2019 Digital Marketing Trendwatch

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Patrick Cumming

Every year, marketers and business owners alike find themselves reacting to emerging digital marketing trends in much the same way: “There’s no way that’s ever going to take off!”

But the digital landscape evolves rapidly, and before your brand has even had a chance to get on board, trends can quickly become embedded in popular culture. If you want to stay competitive, you really can’t afford to fall behind. To help your brand stay relevant and continue to deliver stellar customer service, we’ve put together a list of the most exciting digital marketing trends in 2019.

Voice Search

If you’re familiar with digital marketing, you’ll understand the importance of optimising your website for search engines. Traditional SEO is still a powerful marketing tool. But, the way we interact with search engines is changing.

It’s predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be made using voice. Though this seems like a minor change, the way users interact with search via type and voice is substantially different: when we type, we tend to keep search queries between 2-3 words. You might type “cheap climbing gear” or “SEO for beginners”.

Voice queries, on the other hand, are more conversational. We tend to ask questions like “where’s the best place to get cheap climbing gear near me?” Or “how can I make my website rank better on google?” To stay competitive, it’s worth optimising your content to suit both so that your website is primed to attract more consumers as they transition from text to voice-search.

SEO is changing

Google releases minor updates to its search engine algorithms all the time. But, every now and then it releases a big update, the effects of which can be enormous. The latest big update instantly cut 50% of traffic from The Mail Online. And even Google couldn’t explain why it happened.

Google is secretive about the exact ranking factors they use, but what we do know is that Google’s latest algorithms reward websites for usability. They’re focussed on customer experience. While keywords will always be important, your SEO strategy needs to be broader than simple keyword strategies. You’ll also need to focus on improving website load speeds, mobile-friendliness and UI design.

Dark social

Though it sounds daunting, dark social isn’t anything to be scared of. It’s a term we use for content that gets shared through messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. Brands are now creating artificial dark social platforms. This includes channels like Facebook groups, Whats App groups and even separate apps.

Here’s an example: I loaded up an app on my phone recently and was given a prompt to join a Facebook group. In the group I’d be able to join a community of users and share my experiences, tips and advice. The apps developers even promised to be onhand to offer support and answer questions when needed.

Facebook groups are useful because they create communities of loyal brand followers who then spread brand love to family, friends and colleagues. This helps brand awareness improve steadily over time with minimal ad spend or marketing effort.

Getting the message out. Find out more about our digital advertising & PPC services.

Messenger bots

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making waves in marketing circles for a while now, but 2019 seems to be the year that it’s finally coming into its own. AI powers a multitude of marketing technologies. Programmatic software, for example, uses AI to automatically bid for advertising space. But it can also be a customer service sales tool.

The organiser of a marketing event I was at recently gave a talk about how he’d used a Facebook messenger bot to increase conversions: he couldn’t be on hand to answer the queries of his leads 24/7. So instead, he used a messenger bot with a pre-written script. Then he programmed it to respond to a variety of questions. If the bot came across a query it couldn’t answer, he’d receive a direct message and personally respond. From a mere £350 ad spend, the campaign was able to generate around £3k over 6 weeks. Well worth the investment.

Check the image below to see the various ways you can make chatbots work for you:

(source: drift.com)

Podcasts

Podcasts, or audio blogs, have been around since the 1980s, but didn’t make their way into the mainstream until around 2004, after a rise in the popularity of the iPod. While podcasts have always a cult-like following, they’ve never exploded into popularity. Despite this, many marketers are dubbing 2019 the year of the podcasts. After years of being at the sidelines, it seems they’re finally taking off.

The number of people who listen to podcasts each month is up 26% year-on-year. 90million people are consuming podcast content every month in the US alone! What does it mean for businesses and marketers?

First, it presents another format to add to your growing list of marketing channels. Many popular podcasters will endorse products and feature ads as a way of monetising what they do. And as you can see from the stats below, which show the increase in revenue return from podcast adverts, it can be seriously lucrative.

(Source: musicoomph.com)

Second, podcasts also present a new direction to take your content marketing strategy. Podcasting is similar to blogging. You’re talking about topics people are interested in and providing them with valuable content they’ll enjoy.

But podcasts offer a key competitive advantage. They’re less time consuming to create. The average length of a podcast is 38 minutes. If you’re knowledgeable about your subject, you could crank out a decent episode in just a couple of hours. You’d be hard pushed to write a decent blog in the same amount of time.

Augmented reality

Back in 2015, Snapchat brought augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream when it introduced filters to the app. It wasn’t long until the app’s creators offered brands the option to advertise through custom brand filters. Taco Bell, for instance, created a filter that allowed users to transform their faces into a taco.

(Source: wallroommedia.com)

In 2019, AR is being used for function as well as fun. Nike, for example, have recently launched Nikefit. A mobile app that uses AR technology to measure the specifications of feet. Allowing users to try shoes on virtually and find their perfect shoe size.

Visual search

(Source: medium.com)

Have you ever found yourself stuck for words trying to explain what something looks like? If you want to buy a specific piece of clothing or home decoration, this can be a particularly frustrating experience, because you can’t find the right words to type into Google.

Visual search solves this problem. You can now snap a picture of anything from clothes to home decor with Google Lens. And it’s smart enough to tell you what the image is, and also offer suggestions for similar products. Pretty nifty, right?

According to stats, just 8% of retailers have optimised their websites for visual search. But, those same stats also show that 62% of millennials want to see visual search over other service improvements. So, it won’t be long before more brands start implementing visual search capability on their apps and websites.

Social Media Stories

Social media stories are nothing new. They originated in Snapchat way back in 2013 and were later implemented into powerhouse social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

Though Facebook and Instagram stories took a while to take off, their popularity exploded in 2018, in part thanks to many users ditching Snapchat altogether following an unpopular update.

In 2019, stories have become an integral part of brand social media strategies, with the latest stats showing that one third of the most watched stories are produced by businesses. Consumers clearly enjoy watching brand stories, so it’s worth putting some time into finding out how to make them work for you.

Micro-influencers

If you’ve got a Netflix account, you probably saw the 2018 documentary about the Fyre Festival: a disastrously-organised event that was promoted using high profile influencers like Kendall Jenner. Before the festival ended in disaster, 95% of the tickets were sold out within 24 hours. All thanks to influencers.

In 2019, however, consumers are wary of high-profile “macro-influencers”. Instead, marketers are seeing better results from micro-influencers; social-media personalities with less than 10k followers.

Consumers are more trusting of micro-influencers, as they’re seen to be less motivated by money. So when a micro-influencer endorses a product, it comes across as genuine. Check the image below to see how using micro-influencers can benefit your business.

(Source: medium.com)

Wrap-up

It’s important for brands to keep an eye on the latest digital marketing trends. Nobody wants to be the last brand to embrace new technologies and ways of working.

That said, as a marketer or business owner, not every emerging trend is going to be relevant to your industry. So you shouldn’t let your broader digital marketing strategy suffer in the name of exploring emerging trends. Instead pick trends suited to your industry and experiment with how to best make them work for your business. By doing this you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors when the trends become the expectation.

Here at Elastic, we specialise in digital marketing. So if you’re ready to implement some of these emerging trends into your brand’s digital strategy, get in touch!

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