“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” – Albert Einstein

As 2019 approaches we look at the marketing trends from 2018 that will affect your marketing strategy decisions for next year.

The digital marketing landscape reinvents itself faster than Madonna’s wardrobe. Here are some of the biggest marketing trends this year, which will grow in 2019… so that you can stay ahead of the game.

In this article, we’ll cover these four digital marketing trends:

  1. Interactive Chatbots
  2. Social Media ‘Stories’
  3. Influencer Marketing
  4. Live Video

Let’s go!

1. Interactive Chatbots

The age of the robots is upon us! Sort of. AI and machine learning have been getting more and more sophisticated for the past few years; and, that’s funnelling its way into all kind of automated marketing tools; including, voice search and Alexa-style commands. Now, it’s filtered down into chatbots that can process and answer simple questions.

We’re not quite at the stage where an interactive chatbot can engage in a sophisticated conversation with a human being; but, for basic enquiries, these are awesome for engagement.

For example, let’s say a customer wants to check whether you’re open on a particular holiday. In the past, they might have sent your marketing team a Facebook message, then waited around until the next day for a response. Now, an interactive chatbot is on hand to answer a question like this in seconds. In fact, on some social media sites and websites, chatbots jump up and start the conversation automatically!

2. Social Media ‘Stories’

If you’re familiar with Snapchat (which you really should be, if you’re in marketing!) you’ll have seen their ‘stories’ feature. This essentially allows people to publish and curate a string of photos, short video clips and annotations that communicate moments from their day. Their friends watch this series consecutively, to make a ‘story’.

This really took off – probably because it gives a glimpse into someone’s life with more of a sense of complete narrative than, say, scrolling through photos or a Twitter feed. Plus the ‘moments’ disappear after a certain amount of time, so you have to look at it RIGHT NOW because, you know, FOMO.

Other sites took notice, and now Facebook and Instagram have also adopted a similar ‘Stories’ function; YouTube has a similar ‘Reels’ concept on the way. This is handy for brands, especially those that never embraced Snapchat, as you can publish content that’s punchy and immediate, or that tells a story that gradually builds over the course of an event; for example, while leveraging your existing followers and fans.

3. Influencer Marketing

Okay, influencer marketing isn’t exactly a newbie in marketing trends. Brands have been bouncing off the success of stars since the dawn of time while getting a popular figure to plug your product has been a marketing feature of Twitter and Instagram since their inception.

That said, influencer marketing has never been as big as it is right now. Research shows that the sector grew by 198% last year, while 92% of brands that tried it found it to be highly effective. No wonder two-fifths of respondents said they planned to pour more money into this in 2018. As digital marketing gets ever more competitive, finding a real, recognizable face that people trust to promote your product is becoming the holy grail.

4. Live Video

Until relatively recently, finding a reliable way to stream live video for events, news coverage, webinars, Q&As or just about any other purpose was a perpetual headache. In the past few years, the growth of 4G and high-speed internet of all kinds has made it possible for social media platforms to wade into the fray; moving the ballparks for good.

YouTube began experimenting with live streaming earlier this decade, followed by Twitter’s Periscope, Snapchat video and in 2016, Facebook introduced Live Video. After a slow start, live video for marketing only started truly coming into its own this year… And now it’s everywhere.

Brands are realizing that they can communicate in a very visual way, in real time, without the same pressures for perfect quality and editing that come with a pre-packaged video. No wonder it’s taking off!

While these are all important marketing developments, it’s also important to remember that great digital marketing isn’t about jumping on the bandwagon. Experiment with these digital marketing trends, sure; but always keep in mind what your brand is about, what value you’re offering your audience, and what they expect from you. Whatever else changes, that will always be the foundations of great marketing!

Ah, don’t forget to check out our relationship marketing article. It’ll help you foster customer loyalty and trust, interaction and long-term engagement which are an integral part of every marketing strategy.

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