Digital Marketing has undergone some really interesting changes in the last decade. I started Zestee in 2008 with a focus on social media training, as back then, it was a totally new trend. Much of my time was spent explaining to entrepreneurs what Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms were and why they should be using them. Things have changed though, new trends come and go. Some stay a while and develop over a decade. Others burn out before they even begin. All are interesting though and this list below will give you a checklist of concepts to be aware of.
For the last 3 years, I’ve been a lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and one of the courses I teach is Digital Marketing Trends. So I’ve been even more aware of monitoring marketing trends to share with my students, but also learning from them. Along with my colleagues, the four trends we have been focussing on are Neuromarketing, Big Data, Gamification and my own workshops on Digital Marketing – where I’ve zoomed in on content creation, particularly video.
Keywords as a starting point
Below is a summary of trends that I believe are worth knowing about in 2019 for digital marketing. Some have been around for some time, and others are newly emerging. Below I’ll give just a brief description of each. Often, it’s enough to just know a keyword, or hashtag, of which trends to look out for, as you can then use that to go and do your own research. On some of these I will write (and later link to) more in depth articles.
Order of importance?
The importance of these trend is not universal, and depends on your personal interests and business. Therefore I’ve simply put these in alphabetical order.
AI – artificial intelligence – is becoming a part of our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. I know I have trouble defining exactly what it is, and am sure many of you would face the same challenge. See Voice for one application of this.
I’m putting one actual company in this list due to the huge impact they are already making in digital marketing, and I believe will continue to do so. Being able to buy direct from manufactures in China, at a fraction of the price it may cost to buy things in Europe or other locations impacts the way we buy . With the AliExpress app and business model adding in easy payments and buyer protection, it makes it even more appealing. Sure, there is a wait for products to arrive but the savings here are incredible. Even my children have learned to ask me to check something out on AliExpress before they make a purchase.
The immense amount of data that is being collected by companies is mind boggling. Where it becomes useful is in recognising and using patterns. My colleague, Jochem Vreeke, has been teaching workshops on this at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and I think I need to go and sit in on one to better understand this.
This is a trend that I’m personally having a hard time grasping. It seems to spark intense debate about whether it’s worthwhile. I’m including it in this list as something that I believe has had some impact on digital marketing, if only that it’s making people think differently about money. It’s a topic I need to learn more about.
Chatting to computers? Chatbots are automated AI conversations currently used in Facebook and other applications. I’m not a fan myself, though probably because these are fairly new and “clunky” – it’s a little like when I lived in Australia and you get customer service call centres in India who seem to stick to a script no matter what. Both Indian call centres and chatbots are getting better though, and I can see the value in the concept – if customers are asking lots of the same questions, chatbots can answer them sufficiently and free up valuable human time to answer more complex questions. Done well, you wouldn’t even know whether you are talking to a computer or a human.
More and more data and day to day marketing operations occur “in the cloud”. Think Dropbox for files, Google Photos and Spotify for music. This brings a benefit that even if you lose your device, you don’t loose your data, but there are also privacy and security concerns which GDPR laws have emerged to address.
Competition was a key concept I learned about when I did my own marketing degree quite some time ago and though it’s essentially what does happen in business, I love that more organisations are also realising the power of partnerships and collaboration.
Creating, and co creating communities is popular as a digital marketing trend, and in the last few years has become a focus for organisations both large and small. Facebook has realised the power of this and is supporting
We are all content consuming machines, but also (co)create content every day. Billions of bits of content are created daily. To make this more manageable, I’ve broken this down into categories of content – being text, image, audio or video. Each has its pros and cons, see video below for what I believe is the most effective in most marketing.
This is a personal favourite – as an educator, I’m really excited about the growing possibilities that technology offers in education. How it relates to digital marketing is that customers often want to learn. About your product, about your organisation and industry or just in general. Knowledge as a product is big business with the emergence of countless ecourses.
We no longer want to just buy a product or service, we become more connected with a company if we have an experience. This trend is not new but I believe will still continue through in 2019 and beyond.
We like to play games, and using gamification in digital marketing is a way to leverage that. Awarding badges or titles to customers who interact regularly with a brand.
I’m old enough to remember that it was a pretty big deal to order something online, and it wasn’t very common. We used to actually go to the shops to buy things and wanted to touch and feel products before taking them home. Now, many of us want things delivered to our door. Companies like Cool Blue where I live in the Netherlands have taken the risk out of buying online, with generous refund and return policies.
Bloggers, vloggers, instagrammers – these individuals have enormous power in digital marketing. Its not always about the numbers either – micro influencers is a thing too. With some very basic skills, anyone can set up a website, blog or YouTube channel and broadcast their views to the world. For some, their only viewers remain perhaps their parents, friends and maybe some random spammers! For many though, they grow in popularity and have a true impact – and influence – over the way we buy, and even the way we think.
As unique as we all think we are, human brains respond to certain triggers in fairly consistent ways. As my colleague, Onno Jongmans, asks in Neuromarketing – “Is there a buy button in the brain?”. Smart marketeers have been trying to figure this out for some time and will continue in 2019.
Omnichannel is about being on several platforms. Ask your friends and family which are their favourite apps and ways to communicate. I guarantee you cannot all completely agree. WhatsApp is coming out as a popular leader, but there are still many people who are Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram fans. There are also many other places where your customers want to communicate with you. You don’t need to be absolutely everywhere, but you do need to be on more than one channel.
From mass production and mass marketing, we have been moving in the opposite direction of personalisation. Technology has made it easier for us to mass personalise. One example is your smartphone – the actual device and hardware is the same, but the way you set it up and the apps you add are unique to you.
We’re only just touching the surface of what is possible in automating our homes. Smart thermostats like Nest and smart lighting such as Philips
I’m including social media on this list as though it’s far from new, it’s still an important trend to follow in digital marketing. Tools and platforms change as we all become more familiar – and demanding – of what we require from social media.
Humans are wired to have an interest in storytelling and many businesses have been learning how to make the most of this in their digital marketing.
Transparency and Truth
Gone are the days where companies can stretch the truth or straight out lie in their marketing. Social media in particular, where everyone can broadcast their opinions and call out companies they don’t believe means that transparency and truth are best practice. It works both ways though – customers can also lie, so organisations need crisis communication plans in place to defend their own truth as well.
UX stands for “user experience” and is an important concept in digital marketing. What kind of touchpoints do your customers have with your company and how easy are you making it for them?
Of the four main categories of content (see content co creation above) – video has become the most popular, at least in countries where the data connection speed can handle it.
Becoming immersed in an experience without actually being there is still in its infancy, but has massive potential.
Google Home, Apple Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have been making their way into our daily lives. I have all three in my house and it’s been really interesting to watch how our family interact with this AI. From asking the weather, to playing music, to helping my 9-year-old with her maths homework, voice commands appeal to our human nature to want to make things as easy as possible. At first, I wondered why we wouldn’t just actually plug our phone into a speaker and press play – but now have come to be either lazy or value the convenience of asking Google to play me a song while I cook dinner.
I’d be interested to know your thoughts on these trends. Have they made an impact in your life (yet)? Do you think I’ve missed any? Let me know!