Marketing has changed more in the last two years than it has in the past 50. The only real constant in the marketing industry is, in fact, change. Competition is growing in almost every industry. Consumers have more access to information in the palm of their hand. Trust in online advertising continues to be put under the microscope.
With the changes in the digital marketing landscape in 2018, we saw a huge shift for all marketing efforts. So how do you know what you should do in 2019? After reviewing our own successes from 2018 and researching this year’s trending articles, we’ve outlined a few specific themes you should focus on in this year’s marketing strategy.
1. Customer Personalization + Experience
Consumers are frustrated with ads that are repetitive, don’t fit their needs, or don’t provide the right information based on their past interactions. They’re looking for a better online experience that’s less interruptive and that provides actual value.
If you want to reach your customers, you need to know them better than ever before. You should be collecting data about them at every point of interaction with your business.
This goes beyond demographics; you should know why they’re buying your products and services so you can anticipate what they need next. Knowing their needs, interests, and engagements will help you personalize content for emails, ads, and blog posts.
- Consider whether automated chatbots are a good fit for your business. They don’t replace people, but they can be a great option for people wanting quick answers to common questions. This includes using chatbots as a live chat feature on your website, as well as social media messengers.
- If you can, set up your email templates so that you can use the recipient’s first name. Using their stored data, you can also set up automated emails that recommend products, services, and content that they would find interesting.
- Integrate customer information into a single platform so you have access to all the details you need in one place.
- Review your current customers and make sure they align with the type of customer you’d like to have in the future.
- Remarket to current or potential customers to upsell products or services that they would find interesting, but don’t remarket a product or service that they’ve already purchased (unless they need to re-purchase the product after a specific length of time).
- Set up tracking to capture relevant information about your customers’ interactions with you and have this information on hand when you talk to them.
- If you’re running ads on your website or on other websites, make sure they comply with the Ad Experience Report. Websites that don’t follow these guidelines will be penalized in organic search results. The ads that appear on the website will also be removed by the Google Chrome ad blocker.
- It’s important to personalize your content, but remember—there’s a fine line between personalized content and knowing so much information that it feels like a breach of a user’s data.
- Bricks and mortar are still relevant. Consumers are expecting a superior full experience when they choose to interact with your brand in person. Finding ways to go above and beyond what a user can do online is key for everyone in this space.
- Be consistent with your brand. With all of the clutter and noise, having a consistent message and voice for your brand will help with brand recall offline, out of home, and in person.
No surprises here—video marketing is still top of the list for digital trends to put into your strategy in 2019.
Video is the single most engaged-with medium online. It’s prioritized over any other content type on social media, both organically and for paid ads. And if you’re paying for social media ads, video will cost much less than any other form of content. So if your content strategy doesn’t include video, you’re falling behind and missing out on a huge opportunity.
When someone takes the time to watch a video, it means they deliberately stopped what they were doing, scrolling through, or searching to watch that piece of content. Consumers are asking for, expecting, and engaging the most with video over any other form of content online. That’s why it’s a good idea to give it to them.
- When you’re posting a video on social media, upload it directly to the platform using a square or vertical format for mobile devices.
- Create videos with a “sound off” experience for social media. If your video needs audio for context, plan to have subtitles or words on the screen.
- When you’re adding video to your website, embed a YouTube or Vimeo link instead of uploading the full video to be hosted on your website. This will keep your page loading speed high while still keeping users on your site.
- When you measure a video’s success, look at percentage of video watched or total time watched. This will tell you if your video is being watched until the end and when your video is losing viewer interest, which can help you update the video to fit viewers’ needs.
- People on social media want to see authentic, realistic stories. Live video is a great way to get in front of your audiences. Try a live Q+A with frequently asked questions or helpful tips for customers. Use the Stories feature on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and SnapChat, which hasn’t been hit by the algorithm changes yet.
Not sure how to get started with video content marketing? Check out these handy tips.
3. Voice Search
Voice search is a technology that’s built in to most of our mobile devices, as well as home assistants like Alexa or Echo. It allows users to speak specific search terms out loud instead of typing them.
This type of searching is becoming one of the main ways that consumers are getting their information on the go. Consumers can multitask with little effort by just asking a question without having to stop and type it out. They’re using their mobile devices to search for answers, directions, shops, and more—especially when they’re searching locally.
Voice assistants or smart speakers are on the rise, too. Consumers are becoming more comfortable with these speakers as a common household item.
