture is becoming more and more visually-oriented. As attention spans shorten, our content must become more vibrant and snappy. That’s why snack videos are a perfect match for current consumer culture.
What are the benefits?
Short, snack videos often take less time to create and publish, meaning they're often more time and cost-effective. It’s quite unlikely that viewers would get bored within 10 seconds, so it's fair to assume that a video as short as this would be memorable, easy to consume and would easily keep the viewer’s attention. As the videos are so short, content creation tends to be easier, i.e. marketers can come up with snappy 10-second subjects rather than spending a lot more time thinking up a 10-minute promotion video that could potentially lose viewers.
The sceptical nature of consumers encourages brands and companies to focus heavily on content i.e., entertainment over traditional advertising. If consumers sense that an ad is telling them what to do, or obviously pushing them towards a product, they will become disinterested (and sometimes even angry at the brand). However, if you offer a short piece of video content that's helpful, features a cute animal, offers to teach them something new or provides a quality piece of entertainment then you will undoubtedly hold their attention.
Where’s the evidence?
YouTube’s pre-roll ads and bumper ads demonstrate how the video advertising landscape is rapidly changing. As one of the most popular video sharing sites, their advertising tactics really put into perspective the dominance of short, sharp, snack videos.
According to Hubspot, for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, watching 3 seconds or more of a video counts as a video view. What’s the significance of this? Well, these factors show that the worth of the video lies in the first few seconds of viewing and that even a small amount of exposure is worthwhile.
We all know that video is a hugely important aspect of marketing. The more diverse, entertaining, informative and vibrant the content, the more engagement you can expect to see. As time goes on shorter videos are becoming more and more popular. This could be down to our shrinking attention spans, or that all social media content is very snappy. Either way, it’s a growing trend that marketers need to keep up with.
How do we get on board?
The answer is simple - to retain your place at the forefront of your field, create videos that are under 2 minutes (ideally around 10-30 seconds), be sure to promote your video on the most appropriate platform, and fully incorporate video into your content marketing strategy.
We live in a society that is fast-paced and expects instant gratification, so why fight it? Embrace short videos, give consumers what they want and get creative with it.
6) Native Advertising
Native Advertising is a form of digital advertising that blends with the platform on which it sits and tends to be less in-your-face than standard advertisements, banner ads or pop-ups. You can usually find native ads on social feeds, in blogs or situated within most web pages. Research shows that consumers interact with native ads 53% more than display ads, which drives an 18% increase in consumers’ intent to purchase.
The question is, do people like native ads or do they feel like they’re being tricked? According to a Stanford University study, native advertising doesn’t fool consumers: they know that these digital ads are the same as normal adverts, however, they still have a strong effect on purchase behaviour. So perhaps consumers enjoy the fact that these ads are less intrusive and more tailored, as research shows that whilst users don’t tend to click on the ad directly, they come back and access the content later on, organically.
What are the benefits?
Native advertising works in the same way as content marketing in that it encourages actions such as generating leads and consumer communication. They also improve Click-Through Rates (CTRs) and reduce bounce rates. Whilst native advertising is not content marketing, they do work in tandem. According to Neil Patel, the ads must be surrounded by relevant content to be effective. He goes on to say that the combination of content marketing and native ads produce the perfect transition.
What can we expect?
We think that 2019 will see a huge surge in native advertising. As brands become more aware and consumers begin to get fed up with pop-ups, banner ads and intrusive traditional advertisements, native advertising pose the solution to this frustration, by seamlessly blending in with the content in question in the most unintrusive, but undeniably apparent, way.
Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape. It evolves constantly, jumps from trend-to-trend and is difficult to predict and keep up with. That being said, the future of marketing appears to be heavily focused on new media, innovative tech, analytics, authenticity and transparency. If you want to see a successful future for your business, your strategy must focus on the future. Take our top tips and predictions, get ahead of your competitors and succeed by embracing tech trends and digital disruption.
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