Digital marketing is an arena that has evolved with galloping speed, embracing technological advancement in its stride. The year 2018 saw digital marketers looking for newer avenues to connect and interact with audiences while trying to create a lasting relationship with them. In creating a lasting relationship, customer experience is of prime importance. This realisation has nudged small business owners to think positively about digital marketing and interact with potential and existing customers through various digital marketing platforms. Also, the effectiveness of digital marketing channels over the traditional forms of marketing has been a game changer for small businesses.
According to Business 2 community, 75% of small business owners view online marketing as an “effective” or “very effective” tool to attract new customers. The cost has been the governing criteria for this shift as digital marketing are way more cost effective than traditional forms of advertising.
In 2018, Video marketing reigned the digital arena with over 78% of people watching online videos every week, and 55% viewing online videos every day (HubSpot), and the figures will surge by 2019. So, here are a few trends that are expected to catch up in 2019.
1. Video marketing:
In 2018, videos have been influencing buying decisions, and overall industry trends indicate that videos will continue to dominate in 2019 too. The most commonly produced videos in 2018 were product videos, explainer videos and demo videos. However, businesses are experimenting with a variety of genres and styles. In 2018, mainly large companies relied on videos, however in 2019, small businesses will take the front seat. The creation of several make your own video applications, giving complete freedom to build different kinds of videos at nominal costs, have taken away the apprehension of small businesses.
2019 will also witness the rise of Snack ads – short ads of 10-second duration – where companies will compete to make a mark and to get their message across in the shortest possible time.
Another digital marketing trend that will gain momentum in 2019 is live video. Live videos have demonstrated their ability to build customer trust and brand association while remaining cost-effective. So, more and more brands will go bold and experiment with live streaming. According to Neil Patel, the live streaming industry will grow to be a $70 billion industry. Also, studies show that audiences interact more with live videos by commenting 10x more during live videos (Facebook). Live videos are consumed more by youngsters, so brands catering to the youth will be seen deploying this digital marketing technique more to reach their consumers. For small businesses too, this trend will prove to be a boon with the double benefit of personalization and cost-effectiveness. It costs near to nothing to conduct product launches, demos or to get a personalised message across through live video. Also, 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions. (Invodo) Moreover, statistics show that 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video. (Forbes)
Technology too is paving the way to make videos an integral part of digital marketing. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), state-of-the-art smartphone cameras and easy to use online editing applications have revolutionised video marketing. So, if you haven’t started publishing videos yet, do it now!
2. Voice Search:
“Alexa, play Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”, and the song plays. Whoa!! Voice based commands are all for making life easier, and it’s no wonder why technology giants such as Google and Amazon are streamlining their resources to better this area. The impetus made by Voice search is good enough evidence to know what is in the making. The statistics show that by 2020, 50% of online searches will be voice-based. This will change the face of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and content creation.
Do you write and speak the same way? The answer to this question is something that has made every digital marketer pull their hair out. While type searching for a salon, a user might type “best salon in Perth”, but while voice searching, they might just say “which is the best salon.” The AI-powered voice assistants will gauge the user’s location and understand their need before presenting the answer. The content, therefore, will need to be overhauled to awe these voice assistants. The tone of content will shift towards conversational style to match the voice searches. Moreover, the competition for that coveted ranking will sky-rocket. Unlike type searches which throws up pages after pages in the result, the voice assistants have limitations; Siri, for example, only displays 3-4 results.
The technology, however, is just evolving from its nascent stage and much R&D needs to be done. Most voice-based queries are related to local searches such as salons, restaurants, local shops etc., so this presents a plethora of opportunities for small business owners who cater to a local audience.
The AI-powered chatbots have been around the corner for a while now. Though they didn’t gain popularity at the onset, 2018 was a profitable year for chatbots as we saw them gaining strength and acceptance among online users. In Digital marketing, customer experience takes center stage, and chatbots play a vital role in providing excellent customer experience, be it by providing necessary information, support for troubleshooting or helping users by streamlining tasks.
Most customers detest the time and patience required to get to a client support executive and the long wait to get an appropriate response. The acceptance of chatbots arose from the need for quick and efficient customer service. While browsing a website or a company’s Facebook page, users prefer to ask spontaneous questions and expect an equally spontaneous response. The quick and appropriate responses from chatbots have enhanced the brand value of organisations and have succeeded in building trust.
However, a lot needs to be done to elevate chatbots to their deserved stature. 2019 will witness human-like conversational chatbots which will make it impossible for users to judge whether it’s a human or a robot in conversation. Brands will dig deeper to understand the purpose of communication, the value chatbots can provide and several back-end functions that can be integrated with AI to deliver a remarkable experience.
Most small businesses have failed to leverage this technology, but 2019 will see them opting for chatbots for the high value they provide for a meagre cost.
4. Influencer marketing:
In digital marketing milieu, it’s influencer marketing that enjoys more credibility among consumers. Influencer marketing is tying-up with people who have huge social media following to promote products and services. People tend to believe and rely on peers, instead of celebrities, while making buying choices; so, influencer marketing has been a very effective digital marketing strategy.
Influencer marketing was deemed costly by small businesses, however, in 2019 small businesses will shift their focus to nano influencers. Nano influencers are local people who enjoy a certain amount of popularity and credibility on social media in a niche segment. For a small business, these nano influencers are a win-win solution, as they are not only affordable but also enjoy a strong following in the very niche that these small businesses are targeting. Such nano influencers will prove to be an effective and easy way to build brand value, brand awareness and drive sales for small businesses.
Digital marketing is witnessing rapid transformation with the dynamically changing technology. So, it will be worth the wait to see which trends will cut past the predictions to connect and engage with customers in ways never imagined before.