On Facebook, the conversation around “home automation” has risen rapidly over the past year. By 2020, voice commerce sales are expected to rise to $40 billion. Smart speakers are also claimed to be the fastest-growing consumer technology that we’ve seen recently.
Voice search is becoming more popular, and you need to plan for it.
- Optimize your content for long-tail keywords. When a person uses voice search, they’re typically asking a question, so their query is longer than a typed search term.
- Make sure your website content, blog posts, meta descriptions, search ads, and visual content are properly optimized for voice searches.
- Because voice searches are more conversational, your content should have a conversational tone, too.
- Think about what people are searching for and where, then identify how you can potentially advertise in those spaces. For example, people use voice command to stream music on platforms like YouTube and Spotify. That could be a good fit for audio-only advertising.
4. Content Marketing
With the amount of content available on all the channels consumers see and engage with (email, social media, Google Search, forums, podcasts, newspapers, and so on), it’s no wonder we’re all suffering from content shock. Producing better-quality content and having a distribution strategy are the keys to successful content marketing.
When you’re creating your content strategy, start by understanding what makes your target audience tick. What questions are they asking? What are their biggest problems?
From there, define key content topics for the year that will address those issues. This definition becomes your mission for a content strategy. You can communicate it to encourage users to sign up for emails or newsletters, which should be packed full of quality content.
Quality content drives a specific action, is valuable to your user, can stand the test of time, and makes people want to come back for more.
But don’t stop there! If you want people to see your content, you need a distribution strategy. Find out how your audiences want to receive this information, decide how you’re going to share it, and do it regularly. Original, actionable, and convenient content that meets a need will make you a resource on that particular subject.
- Collect email addresses through your blog by offering some type of incentive (like a whitepaper or infographic) in exchange.
- Do your research! Blog posts should include external links to your research sources, as well as internal links to other pages or content on your website.
- Incorporate long-tail keywords into your content for SEO purposes, but do it in a way that fits with the content and doesn’t affect readability.
- Every piece of content should have a call to action telling people what to do next.
- Make sure people can easily share your content on social media.
- Post your content on social media more than once using different graphics, titles, and video. (Don’t forget about LinkedIn—this platform is hungry for content!)
- Ask your employees and other business contacts to share blog posts with their own networks. You can also find bloggers who might want to link to or promote your content within their own content.
- Include email marketing in your content strategy and integrate it with your POS, CRM, and other marketing channels to create a valuable and personalized user experience.
- If your blog post answers a specific question that people are searching for, try promoting it through Google Search. You could also boost your content with a small ad spend targeting social media followers or your customer database.
- Don’t forget about the other content marketing options like social media messengers and podcasts.
5. Social Media
2018 was a year of crisis on social media, and platforms have had to respond accordingly by making changes. On Facebook, business pages’ organic reach dropped (it’s happening on Instagram, too), and overall trust in social media platforms declined significantly due to fake news, data privacy concerns, and security breaches.
As a result, we’re more skeptical of social media and the data that’s being used for targeting—even though we’re still spending time and making purchases on social media.
As a business, you need to think of social media as a space to encourage conversations as your main form of engagement. Now more than ever, having an authentic voice on social media is essential. It’s also important to focus on the three different areas of your social media strategy: paid, earned, and owned.
With the latest algorithm changes, you’ll need to pay to play if you want followers to see your business’s organic content on any platform. Most businesses understand this, and as a result the cost of advertising on social media has increased significantly in the past year. With more advertisers on social media, we’re seeing falling click rates and soaring costs per impression.
You need a great paid advertising strategy that’s well targeted, well managed, and constantly updated. You’ll also need ads that generate user discussion and engagement, not just broadcast a message about your product or service. Finding ways to encourage conversation will reduce your costs and start to win ad auctions because platforms like giving users relevant and valuable content.
Social media users have grown distrustful of celebrity influencers, and trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and acquaintances. That means it’s time to rethink influence.
This could mean engaging with influencers—especially micro-influencers on a local level—to help promote your content. It could also mean finding influencers specific to you, like existing customers, employee advocates, and internal brand ambassadors.
In an effort to refocus users on meaningful conversations, Facebook and Instagram have reduced most organic reach for business pages. All social media channels now promote content (both paid and organic) that generates conversation.
So if you’re investing time in social media, your organic (“owned”) content needs to get people discussing, commenting on, and sharing your content. This means focusing on what sparks deliberate interaction, not what gets the most reach or likes.
