Just a quick search on the topic of “Marketing Predictions in 2019” will turn up thousands of results from just about every single marketing and advertising agency in the world. I hope that this one is a bit more realistic.
You won’t see me promoting artificial intelligence (AI) as the new hotness in marketing in 2019. If you are a major agency with 1000+ people or a Fortune-500 brand, then you are already aware of the coming of our robot overlords. The Facebooks and Googles of the world are certainly engaging with the new technology, but if you’re just a normal business trying to stay current, AI is not something you need to focus on for 2019.
Here are some more realistic marketing predictions for 2019 that I think will actually be relevant to a general audience.
1. Voice Is Reaching Critical Mass
I realize I just told you that artificial intelligence isn’t something you need to worry about for 2019, but AI-powered voice devices such as Alexa and Google Home are, in fact, something that should be considered in your marketing plans. Thanks to big retailer discounts during the holidays, many consumers now have one or more of these devices in their home.
TechCrunch recently reported that “the smart speaker market reached critical mass in 2018, with around 41 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a voice-activated speaker, up from 21.5 percent in 2017.” This means that people will be asking their friendly smart speaker for help in their daily lives — and that means making grocery shopping lists, online ordering, accessing cooking how-to videos and much more.
So how do you prepare for this? Make sure you have a solid SEO
2. Video Advertising Isn’t Going Anywhere
Consumers are bombarded with standard commercials, but if you can create video content that engages them with who you are and why you are in business then you have a better chance of convincing them to buy your product. Be careful about the type of ads you’re using on social media — you can do serious damage to your brand with mid-roll ads if they feel disruptive and aren’t interesting to the viewer.
It makes sense: no one likes to be interrupted. With that said, digital video ads that play in-feed have a much higher chance of being viewed than just the standard YouTube pre-roll. Consider your placement carefully to make sure you are getting the best possible reach and impact.
Even though TV ad spending by marketers in the US has been continually dropping (and is predicted to drop by 4% in 2019,) if you need to reach a large group of diverse customers in a region, TV is still a powerful tool for brand awareness. It may not be an immediate revenue generator like paid search or social advertising, but a well placed and produced video can have a big emotional impact on your target consumers and help cement your brand in their minds.
3. Social Networks Are on Shaky Ground
This past year, just about every tech giant and social networking company’s CEO appeared in front of Congress to defend what they do and how they handle billions of users’ personal information. It was a rough time, but Facebook isn’t going under any time soon.
That said, 2018 was the second year in a row that Facebook saw a decrease in overall user growth and the first time in history users are less engaged than before, with privacy being a concern. Younger users are continuing to move to platforms like Instagram, where I expect we will see ad spending increase in the coming year.
Instagram’s advertising options aren’t nearly as robust as Facebook’s, but shopping ads paired with lifestyle photography can be a winning combination. Don’t ditch Facebook from your advertising plan just yet, but keep an eye on how engagement and metrics progress throughout the year.
4. Chatty Chat Bots Won’t Be Substitutes for Real Humans
The increasing use of messaging apps and platforms (like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp) has disrupted industries all over the globe, but one thing that I think you can expect to see in the coming year is people refusing to use chatbots for anything other than quick answers.
Much like speaking to Alexa or Google Home, there is only so much frustration people will tolerate when dealing with an automated chatbot. Research firm Forrester predicts increasing customer pushback against ineffective chatbots designed to streamline customer service and sales channels.
That’s why you’d be well advised to make sure that chatbots are only used when no one is available to directly connect with a customer. Messenger and other chat platforms actually staffed by helpful (human) representatives are powerful tools for creating lasting positive impressions with
5. Your Brand Value Will Have an Effect on Search Engine Rankings
The last five years have taught marketers that search engines are the gateway to consumers, yet what actually keeps you high in rankings on search engines is tucked away in algorithms.
While regularly updated content, mobile readiness
Google already interprets trustworthy links to your site as an indicator of authority, and even analysts in 2017 were discussing online mentions as valuable to search rankings. This year, spend some time focusing on growing your brand awareness and reputation online. If you have a strong online presence, continue to cultivate positive mentions and foster brand visibility throughout relevant pages about your company.
Also, consider engaging influencers (online and on social media) to not only drive traffic to your
6. Email Continues to Push More Personalization
This is nothing new to email marketers, but personalization will continue to be a strong influence on communications with consumers. Many people think that consumers don’t want to receive emails from brands, but the opposite is actually true: They are willing to receive emails — up to one a week — as long as it is relevant and personalized to their interests and needs.
61% of consumers say they would prefer to receive promotional messages in email versus other channels, including social media. Therefore, in 2019 brands should invest in growing their opt-in email lists. Expanding your list means more names, but it should also mean more useful sales and customer data on each person, so you can deliver more contextually relevant messages and promotions. Look beyond mere purchase history and also consider other data points like age, life-stage or geography to fine-tune
7. Screens Are Everywhere and the Experience Must Be Seamless
The number of channels that you can advertise on in 2019 will continue to skyrocket. Screens are now found everywhere, from public restrooms to kitchen counters. Previous estimates have shown that the average consumer sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads in a day. With the explosion of smart devices and mobile ads, that number will only increase over time.
With this level of saturation, brands are going to have to find new ways to make brand engagement across these various channels feel seamless. Consumers should be able to move effortlessly from each device or screen and see a brand experience that is appropriate to that medium.
In 2019, more companies will begin using these “second screens” to enhance the brand experience — not just advertise on them. With the rise of content advertising, sponsored posts and influencer marketing, having your brand be a positive part of consumers’ media consumption is more valuable than just advertising to them.
You will see more and more brands take advantage of podcasting and live streaming, whether as sponsors or producers of their own content, in order to take advantage of their growing popularity. But don’t chase the trend just because others are — it needs to make sense for your particular business and messaging objectives.
What Didn’t Make the List?
Prediction blog posts are always a mixed bag. Some of the things I’m monitoring but don’t feel are ready for full market use yet are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
Only a few industries have been successful in using either for marketing purposes, so this technology is still in an experimental state for the most part. Brands in the gaming industry have seen the most success, as their consumers usually have access to high-end, graphics-intensive consoles or computers that make adoption of VR and AR possible.
In the mobile arena, some companies in the home improvement space have taken advantage of the technology to let users place furniture or paint colors virtually. This approach will continue to grow in 2019, but don’t expect it to be ready for wide adoption until 2020.
What do you think? Was there anything we missed that you feel will make a big splash this year? Send me an email!