As we reach the end of 2018, it’s time to start thinking about how our marketing plans will change in the new year and beyond. In the world of digital marketing, things don’t stay the same for long. Every day new technologies emerge and we learn more about our users.
That means if you want to compete, you can never be complacent. As your competitors rush to implement new tools, there’s the ever-present risk of being left behind. That’s why every year the blogosphere is full of talk of the next big marketing trends.
But how do you know which of these are just fads and which will stick around? It’s one thing to try and keep your head above the water in 2019. It’s even better to know which of these new techniques are going to be around beyond that.
But how do you know? Like anything else, it’s usually a good idea to follow the money. If the big tech companies are investing heavily in something, that’s a pretty good indicator of its staying power. Similarly, if consumers are buying a new piece of tech in droves it’s bound to be an avenue worth exploring.
With that in mind, let’s look at how the different areas of your marketing strategy are going to change in 2019 and beyond.
We’re already beginning to see the rise of long-form content online. Indeed, you’ve probably already noticed early adopters publishing white-papers and ebooks online. You don’t have to go to this extreme though. Generally, long-form content is understood as anything over about 2000 words.
This is only going to increase in 2019 and beyond. How do I know? Well, for one thing the search engines love long-form content. First page results on Google rarely have below 2000 words. We also know that the longer a piece of content is, the more likely it is to be shared.
We can also look at what our audience wants. People are generally fed up with disposable content. That’s why we’re seeing more emphasis being put on high quality, authoritative and ever-green content. A well researched, thoughtful article is going to be far more use to your readers than a stub or a listicle. Every time.
I touched on SEO briefly already, but this is where things are really going to be shaken up. The thing is, the way we use the internet is fundamentally changing. Over 43 million Americans currently own a smart speaker. With Christmas just around the corner, that number will be much higher by 2019.
That means our organic search strategies are going to need to be optimised for voice. Sounds sensible, but how does it work in practice? The basic principle is that when a user asks their smart speaker to search for something, it works out what they actually mean and searches for that.
Searching based on the meaning behind the words is known as semantic search. This means that in 2019 you might want to start thinking less in terms of keywords and more in terms of cornerstone topics. Early adopters of this will reap massive benefits, as voice search is here to stay, but the penny hasn’t quite dropped for many marketers.
Both Google and Apple are providing developers with tools to create augmented reality (AR) apps. In fact, Tim Cook has said that one day AR will be as normal as eating three meals a day. We haven’t seen mass adoption yet though because of the high barriers to entry.
That’s changing though. By 2022, the global AR app market will reach $80 billion. Basic economics tells us that as proliferation increases, costs will reduce. Someday soon, we’re going to see a swathe of build-your-own app platforms with support for AR.
For marketers, the potential for creativity is boundless. We’ve already key players in fashion and interior design can use AR apps to achieve amazing things in their marketing strategies. There’s no reason to believe that this wouldn’t be equally applicable to other industries once the technology becomes more widely available.
Traditionally, segmentation has meant grouping our audience based on certain characteristics, normally at a single point in time. The rise of AI means, we are increasingly able to segment audiences based on behaviours instead.
As AI algorithms analyse trends in our customer’s behaviours, they are able to make more and more accurate predictions. This means that you can create hyper-personalised marketing messages based on where individual customers are in the buying journey.
This basically comes down to finding the right customers at the right time with the right message. As we move into 2019, you’ll want to take a look at which of your marketing tools have native AI functions. If your email automator, CRM, or social ad platform lacks this, it may be worth shopping around a little bit.
In 2019 and beyond, we’ll also need to keep an eye on the way people are using social media. Especially if you’re targeting specific demographics. For example, Facebook use has plateaued and is even decreasing among young people.
As such, it’s time to start thinking about how to replace the marketing value Facebook no longer offers. Younger generations tend to use messaging apps far more than full-scale social networks. In fact, Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat have a higher combined user-base than Facebook and Youtube.
So it’s worth thinking about moving away from traditional social media advertising and moving towards social messaging. This is basically the same idea as email marketing, but directly into messaging apps rather than into your customer’s inbox.
Thousands of articles are published every year on the next big trend in digital marketing. They’re usually all pretty similar, but I find that they all have one main thing in common. They generally fail to take account of two things.
The first is the longevity of these trends. This makes a certain amount of sense. You might say they focus more on trends than developments. This makes life easier for the writer, but it might lead some readers to waste their money buying snake oil every January.
The other is focusing too much on new technology and not enough on how our customers actually use this. The risk here is obvious. By paying attention to these two things, we can predict how our marketing strategies will change in 2019. And change for good.