What will marketing look like in 2019? There are so many changes in the content we consume, the channels we use and the technology that powers our experiences. So, to help you stay ahead of it all, here are my top five marketing predictions for 2019.
First, you’ll see a shift from promotion, propaganda and persuasion to a focus on the customer experience, culture and contribution to the business.
Marketing will also be seen as less of a cost center and more as a strategic business asset. The top marketers in the industry will know exactly how to demonstrate their value to boards and the c-suite.
Leading marketers are pushing back on the requests that are tactical in nature. Instead, they will create more consistent content in 2019 that helps buyers solve key challenges.
These best-of-breed marketers will also know that the best way to become more effective resources in 2019 is by building a culture with an emphasis on purpose and passion for finding the solution to these challenges across the enterprise.
Let’s explore further the top five predictions that will be shaping marketing in 2019.
1. Marketing Delivers ROI
While marketing can be seen as cost, there’s no doubt that it is, in fact, a revenue generator. With so many ways to measure every aspect of marketing, it’s becoming much easier to discern the true ROI of campaigns and other efforts.
It’s now possible to monitor the entire customer journey from content consumption and sharing, to initial lead collection, all the way to conversion. With this data, marketing can a straighter line to the conversion of new customers.
Marketers in 2019 will simply stop investing in content and campaigns that don’t produce measurable ROI. We’ll be using key social media metrics to identify the content we should promote, because we’ll know that investment will lead to revenue. We will also want to ensure we have true ROI from the content produced — find ways to do this here.
2. AI Informs Marketing Plans
AI is already making marketing more effective, informing what content to create and how to distribute it. AI also has the power to automate and personalize, to deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
Automation is an important part of AI’s capabilties. Many are already leveraging some type of marketing automation – AI and machine learning will take this further. This trend could see more marketers using predictive lead scoring, trigger campaigns and an investment in dynamic content to align with every phase of the buyer journey.
Automation will also influence social media and email marketing. With automation tools, you’ll be able to multiply your efforts without the need for more employees. Email automation will allow us to create sophisticated funnels and triggers, making the most of dynamic data and personalization.
Personalization also gets a boost from AI because it delivers more accurate data analysis. This, in turn, allows marketers to hyper-personalize experiences like the content or particular email campaign received.
Another influence of AI is the rise of chatbots. In 2019, chatbots will become a norm for many marketers. In fact, they are mostly seen as useful to customers. According to a LivePerson study, only 19 percent of those surveyed had a negative perception of chatbots, while 33% had a positive view, and 48 percent were indifferent a long as their problems were resolved.
3. Focus on the Customer Experience & Micro-Moments
AI, as discussed above, is putting the customer experience front and center with personalization. But how else will a focus on customer experience shape marketing? It starts with authenticity. In fact, a study reported that 86% of customers value authenticity when making a choice in businesses to partner with.
Expanding the customer experience through user-generated content (UGC) will also continue to blossom in 2019, which boosts authenticity as prospects see that your current customers are passionate about your product.
Focusing on the customer in 2019 also means creating micro-moments. After all, your buyer is most likely inundated by content, offers, emails and ads. Saturation is high, so how will you stand out?
The micro-moment occurs when users reach for their smartphone or other device to immediately act on a need to learn something, do something, or buy something. These moments for the user are, “I want to know, or I want to go.” Google cites that users experience micro-moments up to 150 times a day!
So, why are micro-moments vital to your 2019 plans? People often make instant decisions on what to buy or what to pursue further, which means you have mere seconds to attract their attention. If you can capture these micro-moments, you’ll provide buyers with the right information at the right time.
Think of ways to create micro-moments for your audience. It could mean sharing experiences in real time or alerting your customers about key insights as they happen.
4. Culture is the New Mandate of Marketing
Now maybe you’re thinking, “we already have enough to do, let HR own culture.” But the fact is, brands with a culture that emphasizes passion and innovation will see this pay off in 2019. Buyers want to do business with companies that have a positive image as demonstrated employee and customer advocates.
Your company’s culture is shaped by many factors. In some cases, it could be a result of keeping the status quo or that leadership is hesitant to take risks. However, this could leave your company unable to shift proactively to disruptions and changes.
The evolution of culture is critical to marketing success because without minds that think creatively, your business will continue its current path forward with less favorable results.
Culture requires the customer experience to be a guiding principle. This is a mandate across the entire company, not just marketing, sales or customer support. Even those positions that don’t necessarily interact with buyers should also be focused on how they can improve that experience.
This has to come from the top down. Leadership has to be willing to evolve and embrace a customer-first culture. According to an IBM study, a customer-centric culture is on the CMO must-do list. If your leadership doesn’t understand the importance of this change then it could put a company’s growth and sustainability at risk.
5. Employee Activation: The Dominant Channel for Marketing Content
Are employees the key to creating and distributing marketing content? They certainly can be, when leveraged correctly. First, you have to make it easy for employees to share and distribute content. Developing an employee advocacy program is the first step.
This means that you’ll need to develop a strategy for engaging employees and getting them involved with brand messaging. There are software platforms that can handle this for you, notifying employees when new content has been published and allowing them to push it out on their social media profiles. Additionally, they can like the original posts, as well as share and comment on them.
You’ll want to ensure that the employee advocacy program aligns with your overall content marketing strategy so that the channel is optimized. Map it specifically to key returns returns like higher follower counts on social media and more visits to the website.
As you count down to 2019, consider these five predictions and how they fit your company’s goals and objectives. Being able to leverage these emerging trends will assist any marketing team’s pathway to success.