2018 brought some huge changes to the digital marketing industry. Many of these changes have shaped, and will continue to shape, how we approach digital marketing.
With the year drawing to a close, we’ve put our heads together and pondered the future of digital. From the fairly predictable to the downright futuristic, join the Loom team as we look into our crystal balls at digital marketing in 2019.
You can also watch the team discuss some of their predictions in the video below:
Social Media in 2019
2018 was a pretty disruptive year for social media marketers. The new Facebook and Instagram algorithms caused havoc for businesses trying to reach their audiences for free. And the Facebook ad space got even more competitive and expensive.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and 2019 is another year! Our social media experts Vicky and Alice have some exciting predictions about social media marketing in 2019.
Alice: Micro-influencers will become the new “influencers”
2018 has seen a rise of micro-influencers – and in 2019 I think this will skyrocket. If you haven’t already come across them, micro-influencers have a typically smaller reach than their superstar counterparts (between 50,000 to 100,000 followers – although this is widely debated on the internet!).
Despite a smaller number of followers, they have an extremely loyal fanbase and incredibly high engagement figures to match. Their fans/followers watch their every move, eager to see what content they will post next. In 2019, it looks like some brands will even ditch their big stars completely, opting to only work with micro-influencers.
And the appeal of micro-influencers will continue to grow with their relatable, down to earth nature and style that followers feel they can easily copy. They’ll be especially beneficial to lifestyle, design and fashion businesses, but the strategy can be replicated across a range of other industries if done cleverly.
Most of all, their authentic content is what appeals to followers who are tired of non-authentic marketing on social. For businesses who want to dominate on social media, enlisting the help of micro-influencers is a must-do in 2019.
Vicky: Businesses Need to Prioritise Live Video
According to Cisco, social traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic worldwide by 2019. Eighty Percent! Considering this alongside the fact that Facebook users now spend three times more time watching live videos compared to traditional videos, I think it’s pretty obvious that live video is going to be HUGE next year!
And it makes sense. Live videos are imperfect, they’re human, they’re… well, right now! That’s why I think businesses need to consider incorporating live video into their 2019 content strategy.
Alice: Businesses need to make use of Stories on Facebook and Instagram
Stories are a hot topic at the moment and really look set to dominate in 2019.
In fact, many digital marketers are predicting that Stories will become the main format in which users receive content. Mark Zuckerberg himself has claimed that “Stories are on track to overtake feed posts as the most common way to share across social apps.”
On top of this, the growth of Stories was too good of an opportunity not to be monetised. So, in 2018 Facebook launched Story Advertising, giving businesses the ability to capitalise on both Instagram and Facebook’s strong user base.
So, in 2019, if you want to reach your social audiences as effectively as possible, you need to utilise Stories – both in your paid and organic social media strategies.
PPC & Biddable Media in 2019
The Biddable media landscape underwent a reshuffle in 2018. From Google ditching the “AdWords” brand to the introduction of even longer ad copy, it’s safe to say the paid media space is very different to how it was a year ago.
So, what’s in store for biddable media in 2019? Tommy and I discuss.
Tommy: Programmatic advertising will rise, and Amazon’s competing hard.
Programmatic advertising has been growing year on year, but 2019 looks to be the year that platforms start to make it more accessible.
As online marketing moves more and more towards audience targeting, the data driven opportunities that programmatic offers for Display, Video, Audio and Connected TV are unmatched. Video in particular is predicted to see a total ad spend of $13.43 billion in 2019, alongside an increase to video’s highest ever CTR of 1.84%. In 2019, 67% of total Display spend will also be from programmatic platforms.
In a market where Google and Facebook have previously dominated, Amazon is on a crusade to break their duopoly. By acquiring inventory such as IMDb and with plans to expand much further, Amazon will make self-serve programmatic as easy as shopping on amazon.com. Couple this with targeting options that Google and Facebook can’t compete with, such as audiences of users with certain products on their wish-lists or in their baskets, and the eCommerce marketing landscape will completely change.
Google and Facebook will have to change their models or face losing significant market share to Amazon. Opening their doors to more brands and agencies could be where they can halt Amazon’s march.