- Don’t do all the social media. Know the audience and the platform, and participate really well on just two or three.
- Amplify your paid campaign spend by boosting organic content that’s getting good engagement.
- A/B test your paid campaigns to understand what users are looking for and engaging with. You can also test out different ad formats, like stories, messenger ads, and carousel ads.
- Create in-app experiences so users can enjoy a seamless experience. Facebook and Instagram allow you to create landing pages and shops so users can check pricing and purchase products without ever leaving the app.
- Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith recommends aiming for a content post strategy in 2019 that’s 70% video, 20% images, and 10% link posts.
- Dig into your analytics for each platform to understand the best time of day to post content. There are general “best times of day to post,” but everyone’s audience is different.
- When used correctly, Facebook and LinkedIn groups (including closed groups that you request to join) can be a great way to reach audiences and build a trusted community.
6. Online Speed + Convenience
On average, we check our phones 80 times throughout the day. Almost everything we need is now on-demand in the palm of our hand. And because we have this “always-on” access, our expectations of when and how we interact with businesses are the same. This means that businesses need to anticipate that level of connectivity and make their online presence as accessible as possible.
Your website needs to be fast, both for users on all devices and for search engines. Google says that 53% of visitors will bounce after three seconds, and they’re even going to start removing your website from search results if it’s loading too slowly. And if you run an SEM campaign to get around that, they’ll charge you more to show up on Google Search than they otherwise would.
Your website also needs to be responsive. About 60% of search traffic on Google comes from mobile devices, and so does nearly 80% of social media traffic. With that in mind, consider how your written and visual content looks and how users interact with it on mobile devices. Users shouldn’t have to zoom in, links and buttons should be easily clickable, and forms should be simple to fill out.
As marketers, we care about how things look. But technical functionality is more important, and users actually prefer it.
- Make sure your website loads quickly.
- Design and test every online experience on mobile first. That means optimizing all online interactions (website, social media posts, emails, video, blog posts, landing pages, and so on) for mobile compatibility and an easy-to-use experience.
- Create multiple versions of each image on your website with dimensions appropriate for desktop and mobile, and set your site to use differently sized images for appropriately sized pages. This can save cellular data and improve load time. Reduce your image file size wherever possible, too.
7. Analytics + Tracking
This year we saw companies wanting to justify the existence of their marketing departments. More than ever, marketing teams are under pressure to prove how their efforts contribute to new leads, revenue generation, and return on investment.
If you or your bosses say that your advertising spend is being wasted, it’s time to step up your analytics game. This means a more strategic, data-driven approach to all of your marketing initiatives.
Once your marketing strategy is in place and you’ve started implementing it, you need to measure your efforts and track conversions. This way you can evaluate what’s effective and what’s contributing to your goals and KPIs.
You should be monitoring and optimizing your campaigns at least every week. When you measure performance and data, you can shut campaigns down when they aren’t performing and enhance your efforts when you notice trends.
That said, remember that this data isn’t 100% accurate. We still aren’t at a place where we can fully and accurately measure all online and offline marketing activities.
However, advances in technology and a data-driven mindset are bringing us closer to true cross-channel measurement. Be sure you have the right goals, tools, and personnel in place to gather the most accurate data you possibly can.
- You should be measuring things like website traffic, clicks, conversion rate, revenue, user acquisition KPI (e.g., new visitors, bounce rates, conversion costs), and attribution KPI (e.g., influencers, referral traffic, social media).
- Know your customer lifetime value, retention rate, buyer life cycle, segmentation, acquisition costs, and return on marketing investment. You should also keep in mind leads generated, sales closed, and length of time to close. (Here’s what all those terms mean.)
- Your marketing budget and media spend should align directly with your annual goals.
- The various departments of your company (for example, marketing and sales) should be talking regularly so everyone has the information needed for proper tracking.
- Use multi-touch attribution technologies to see how your programs contribute to revenue, all the way from initial interactive to the very last touch of your buyer’s journey.
- If you’re working with influencers, review their website and social media analytics to see how they’re performing. You should also use trackable measurements like specific coupon codes to see which influencers are getting which results.
2019 will be a pivotal year in shifting our mindset to think from the perspective of our customers. We’re excited to see the changes you make to your marketing this year to provide value. As always, if you want to dig a little deeper into your marketing, we’re here to chat!