With 2019 approaching, many business owners and marketers are deciding on where to invest their time and money in the coming year.
I've surveyed the digital marketing landscape, tapping insights from emerging developments, global data, industry surveys, and analytical reports—looking beyond fads and short-lived tactics to realistic, actionable and worth pursuing—to give you a snapshot of the four biggest trends I believe will power companies and brands forward in 2019.
Here they are:
The Coming of Age of AI-driven Chat
Artificial intelligence has the power to analyze consumer behavior and search patterns, utilizing metrics from websites, social media platforms and blogs to help companies and brands gain insight into their customers and audience.
Some 1.4 billion people now interact with chatbots worldwide, with 80% of businesses are already using or planning to use the technology by 2020. Gartner Research says 25% of customer service operations will employ live chatbot technology by 2020, up from less than 2% right now.
Some indications of how much customer service matters:
- There's a 91% chance that a dissatisfied customer won't do business with you again (Lee Resources)
- Unhappy customers typically tell nine to 15 people about their negative experience (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
- 42% of consumers with good customer service experiences become repeat customers (Zendesk)
- Only 19% of people surveyed had a negative perception of chatbots (LivePerson)
Uber uses chatbot technology to communicate with customers, making it easy for them to find a ride on Google Maps or Facebook Messenger, while giving passengers the option of choosing the type of ride they want, track vehicle location, make a specific request, and even pay for their ride.
Consider getting ahead of the competition by using a chatbot for your brand. Having one could mean the difference between making sales and losing customers.
The Accelerated Growth of Video
Research shows that Web will catch up to TV in 2019 in terms of hours watched.
Currently, 54% of Web users watch video on a social media platform monthly, and researchers expect video to make up 85% of total Web traffic by next year.
YouTube and other social media videos now being displayed in the SERPs (search engine results pages), making video an important part of search engine optimization (SEO).
Live video is also gaining popularity, with growing numbers of businesses and brands using it to broadcast interviews, product demos and "behind the scenes" looks at operations, offices and factories on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Consider these stats that show how important it is to incorporate video into your digital marketing strategy:
- 72% of brands and businesses say video has improved their conversion rates.
- 52% of consumers say watching product videos makes them more confident in purchasing online.
- 70% of consumers say they have shared a company or brand's online video.
- 65% of executives visit the marketers’ website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a company's video.
A couple of ways to add video to your marketing strategy in 2019 include running video ads on YouTube and Instagram, where 65% of ad impressions were the result of video content.
In June, Instagram launched IGTV, a new video platform dedicated exclusively to mobile users. Unlike YouTube and other video platforms, IGTV focuses on vertical video, which is suitable for marketers and content producers targeting a mobile-only audience. Chipotle was one of the first companies to create and distribute an IGTV video.
The Rise of Voice-Fueled Search
Digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now continue to make inroads, their presence is increasingly being felt across the Web. While your average search engine query typically returns hundreds of results, a voice search through smart assistants offers a more targeted approach, usually yielding no more than a handful of results. If your website is one of them, you could expect a much higher CTR (click-through rate) than you could ever realize through standard searchers.
Consider the numbers according to ComScore:
- 40% of American adults use voice search every day
- Nearly a third of the 3.5 billion searches performed on Google every day are voice searches
- During last year's holiday shopping season, 25% of shoppers used voice assistants
- By 2020, half of all Web search engine queries will be voice-based
- By the end of 2022, 55 percent of American homes will have at least one smart speaker
As more consumers integrate digital assistants into their daily lives, it will become increasingly important to tailor your SEO and digital marketing strategies for voice search as more people use it to locate information on the Web.
Just as social media broke down barriers between brands and consumers, voice recognition technology represents yet another opportunity for companies to get even closer to their target audiences
The Continued Expansion of AR and VR
Augmented and Virtual Realities (AR and VR) has the potential to engage consumers by providing them a better customer experience while making them active participants in brand messaging, two things that are important to today's tech users.
Depending on the source, the global VR and AR market is expected to skyrocket from its current $27 billion dollars to anywhere between $94 and a mind-blowing $209 billion dollars by 2023.
In 2016, the augmented reality-based game Pokemon Go created a global phenomenon, with millions of players of all ages around the world venturing into public places to catch characters.
Since then, many businesses have embraced the power of these technologies. IKEA, for example, lets shoppers use its app to search their online catalog, aim their smartphone cameras at the space they'd like to furnish, and see exactly how any piece of furniture would look in the real world. Other notable brands like Starbucks, American Express, Volkswagen and National Geographic have also used AR as marketing tools to create memorable user experiences.
Now is a great time to follow their lead and explore your options for VR and AR marketing to make sure you get in ahead of the curve.
The successful brands of tomorrow understand the importance of selectively embracing future-facing trends today. Strategically doing so now will allow your brand to reap the benefits of technological shifts, helping ensure success down the line, instead of leaving you scrambling to catch up or being entirely left behind.