The New Year has come and gone, and in the blink of an eye, we are in the thick of January with lofty 2019 goals in front of us—and a budget that, even on its most flexible days, may not stretch to fit.
Many of you may be dealing with a similar plight: How do we do more with less?
Deepening engagement and customer relationships remains one of the biggest objectives for most marketers. Customers want to feel a connection with the businesses they engage with, and if we’re honest, 2018 was a somewhat volatile year for customer trust.
These marketing trends will help you achieve your marketing objectives while deepening a connection with your audience at the same time.
1. Alternative Search
For those in the SEO game, you’ve been watching consumer behavior shift over the year. As we bring technology into our homes, we are changing the way we discover the world around us. According to Nielsen’s latest study, 24% of U.S. households own a smart speaker. To connect with audiences, marketers need to adapt to visual, voice and social search.
Pinterest boasts over 600 million searches a month. Image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate, according to Medium.com. Voice search is the newest adoption by consumers. Nielsen’s latest study reported that 81% of people using a smart speaker are searching for real-time information. The competition for these results is high, which is why it’s critical that your website is top ranking and has the proper semantic markup.
Finally, social search has become standard practice as well–and continued to rise. As people look for the latest in news and information on-demand, social sites like Twitter are finding their place. One of the questions I get asked the most is, why should a business be on Twitter? I suggest brands, nonprofits and businesses all participate on Twitter to be present in relevant conversations. Twitter alone serves more than 2 billion search queries each day, according to Hootsuite.
2. Impact Focus
As I mentioned, customers’ trust was shaken in 2018. They expect personalization, but they’re also leery of doling out their data. To connect with your audience and community, impact marketing will become a hot topic in 2019. Why? Because it instills an element of trust.
People are more likely to buy from companies that give back, especially millennials. In fact, 81% of millennials expect companies to publicly declare their corporate social responsibility. When employing an impact strategy, make sure that the cause is authentically aligned to your business or you risk coming across as self-serving.
3. AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Predictive Marketing
Programmatic media buying isn’t new, but its reach has expanded past digital and TV buys. Programmatic advertising means using AI to automate ad buying so you can target more specific audiences. Something we will get to is personalization, but AI helps make personalized, targeted advertising a reality. Programmatic buying lends itself to more efficient and faster ad buys, which means higher conversions and lower customer-acquisition costs.
AI will help with predictive marketing. You can now analyze consumer behavior through their search patterns, social media and blog engagements to better understand how customers are discovering products and services.
Chatbots are another way to employ AI. Think about it: How often do you text vs. make a phone call? Communication behaviors are shifting, and consumers want faster, less invasive touch points. A recent report by Google showed that 34% of people on e-commerce sites prefer to use chatbots—27% on healthcare sites and 25% on telecommunications sites. Chatbots are also an efficient way to qualify users through your marketing funnel.
4. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has continued to evolve over the years. In 2019, a new crop of influencers is dominating the space: gamers. In 2018, we saw video-streaming services like Twitch dominate the gaming industry. In 2018, Twitch saw an average of 140 million unique monthly views. Gamers captivate and engage their audiences during play and through the other platforms they engage. Gamers also are influencing younger males, an untapped demographic.
Influencers also connect companies to micro moments. I mentioned that social, real-time, in-the-moment searches are on the rise. Influencers are part of the story building and connection point companies need to organically insert their product or service into the mix.
5. Personalized Marketing
Customers have grown to expect personalization, and marketers now have a responsibility to collect data and use it appropriately to tailor messages for their customers in ways that are acceptable and beneficial to them. But personalization takes time and planning.
To scale in this area, many marketers have turned to marketing automation. Marketing automation takes the day-to-day labor out of the job and automates drips and coordinated sends. As marketers are asked to do more with less, this is an area that you should add to your arsenal.