Hannah: Keywords will become less relevant than ever
This year, Google ditched “AdWords” and re-branded as “Google Ads”. Although we knew the shift away from keyword reliance was coming, Google Ads’ re-brand was the definitive signal that the shift had begun.
Moving into 2019, I think we’ll start to see the diminishing of search marketing itself. Keywords and rankings will become far less relevant, with Google using its pool of user data to show users the right ads on the right devices at the right time.
Marketing with Data in 2019
In the months leading up to May 2018, anyone with a website running online marketing activity felt the fiery fear of the imminent Data Law Armageddon. But thankfully, the GDPR switch is now firmly behind us. Now we’re starting to see newly regulated data being used in new and interesting ways for marketing.
Data, in general, is also playing a more crucial role in digital marketing. Wez, Thom, and Nikki discuss what 2019 could have in store.
Wez: Goodbye third-party data, hello second-party data
In 2019, more brands and agencies will reach out to publishers and initiate mutually beneficial agreements for the use of their data.
Second-party data is the data owned by one organization that is shared directly with another for exclusive use – so it’s mutually beneficial. Third-party data is data sold to many organizations and lacks exclusivity. (It’s also the type of data that the new GDPR law knocked on the head)
In the wake of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect, industry attitudes towards this “second-party data” have changed as brands and publishers have warmed up to the concept of data-sharing. GDPR has played a substantial part in the change of outlook towards second-party data.
Now businesses are becoming more aware of the risks and downsides associated with using third-party data and second-party data offers a more transparent alternative.
Thom: Data-informed personalised search is about to ramp up
The personal data that Google is gathering will be used to personalise our search experiences more than ever. While Google has been using our search history and social activity to personalise search results for a long time, I think we’re about to see and experience the next stage of search personalisation.
Essentially, Google will use users’ personal data to predict and serve them solutions and answers before they even know that they’ll need them. This will be based on things such as location, your device, and your past user history.
For the digital marketing industry, this opens up the exciting possibility of selling solutions before users have even thought of searching for it.
Nikki: Creativity paired with data will be key to 2019’s successful marketing campaigns
Further advances in marketing automation technology will be a huge benefit for client campaigns. This will help to make better, data-informed decisions as well as freeing up human time to focus on more creative tasks. Automation will take care of the basic tasks.
Creativity paired with data-driven insight will be a powerful combination at the heart of any successful marketing in 2019.
SEO, Search & Content in 2019
In the world of SEO, every year sees big changes and 2018 was no different. Most notably, the Mobile First Indexing algorithm was finally rolled out, along with the mobile speed update. We also saw sites without HTTPS hit by the chrome security warnings update, while the more recent “Medic” Core Update impacted a lot of YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites. (If you’re not sure what YMYL sites are, you can learn about them here)
2019 looks set to be a very interesting one for search. The SEO and Content team chat about what they think might crop up.
Karen: User journeys are changing, your marketing campaigns should do too.
Users’ digital journeys are more complex than ever. We’ve never been further away from a linear user journey and this will be the case in 2019.
Users have so many online and offline touchpoints on their journey to purchase, and the implications for digital marketers are twofold.
Firstly, marketers need to ensure that their brand is appearing at the desired journey stage and with the correct message. This might be with an informational search query at the start of a journey, or with a social media ad when they’re ready to convert.
Secondly, marketers need to develop their data picture. Lead attribution based on a last click conversion model is becoming increasingly inaccurate. In 2019, marketers will need to model data to give necessary credit to all channels that played a part in the conversion path. This will ensure marketing spend is being invested in the correct channels.
Claire: Content will need to be evergreen to dominate Google’s ‘queryless’ search focus
2019 will see a move towards ‘queryless’ searches. As Thom’s mentioned, Google’s new ‘feed’ will serve relevant content to users even when they’re not searching. This move will aim to provide content tailored to an individual and their interests before they even know that they want or need it. It completely removes the “query” or “keyword” part of the search process.
As a result, this places a stronger emphasis on the importance of evergreen content. Evergreen content refers to articles that have ongoing value and always remain relevant. Content will need to be as relevant and as high quality as possible in order to appear in the ‘discover’ part of Google’s feed. (If you’re not sure what the Google Discover Feed is, you can find more info here)
The ‘discover’ feed takes content that appears in the ‘topic’ layer of Google’s knowledge graph. (You can find more information about Google’s knowledge graph here.) So, if your content is evergreen, high quality and shows expertise in a topic, Google’s more likely to show it to your desired audiences.
