2018 has been an eventful year for the digital industry as several technologies have disrupted the landscape. With 2019 just around the corner, there is curiosity around the trends that will stay strong in the New Year and the new ones which are likely to emerge.
Let us unveil the trends that will dominate the digital marketing domain in 2019.
From analysing consumer behaviour to utilising data to understanding search patterns and helping businesses gather rich insights, there is hardly a task that AI cannot do. The technology has been around for a few years and is growing at a phenomenal pace.
According to Narrative Science reports, the use of AI has doubled. In 2016, 38% of businesses had implemented the use of AI jumping to 61% in 2017. However, humans see AI as a threat because it may take over several jobs in the future but that is yet to be seen.
No business will be able to succeed unless it unlocks the potential of data to gain insights that drive value in decision making. This is the reason that embracing the technology of Big Data and Analytics will no longer be an option for businesses in the coming year.
Businesses will need to gather and analyse customer data to know them better and build a persona. Unless they become data-driven while designing their online presence and the user experience they deliver, sustenance and growth will be out of the question.
In the world of digital reach and social media, one cannot ignore leveraging influencers to extend their business outreach.
This is a form of word-of-mouth marketing that focuses on capitalising the reach of key leaders to propel the brand message to a broader audience group.
The advertising spend on influencer marketing is poised to grow up to US$10 billion by 2022, as mentioned in the Business Insider Influencer Marketing Report. So, unless you have a renowned blogger or an Instagram star pitching for you, do not expect to meet your marketing targets in the New Year. This is especially true for industries focussed on age group segments who spend more time on digital channels than traditional channels.
Though content remains king, it will cross conventional boundaries of textual storytelling with video content set to change the digital game. Tubular Insights predicts that by 2019, 80% of online content will be in the visual form. Videos, in any case, are more engaging as they have the capability to capture the attention of the users and hold it. So this is one strategy that you have to get ready for, with branding videos in place on your website and across social channels.
Online searches have witnessed a revolutionary transition with the rise of voice search in 2018. Furthermore, an estimate by Klick predicts that one-third of all internet browsing will be done without touch by 2020 and 50% of the searches will be through voice. After all, users prefer hands-free searching to textual typing. Marketers will, therefore, need to get voice-ready by tweaking their search keyword optimisation strategy.
Besides voice, another form of search that businesses need to gear up for in 2019 is visual search. As users can directly upload an image of the product they are looking for, this form of search is more interactive and takes the user experience to an entirely new level. Google; Amazon; Pinterest and eBay are just a few of the big names that have jumped on the visual search bandwagon. Pinterest has reported an impressive jump in visual searches from 250 million in February 2017 to a massive 600 million in February 2018.
Personalisation will continue to be key in 2019. Nothing impresses buyers more than being pampered with content; messages; offers and recommendations that match their preferences and expectations perfectly.
The majority of marketer’s report that customers and prospects – both B2C and B2B – expect personalised experiences, not only on email but on websites, apps and social media. To stay on top of this trend, businesses will need to embrace high-tech strategies based on Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Another significant digital trend for 2019 will be chatbots, the AI-powered assistants that drive conversational commerce for websites and mobile apps. A recent study by Oracle has predicted that 80% of businesses are already using chatbots or are planning to use them by 2020. Bots not only elevate personalised experiences for your customers but also serve as a smarter alternative to human customer support agents, increase productivity within teams and deliver a higher ROI to businesses.
Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
As enhanced user experiences continue to be the mainstay of success in the digital era, the adoption of technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will no longer be a choice for businesses. According to Statista, the VR and AR market is worth US$27 billion and expected to reach US$209.2 billion in only four years. The biggest example in this context is IKEA, which has been leveraging VR Experience since last year. The technology empowers their buyers to experience products virtually so that they can make more informed buying decisions.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
Although PWA’s have been around for a few years now, they are all set to take mobile experiences to the next level in 2019. These apps have evolved and emerged as the key platforms for retailers to build performance-oriented, mobile-optimised websites which are capable of delivering exceptional user experiences. In addition to enhanced experiences, these apps get your website high search rankings and traffic boost as well.
Alternative Forms of Content
Besides conventional content forms, you can expect alternatives surfacing as heroes this year. Yes, we have talked about video content, but another one that is poised to come up as a winner is user-generated content. This includes content that has been shared by the user such as product stories; reviews; images and videos posted by real customers. These add credibility to brands/products and have the power to pull in more customers too as customer experiences are viewed as more trustworthy than brand promotions.
These are some of the top industry trends that are going to drive digital business decisions and strategies in the coming year. Get aligned with them asap to stay ahead of the competition and get there before your rivals do!