As the end of Q4 approaches, many business owners are starting to plan their marketing strategy for the coming year. But to really nail down a plan of attack, you need to know which major trends to expect. We’ve broken down a few of the biggest ones below.
1. Social video
Video marketing has popped up on these prediction lists every year recently, and for good reason. 66% of marketers and agency executives see video marketing as the next trend in content marketing, while 82% of B2C businesses report that video has become their most popular content marketing tactic.
But this year, the big trend isn’t a broad application of video marketing. We’re talking about social video specifically, and bonus points if it’s streamed live.
64% of consumers make a purchase after watching a branded video on social media. This could be because viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to only 10% when reading it in text. So if you’re planning a big launch or product release in 2019, start planning some ways to incorporate video into your strategy for marketing it.
But professional, high-quality videos can be time-consuming to shoot and produce. In fact, 43% of marketers say obstacles like time and resources are the biggest thing holding them back from using more video in their marketing strategy.
If you’re in a similar situation, it’s time to consider live video. This style of video has a much lower level of production, which means it automatically has a lower barrier of entry. That also gives it a more raw, genuine feeling, which your audience naturally connects with.
Case in point: 82% of consumers would rather watch a brand’s live videos than see their regular social posts. And on Facebook specifically, people spend an average of 3X longer watching a live video than one that’s no longer live.
But if you’re not quite ready for the world to see you in all your unedited glory, there is a happy medium, and it’s called Instagram. The photo-sharing platform has placed a greater emphasis on video ever since launching the stories side of their app in August 2016.
And while you certainly can use Instagram Stories for live video (that feature was added 3 months later), the majority of videos you’ll see are still pre-recorded. But because the nature of Instagram Stories is a more “real” one than the carefully curated feeds you find elsewhere on the platform, your audience will still connect with your content on a genuine level.
For instance, here’s how ABC’s Shark Tank used unedited, behind-the-scenes video to engage with their audience when Spanx CEO and founder (and frequent Shark Tank guest judge) Sara Blakely took over their Instagram stories for a day:
It also doesn’t hurt that each video in your story is capped at 15 seconds, as nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer videos shorter than a minute.
Any good business owner knows that marketing and customer service go hand in hand. And when it comes to customer service, chatbots are quickly becoming a major trend.
Not only do chatbots improve the experience your customers have with your brand, but they also give you deeper insights into what your audience really wants.
For example, a couple of years ago Dominos Pizza launched a chatbot that allows users to order their favorite pizza from Facebook Messenger. Unlike other marketing tactics, their strategy wasn’t to target new customers. Instead, they simply found a way to connect with their current customers on a platform where those people were already comfortable.
And since Facebook Messenger boasts about 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger, that still gives them — and anyone else who incorporates chatbots into their strategy — plenty of potential customers.
Those customers are all for chatbot technology, by the way. 64% of consumers say the main benefit of chatbots is 24-hour service, followed by getting an instant response (55%), getting answers to simple questions (55%), and easy communication (51%).
However, this doesn’t mean that your audience is ready for you to ditch your customer service team in favor of chatbots. 43% of consumers say they would still rather deal with a human than a chatbot when it comes to service issues.
So for the time being, use chatbots to start the process, but have a team member ready to attend to the finer points of customer interaction.
Those who add chatbots to their marketing strategy now will still be considered early adopters, though we can’t say how long that title will be up for grabs. According to Gartner, 25% of customer service will use chatbot technology by 2020, up from less than 2% in 2017.
3. Data security and privacy
This trend should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen the news even a handful of times this year. In 2018, data privacy and security became a top concern for consumers worldwide, and marketers had to react quickly to keep up with the shift in public opinion.
First came the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the European Union in May. Essentially, it consolidated several different data privacy regulations and standardized them with one comprehensive new regulation.
And though the U.S. didn’t officially adopt new regulations like this one, many marketers chose to become GDPR-compliant in a show of good faith … and to stay in good standing with their European audiences.
The U.S. also had privacy on the brain in 2018 thanks to the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal — Facebook exposed the data of between 50 million and 87 million users to a political consulting group, which claimed it planned to use the data for academic purposes. Instead, it used it to benefit the Trump presidential campaign … and it did so without Facebook’s or the users’ knowledge.
Now, heading into 2019, consumers are on high alert for anything that might threaten the privacy of their data. 92% of online customers say they’re concerned about the privacy and security of their data, and 57% of consumers don’t trust brands to use their data responsibly.
That makes now a good time to seriously rethink what data you collect from your customers and how it’s stored. And as the new year approaches, it may be time to invest in some added security measures.
One way that customers are OK with you using their data is to personalize their experience with your brand. Studies show that emails with personalized subject lines have 26% higher open rates, 14% higher click-through rates, and 10% higher conversions.
Personalized marketing isn’t exactly a new tactic. Amazon and Netflix already rely on your purchase or watch history to suggest similar items or movies you may be interested in.
But for smaller companies, there’s plenty of room to improve, and with the right tools, you can adapt the strategies used by the big dogs for your own business.
The simplest way to do this is to use merge tags in your email marketing. This allows you to seamlessly insert any customer’s name into the subject line of your email (or anywhere else for that matter). You can also build campaigns based on each stage of the buyer’s cycle so that your messaging is always relevant to the situations your customers find themselves in.
5. Voice search
If you’ve recently shopped for tech gadgets or seen the ads on any type of video entertainment, you probably already know that voice search is a pretty big deal.
In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches (currently 20% of mobile queries on Google are voice searches) while about 30% of searches will be done without a screen — i.e., through a voice-activated assistant or smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
And for those of you doing the math at home, 2020 is only about 13 months away.
The good news is you shouldn’t have to change much on your website if you’re already following SEO best practices. But you should double-check that the information people search for most — things like your location, phone number, or hours of operation — is easy for Google’s spiders to crawl.
Translation: Make sure it’s included in your website copy, not in an image or graphic.
Put your best marketing foot forward
Ready to up your marketing game in the new year? Our team at Trajectory can help. Take a look at the work we’ve done for our past clients, or contact us to learn more.
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