Looking back at marketing innovations and trends for 2018
2018 proved to be the most eventful year in marketing. New technologies came out and existing technologies got smarter. Prospects got savvier and more bombarded with marketing. As 2019 approaches, the digital marketing landscape that encompasses SEO, social media, PPC, content marketing and more is witnessing a dramatic shift.
This will continue to happen every year at a faster pace. That said, the goal of marketing -- and digital marketing, in particular -- has always been the same: getting and keeping your audience's attention. The only changes that will continue occurring are where the attention goes, and how it can be leveraged optimally
The Year of Data
It makes perfect sense for data to have become the de facto and de jure currency in our information economy. From search engines to online services, everyone today relies on gathering data, packaging and selling it to the many analysts waiting to gleam off useful trends and patterns from it.
Most of the hosting services now provide different ways of data analytics like DaaS and similar. What’s even more interesting is the fact that most of the hosting services are offering these analytic data services free of charge, which is ideal for small companies.
With Data however come concerns of privacy. GDPR enforcement in the EU saw businesses scramble to rework their existing models to work under Europe’s tight scrutiny about user data collection and their privacy. Companies need to be able to demonstrate that they are trusted guardians of their customers’ data, that they are using that information only to benefit the individual customer, and to provide more value in customer experiences. Once customers are convinced of a company’s trustworthiness, they will be more willing to share their personal data, laying the foundation for a long-term relationship or partnership with that company.
The first truly Digital Generation starts shopping.
Marketing to a generation with no brand loyalty, no set preference and short retention spans in a medium with super saturation in terms of competition might sound like a nightmare. But from another point of view we might just be in the most exciting times for digital marketing.
Disposable income has now come in the hands of a generation that grew up with computers, the Internet and smartphones. This generation consumes 6-9 hours of media on an average, most of it on smartphones and with streaming services. They are savvy with technology and active across a vast spectrum of platforms.
When marketing to this generation who see no difference between friends they’ve met in real life or only know online, it’s important to consider their unique upbringing and relationship with social media so you can deliver a marketing message that resonates.
Incorporation of AI in Marketing
With effective data analysis and the ability to adapt to input, AI is taking over the human role of identifying marketing trends. Brands and marketers are leveraging AI digital marketing to save time and resources through automated digital marketing services.
AI can analyze data to easily predict the buying behaviors and decisions of your target customers while also improving user experience. From Starbucks’ Barista chatbot for Facebook Messenger to Amazon’s recommendation mechanism, AI has been seamlessly integrated into the digital landscape opening new and exciting avenues in terms of marketing.
Say Hello to Programmatic advertising
Simply put, it is the introduction of automation to buying and selling in media. Put simply, brands or agencies use a demand side platform (DSP) to decide which impressions to buy and how much to pay for them, while publishers use a supply side platform (SSP) to sell ad space to brands. These two platforms are then matched up in real time. One aspect of programmatic advertising is guaranteed impressions. A price is pre-agreed by the buyer and seller before the impressions go live on the website. When the brand needs to amplify the message, or reach a different audience beyond the continuous campaign, marketers can bid for real-time impressions.
The rise of chatbots
Chatbots had a humble beginning as a mere subset of the vast application of AI to marketing and advertising but have grown into a sophisticated field of their own in 2018. Chatbots use a process known as deep learning whereby a network recognizes speech, data, and specific patterns, then transmit the data through layers of the network such that they provide accurate results each time the AI faces the same problem or query from users.
Having said that, the best chatbot experiences have been the ones that facilitated a bot/human handoff. While bots can make Twitter conversations simpler and easier, they should never totally replace the human experience. For example, leading eCommerce platform Shopify uses a simple automated message on their support handle before connecting the customer to a human rep.
Visual Search - the future of searching?
With new, intelligent, visual search technology being incorporated into branded apps and websites as well as improved visual search functionality being built into platforms such as Pinterest, Bing, and Google, visual search is changing the search marketing landscape as we know it. Search engines are getting better at understanding the components of images, resulting in more reliable results and heightened usage.
While voice search usage has been increasing over the last few years, so has visual search. We can now search based on part of an image, search with our cameras, and search via augmented reality applications. With the introduction of Pinterest Lens, Pinterest as a platform in particular has been taking keen interest in developing and bettering visual search alternatives. Combined with the advent of AR and VR marketing, visual search engines could be a game changer.
Immediate Gratification with Micro-moment marketing
Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something.They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.
In these moments, consumers’ expectations are higher than ever. With our increasing dependence on smartphones, the consumer journey has been fractured into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.
When we act on our needs in the moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. This makes the quality, relevance, and usefulness of marketing more important than ever. Since our preferences and purchases are shaped in these micro-moments, the brands that do the best job of addressing customers’ needs in each moment – notably on mobile – will enjoy a huge competitive edge.
Live streaming has become a must
Live streaming has the power to expand the viewership of an event attended by hundreds into the millions, to connect global offices, and to reach audiences of unprecedented scale for product launches, fashion shows, or exclusive fan releases.There are more options for live streaming than ever before, and understanding the equipment and up-front costs can be overwhelming.
The Funnel isn’t Linear Anymore
In the good old days, marketers used to rely on the Sales funnel with it’s four stages to design their campaigns. The Funnel isn’t that simple anymore - today consumer journey is a complicated loop of constant researching and discovering and you need to develop content to stay relevant at every step. Marketers must develop strategies in line with this new consumer journey and spending habits to engineer requisite campaigns.
There may have been a time when you could’ve dismissed artificial intelligence or visual search as gimmicks, but that time is long gone. There are many new digital marketing trends and strategies that are evolving in the current high-tech, Internet-connected era and businesses now need to use them to succeed in their efforts because what worked for you last year may not work this year.