Technology is advancing faster than ever. Soon, we'll be able to buy a pressure cooker that not only cooks preprogrammed recipes, but automatically stirs chops, and measures whatever you put in it. Crazy, right?
Culinary marvels aside, these advancements in technology are making consumers more digitally aware as well. On the marketing end, that means we need to make use of that tech to present information to the masses. Digital advancements are changing every game - from cooking to transportation to marketing.
This month we asked the experts: What trends are changing the digital marketing landscape?
Features on the search engine result pages (SERPs) are changing the digital marketing industry in a big way. Many of the features (like featured snippets, image carousels, people also ask, etc.) have been optimized for mobile devices and voice search, and appear at the top of the SERPs. Because of the new features, users can get answers without clicking through to publisher websites and the traditional organic listings have been pushed further down the page.
This shift has lead to a more competitive SEO landscape, making positive ROI for SEO more difficult. Marketers have shifted to paid search ads and social media advertising as alternatives. This market shift has led to inflated advertising costs for pay-per-click (PPC) and social media advertising spend.
Bottom line - digital platforms have built captive audiences, and they're aggressively monetizing now that your options are limited. If you want to play, you have to pay.
Tony Mastri, MARION Marketing
The biggest trend we've seen that is changing the digital marketing landscape is the availability of relevant data. Marketers now have more data at their fingertips than ever, which allows them to make more informed decisions and gain a better understanding of their audience. Different platforms are bringing different datasets to the forefront of marketing technology stacks no matter the industry, and it has made for a more competitive marketing landscape.
Specifically, in content marketing, companies are continuously fighting for their audience's attention. With the increased ease of access to specific datasets, marketers are now able to create hyper-personalized content that resonates with their audience.
Michael Bibla, Atomic Reach
Technological advancement is the catalyst for the most recent trends in digital marketing. The two that I see becoming most prominent this year are chatbots and smart speakers.
Chatbots have been around for some time now, but as their capabilities improve, they will become more and more ingrained in digital marketing efforts. They will be used for targeted lead generation, especially on social channels like Facebook.
In addition, smart speakers are a brand new medium to use for targeted content marketing. It's been predicted by Gartner that smart speakers, like Alexa and Google Home, will be the source of 30% of consumer browsing sessions next year. The opportunities within voice-activated technology are endless for digital marketing.
Being an early adopter of these technologies has the potential to propel you far ahead in your digital marketing sphere. Staying up to date on these technologies' growing capabilities is my biggest recommendation for marketers looking to stay ahead of the curve."
Clement Connor, CNG Digital Marketing
The biggest trend we are seeing right now is the use of live video on social platforms. Those brands that are using it well are capitalizing on the great impact it can have for engagement.
We advise our clients to use live as a layer in their overall social strategy. If they are posting consistently across the correct channels and engaging with followers, live video, especially if you have a plan, can be a game changer for capturing attention and turning it into brand awareness and brand engagement.
Live video is already taking on a life of its own with celebrities using it to self promote, cutting out many layers them and their audience. The opportunity for executives and brand managers to skyrocket brand engagement is almost limitless with live video. Even LinkedIn is trialing live video for their platform. If it's not part of your overall strategy, it's time to start planning how you can include it.
Lee Murray, SignalMedia.Agency
We've been hearing for months to prepare for changes with more and more people utilizing Google Home, Amazon's Alexa, and other voice-activated devices. So, really it's not surprising, but we've noticed a lot of people using their voice to text feature more and more on their mobile phones while searching!
If you're an advertiser using Google Ads, you'll probably notice your search terms getting longer, as its easier to speak a question aloud. Funnily enough, I'd say most of these voice to text searches are obvious from their urgency. For example, "Ok Google, tell me where I can find a (product/service) right now."
We also see people being very polite, like "Ok Google please let me know where I could find a (product/service), thanks". This is definitely going to change how people do SEO and is already changing the landscape for keywords!
Allison Schmidt, Get Online NOLA
As automation has been taking over the digital marketing world (and the world), something has been lost a bit along the way is the guerrilla marketing tactics that often have the biggest payoffs. Increasingly, digital marketing managers are having teams monitor social media feeds and specific hashtags to find customers who are posting about a pain that their product could solve who they can interact with.
This can be done through gentle interactions (liking the post or following the user) to get their attention in hopes that they will find your company's solution from clicking on your profile, to straight up commenting on the post or messaging them with a well-crafted elevator pitch.
Noah Tompkins, Incuvers Inc.
The most important trend in digital marketing is - counterintuitively - a push to take the conversation beyond traditional online platforms. Banner blindness is a thing, email deliverability rates are increasingly awful and even the least savvy buyers have gotten the memo that retargeting isn't magic. In other words, the easy stuff isn't delivering ROAS anymore, no matter how hard we wish.
(And we DO wish.)
Instead, smart marketers are working hard to bridge the digital-physical divide. Whether it's through true AR, psuedo AR (like location-based advertising) or predictive analytics, the trend is to use digital devices and platforms as conduits to deliver messaging and offers based on actual behavior.
A prospect's digital behavior is only part of what goes into making them them. It's easy for digital marketers to capture that data, and as a result, it's become overused. The trend among the best is to use real-world interactions to craft a fuller picture of the buyer and reach them in more meaningful ways.
Adam Smartschan, Altitude Marketing
Throughout 2018 and 2019, conversational interfaces have been popular, and will absolutely continue to be a trend changing the digital marketing landscape over the next few years. Conversational interfaces have been incorporated into websites and applications by marketing teams in many different ways; your website's chatbot, the way the user fills out your contact form, and more.
There is no denying that users don't have a large attention span, and a conversational design is a way to center the attention to one place. It's definitely a trend that benefits both consumers and businesses; conversational interfaces are completely under the users command, allowing increased user attention, user engagement, and allows a company to give only the marketing information that the user wants.
Clare Bittourna, Codal
The biggest changing trend in digital marketing is the increase in ethical marketing. Brands are now much more aware of their social and ecological responsibility; the consumer is demanding brands to take their responsibility for their actions and brand's response is evident in their marketing.
Guinness has been encouraging its customers to drink more water, ASOS commented on their recyclable packaging on social media, Nike have made a stand against calling women 'crazy'. It's not just superbrands but some smaller brands have integrated the idea of ethical marketing to the very backbone of their business values such as Tony's Chocolonely. We will see much more of this in the future across all marketing campaigns.
Stuart Walters, Alexander Advertising
We continue to see that broad strategies are becoming less effective. If we try to message everyone, we get lost in the noise. Examples include banner ads and templated emails.
The future of digital marketing is personalisation. This approach fosters authenticity but is notoriously hard to scale.
There are two ways that it can be achieved in 2019. First, we have content marketing that is hyper-relevant and targeted, and this gets 'found' by our audience through either tribe virality or SEO. We're starting to see that artificial intelligence and dynamic software can adjust to user interaction. Apps such as AI Chatbots are an example of this, where we can take a user on the buyer journey that they desire.
Jason Lavis, Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
A trend that is changing the digital marketing landscape includes a move towards micro influencers. Influencer marketing is becoming saturated at a macro level and consumers are starting to differentiate organic versus sponsored promotion. By targeting smaller influencers who have a more dedicated following and can align the brand's objective with their content strategy, businesses will find much more effective results.
Another trend that is similar yet different would be to encourage more user-generated content from the consumer. Having your customers promote your brand via social media can bring more referrals than other forms of promotion. If businesses can find a way to facilitate user-generated content, brands will be able to find positive results.
Nick Le, Gridfiti