Tom: Collaborate with your clients when creating content in 2019 – it’s more important than ever
I predict that Google and other search engines will increase their efforts in 2019 to encourage experts to create online content.
We already know that Google’s E.A.T metric (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) is being used to determine high-quality pages. We’ve also started to see individuals appearing in Google’s featured snippets. It’s clear that experts and their knowledge are valued.
As content marketers, we will need to work even more closely with our clients and their internal teams to capture the most relevant and valuable information for their target audiences.
The focus will then be on making sure the resulting content is written for the web (and mobile) and optimised to target the relevant user intent. Already, this is essential for Your Money or Your Life pages.
In tandem with this, digital marketers will need to create genuine expert profiles online, increasing their digital footprints by joining the dots between social media accounts and authored web content.
Hannah: Who you are matters if you want to write successful content in 2019
As Tom mentioned, if you’re planning on writing content in 2019, who you are will matter.
At least in Google’s eyes, anyway.
That’s because in 2019, Google will be ranking your content based in part on its understanding of your authority and your knowledge of the sector you’re writing about.
This is so that users are presented with the highest quality and most trustworthy content possible. Once Google recognises your authority in an area, it’s more likely to rank your content over un-authored or non-authoritative content.
So, if you’re writing about your industry, make Google aware that you know your stuff.
How do you do this? You’ll need to ensure every post you write is authored with your name and associate your social media accounts with your content articles. And, of course, you’ll need to continue to create high quality, genuinely useful and well-written content.
General Disruption in Digital Marketing 2019
Due to new products and new innovation, we’re likely to see a change in how users interact with the web in 2019.
James and Matt explain how products and trends could benefit businesses who want to market and sell online in the coming year.
James: Google Express will take on Amazon and expand to new territories
I’m looking forward to the potential introduction of Google Express to new territories outside of the US. If you’re not sure what Google Express is, it gives retailers the chance to exist on one unified platform, with delivery managed by Google themselves. It’s ideally suited to those businesses that perhaps haven’t quite nailed their own e-commerce offering
As Express gains traction and consumers see the value in visiting one site to buy products from numerous retailers, it’s likely to become a very real competitor for Amazon.
How will this benefit our industry? We can assume Google will leverage every bit of available data and offer it up for targeting, taking insight from user behaviour on the platform as well as interactions with integrated services offered by Google Home.
Clearly, there’s a lot of value for advertisers in being able to tie together purchasing behaviour across different retailers as well as potential targeting based on dormant cart additions or shopping lists.
Matt: Automated customer service will improve customer experience – and sales will follow
Over the last few years, machine learning chat bots have been introduced as an attempt to disrupt the customer service sector. In fact, according to “The 2018 State of Chatbots Report”, 15% of consumers have used chatbots to communicate with businesses in the past 12 months.
But while chatbots have been praised as the best thing since sliced-bread, many companies have dropped them as quickly as they adopted them. This is due to poor implementation that has caused frustration to the end user.
But data shows that the benefits of real-time messaging still far outweigh email when it comes to customer service. Whether it’s human or machine interaction, as long as they customer gets the information they need, quickly – they’re happy.
So, what’s needed for the experience to improve? Firstly, improved artificial intelligence so they can understand the complexity of questions and provide the right answers. Secondly, a lot of data.
As we enter 2019, more data will be collected, helping chatbots provide more genuinely useful support. This will give rise to better customer support through machine learning. In turn, this data will translate into understanding customers’ needs. We’ll then be able to sell more effectively to customers, improving both customer service and business revenues.
Your Businesses 2019 Digital Marketing Strategy
Have our 2019 predictions got you thinking about your digital marketing and where it can be improved? If so, we’d love to help you out.
We work closely with businesses to achieve new growth online. From PPC and SEO to Content marketing and Social Media, our team of digital marketing experts never miss a beat when it comes to managing and executing successful digital marketing strategies. We’re here to help you get your business off to roaring start in 2019.
Give us a call on 0117 923 2021 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how we can help you and your business.
And from everyone at the Loom HQ – we wish you a very happy and prosperous new year!
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