As a content marketing specialist and business journalist who covers the intersection of digital innovation with the global economy, business and lifestyle, it's a part of my job to stay on top of the latest tech trends and disruptions.
In our fast-moving age, there is more than one next big thing in web tech. And next year, companies and marketers will turn their attention to the ways technologies and marketing efforts come together to achieve short- and long-term strategic and operational goals.
In 2019, look for five things, in particular, to change the way brands both create and capture value as the online marketing, advertising and media landscapes continue to shift.
With a fast-growing cadre of small brands and companies making their mark on the world with bold branding and niche products and services, micro-brand marketing, will come into its own. 2019 will see micro-brands make more inroads in social media, especially Instagram, with high-quality imagery and customized offerings that mesmerize audiences. They will continue interjecting their unique approach to engagement into the modern version of talk radio, podcasts. And they will make their presence felt into the longtime core of business media—print publications—turning a medium believed to be an afterthought into opportunities to increase market share. If you own or market for a smaller brand trying to carve out its niche, this is the time to do it.
Just as small-scale brands are moving to engage consumers in micro markets, micro-influencers—with their relatively small but loyal followings—are increasingly becoming go-tos for marketers seeking to reach their target audience. When marketing on social media platforms, using micro-influencers can help you to generate quality leads, increase sales and boost return on investment. In 2019, the key to cashing in will remain choosing the right influencer to partner with to engage with your existing customers with relevancy and authenticity, while reaching new untapped audiences with whom your brand and offerings resonate.
SEO Keyword Topic Clusters
Today’s consumers are using more detailed queries on search engines and have higher expectations of relevant results. And with competition to be found in search engine results reaching a fever pitch, the next evolution in SEO will be topic clustering. Not very long ago, users would simply enter something like “Manhattan Chinese restaurants” when searching for relevant local eateries. These days, more web users are framing queries as questions like: "What are my options for Asian cuisine?" or “Chinese food near me”. They expect search engines to intuitively deliver accurate results based on their intent and geolocation. Topic cluster models increase search engine visibility by allowing websites to be topical authorities. So, the trend in 2019 will be moving toward focusing on topics rather than conventional keywords for search engine optimization.
Personalized Content Creation
Content will start becoming more dynamic next year, as content marketers seek to create dynamic user experiences with adaptive content. Although not a new approach, better technology now exists to help tailor the Web experiences of customers to best fit their preferences and needs. In the world of content, this means changing and displaying content on a given web page depending on the website visitor's past behavior and known preferences while using the site. Talk with your UX developer about how to use a well-maintained and structured central customer database to customize content for your customers on your website and via email.
Online Meets Offline
Modern marketers understand that customers fluidly move between the online and offline worlds, and now attempt to engage them along every touchpoint in their journey. So, online-offline convergence will be the name of the game in 2019 as brands continue to explore how technologies can build a more integrated digital and physical landscape—to complement each other and drive greater value. More businesses will incorporate offline data in web marketing campaigns to strengthen ROI through deeper insights into customers and their real-world behaviors. And digital marketing will seamlessly work in conjunction with offline campaigns to promote tangible goods, physical services and live events offline. Think about ways you can use Online-to-Offline (or O2O, for short) marketing to reach your customers and audience, and drive two-pronged engagement and sales.
Blockchain and “Trust Economy” Adoption
As blockchain finally begins to outgrow its cryptocurrency identity, the technology that underpins crypto will step up as a new protocol for trust across business, enterprise and government. Facilitating more efficient and transparent information maintenance by keeping updated databases stored by a network of volunteer computers, so that no single institution is a central recordkeeper, blockchain is fast becoming a trustworthy gatekeeper. In 2019 and beyond, the technology, platforms and talent driving future blockchain initiatives will become standardized. The implications for online business? Safer (and cheaper) ecommerce payments and money transfers, digital identity security and fraud protection, more secure gift cards and loyalty programs, smart contracts and distributed cloud storage.
These ever-emerging trends are redefining the way people to business, shop and interact online. As they alter digital realities, there is a unique opportunity for brands and companies to expand their reach and influence, while positively impacting their bottom line. Are you ready?