If you read industry magazines like Forbes, Adweek, or Marketing News, you may have already picked up on many of the forecasted trends for the new year. It’s true that 2019 promises to bring more creativity and innovation to branding and marketing campaigns than ever before. The changes that stand out, however, are rooted in tech and data-driven content. Here are 5 marketing trends in 2019 that will help you get ahead of the industry in the coming months.
Top Marketing Trends in 2019
Trend 1: Augmented Reality
Brands across the globe are rolling out AR ads and apps for products as a way for customers to interact with products in a unique way, offering a higher quality customer experience.
Creative mega brands like Apple and Adobe are leading the way with AR options for shopping and artistry.
With the 2019 release of virtual reality-based software Adobe Captivate, for example, users can teach and engage others with 360° media assets and interactive elements.
IKEA Place, downloadable from Apple’s App Store for iOS devices, lets you imagine how furniture will look in your home before buying it, so you can see how that new couch will fit in with your current living room design using AR technology (watch preview below).
In addition, American Airlines has developed a prototype with AR overlays to help you navigate your way around an airport terminal to find your departure gate quickly.
Meanwhile, iconic fashion brands such as Adidas, Sephora, and Fossil are using AR tools to showcase a larger variety of products and allow consumers to virtually “try on” products before buying them.
Remember Google Glass? Well, a new competitor is vying for the market using AR technology.
Vuzix Blade ® AR smart glasses, which won a CES 2019 Innovation Award, resemble normal glasses but allow users to use Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based, voice-activated personal assistant, to shop or browse online with a simple tap or swipe on a touchpad.
Check out more of the best VR and AR tech from CES 2019 on Digital Trends.
AR is also making big waves in the entertainment sphere as a way to promote new TV shows, films, and music releases. (You may remember when Game of Thrones launched an AR camera effect on Facebook in 2017 where fans can look like the Night King.)
Social media savvy brands are even experimenting with AR, as well as digital stickers and custom GIFs, in Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories to enhance content and grab viewers’ attention to various calls-to-action. According to Hootsuite’s Social Media Trends Report 2019, “Instagram Stories have 300M daily active users, and Facebook Stories have 150M daily active users” – both huge reasons for brands to start incorporating Stories into their social strategy.
When creating Stories (including with AR), Hootsuite suggests integrating raw, unedited, and live action videos, along with text and images to enhance the customer experience. An example would be posting an engaging how-to video of someone using a product in real life and allowing the option to buy it with one click.
Trend 2: Social Shopping
As social shopping technology improves, more consumers are buying directly from their feeds, including shopping on Instagram. More than half of consumers (55 percent) have purchased something on social media, according to a recent report from digital research firm Avionos.
Choosy, an ecommerce fashion brand, is just one Instagram success story, with 60% of its sales coming from the social app. Another success story is Glossier (pictured above), which uses video tutorials, user-generated content, and photography to showcase its brand of products.
Keep in mind that Instagram will soon be launching “IG Shopping” – a standalone app designed specifically for shopping.
For brands unfamiliar with social shopping on Instagram, the first step is to set up an approved business profile. That will allow you to create shoppable Instagram posts and link it to your catalog on Shopify or BigCommerce, making purchases easy via the user’s digital wallet. (Consumers use the Shopping tab available on the Instagram Explore page or can shop directly from your posts.)
So what do you post? First, opt for lifestyle photos of real people and tag multiple items in each photo to show how products look and work together. Livestream product demos. Hold contests to promote and giveaway products to boost shares from micro-influencers. And post meaningful videos! According to a 2017 whitepaper by Cisco, by 2021, 78% of all mobile traffic will be video.
But be sure to post videos across all social channels, not just Instagram, because according to Hootsuite, 800 million people in 70 countries are turning to Facebook’s Marketplace to shop, and 55% of Pinterest users buy products from Buyable Pins.
It’s unclear exactly where social channels will be headed in the next few years, but you can definitely expect growth in the social shopping realm. For now, here’s where the sites land in terms of monthly active users in millions, according to Hootsuite. Somewhat surprisingly, Facebook is still No. 1.
Trend 3: Be Human to Build Trust
When it comes to social media, however, you may be surprised to learn that users are spending less time posting news on their feeds and spending more time on messaging apps. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype now collectively count nearly 5 billion monthly active users. According to Hootsuite, “nine out of 10 consumers prefer messaging to communicate with businesses and for customer service questions.”
