As we plunge into 2019, there’s no better time to look to the year ahead and consider where digital marketing will take us next. Based on growth and general activity throughout 2018, we can make some fairly accurate predictions about what will dominate the digital marketing landscape in the coming year. While we can never truly know what Google and the wider digital marketing universe have in store for us, we can take advantage of the latest trends as they arise. Here’s our top picks for the biggest digital marketing trends in 2019.

Video Content

Video content has always struck a chord with audiences. It’s not so much the what as the where that’s going to get more interesting in 2019. With the rise of online streaming services and social networking, TV hasn’t been able to draw the crowds it once did. For a few years now, a question has lingered; how do marketers reach those who have quite literally tuned out of free to air television? The answer now is Connected TV.

You probably already use it and know it well. Connected TV is your Smart TV, your Xbox, your Apple TV – essentially any TV that can connect to the Internet. These devices have been around for a while, but the advertising opportunities on Connected TV apps are only starting to gain momentum. In 2019, it’s likely to become something that’s used by more than just the big brands.

Another growing distribution channel for video content is Instagram TV (IGTV). Videos featured in Instagram stories can only be 15 seconds in length and are only visible for a limited time period. General video posts offer a more permanent profile feature, but these are still limited to 1 minute in duration. IGTV allows for content of up to 1 hour, and since launching mid-last year it has opened the possibilities of long form video content.

Major players like Netflix, Nike and Gucci have already started to test the waters with IGTV. As it becomes more commonplace, more businesses will start to explore the potential of branded video content on Instagram.

Voice Search

Conversational AI is changing the way we search. We’re spending less time typing our questions into Google and more time asking virtual assistants to search for us. Adobe Digital Insights discovered that more than 50% of people with access to voice assistants use them at least once a day, with more than 20% using them to shop online1. It won’t be long until we completely rely on voice search assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana.

One of the major differences between voice and text search is the number of results we receive. When we type a search into Google, we get an unlimited number of results to review. When we ask Siri or one of her cousins to search for us, we only receive the top result. Soon it’s going to become more important than ever to rank as #1 on Google and hold what’s known as ‘position zero’.

But while digital marketing is constantly progressing, major change doesn’t happen overnight. Leading research company Gartner predicted that by 2020 voice search will account for up to 30% of web browsing2, meaning there’s time to prepare for the rise of voice search by getting your SEO and search advertising techniques in order now.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is a term that many of us would reserve for science fiction films, but it’s actually a greater part of our daily lives than most probably realise. A survey conducted by Salesforce revealed that 51% of marketing leaders are already using AI in some way, while more than 25% will begin to use AI technology throughout this year3.

One of the easiest ways to use AI in marketing activities is through the use of chatbots. Personalised marketing activities are becoming more crucial than ever in order to win customer loyalty and brand trust, and chatbots are an excellent way to achieve this. Chatbots can integrate with messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to communicate directly with your customers via personalised, automated responses. By 2020, it’s predicted that more than 85% of interactions between businesses and customers will take place without the presence of a human4.

Social Media

Facebook might have been the one to really get things going, but social media has been around in some form since the late nineties, and it’s not about to leave our lives anytime soon. Social media has always been ripe with marketing opportunities, with new features and methods of communication constantly on the rise. But what are the ones to watch out for in 2019?

For one, live streaming. It may have seemed like a gimmick when it was first introduced to Facebook, but it is starting to become a highly engaging feature. Upon celebrating the second birthday of its live streaming capabilities in April 2018, Facebook revealed that the average number of live broadcasts had doubled year on year, with a total of 3,500,000 live streams and 150 billion user reactions5.

Another social media tool that’s gaining traction is social listening. It has generally been used to collect insights, but it’s more likely to be harnessed for lead generation purposes in this coming year. Social listening allows a business to crawl social media platforms and discover references to its brand name, products and related keywords to understand what its consumers are thinking and feeling. More businesses will start to leverage social listening to target people searching for similar products and services, improve location-based targeting and uncover potential brand ambassadors as well as influencers.

On that note, the face of the social media influencer is changing with the growth of micro-influencers. Instead of reaching out to Instagram users with huge followings, businesses are starting to turn to trusted profiles with a fewer number of followers, those around the 10-30,000 mark. This less is more approach will allow brands to reach more relevant Instagram users for a much smaller price tag.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality are gradually seeping into the marketing activities of major brands. More and more businesses are choosing to adopt these technologies given the potential for customers to experience products prior to purchase.

Virtual reality creates an entirely simulated experience and is often used in industries such as tourism and property, whereas augmented reality adds to or alters the way we view the space around us. IKEA has already started tapping into the powers of augmented reality, allowing customers to experience how a new coffee table or couch will look in their existing living room design. Given the potential of virtual and augmented reality in the online shopping experience, we can expect the technology to gradually become more widespread over 2019.

Digital marketing will forever keep us on our toes as it continues to evolve alongside advancements in technology. While businesses should aim to be as responsive as possible to digital marketing trends, it’s equally important to determine which ones have the greatest potential to generate specific results. That’s where we come in. We’re a digital marketing agency that can understand your business and help you achieve your objectives using the latest innovations. Why not have a chat with us today?

1. Adobe Digital Insights Consumer Electronic Report January 2018
2. Gartner Predicts a Virtual World of Exponential Change Blog October 2018
3. Salesforce, What Does AI Mean For The Future Of Marketing, Fourth Annual State Of Marketing Report 2017
4. Gartner Customer 360 Summit 2011
5. Facebook, 2 Years Of Facebook Live Infographic April 2018