Insight January 8, 2019

5 Digital Marketing Trends to Inform Your New Year’s Resolutions


With the dawn of every new year comes a new list of resolutions – commitments to be better and do more in the next 12 months. We make promises to eat healthier, call home more, be kinder, or maybe just to step back and enjoy ourselves every once in a while.

This year, we decided to take a look at the top digital marketing trends for 2019 and turn them into actionable resolutions. Check out the list to get inspired:

1. Surprise and delight with extended reality (XR) content. Marketers have been talking about the potential of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality content for years. But 2018 marked the shift where XR finally started to overcome its own hype. Retail giants – such as IKEA, Lowe’s, Gap, Inc., Dulux, and others – brought augmented reality shopping to the masses. Now, brands are clamoring to incorporate XR into their marketing plans for the new year.

According to Alliance Data’s 2017 research report, Generational Perspective, 75 percent of customers still want to see a product in-store before they buy it. With XR technology, you can provide customers with opportunities to experience your products in a way that helps bridge the gap between offline and online shopping.

2. Get personal with artificial intelligence (AI). How great would it be if your favorite shoe brand knew when you were about to need a new pair of boots and delivered the perfect pair right to your door? It might sound far-fetched, but thanks to predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, brands are capable of predicting consumer behaviors and anticipating needs better than ever before. AI allows marketers to get to know a large number of customers on an individual basis, which allows you to tailor content, newsfeeds, and communications automatically based on the customers previous actions and preferences. 

Based on data from Salesforce, we know that half of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs. While you might not be able to deliver the perfect pair of boots to customers before they even know they need it, you can use your own data to deliver more relevant marketing campaigns, messaging, and offers to your customers at the right time and in the right place.

3. Keep things social. When it comes to social media marketing, there is a lot of ground to cover. In 2019, the top trends to follow are the rise of social messaging apps and social commerce.One key trend to watch for in 2019 is the critical role social messaging apps will play for businesses. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other social messaging apps give businesses a direct form of communication with their customers. The instant nature of these communications makes them ideal for providing customer support in real-time. We’ve covered some of the opportunity this presents in our post about chatbots.

A not-so-new-but-still-evolving trend to watch in 2019 is social commerce, the ability to purchase a product within the social media experience. Visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat make the discovery of new products easier (and more natural) because they are nestled into your feed alongside similar products that you already enjoy. Social commerce, therefore, is the attempt by brands to close the gap between discover – when you see the cute dress that your favorite celebrity is wearing – and purchase. Previously, you would need to leave a social media site to research what the product was and where to buy it, but now you can do it all in-platform.

4. Take your influencer relationships to the next level. Influencers come in all shapes and sectors with a variety of audience sizes. If you read our blog, you know all about the rise of the micro-influencer. But there are also nano-influencers, as referenced in our 2019 PR trends podcast,with a few dozen followers in a well-defined sector and celebrity influencers with millions of followers.

In the coming year, brands and influencers alike are focusing on building longer-lasting relationships. Unlike the one-off sponsorship model that was common when influencer marketing first appeared, long-term sponsorship agreements provide more security and continuity. Brands have more leeway to control the content, while influencers enjoy a steady income stream.

5. Optimize SEO for visual and voice search. For years, you have been able to perform a reverse image search by uploading an image or URL to generate a search engine results page via the Google Images toolbar. Likewise, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri have been scouring the web based on your commands for quite some time. New technological developments are now making visual and voice search the next best thing in digital commerce.

The next generation of visual search turns your smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool. Imagine snapping a photo of your favorite armchair at the local coffee shop and being able to browse similar chairs online. By using the image as a search query, customers can look for products or styles that they might otherwise struggle to define. Is that chair modern or art deco? Now you don’t need to know.

Plus, the rise in smart speaker devices has not only made voice commerce possible, it has also opened up a new audience for branded messaging. In everyday life, talking is the preferred method of communication – and now our technology is finally catching up to how people search, shop, and discover new things. Because this is such a new experience for consumers, there are new opportunities for businesses. According to Search Engine Land, 52 percent of voice-activated speaker owners would like to receive information about deals, sales, and promotions from brands. That’s a captive audience of users who want to receive your marketing promotions.

Whether you align your resolutions with ours or come up with some of your own, it’s important to keep thinking ahead and anticipating the next best thing that your customers want to see in the coming year.

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