Keep in mind, consumers are demanding more personal attention. That means while AI-powered messenger bots can answer simple FAQ, a “set it and forget it” mentality will not work for customers with more complex questions or concerns. Having real people take their time to reply to customers with empathy will set brands apart from the competition.
In addition, it’s clear that consumers’ trust in social media (and media in general) has suffered severely in the last few years, and it is up to brands to help rebuild the circle of trust. One way to do that is to partner with micro-influencers, specifically on Instagram, which accounted for “93 percent of all influencer campaigns last year,” according to Forbes.
Brands can also create Secret Facebook Groups requiring permission to join, so marketers can gain access to niche communities and encourage dialogue with passionate customers.
Hootsuite also suggests brands invite subject matter experts to attend a monthly Facebook Live (or Twitter Chat) Q&As session, during which time they address a hot button issue, trending topic, or answer commonly asked questions in order to educate consumers and build trust. (Be careful to use hashtags that rally customers around a meaningful topic or a brand value, not a product.)
And when it comes to brands working with print or digital publishers, ads need to always be clearly labeled as sponsored content instead of passing as heavily disguised “editorial” content. It seems that even in the publishing industry, brands lead the trust circle when it comes to consumers.
“Brands are the key to consumer trust and credibility, from print product to pixel,” says Michael Clinton, president, marketing, and publishing director, Hearst Magazines, in an interview with Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni. This is true for “legacy titles, such as House Beautiful and Town & Country, to the latest mega-success stories, such as Pioneer Woman and Airbnb.”
For instance, according to Clinton: “If I’m a Cosmopolitan reader, I have the trust factor in print, in digital, in social, on Snapchat, because I trust the brand. And that gets into the context discussion. I think that if you’re seeing something that is on Cosmo.com, you know that it’s been produced by professional editors; it’s authoritative; it’s been vetted properly; as opposed to some pure play digital site or some influence, it has a real credibility.”
Another tip is to “go long” in your marketing strategy. “Marketers will need to focus more on generating steady streams of quality content that position their brands as trustworthy experts,” writes Forbes’ contributor John Hall. This is especially true for SEO. So don’t just jump on that latest trendy keyword and expect your search rankings to budge.
Trend 4: Data-Driven Content
SEO is highly driven by data. That’s why 2019 is considered the “Year of Data,” Clinton says. That means putting print and digital data to work in a much bigger way, helping to drive content with purpose – “content that we know through our data that our readers really respond to,” he says. Where data-driven content is concerned, innovation and evolution are key.
“Today you’re selling a print platform, a web platform, a video platform, a social media platform, and an experiential platform,” Clinton says. “We now have consumers interacting with our brands in so many different places, knitting all of that together to create a community and that’s what’s really exciting.”
Data insights help marketers with better brand storytelling, giving customers more personalized experiences. (An example is the way Fitbit tracks your daily tasks and translates them into an easy-to-understand “number of steps per day.”
In addition, last year’s push for data governance by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is part of a trend that is also expected to continue in 2019, especially since the average “customers’ data now sits in an average of six to eight clouds, as well as their own data centers,” according to Database Trends and Applications.
Trend 5: Voice Search
Voice search is on the rise, too, according to Forbes, especially among young people. In fact, 40% of people using voice-enabled virtual assistants are Millennials, according to eMarketer. Brands need to optimize content for speech recognition technology on smartphones and portable devices such as Google Home, Apple HomePod, and Amazon Echo, accounting “for the various ways your audience searches and expects answers [in order to be] seen or heard.”
In fact, the voice search (smart speaker) market grew worldwide by 187% in Q2 of 2018, according to a report by Canalys. So if your brand is not already thinking about how to improve your position in this industry, then you’re already way behind.
The first step is to recognize that written and voice search content are not the same. “While written searches are more focused on phrases and fragments of sentences, voice searches are more conversational and typically take the form of questions,” according to Contentworks Agency.
With technology and data driving the marketing trends in 2019, it’s a great time to get acclimated to these evolving fields. So what’s your marketing strategy this year? Let me know how your brand is doing by leaving a comment below!
Header photo by Rodion Kutsaev | Unsplash