As marketers, we follow digital marketing trends closely in order to provide the most productive strategies to our clients’ marketing efforts. This involves uncovering and testing new advancements or methods that will help lead to better campaign efficiency, effectiveness and measurement.
It is no surprise that the topics that we covered in our 2018 Digital Trends video have continued to be important considerations for any innovative marketer. In 2019, however, there is an opportunity to take these trends even further. This year, we are looking at new ways to use various data sets, smarter ways to grow and communicate with your audience, and better ways to leverage attribution. We will also look at how artificial intelligence is living up to the hype, and how, in practice, it is making a significant difference in the success of marketing campaigns.
In our Digital Marketing Trends for 2018 event at Google in late 2017, we discussed big data and its role in customer experience marketing. At the time, we viewed big data – and technology finally catching up to big data – as a trend offering brands and advertisers the capability to reach and connect with their customers like never before.
Fast forward a few months as we actually entered 2018, and things like GDPR and the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit. The next thing you know, Facebook is pulling their partner targeting capabilities. Gone are the days of being able to reach consumers based on purchase-based targeting, income data or household data.
Now, brands and advertisers have to be much smarter about the ways they look to connect with their customers.
Back in 2017, we talked about the importance of first party data as we move forward into this customer experience marketing trend. Consumers today expect a seamless and frictionless experience when interacting with brands. How can marketers accomplish this?
First is the even smarter utilization of their first party data. It’s that first party data’s job to make sure that brands are able to connect with consumers in meaningful ways. Brands and advertisers today have to be even more creative with their data. This includes things like identity resolution – being able to take your first party data lists and turn them into meaningful, impactful marketing strategies to reach your customers and make sure they have the best experience, from the initial touchpoint with your brand all the way through to conversion.
Then you need to think about things like prospecting. Without partner category targeting, what’s the strategy you’re going to implement as a brand to be able to reach new consumers and pull them into your consumer journey?
The trends that we feel will be most impactful as we enter 2019 are content, video and voice.
To make the most truly relevant and impactful experience for your customer, it all comes down to content. Your brand must be helpful and relevant throughout the customer’s journey. Gone are the days of just being able to serve up an ad. Your touchpoints with your customers must provide those solutions that they are looking for. One of the best and most impactful ways to do this is with video.
Video provides the opportunity for brands to tell their story to customers in a way that standard text or banner ads just cannot compete with.
Consumers are increasingly engaging with their devices using voice, to perform searches or utilize basic functions on their devices. Brands must be there and be relevant and useful when consumers are utilizing voice to connect with their devices to find information.
Finally, marketers must incorporate the usage of AI and machine learning. The journey doesn’t stop when you get the customer to your website. Once they engage with your website, now the interaction truly begins. Are you prepared to continue that conversation with your clients and customers through the usage of things like chatbots and/or dynamic remarketing?
In 2019, Lever Interactive has invested heavily into technology that provides our clients with the opportunity to connect with their customers in ways that are meaningful and impactful to their business.
Automation is another trend that’s continuing to evolve in 2019.
Artificial intelligence or (AI) and machine learning are quickly and dramatically transforming digital marketing and customer engagement strategies throughout all industries and verticals. New automated technologies are emerging faster than ever, allowing marketers to be smarter, faster and more effective in reaching their goals.
How is automation changing digital marketing for the better?
First, machine learning and predictive modeling algorithms have changed the way we find potential customers for our clients. Media plans of the past were focused on specific places and websites that target audiences were most likely to engage with – along with many other individuals – which resulted in advertisers paying for impressions that didn’t make an impact.
Today’s digital advertising plans have evolved to focus on key audience segments across all channels and devices. With machine learning technology, we can identify and target the users most likely to engage with the products and service we are promoting.
One example of this is look-a-like audiences. Using AI, machines can find potential customers by analyzing the actions and behaviors of current customers. That customer data is then used to find others that exhibit the same behaviors.
Intent advertising is continuing to evolve as well. By analyzing user actions, search patterns and social activity, machines are getting better at predicting future behavior and creating in-market audiences comprised of users most likely to buy specific products or services.
Companies are also using automation to keep customers engaged. With AI enhancements, companies can better understand the needs and wants of their customers and use that information to offer better and more personalized user experiences.
Finally, customer service organizations are quickly adopting chatbot technology to engage customers in conversation for a more real-time approach to customer service. Chatbots allow organizations to use automated tools to communicate with customers in the same way a human would. The technology has proven to increase customer satisfaction and retention by quickly resolving common issues and pain points for customers.
If you haven’t already, businesses need to start utilizing automation now or risk falling behind your competition. With the constant evolution of AI and machine learning systems, what worked well in the past may not be as successful in the coming year.
As discussed in 2018, attribution continues to be a hot topic of discussion in digital marketing in 2019.
While the technology powerhouses of our industry had lofty goals of unveiling a cross-channel solution in 2018, agencies and brands were left sorely disappointed, as advancements among each channel were prioritized and complicated cross-channel capabilities and insights.
From our direct sources, Google is halting movement on cross-channel attribution, and rather focusing specifically on how individual channel attribution can impact optimization towards client KPIs. This is definitely a different approach than originally advertised, and falls short from what agencies and brands were anticipating and expecting starting in 2019.
Lever Interactive was left hungry for more information and next-step solutions in helping our clients master attribution for their marketing and overall business strategies after Q4.
As an agency, we are taking a step back on the immediate application and rather prioritizing education. We are embarking on an independent study and immersing our teams into understanding the concrete fundamentals of attribution – understanding how attribution affects each marketing channel and how each channel interacts with one another.
We will also explore supportive tools available outside of the technology powerhouses.
At Lever Interactive we believe that education is key in understanding our clients’ businesses and unlocking their amazing growth potential.
For 2019, continue to focus on utilizing your data, audience insights and available attribution tools to improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.
If you have any questions about how to get started with utilizing these trends for your advantage, please reach out to us.
And if you have any other digital marketing trends you think will shape 2019, please let us know in the comments below.