Marketing is a broad field with a seemingly never-ending list of must-try strategies that are obsolete once new technology hits the market or channels such as Google or Facebook change algorithms. As marketers, keeping up these trends, fast-paced markets and the needs of your brand can be overwhelming. However, despite the ever-changing strategies of the industry, the endgame is always the same: promote brands to consumers and influence their buying behavior.
Selecting trends to pursue is up to your business and its unique audience – are your consumers Millennials that primarily use Instagram or are they decision makers at large company? These factors play a significant role in deciding which marketing trends are worth trying. To help you distinguish which marketing trends will have the most impact on your target audience and help you become a great marketer, here’s a look at last year’s trends and projected marketing trends for 2019.
Marketing Trends in 2018
The top 2018 marketing trends centered on a strong relationship between the consumer and the brand. Common practices amongst marketers reflected this in strategies for connecting with consumers via personalized content, customer service and social media. Enhancements in technology also meant more tools for simplifying communication with consumers and reaching them with better advertisements.
It’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to maintain a long-term one. Long gone are the days of one-way communication from the marketer to consumer. Now, client feedback is welcomed through a continuous loop of customer service which allows marketers to understand customers’ changing needs and cater content and communication accordingly.
Personalized, Engaging Content
High quality content is key in getting consumers’ attention and engaging them. One of the most popular content formats in 2018 was video. With dynamic imagery, music and creative ways to convey information, it’s no question as to why video is dominating the content marketing industry. As a whole, messaging has also prioritized a more personal approach and has become less about the sales deal and more about the benefits that customers can get out of using your product/service.
Social Media Advertising
Marketers continue to invest in social media marketing as it engages consumers in a way that feels more organic, encourages positive word of mouth and shows a brand’s personality. In 2018 social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, added features for live stories that can directly connect brands with consumers. This level of interaction will likely increase going into the next year.
Utilizing social media influencers has been a popular strategy for reaching target audiences and increasing brand awareness. Traditionally, brands would reach out to internet-famous individuals on Instagram and Youtube with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. There was a shift in 2018 to reach out to “micro-influencers” – individuals with only a few thousand followers that are willing to endorse branded content with minimal to no compensation other than free product. Having a smaller following increases the authenticity of micro-influencers’ recommendations and posts tend to have higher engagement levels.
To learn more, visit Why Your Brand Needs to Work with Micro-influencers.
Search Engine Marketing
New trends forming in 2019 for SEM are changing as the way people utilize Google and other search engines to reach consumers. According to Aja Frost, an SEO strategist for HubSpot, optimizing your SEO and SEM strategies for voice searches are increasingly important. Think of questions consumers might ask that can tie to your brand and optimize your content and ads for related keywords.
With artificial intelligence and its intuitive functionalities, the possibilities are endless. AI gained a lot of traction in 2018 and was adopted by businesses to streamline processes such as email targeting and customer engagement. Additionally, uses for AI included collecting data and simplifying the data analysis process.
Trends to Look Out for in 2019
Based on the direction of marketing trends for 2018, marketing strategies in 2019 are likely to be built around newer and better technology for reaching consumers. By leveraging these trends, you can optimize your marketing campaigns to get your dynamic, engaging content in front of the eyes of consumers, cut through the marketing “noise” and help push leads through the sales cycle.
Building Your Social Network
Last year brands looked to non-famous social media influencers to promote their offerings and this will continue into 2019. This type of targeted sponsorship helps build an online community around your brand where consumers can exchange reviews, share tips and engage with each other. As the voice of this community, high-quality customer service, timeliness and incentivized promotions are important to your success on social media.
From your website to your emails to your custom-built content, every aspect of your marketing strategy needs to be optimized for mobile. According to research by Google, of the 49% of B2B researchers that use their mobile devices for product research, there’s been a 91% growth in using mobile devices throughout the whole sales process – not just in their initial search. Therefore, if any part of your marketing channels or content are not mobile-ready, 2019 is the year to fix that.
Just as trends pushed for more engaging content in 2018, video is coming out to be a leader. Videos are excellent in grabbing the consumer’s attention and providing information in short bursts (under 2 minutes is ideal).
Additionally, Think with Google reported that 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos throughout their path to purchase – meaning beyond the 1-2 minute video they encounter on your website or on social media during the first stage of the buyer process, they are also consuming longer videos such as product demos.
Virtual reality has been taking off and is more feasible for marketers to utilize than you may think. VR offers an exciting, new form of content that immerses audiences into the brand’s environment. Interactive 360 degree videos or pictures on Facebook or Youtube is one crucial way marketers and using this technology without requiring every consumer to have VR goggles.
As busy marketers, it’s important to streamline as many tedious and time-consuming processes as possible. Some marketing automation strategies in 2019 have positively impacted email marketing, social media marketing (post scheduler) and data collection. Doing so allows marketers to focus on more strategic efforts and constantly assess the performance of campaigns from a higher level.
AI can also help with this by using predictive analytics to deliver relevant content or emails to consumers depending on where they are in the buying process and other factors. Automated chatbots are also gaining in popularity as they get the consumers the answers they need or link them to resources after hours on your website – helping your client services and sales team supplement some of their workload as well.
How to Make Yourself a More Successful Marketer
Becoming a successful marketer takes more than understanding marketing trends, there is also a mindset and certain qualities required. Here is a list of best practices to explain how you can make yourself a successful marketer.
Prioritize Your Bottom Line
Communicate with your sales team to not only find out the consumer’s pain points but also the salesperson’s. Do your part in helping close deals and allocate your budget so that you can align your goals: engage the consumer and contribute to sales. While marketing innovations and new technologies may peak your interest in trying new strategies, don’t pursue just any one strategy that can risk your bottom line.
Connect with Your Customers
In order to have a long-term relationship with your customers, it takes more than persuading them into making a purchase or getting them to engage with your content online. Getting to know your customers and researching their interests, pain points and content preferences is a must for building sustainable, effective strategies.
Additionally, as the voice of the brand, connecting with customers with regular engagement shows the customer that you, the brand, cares. It shows them that they are not just a number to the company and that their needs matter.
In today’s online world, it’s more difficult than ever to get a customer’s attention. As marketer Seth Godin asserts, the key to an effective campaign is a good story that customers can identify with on an emotional level. Beyond getting consumers’ attention, storytelling helps build trust between your brand and the consumer as you will seem more authentic.
Measure and Reassess
Continuously test your campaign strategies and routinely assess their effectiveness through data such as click-through-rates, shares on social media or leads generated. By regularly analyzing your approach, you can identify which strategies work well with your target audience and which campaigns need adjusting. Tactics such as A/B testing allow you to experiment with different offers, copy and designs to reveal the effectiveness of your campaign’s design and style.
Adaptability and Learning
A marker never stops learning and should never stop trying to push the envelope and experimenting with new strategies. In an environment that is constantly developing and changing, adaptability and a willingness to learn will reduce your risk of going stale.