The Digital Age is disrupting almost every industry and marketing is no exception. Joel Syder, a marketing analyst at Academic Brits, notes, “Any successful brand needs a good digital marketing strategy. However, to succeed, you need to be on top of trends that can widen your reach and impress consumers.” Those trends run the gamut from technologies to regulations. Analysts from Edelman Digital explain, “We’re fast entering an era where accountability and results are paramount — initiatives that don’t meaningfully impact the business will be scrutinized, as will initiatives involving customer data, privacy, consumer rights and digital ethics.” Below are some of the most significant trends to watch this coming year.
Digital marketing trends
Artificial intelligence. Nidhi Dave, a content and brand strategist, notes, “AI can analyze consumer behavior and search patterns, utilizing data from social media platforms and blog posts to help businesses understand how users and customers find their products and services.” Michael Tasner, CEO at No Joke Marketing, adds, “You can use AI for tasks like scouring your databases and providing insights to your team. For example, you could leverage AI to find prospects who look like your existing customers or scan social media conversations to provide you with real-time intel on your competitors.” Forms of AI also play a role in other aspects of marketing as noted below.
Programmatic Advertising. Dave writes, “Programmatic advertising means using AI to automate ad buying so you can target more specific audiences. Real-time bidding or auctions, for example, is a type of programmatic ad buying. This automation is much more efficient and fast, which means higher conversions and lower customer acquisition costs.” She adds, “Almost 90% of digital display ads in the U.S. will be programmatic by 2020.”
Chatbots. Natural language generation (i.e., chatbot) is another form of AI. Clodagh O’Brien explains, “Chatbots are just a specialized form of software that acts as a virtual ‘concierge,’ communicating with users and assisting them in completing their goals. Chatbots interact with humans in a natural way, primarily through the use of text chat windows, but verbal interactions are also possible.” Tasner notes, “By 2022, it’s estimated that chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per year. Chatbots can help with customer service tasks and tie into your various systems to answer repetitive customer questions like: ‘When will my package be delivered?’ ‘What time is my appointment?’ ‘Where are you located?’ Bots can also be used to warm prospects, schedule sales appointments and help make purchases.” Dave notes chatbot use is already widespread. “With 1.4 billion people interacting with chatbots,” she writes, “80% of savvy businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots by 2020.”
Video Marketing. Even though video is an older technology, it continues to play a vital marketing role. In fact, Tasner declares, “Video is still at the top of content marketing.” Syder adds, “Video has taken the world by a storm and has no intention of stopping.” O’Brien notes, “Now video is paired with the incredibly accurate and valuable user metrics of digital media to provide much more useful data on how specific efforts are performing. Whether you’re creating videos for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or even your own website, it is a top-tier, incredibly effective digital marketing tool.” Dave provides a few stats to demonstrate video’s importance:
- 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video.
- 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate.
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.
- 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video.
Both O’Brien and Tasner insist live video is a tool on the rise. Tasner insists, “The only thing better [than video] is live video.” O’Brien adds, “While video is a valuable tool, one of the fastest rising stars in digital marketing is the use of live video. … Live streaming, as it is called, is especially big for digital marketing when combined with influencer marketing. Whether it’s the new generation of social media influencers or traditional sources, such as celebrities, athletes, and musicians, having a live stream with an influencer who is interacting directly with comments is a huge draw for an audience. An influencer live stream is an incredibly useful, high profile form of digital marketing right now.”
Influencer marketing. Syder writes, “Influencers’ reach keeps widening, some with more followers than there are citizens in small countries. This is important information for any marketer.” Dave adds, “Using influencers is a very effective marketing tool that works to attract customers. Influencers can be anyone from celebrities and Instagram or YouTube stars to well-known bloggers and journalists who help spread the word about your business or product through their social channels.” Tasner recommends looking for local influencers. He explains, “While influencer marketing is not a new topic, the focus on local influencers is. Unless you run a massive global brand or an e-commerce business, chances are your marketing is mostly local. While it’s ‘cool’ for an influencer or celebrity to endorse your product or service to their millions of social fans, it can be short-lived. Try partnering with local influencers and put together long-term campaigns and promotions.”
Voice search. Most people are now familiar with digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. Syder notes, “While smart speakers aren’t directly connected with digital marketing, smart devices like the Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomePod are taking over the world. In fact, 65% of consumers who own one of these claim that they wouldn’t go back to not having them. Now, publications will likely use smart speakers to publish their audio content and as a bonus, the companies producing them will have to monetize the content they provide. This means that there will eventually be a more active advertising option.” Dave is a bit more optimistic about the short-term value of voice search. She writes, “The increasing use of voice search has made it important for companies to rethink their digital marketing strategies in 2019.
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches by the year 2020
- 20% of mobile queries on Google are voice searches
- 25% of all Bing searches are voice searches
She continues, “Voice search plays an important role in providing all the relevant information that people are searching for through audio content. Artificial Intelligence is getting smarter and the number of errors made by voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google has reduced. Many brands have included voice search in their digital marketing strategies to deliver value-based content effectively to their customers.”
It should come as no surprise that marketing is quickly adapting to the Digital Age. Dave concludes, “2019 will be about better customer experience with personalization, automation and AI-powered technology, so to stay ahead of the curve and increase conversions in the coming year, you’ll need to get better at producing custom, conversational content — particularly audio and video content — to share with your better-targeted audience.”
 Joel Syder, “The digital marketing trends you should know about for 2019,” Innovation Enterprise, December 2018.
 Staff, “Innovating with Impact in an Era of Accountability,” Edelman Digital, 2018.
 Nidhi Dave, “11 Digital Marketing Trends You Can No Longer Ignore in 2019,” Single Grain, 2018.
 Michael Tasner, “Five Digital Marketing Trends To Watch In 2019,” Forbes, 5 December 2018.
 Clodagh O’Brien, “8 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2019,” Digital Marketing Institute, 2018.