Marketing is continuously evolving. As we face the start of this new year, we’d like to take a look at 2018’s most influential marketing changes, which are sure to forecast what’s to come. Let’s take a look at how both marketing mishaps and success stories over the past year can help shape future strategies.
1. Trust and Transparency
With Facebook data breaches and data protection in general being major themes of 2018, regulatory actions have impacted digital marketing in a huge way. Many consumers wish to take control of their data back. There are now extra steps involved in acquiring consumer information, which has made it harder for businesses to track users across sites.
This proved to be an important shift as consumers’ inboxes were suddenly filled with emails from companies identifying their terms and conditions and urging them to maintain their trust.
Google also took action, placing a strong push on website hosts to secure their webs pages with an SSL Certificate. Those who didn’t would be labeled for all to see as “not secure,” and the site’s SEO would be punished to boot.
Striving for trust and transparency will grow all the more important this year. Users want to know where their information is going and are very interested in privacy protection. Therefore, managing customer relations, communicating in an upfront and honest way, and practicing good business ethics are critical in 2019.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) will likely become ubiquitous and invaluable for marketing efforts. AI data and tools are fabulously helpful for analyzing consumer behavior. So it’s no surprise that this year, AI is expected to pack an even bigger, faster, and more capable punch.
The current rising trends include chatbots and programmatic advertising. Chatbots give businesses the ability to save time and resources by allowing AI to communicate with consumers in real-time, while being creative and adept in problem solving. Programmatic advertising is an automated bidding process to purchase ads in a more efficient way. It shows ads to specific customers in a specific context, making advertising far more personal and effective.
Artificial intelligence proficiencies are helpful in every stage of marketing, from lead generation to retention and customer relations. Incorporating machine learning into your business practice has gone from novelty to mainstream, making it an important trend to keep your eye on.
AI is an investment, which may not be budgeted for in this year’s marketing strategy. Nevertheless, pay attention to what big corporate businesses (within your industry) are doing. At this point in time, your company may not be financially or structurally prepared for this type of growth. However, as AI becomes the norm, there may be opportunities to slowly introduce these methods and help your business thrive.
3. Influencer Marketing
Changes in Facebook’s algorithms have forced many companies to find creative new methods for social media marketing. Enter Influencer Marketing. Encouraging influential people to promote products or share their reviews on their own personal pages helps brands reach their target audience organically.
Here’s a recent example. Netflix just released Bird Box, the latest Netflix original movie. The movie sits at 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, with less-than-generous reviews from critics. That being said, more than 45 million Netflix accounts viewed Bird Box in the first week of its release. Why did this become Netflix’s best-ever debut for an original film? Because of Influencer Marketing.
Bird Box was headlined on Netflix, and some users received push notifications to their phones if the algorithm suggested they might like the movie. However, this wasn’t nearly as significant an impact as the striking cover image of Sandra Bullock blindfolded--which turned out to be low-hanging fruit for memes all over social media. So millions watched the movie simply because they wanted to join the conversation.
Additionally, Netflix strategically created influencers before the movie was even released by challenging hand-picked Twitch gamers to play their favorite video games blindfolded, calling it the “Bird Box Challenge.” Social media users organically spread the word about Bird Box, making the marketing all the more effective.
You guessed it! Influencers and organic reach are expected to be tremendously important in 2019.
4. Video Marketing
Video marketing is now impossible to ignore. Almost every social media platform has integrated their own version of “stories” or live video feed. Instagram even added the IGTV feature.
Video has proven to be an incredibly effective way to share information, and bonus--it’s naturally more engaging than text and imagery. Companies get their message across more quickly and in a more impactful way. Additionally, viewers place greater trust in video marketing:
52% of consumers have greater confidence in products if they are able to watch a product video.
72% of businesses have said that videos have improved their conversion rates.
70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video. (Hint, hint! A great opportunity for influencers and organic reach.)
The numbers certainly give evidence as to why video needs to be a part of your marketing strategy this year (if it isn’t already).
5. Voice Searches and Smart Speakers
Between Siri, Alexa and Google Home, use of smart speakers and voice searches are becoming a popular commodity in most households.
By 2020, approximately 50% of all searches will use voice.
39 million Americans use smart speakers.
65% of current smart speaker users have said they would not want to go back to life without their voice-controlled devices.
Voice search is growing more and more intelligent, producing increasingly relevant search results. People can get fast answers and immediate gratification without lifting a finger to type it into Google’s search engine.
This has created a need for businesses to adapt. Many brands are looking to take advantage of these shifts in consumer behavior by including voice search in their digital marketing strategy.
Consider Domino’s Pizza, for example. Knowing that customers value the effectiveness of voice searches, Domino’s now uses voice search technology to allow customers to order pizza through Alexa.
Smart speakers are creating new opportunities for advertisements, Google AdWords for audio content, and other methods for gaining brand awareness. This means giving consideration to keywords and words people are likely to speak rather than text.
As technology grows and develops, your marketing methods should, too.
Personalization is all about fostering improved customer relationships. This means customizing content, products, emails and more to appeal to the individual. Personalizing messaging is a powerful way to stand out against competitors and generate greater interest from buyers.
There are a number of opportunities to tailor messaging based on the availability of data on purchase history, consumer behavior and link clicks, making this information extremely valuable.
Businesses like Amazon do an excellent job with personalization. When users log into their accounts, they see custom banners, carousels, artwork and recommendations designed just for them. These efforts are to make the customer feel special. What happens when a customer feels special and understood? They come back and buy more.
Personalization not only distinguishes a brand, but it also cultivates customer loyalty. Incorporating personalization into marketing strategies is advantageous for consumer relationships and for businesses.