If you’ve been paying attention, the most likely 2019 marketing trends will come as no surprise. With an over-arching theme to connect to consumers personally, we expect 2019 to be filled with content intended to engage and meet consumers where they are rather than getting in their face. Here are the four trends we’d like to call attention to for the upcoming year.
1. Human Content
Let us preface first by clarifying that when we say ‘content’, we don’t just mean blogs. This goes for all content forms- socials, video, web pages, etc. So now, what do we mean by ‘human content’? Audiences want content that goes beyond a blog-shaped vault of SEO buzzwords. They don’t want- and will not read- content that’s methodical, overly polished, or sales-y anymore. Human readers want to know that a real human wrote the pieces they’re reading. They want to feel like another human is communicating to them as a person, not as a potential sale with a dollar sign over their head.
In a recent blog post, Mark Schaefer, a bestselling author with a mission to bring humanity back to marketing, said, “We’re not seeing our customers as people. We’re seeing them as a persona, or a data point, or a target, and they’re people and they want to be treated as people.” This really is spot on, and though for some companies it may seem revolutionary, this has always been the case for sales and marketing, even long before the internet existed.
Imagine yourself walking into the sales floor of a car dealership. You know what’s coming. That obnoxious sales guy is making his way over to ‘greet’ you, and it’s too late to hide behind the nearest vehicle. How are you doing this afternoon? Good? That’s great. What can he help you with today? You’re just looking, of course. Yes, you’ll let him know if you need anything. Hard pass, right? That hard eye-rolling feeling is the same sentiment readers experience with boring, pitchy content. The sales guy doesn’t care how you’re doing. You know it, he knows it, we all know it. So stop making your content evoke those feelings in your readers by adding some humanity through storytelling, credibility, and authenticity.
2. Video Content
Video is, and will continue to be, trending in the marketing scene as we move into 2019. How is it changing in 2019, though?
Live video continues to grow in popularity, and there appears to be a shift from Facebook to Instagram. This especially holds true with the release of IGTV. A whopping “80% of users would rather watch live video from a brand than a blog.” The best thing about live video that all companies can relate to is that it hardly requires anything. Spend a little time creating talking points for a personable employee to cover while talking into their phone for a few minutes. Done. Bonus points for authenticity (see point 1 above). Here’s a great example from Martha Stewart with nearly 600,000 views!
In the B2B sector, which has us especially intrigued, is the growing trend for 1:1 video from sales personnel. Vidyard has a great piece on this trend, and in short, personalized videos lead to more engagement, better results, and greater potential to reach C-Suite decision makers. The notion of having salespeople send 1:1 videos to their prospects is not new, but it’s surprisingly still underused for being so effective. Perhaps it has to do with the precarious balance of coming off as informed yet not a creeper, or maybe just a hesitation to putting yourself out there. Either way, we expect that the trend of 1:1 sales videos to grow in popularity as we move into 2019.
3. Influencer Marketing
Another continuing trend for 2019 is the use of influencer marketing. The gist of influencer marketing is finding influential people/businesses within your relatable market that will help promote your brand in an authentic manner. Influencer marketing tends to work in a scratch each other’s back sort of way, and it pays off big financially. In fact, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, businesses are making $7.65 on an average for every $1 spent. If that’s not enough, the best part about that this trend is that it’s marketing consumers don’t inherently hate! They’ve already raised their hands to be engaged with by the influencer- usually on social- and will typically trust whatever the influencer is promoting.
Furthermore, referral traffic will continue to be an important element for building rankable search results. Influencer marketing can do wonders for SEO because of the cross-linking opportunities. (PS- here are some link-building tips if you’re interested in knowing more.)
4. Chatbots and AI
The last 2019 marketing trend we want to cover is the use of chatbots and AI. Chatbot popularity is simple: people tend to be impatient. Nothing new here. We want answers, solutions, communication now, and bots allow that to happen on the cheap. So inexpensively, in fact, that Forbes predicts that “by 2022, it’s estimated that chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per year.” Chatbots appear to be a win-win solution for business and consumers alike so it’s no wonder that this trend will continue. In a different Forbes article, they stated that “some 40% of large businesses have or will adopt it by the end of 2019”. Here’s an example from one of our clients, TeamGenius Player Evaluation Software.
In a similar vein, artificial intelligence is predicted to become more and more popular in 2019 as well. Erase the robot pictures flashing in your head right now. By AI, we mean software and systems that are smarter at capturing, analyzing, and predicting human purchasing behaviors. We’re also talking about speech and image recognition. As advances in these areas of tech happen, it’s undeniable that marketers will start investing more heavily. Our hope is that will leads to content that is more relevant and useful than ever getting into the hands of consumers.