At the end of every year, marketing experts and bloggers love to put out their predictions about what content, tech, SEO, analytics, social media, mobile, and email trends will be hot in the upcoming year. In fact, with the amount of articles put out about predictions, it seems to be the one topic that marketers love to write about – and read about – the most! Some of these predictions can be a little far-fetched, but others end up coming true.
So what did marketers predict would be trending next? Everyone wants to know which trends are hot right now, but it also helps to know which trends are going cold. Keep reading below for a closer look at what’s hot and what’s not in today’s marketing world:
HOT: Visual & Voice Search
Users are looking for new ways to search and shop beyond the traditional method of typing their queries. Visual search allows users to upload an image to a visual search engine (such as Pinterest or Google Lens) instead of using keywords to discover more information. Voice search enables users to ask a smart device (such as Alexa or Siri) to conduct a search for them. Although both methods have existed for a few years now, we’ve only seen significant growth in the last year or so when it comes to the data, technology, and processing power needed for accurate searches. But with 36% of consumers now conducting visual or voice searches, marketers need to watch this trend closely and make plans to take advantage of it as a way to draw in more customers in 2019.
COLD: Text Based Search
In addition to simply having more search options (like visual and voice) available to them, consumers today are also becoming increasingly mistrustful of what they read about products or services. Our society is dominated by visuals, especially when shopping. They want to look before they find out more. And when it comes to assistance, consumers want to talk about it, not just read about it. They want to ask their questions and hear them answered. That’s why text based searches will see a decrease in the coming year, as consumers continue to prefer and pursue human interactions over digital ones.
HOT: User-Generated Content
Consumers today don’t only prefer human interactions, they also prefer human connections. This means that they are less likely to respond to obvious marketing tactics and overly-branded content. User-generated content, on the other hand, gets your current customers/users involved with your marketing, usually through photos, videos, or reviews that they create and post online to share and talk about their experience with your brand. Potential customers can then view their content and see or read about the different ways your product or service can be used in real life by real people. This creates a rich, personalized connection to your brand in a way that marketers cannot replicate through their own promotions and branded content. Simply invite your customers to submit content for a competition or giveaway, and then showcase it on your social media platforms or even in your next marketing campaign.
Since the dawn of the internet, marketers have been using clickbait to capture the attention of consumers and entice them to click on their content. Clickbait appeals to consumers’ curiosity, and even though it gets them to click, it doesn’t necessarily get them to read, become interested, or buy. A few years ago, Chartbeat, a content intelligence company based in New York City, conducted a study over the course of a month that took a look at user behavior across 2 billion website visits. From their findings they reported, “most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page.” It’s like what we said above – today’s consumers have become aware of obvious marketing tactics like clickbait, which is why it is a trend that will continue to grow cold as time goes on.
HOT: Chatbot Use
Chatbots sure have been getting a lot of hype lately. Touted as a key trend in communication technology, chatbots are used primarily for automating basic customer service functions and providing real-time support through text and verbal chats. Chatbots minimize the human resources needed for customer service tasks so your team can focus on other important things. They are also very effective at what they do, being super responsive and able to look into a customer’s entire buying history while answering their questions and concerns. With 60% of consumers saying that they have interacted with a business through a chatbot in the past 12 months, and 80% of businesses reporting that they either already use or plan to use a chatbot, it looks like the trend is here to stay.
COLD: Tablet Use
When the “mobile-first” trend first began circulating a few years ago, businesses expected tablets to take off as a middle ground option between smartphones with small screens, laptops that are bulky to carry around, and desktops that are limited to use in your home or office. Many companies expected tablets to eventually replace laptops and desktops all together, but since then, tablet use has been on a steady decline. Looking at data from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, the worldwide tablet market has declined 8.6%, and according to VentureBeat, this decline has been year-over-year for 16 quarters straight. Customers have simply shown that they still prefer to interact with brands and view potential purchases on bigger screens.
HOT: AI & Machine Learning
This is one of those trends that has consistently appeared on everyone’s watchlist for many years now. From streamlining redundant daily tasks, to creating and curating content, to analyzing and segmenting vast amounts of data, artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are widely used in the marketing world. So just how big will this emerging technology be? Take a look at these statistics to see how it is continuing to grow faster than it ever has before.
COLD: DIY / In-house IoT Platforms
In the past when Internet of Things (IoT) platforms were not readily available or affordable, companies hired software developers to build a kind of in-house platform for their web services. Though likely to be less expensive, these “do-it-yourself” (DIY) platforms would end up costing companies loads of time when it came to troubleshooting after the software developer’s job was done. Thankfully, today’s IoT platforms come with an abundance of features to help companies overcome their technical challenges. Companies who make the switch from DIY, in-house IoT platforms to more professional IoT solutions will gain a competitive advantage in the years ahead.
HOT: Blended Data
Marketing data is always growing, and due to the increasing volume and complexity of it, blended data will be gaining more attention among businesses who are looking to improve their analytics departments. This process combines several sources of data into one dataset in order to gather insights and discover correlations between different types of data feeds that would not commonly be analyzed together. Data blending tools can sort and combine data from spreadsheets, surveys, census data, CRM systems, Google Analytics profiles, cloud applications, and more. The results can then be used to drive better and more actionable decisions for your marketing strategy.
COLD: Data Silos
Data becomes siloed when it is only used for a specific purpose and then becomes the responsibility of one individual or small team within an organization. This means that the data will not get reused or shared with people throughout your company who could give it a new life in new contexts. Businesses have erected data silos over the years for a multitude of reasons. Whether it was due to project oriented data collection, or data hoards from highly specialized subject matter experts, data silos represent wasted work and potential. Tearing down antiquated data silos can be done through increased multidisciplinary communication and taking an inventory of all of your company’s intellectual assets.
HOT: Micro-Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has become a powerful way for businesses to reach their target audience on social media, attract attention to their brand, and improve overall sales. Brands have traditionally paid celebrities, athletes, and other big names to be influencers, but what’s hot right now on social media channels like Instagram is what is known as a “micro-influencer”. These are usually regular people with some kind of expertise or authority on a topic, who have a decent following on social media and also happen to be a fan of your brand. Because micro-influencers typically focus on a niche – such as food/recipe blogging, health/wellness, small business, parenting, travel, photography, beauty, or fashion – their audiences are highly targeted. Micro-influencers are also very well connected and acquainted with their audience, sharing personal stories and experiences with their followers and building a kind of accessible, trust-based relationship with them over time. What better way to engage potential consumers than by having someone they consider a trusted friend or mentor recommend your brand?
COLD: Wannabe Influencers
The hardest part of influencer marketing is finding influencers who are actually legit. Unfortunately, since marketers have been eagerly jumping on the micro-influencer trend, there has also been a rise in companies unknowingly working with wannabes who aren’t really influencers at all. These wannabes usually operate under the guise of fake likes and followers, costing companies time and money when they finally discover that all the fake followers aren’t truly interested in becoming potential customers. Moving forward, you can expect marketers to be extra cautious, diligently doing their homework on potential micro-influencers before agreeing to work with them.
Which marketing trends do you see heating up, or cooling down, in your corner of the world? Be sure to let us know what you are seeing in the comment section below!