A new year is here, and with it, shiny new strategies and 2019 marketing trends to keep in mind. We asked our account team, media strategists, digital marketers and social media team what they thought we should keep an eye out for this year. Here’s what they had to say.

Technology + Measurement

  1. AI will lead to more powerful analysis

    This year, we’ll see an influx of “insights” tools that help us see why something happened but also what to do to fix it or change it. For example, Google Analytics has a feature where you can ask it a question about your data and it will give you an answer. This will happen more often for other tools as well. Of course, we always tend to trust hands on analysis, but a little help from great AI will be a wonderful asset.

  2. Messaging Apps and Chatbots will gain ground

    Businesses are providing multiple channels for customers to reach out to them. The popularity of messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, and WhatsApp for Business, etc. has made it simpler to connect to the customer. Also, chatbots are increasingly becoming a marketer’s favorite tool to have one-to-one personalized conversations with their customers.

  3. New approaches in PR will shake things up

    In 2018, the industry started looking more seriously at ways to leverage readily-available technology for the purposes of public relations. As this recent report shows, journalists around the world are relying less on traditional PR methods (i.e. press release), shifting their preferences to more contemporary platforms like social media. But why stop there? Let’s make 2019 the year we take all those grand ideas – like pitches via virtual reality – and start to make them…well…reality. There will be trials and errors as we navigate some of these new methods. Some audiences may not be as receptive to the concept as we hope, but others will embrace it. Regardless, we must forge ahead and test them out. This year we also want to place more emphasis on measuring the true business impact of our PR efforts; in essence, answering the question, “so what?” Demonstrating the true value of our efforts will help further cement PR’s place at the proverbial mar/comm table.

Turning back the clock

  1. Fewer social media posts, more valuable content

    With algorithmic pressure on brands, hesitation around privacy, the rise of the influencer and migration of younger demographics to Instagram and non-Facebook platforms, brands will cut down on quantity and shift their focus to quality, platform-optimized content. Live video, streaming, and personification of brands through ambassadors will be key in generating engagement and making an impact.

  2. Ad Blockers will disrupt reliance on digital media tactics

    While there will continue to be growth in digital media, there will be a re-evaluation of traditional media and its effectiveness at building a brand and connecting with target audiences as privacy concerns continue to heighten as well as the use of ad blockers.  Nielsen predicts that 30% of internet users will use ad blockers by the end of 2019.

  3. Tangibility will take hold

    The exponential proliferation of content will continue to overwhelm consumers and obfuscate what is true and meaningful. Many consumers, especially those that were not raised as digital natives, will increasingly opt out or seek a safe harbor in more traditional means of communication. It sure feels good to hold a nicely designed printed piece these days.

Focus on foundation + strategy first

  1. Added pressure on retail marketing + keeping up with customer experience

    The ability to cope with rising prices and competition in retail will continue to be a challenge for organizations and marketers. In some cases, retailers aren’t doing so well because of changing demands from consumers, and pricing pressure from giants like Amazon.

  2. There’ll be a continued focus on data management and privacy  

    Various forces – from Cambridge Analytica fallout to the rise of GDPR – ushered in a new era of accountability on the part of data owners and processors that will continue in 2019 as governments become more educated, thoughtful, and observant of how personal data is being collected and used.It’s only a matter of time until some form of GDPR migrates stateside. Right now, businesses are well-served to continue layering in processes and systems to organize information on the back-end, while they prioritize clear communication with their prospects/customers about how their data is handled on the front end.

  3. Marketers will continue to put your education first

    With the marketing world evolving so quickly – digital capabilities expanding exponentially, the decline (or demise?) of the press release – marketers need to know their stuff to be effective. Equally important, they also have to be able to educate their clients or stakeholders along the way. Many professionals are becoming more marketing savvy and want to be involved in the process at some level or another. Marketers need to be equipped to answer their questions, speak to strategy and tactics, and connect the dots between the big picture and even ROI.

  4. Marketers will recommit to research

    For marketers, the importance of creating and properly placing truthful, relevant, and high quality content before the right people at the right time is still mounting. Researching and understanding audience behaviors, interests, and consumption habits will be more important than ever for businesses developing content strategies to connect and maintain solid engagement rates in 2019.

Making stronger connections

  1. Nano influencers will take the place of micro-influencers

    In 2018 the number of influencer marketing campaigns more than doubled according to CreatorIQ, with most of the action on Instagram and then followed by Facebook and YouTube. In 2019, influencer initiatives are predicted to continue to grow with an emphasis on nano-influencers. These targeted personalities are more segmented than micro-influencers with a more engaged following in the few thousands range. They’re often less expensive, allowing companies and agencies to work with more diverse and more frequently.

  2. We will shift the focus to customer retention and success

    Customer retention and success is gaining more popularity in 2019 with an emphasis on providing customers with high-quality, ongoing content. Instead of the traditional sales funnel ending with the customer the new model is much like a cycle encouraging more brand evangelists. Evangelists often make for the best case study and brand ambassador. “Content shows buyers optimal uses for companies’ products and services, encouraging customers to see the good more than the bad. With a content strategy focused on customer success, businesses can devote fewer resources to putting out fires and more resources to growing their brands.”

  3. Personalization perseveres

    Personalization will continue to be an imperative part of digital marketing strategies in 2019. With more companies implementing customer-relationship management (CRM) platforms there is more consumer data available to better segment communications. These platforms allow users to track consumers through the journey and leverage automation and personalization. Further, social and paid media platforms are offering newer delivery formats to customize content for distinct viewers.

New wave advertising

  1. Opportunities for digital audio advertising will expand

    With the increasing popularity of smart speakers and the use of digital assistants to get information, we could expect to see Google, Amazon, and others start to explore offering more advertising opportunities to reach consumers in these new audio environments.

  2. We’ll get more creative with Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)

    Digital Out-of-Home signage and networks will continue to expand in cities worldwide in 2019 as brands leverage anonymized carrier data (from mobile IDs) to gauge what demographic group may be in front of a screen. With an expanding DOOH ecosystem, creative placements can be adjusted and moved to different locations and dayparts to reach a specific intended audience. Mobile location advertising can then amplify a DOOH message by retargeting those viewers at a later time on their mobile devices.

  3. Paid social media will be a “need” not a “nice to have”

    We’ve seen this generating momentum for a couple years now. The use of paid social media will be necessary for organizations to grow and fully benefit from social media. New paid placements and creative options have provided a great opportunity for us to get in front of those that matter, even if traditional organic growth strategies are becoming a thing of the past. Even better, pixels and web integrations help us see how these efforts are paying off more transparently than ever before.

These 2019 marketing trends point to an exciting and challenging year ahead. On one hand, we’re looking forward to taking advantage of new technologies that have never been so effective at targeting and tracking audiences and behaviors. On the other, we’re looking forward to taking a step back and remembering tactics that have not only worked for centuries, but will grow in efficacy due to all the noise in the digital space. In the end, marketing success will come down to who can understand their audience best, and effectively communicate with them at all stages of the marketing and sales cycle.