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As we all know, marketing is an ever-evolving field. What drove record sales last year (or even last month), isn’t guaranteed to even wiggle the revenue needle today. That’s why we broke out our crystal ball, called Ms. Cleo, and held council with our smartest marketing friends (thank you by the way) to bring you our predictions of the top digital marketing trends of 2019. Now’s the time to align your marketing strategies and ensure you don’t get left in the proverbial dust this year.

The Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends of 2019

From chatbots to micro-moments, here’s what marketers need to know for 2019.

1) The Rise of The Automated Chatbots

They’re not a convenient add-on anymore — they’re a necessity. Chances are you’ve been exposed to a handful of automated chatbots in 2018. These simple but highly effective bots combine instant messaging with AI to simulate real-time chat.

Today, 1.4 billion people are already interacting with traditional chatbots. By 2022, a combination of automated and traditional chatbots will help businesses save $8 billion per annum. Brands from Uber to Sephora are getting involved with automated chatbots, and even Disney is using automated chatbots to test how consumers will react to new movie characters.

Automated chatbots allow an unlimited number of customers to interact with a brand or store at one time. After all, human beings can only handle a finite number of simultaneous conversations, even when armed with the most sophisticated chat software. AI chat allows your brand to better take care of your customers so they can better take care of you.

2) An Increase in Voice Assisted Searches

“Hey Alexa, can you find the closest Thai place?”

“Hey Siri, what’s the weather like in Tulum right now?”

“Ok Google, are there any sweaters on sale today?”

By 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice. In 2017, 13% of all households in the U.S. owned a smart speaker and by 2022 that number is expected to rise to about 55%.

Which begs the question, “In 2019, is traditional SEO dead?” Well, no. But it’s undergoing a serious shift in focus. A shift that savvy-brands can use to their advantage to grow their market share and voice (see what we did there?) in 2019.

Traditional vs. Voice Search SEO

The key difference between traditional SEO and voice search is that voice searches tend to be mobile and locally focused, even more so than traditional SEO is.

To optimize your current SEO strategies for voice search in 2019, keep these key best practices in mind:

  1. Update your FAQ – People are asking the voice assistant questions and your site needs to have the relevant answers. As a best practice, be sure to group common questions on to the same page. Additionally, you want to go for natural sounding questions and phrases that can be understood when read aloud. Don’t rely on outdated SEO-keyword phrases.
  2. Use Conversational Keywords – Speaking of keywords, your 2019 keyword strategy needs to keep conversation in mind. You want to think about the type of questions your customers and potential customers might be asking their Alexa, Google, or Siri. Use this insight to compile a list of long-tail phrases that target specific conversational phrase and optimize your site for them.
  3. Keep your Google My Business Listing Current -Since most 2019 voice searches are going to be localized, you want to make sure that your business’ listing in My Google Business is up to date. Here you can list your category of business, phone number, address, business hours, FAQ, reviews, and more.

3) Visual Search Will Become More Common

As a primer, a visual search begins with a screenshot, internet image, or photograph that is run through an AI search technology which uses the content and context of these images to return related results.

In 2019, the image recognition market is expected to grow to $25.65 billion.

So, who’s driving this image search craze? Millennials and Gen Z, of course.

62% of millennials want visual search over any other technology. Case in point, there are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest every month alone! When the option to visually search is available over traditional search, more people are choosing to search visually.

Just like voice search and assistance, you’ll need to optimize your on-site images to be SEO friendly. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Add descriptive alt-text to images for indexing
  • Optimize image titles
  • Optimize alternative attributes with keywords
  • Optimize images for use on mobile and desktop
  • Reduce image sizes for optimum loading time

4) Personalization Will Be Expected

Making things personal isn’t something that should only be reserved for your best customers. Personalization is key to marketing success in 2019.

79% of consumers say that they’re likely to only engage with an offer if the offer has been personalized. When you consider how many offers, deals, and sales consumers are bombarded with daily, personalized offers stand out amidst the clutter of the generic.

Because of this over-saturation of constant deals and offers, more than half (51%) of consumers say that by 2020 they expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions prior to making contact.

Now, you might be asking, “Isn’t personalization kind of creepy?”

And the answer is—not at all. In fact, 57% of people are actually okay with providing their personal information so long as it is used in a responsible manner and benefits their consumer journey.

Think About Buyer Behavior

When it comes to personalizing your marketing strategies, don’t just think about buyer personas, think about buyer behavior alongside those personas. Once you understand your customer to their core you can do two things:

  1. Experiment with new, personalized consumer experiences
  2. Ensure content and messages reach the right customer, at the right time, in the right format, and on the right channel.

For some companies, getting personal might take some time and serious effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. Personalization can reduce acquisition costs as much as 50% and can lift revenue by 5 to 15%. Additionally, it can increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10% to 30%. At this point, you can’t afford to not make your marketing personal in 2019.

5) Micro-Moments Won’t Stay Micro for Long

2018 brought us micro-influencers and the introduction of micro-moments. A micro-moment is a brief moment in time; like when you’re purchasing an item, researching something new, or discovering a new site.

On average, a consumer has about 150 micro-moments per day, while spending an average of 4.7 hours each day on their smartphones.

A successful micro-moment is comprised of 3 key ingredients:

  1. Intent
  2. Context
  3. Immediacy

In 2019, brands need to be thinking through how they’re going to capture user interest and intent within these brief windows of time.

6) Native Ads Will Continue to Be Seen

In a survey of 1,000 internet users, around 40% use an ad blocker. Because of this, marketers have found it increasingly difficult to get their ads seen through traditional ad networks.

In 2019, your marketing team needs to say “Buh-bye!” to annoying banner ads and “Hello!” to native advertisements.

Not only are native advertisements integrated into the user’s experience (making them tricky to block with modern ad blockers), native advertising methods also offer sophisticated user targeting to help ensure your ads are seen by your target demographic.

7) More Brands Will Embrace the Power of Advocate Marketing – to Their Advantage

Between Instagram’s new algorithm rollout and continued updates to Facebook’s own visibility equation, organic reach across all social media platforms is at an all-time low.

And it’s not coming back.

To counteract this lack of organic visibility, more and more brands are leveraging the social-sharing power of their top fans to help increase the visibility of their marketing content (without constantly paying to boost or promote posts) through an advocacy marketing program.

2019: The Year Advocacy Marketing Evolves

Our advocacy marketing prediction in 2019? Not only will more brands implement advocacy marketing programs, those programs will evolve into something even more powerful than what we saw in 2017 and 2018.

The average social media user is becoming more creative and technologically savvy, which means they can produce more sophisticated content on behalf of their favorite brands (user-generated content). Advocates are also growing their personal social media audiences, becoming nano- or micro-influencers themselves.

The larger the social connection, the greater the potential reach of your advocacy marketing efforts. The greater the reach, the stronger the ROI.

If you haven’t already, now’s the perfect opportunity to start your advocacy marketing efforts in 90 days. Build your program now to reap the rewards throughout 2019.

Not Ready for 2019? Embrace the Future with SocialToaster

2019 is going to be full of exciting new technologies and marketing strategies. If you want help managing everything from strategy to contests, contact us today for a free demo.