The year 2018 was the year of customers, and no one else knows that better than any digital marketer. There was a swift change in digital marketing trends in 2018, and the customer was at the center of it. From the funnel to the flywheel, major influencers to micro influencers, permanent content to ephemeral content, data breaches to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a lot has evolved over the past year. Additionally, with advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the change was constant and a bit dramatic.
So what will digital marketing look like in 2019? It will be quite different, but some things will stay the same. In his Simplilearn webinar “2019 Digital Marketing Prediction Based on 2018 Trends,” best-selling marketing author and corporate trainer Matt Bailey discusses the key lessons learned in 2018 and how those might affect the marketing trends in 2019. If you can spare 60 to 70 minutes, you can watch the recorded webinar at your convenience. If you can’t, then you can just read this wrap-up of the webinar covering all the key points.
There’s just been a load of information gathered over the past few months from analyzing the major 2018 trends. We analyzed what’s working and what’s not working, and we will share with you what might work in 2019. Below are the key trends covered in this webinar.
There has been an interesting change over the past few years in influencer marketing, and last year, it became the big, shiny thing every marketer was trying out. It still is an important marketing strategy for 2019, but with some slight changes in its trajectory. Till now, we have known two kinds of influencers:
- Macro influencers: They have about five to 10 million subscribers/followers and typically are celebrities, athletes, and other famous types.
- Micro influencers: They have about 1,000 to 1 million followers/subscribers and typically are bloggers (including Twitch streamers and Instagrammers in industries such as gaming, fashion, and food).
But in 2018 and going forward in 2019 is a third kind—nano influencers. With less than 10,000 followers/subscribers, nano influencers typically are in fields such as photography, fashion, home, food, gaming, books, and more.
Going by this trend, it is safe to say that anybody can be an influencer in 2019; it all just depends on the audience someone is serving and how influential he or she is in that area.
A couple of years back, everyone thought social media was the most disruptive marketing notion, so it was shocking to see that social media use changed in 2018. Most of the Gen Z and younger users—the digital natives—have taken a break from social media due to the pressure of being seen and known. RadiumOne, a social media marketing, and advertising company state that 84 percent of these users have now moved to more private and even anonymous communication platforms, such as WhatsApp, SMS, and Reddit. Big social media platform players such as Facebook and Twitter are facing a lot of disruption due to losing the trust of their users. Hence, most of the B2C audience is opting for a more private platform—but many people still use platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest for quality content. On the other hand, for the B2B audience, LinkedIn seems to be the go-to platform to understand and connect with users. Recent stats also show that LinkedIn will grow in 2019, as brands and the B2B audience consider it to be the “social media for professionals.”
The 2018 dynamics of paid search are changing for 2019; paid search is no longer so much about buying keywords, creating a landing page, and running ads. These activities are just 20 percent of paid search—what about the other 80 percent? The move that needs to happen is utilizing the other 80 percent of paid search. The majority of paid campaigns should focus on analyzing the leads—such as where they fall in the customer journey, how fast they are being moved in the buying cycle, and whether the retargeting messages are relevant. It is important to understand what a customer needs and offer personalized recommendations. In 2019, marketers need to commit to customer research seriously and offer personalized search results—to give the customer something that looks, feels, and reads organic and real.
Maybe SEO and content were kings in the past few years, but in 2019, customer experience is king. Marketers need to focus on getting the customer experience team look at the customer journey while mapping the various strategies to reach each milestone. It is important to look at the loopholes as a team and then go from there. The customer experience needs to be measured, modeled and magnified so the team understands what is happening, what is working, and what is failing. Then you can tailor marketing content and its touch points accordingly. In 2019, as noted above, customer experience is all about personalization.
Today’s customers are smarter and can easily differentiate between human help and help from a machine. Plus, with artificial intelligence so advanced these days, customers are apprehensive about the use of robotic versus personalized attention. They are open to chatbots, but there are times (like when a customer is having tech issues) when they would appreciate empathy. Currently, chatbots are incapable of that. Hence, marketers need to strategize methods of personalization to that aren’t all machine-based. They need to offer personalized, tailored presale and postsale content on social media, through search results, in emails and ads, and anywhere else customers look.
The content was crucial in 2018, and it will remain so in 2019. However, marketers need to focus more on producing quality content even if the quantity is less. Articles that are long and meaningful enough can be helpful and more relevant for branding as well as for marketing a product or service. For instance, even an 800-word article that offers interactive content—including live data, engagement activity (polls, questions, quizzes, and the like)—not only will get user attention but also will provide rich user data. So in addition to white papers, e-books, and infographics, this year marketers need to offer content with interactive elements.
Apart from this, email marketing is growing as an effective channel, and it is becoming more relevant by the day. Highly relevant and personalized emails make sense for users, and most of them opt for it. Marketers should definitely keep doing this and prepare their automation strategy accordingly. Also, with growing automation tools and customer relationship management (CRM) coming more into the picture, this trend will also continue to grow and become more powerful. However, marketers need to utilize these tools to their optimum capacities and capabilities. Marketo and HubSpot, for example, are very powerful tools, but most marketers use only 35 to 45 percent of a tool and then complain that it doesn’t work. What they need to do it is implement it to its full capability. Just apply the simple automation rule—you cannot automate what you don’t have, and you can only automate whatever you have by fully understanding the implementation of automation.
Most of 2018’s trends are being carried forward to 2019, but it is important for marketers’ efforts to be relevant, personalized and quality-oriented. Customers look for empathy and for a product or service that answers their problems. Hence, it is important for marketers to focus on that—to spend more on customer research, understand the customer journey and offer personalized and relevant marketing. We hope you all have prosperous marketing campaigns in 2019.