The digital marketing landscape is one of the fastest-moving industries around, which means a lot can happen in a year. Just look at 2018: implementation of GDPR, the continued rise of artificial intelligence and voice tech, and a growing need for personalization, just to name a few.
We rounded up predictions from trusted industry experts to hear what they think marketers should be on the lookout for in the year ahead.
What to look for (and look out for) in the year ahead:
Here’s everything you need to keep an eye on while planning your 2019 digital strategy:
On the rise of Instagram, the fall of Facebook, and the future of social media:
“With 41% of its users over the age of 65, Facebook may be peaking.” — Digital Marketing Institute
“The pendulum is shifting away from active social interactions back to more traditional ‘passive’ experiences, like podcasts, reading, and watching videos on platforms like YouTube. — Michael Stelzner
What it means for you as a marketer: Go where your people are. If you’re targeting a younger demographic, Facebook may not be the place for your ads and posts. But if you’re targeting an older demographic and you’ve got a budget for paid social ads, it could definitely be beneficial.
Don’t neglect other mediums like articles, podcasts, and videos, because, as Stelzner said, they’ll become increasingly popular in 2019. Think outside-the-box to figure out where your target audience can be found, and show up there with valuable content.
Data privacy and the continued after-effects of GDPR:
“There’s a growing need to provide transparency for privacy concerns. GDPR should not be a cautionary tale, but a wake up call for the entire marketing industry.” — Akerho Oghoghomeh.
“Marketers should prepare for more public conversation about data privacy.” — Art Quanstrom
What it means for you as a marketer: Any email marketer with an international subscriber list would probably list GDPR as one of the most impactful changes that happened in 2018. If you’re just catching up, GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation—an initiative enforced by the European Union to provide individuals with greater control over the collection of online personal data.
You’ll want to make sure your email and marketing practices are GDPR compliant.
Personalization will continue to be the key to conversions:
“Email marketers should prepare for a stronger emphasis on personalization in 2019. Serving content tailored to your audience’s preferences will be paramount. 1:1 email marketing will finally replace 1:many.” — Shane Phair
What it means for you as a marketer: Shane Phair, Campaign Monitor’s VP of Marketing, is right when he says you should be focusing on creating a customized experience for each of your customers. Regardless of medium, this is definitely a digital marketing strategy that’s here to stay.
Everyone will be talking about audio/voice technology this year:
“Smart audio is the technology that all brands must focus on right now.” — Mitch Joel
“We need to make sure our emails (and other marketing assets) are able to be read by voice-assistive devices, using strong and compelling copywriting, as well as solid and effective accessibility practices in email development.” — Logan Bard
What it means for you as a marketer: Think about it—your brand needs to be ready for all the occasions when someone asks Siri or Alexa a question. According to ComScore, 50% of all web searches will be done via voice by 2020, so make sure your copy is compliant.
Focus on getting to know your customers before expecting them to get to know your brand:
“Now more than ever, consumers expect brands to understand them and treat engagements as evidence that they are committed to knowing them better as individuals.” — Nick Worth
What it means for you as a marketer: Do whatever you can to get to know your customers better—conduct feedback surveys, do A/B testing, look at the ways they are responding to your brand and decide how you can improve their experience.
Don’t depend solely on paid advertising. Supplement with organic search:
“Advertising will continue to become more expensive, so the best way to keep up with your competitors is to focus on optimizing for SEO.” — Neil Patel
What it means for you as a marketer: Spend your money wisely. Advertisement costs will continue to rise, so unless your budget is unlimited, you need to back up those efforts with organic search optimization to get the most bang for your buck.
On writing great copy and telling interesting stories:
“Understanding how your customers communicate is vital.” — Forbes
“In 2019, immersive storytelling and location-based experiences will draw customers to brands like never before.” — John Bucher
What it means for you as a marketer: Close the gap between you, your brand, and your customers. Meet them where they are, and talk to them in a way that’s approachable and natural.
On building customer relationships that last and providing long-term value:
“Marketers must get smarter about how we explain and implement and do things in a scalable way instead of buying a technology that just allows us to check a box in our reports to the directors of our companies.” — Ryan Phelan
“Smart marketers will think critically about the whole lifecycle of their [customers]; With the [customers’] interests in mind, they’ll grow lists organically and nurture/encourage engagement for a longer period of time.” — Carissa Phillips
“In 2019, I hope marketers will simply be better than [they were in] 2002—there’s great potential, but we still need to take advantage of what we already have and maximize the tools available to us.” — Scott Stratten
What it means for you as a marketer: Be proactive instead of reactive. Plan for ways you can expand your strategies or tweak them to become more successful instead of returning to the drawing board for each campaign.
Email marketing continues to thrive, but strategy matters more than ever:
“Authenticity will be key to standing out in the inbox. With more brands than ever sending emails and getting more sophisticated by using tools like automation and first name personalization, the standard ‘best practices’ alone will not set you apart.” — Elizabeth Duffey
“Most companies today use their email newsletter as a distribution strategy. What if we focused not on the news but on the letter?” — Ann Handley
What it means for you as a marketer: Use the beginning of the year as a time to revamp your email marketing strategy and try things you haven’t attempted before. Maybe A/B test two different subject lines, try dynamic content within your email, or start a re-engagement campaign for the inactive and disengaged subscribers on your list.
On the importance of authentic content marketing and influencer endorsements:
“People are putting more trust in others they know and reputable content, not ads.” — Forbes
“I think a growing number of businesses will stop thinking about content marketing as a separate discipline and instead realize that all good marketing involves content marketing.” — Alison Wert
What it means for you as a marketer: Your content strategy should always be focused on humans first, then optimized for search engines second. Focus on the people telling the stories, the ones who will read the stories, and how each perspective can strengthen the message you’re sharing. Apply the same content marketing principles to all aspects of your business, from finance to SEO.
Digitally enhance experiences that happen in real life:
“Brick-and-mortar locations will need to create unique, one of a kind experiences for shoppers.” — James Giglio
What it means for you as a marketer: If you own a brick-and-mortar store, one of the worst things you could do in 2019 is neglect your online presence. While you should definitely focus on social media, sending emails, and connecting with your existing customers online, also consider what it would look like to enhance your customers’ real-life experiences using digital marketing tactics.
Celebrate your success and plan for the future:
“Predictive analytics will be a keystone of marketing for the savvy marketer because few things help conserve budget and resources like knowing what’s likely to happen.” — Christopher S. Penn
What it means for you as a marketer: Planning for the future can seem overwhelming, but using predictive analytics can actually make things less stressful in the long-run. By not only measuring current outcomes but also focusing on predictive analytics, you can know what to expect and adjust your strategy accordingly.
In the ever-changing industry of marketing, nothing is ever sure. From voice technology to data privacy to predictive analytics and everything in-between, 2019 is sure to be an exciting year for digital marketing. Pay attention to these trends as you execute and refine your strategy over the year, and keep an eye out for the surprises and shifts that will inevitably pop up along the way.
And no matter what industry you’re in, remember that digital marketing—and especially email marketing—can help you achieve your goals for 2019. If you’re ready to send your first email, give us a shout.