Imagine a group of teenagers relentlessly fighting for their lives every single day in a constantly changing environment. Much like Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, either they adapt to what is currently happening or they simply die.
Where are we right now? Where are we going? Why are we going there? How are we getting there? What potential surprises await us?
These are some of the very important questions they have to ask themselves as they get through one grim, near-death experience after the other.
Yes, you’d be right in saying this briefly describes the edge-of-your-seat thriller The Hunger Games. But you also wouldn’t be too far off if you imagined our digital marketing landscape at the moment.
I’ll be the first to admit that comparing digital marketing to The Hunger Games might be a bit of an exaggeration. However, the fact remains that our industry is changing a mile a minute, and it’s getting harder to scale, differentiate yourself, and maintain trust in this agile world.
Just take a look at the past few years; technologies recently released are already strongly affecting the market, companies providing innovations are appearing at a faster pace than ever – disrupting the advertising and marketing industry as we know it.But more than that, this fast-paced digital evolution is not only a technological shift, but an organisational change at the intersection of technology, business and people,
And guess what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Despite some brutal and shocking parts, The Hunger Games gets your pulse racing. It has an epic spectacle, yearning romance, suspense that won’t quit and.It’s about something pertinent, the mission to define yourself in a world that’s spinning off its moral axis.
This undoubtedly reflects where the digital marketing is right now: a very enjoyable futurist adventure presented with a compelling, beady-eyed intensity.
As you can imagine, this is an exciting world of emerging technologies, innovative ways of thinking and a fresh approach to managing, delivering, optimising, and analysing experiences across every digital touchpoint.
Now as we round the bend of 2018, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve by absorbing the freshest changes in our fast-paced digital world. This is extremely crucial for organisations struggling with their hard-to-get-results campaigns and those looking to move their businesses and digital marketing forward. Failing to respond to the changes in technology and the digitisation of industries is likely to lead to failure, loss of customers, and interest from the market.
The Hunger Games taught us well – adapt or die.
Now with that said, here are five digital marketing trends of 2019 that we can easily compare to Jennifer Lawrence (on The Hunger Games), who gives us a warrior worth cheering for:
- Less ads. More valuable content.
Is that a genuine ad on your mobile or a link to a dangerous phishing site full of malware?
It’s no secret that the digital marketing industry is plagued by ad fraud. Many online ads are never even seen and ad-blocking software is threatening to undermine the internet’s fundamental business model.
We knew years ago that people were running away from traditional ads. The top four most-trusted sources of advertising were: people you know, branded sites, editorial sites, and reviews. Ads are near the bottom of that list, and that fact hasn’t really changed. In fact, according to Admiral CEO Dan Rua, over 600 million devices block ads worldwide and an average of 15% internet users in South Africa use ad-blockers.
So, does this mean marketers should abandon ads completely? Not necessarily.There’s still a place for some ads, but they have to be more personal, relevant and valuable to the consumer. This is why we see more money going to content marketing, influencer marketing, referral partnerships, and other methods that are designed to deliver actual value to audiences. This shift isn’t going to stop until ads start being more valuable for the consumer.
- Augmented Reality (AR) is stealing the show and changing the market
AR tech will continue to boom, but the biggest benefits will come further down the line.
AR, which overlays digital information onto the viewer’s physical environment, has been popularised by the likes of Pokémon GO. But AR already goes much deeper, and is poised to continue to boom in 2019 thanks to developments and launches from Apple, Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Shazam amongst others.
While augmented reality is a huge buzzword right now, mass adoption won’t happen for a couple of years as developers get to grips with new access and ecosystems.
2019 is the year that AR will stretch out into new direction, bringing a lot more people into the game. But instant success is not assured – building revenue takes time, and it will take time to determine which AR platform takes the market share. Only when revenue looks good will the investment cycle truly begin, so while the investment begins now, the real developments are set to happen more towards 2021.
- Chatbots benefiting more businesses in 2019
Chatbots are AI-based programs, which through the use of a chat interface can provide real-time interaction with users or customers of a company. The purpose of a chatbot is to provide proactive assistance to users and replace the necessity of human communication to provide responses to question from customers.
This trend has gained a massive importance in business in recent years and companies from a range of industries are turning an eye towards this alternative way of communication.
I’ll admit that we’ve all had frustrating chatbot experiences as we round out 2018. But the good news is that huge steps continue to be made in the way of natural language processing and sentiment analytics.
According to a report on Fin24, Gartner (one of the world’s leading research and advisory companies) predicts that roughly 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human interference by 2020. This makes it one of the top digital trends of our near future.
- Personalisation: Talk to your consumer directly
If you want to stand out in 2019, you need to personalise your digital marketing – and that means personalised content, products, emails, and more.
With the availability of data like purchase history, consumer behavior and links clicked, custom content has never been easier.
Take a look at Netflix for instance. It is already leveraging the power of personalisation. Logging on to your Netflix account, for example, immediately shows you the evidence of this: the banner, carousels, order, artwork, text and search are all personalised for you.
Doesn’t that just make you feel special and leave you wanting more?
- Influencer marketing: Building partnerships
The past two years have seen an exponential rise in influencer marketing as part of modern marketing strategies.
However, one of the biggest mistakes that many companies have made when approaching an influencer is to view the relationship with them as purely transactional.
It’s easy to be blindsided by the enticement of quick wins. By creating a partnership, whether it’s short or long-term, you’ll help guarantee commitment and a more enthusiastic approach to the work on both parts, along with improving the longevity of your ROI.
To take your influencer relationship from transactional to partnership, treat them as a human being and not as a marketing channel, be consistent in your communication, outline what you want from the very beginning, avoid micromanagement and always approach them with the mindset that it’ll be a long-term arrangement.
While it’s important to consider these trends for your marketing activities, it’s just as vital to note that technology in itself does not equate to digital miracles. The customer, culture and employees along with business continuity must be at the heart of every digital investment.
2019 will be about better customer experience with personalisation, automation and AI-powered technology, so to stay ahead of the curve and increase conversions in the coming year, you’ll need to get better at producing custom, conversational content – particularly audio and video content – to share with your better-targeted audience.
Sefiso Hlongwane is a digital specialist at Vuma Reputation Management. Follow him on Twitter .
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