Digital marketing is about as dynamic as it gets, with new technology evolving by the minute. The challenge faced by businesses large and small is to continue to meet the demands of the digital marketing domain, and the consumer evolving and changing with it.
The 2018 digital marketing landscape changed drastically, with the implementation of new search channels, the ever-changing mysterious algorithms across our go to marketing channels and the rise and rise of AI and voice-driven search marketing. In 2019 these trends will continue to soar, with new technologies and marketing initiatives providing digital marketing teams new and exciting avenues to explore, and complex, audience-centric challenges.
Voice search is more than just a trend, it’s the future of search marketing, with forecasts suggesting that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. It’s not difficult to understand why. In a user experience dominated mobile market, voice search is easy to use, hands-free and convenient, and is the go-to search strategy on almost all emerging mobile and smart devices. The rise and rise of smart speakers and AI in-household devices means that businesses not adapting to the changing requirements of voice search are in danger of falling down in their SEO efforts.
So how can we prepare for this shift and what may it mean for our marketing efforts?
The best place to start is to optimise your website for voice search by considering long-tail and conversational keywords as part of your SEO strategy and for maintaining a strong ranking. One way to do this is to have an up-to-date and detailed FAQ section that is likely to provide the answers to the more direct and demanding questions of voice search queries.
The change in search queries to adopting a more conversational tone also means that content marketers will need to generate specific articles that focus on the long-tail search queries most likely to drive traffic to your site. Just as Google optimises for conversational tone, articles written in a human, conversational response will be more likely to rank, with the search engine giant favouring ‘human’ content in its SEO algorithms. Maintaining directory listings and claiming your Google My Business listing will help to place you on the map for local search.
Traditionally, search engines were keyword focused, driving traffic to pages including a high density of keywords specific to search queries. However, in a recent shift from keyword-centric to audience-centric marketing, the emphasis on quality content in clusters around topic ‘pillars’ is the new means of ranking as an authority on a specific subject.
Content marketers will no longer depend on writing around a group of keywords, but rely more on generating multi-pronged content coverage of topics specific to their business, so that Google will recognise this as strong and relevant content for its searchers.
Creating a network of content using hyperlinks enables websites to rank higher by demonstrating to Google the extent of the website’s coverage and interest in a specific topic.
Whilse the boundaries in guidelines surrounding content marketing remain fluid and driven by the ever-changing Google algorithms, employing strong and robust planning and writing for ‘real people’ is the best place to start to embrace the new audience-centric SEO domain.
Well, let’s face it, this one is a no-brainer, but not to be left out, owing to the power of mobile technology. Overarching some of our other trends, including voice search and social media channel changes, mobile marketing should be at the forefront of every digital marketing strategy for 2019. With Google taking a ‘mobile first’ approach, it is imperative that your website is responsive on mobile and that your content caters for a mobile-first market. Whilst this may seem ‘old news’, many businesses are seeing bounce rates soar with slow-loading websites and mobile-unfriendly pages.
With fast emerging new technologies including Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), companies embracing and investing in new, mobile technology have seen great success. Both of these new mobile-first initiatives work to streamline the mobile experience, through AMPs by, in its simplest terms, supercharging page load speed by stripping down HTML and CSS code to accelerate the page loading speed.
Similarly driven entirely by mobile user experience, progressive web applications take advantage of a mobile app’s characteristics, resulting in improved user retention and performance, without the complications involved in maintaining a mobile application.
Social media trends
The evolution and unstoppable rise of social media as a digital marketing platform is unmistakeable. However the way marketers will approach the key platforms in 2019 will see a change with key user demographics across channels changing. In the latest report from OFCOM, we see for consumer marketers, the most notable shifts include:Above: Number of visitors, by social media platform and age: March 2016 – March 2018
Source: OFCOM Communications Market Report, published 2/8/18
- Facebook usage flat-lining outside the 55+ age sector, driving more marketers to turn to Messenger as their channel of choice for Facebook advertising
- Instagram continuing to grow across the board and introducing more intricate demographic targeting and a wider ranging scope of advertising options. This is reflected in a report by Merkle indicating that Facebook ad spend increased 40% year-on-year in Q2 with Instagram ad spend seeing a 177% increase.
- Snapchat continues to grow, and not just in the teen market, but across the board for social media users.
Whilst the OFCOM report does not provide data and insight into LinkedIn and Twitter, there is an ongoing recognition of the power of these channels in B2B marketing. LinkedIn recently released their 2019 B2B Marketing Trends on their B2B marketing blog, https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/linkedin-b2b-marketing/2018/linkedin-b2b-marketing-announcing-trends, boldly citing the marketer’s ‘obsession’ with new ideas and new content.
“But at the core of this obsession, you will find a delusion. And the delusion is that new, original, untested ideas are superior to old, familiar, battle-tested ones. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true: old ideas tend to outperform new ideas.”
In essence, the drive to be innovative on LinkedIn actually can be detrimental to campaign results, with familiarity and tradition proving on average, five times more successful. The revenue generated by LinkedIn continues to grow, with a 2018 Q2 report citing a 37% increase in revenue and a 41% growth in sessions.
Twitter, too, holds its own as a B2B and B2C platform, experiencing a steady growth in daily active users of 11% and a 27% increase in revenue in the last 12 months.
Chatbots- AI powered customer service
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be dealt with by chatbots. With 70% (source Smart Insights) of consumers reporting a positive experience, many companies, large and small, are reaching out to their customer base using Artificial Intelligence to handle queries in a timely and efficient fashion.
By 2019, chatbots will become more and more commonplace for every day demands from ordering a pizza, booking a hotel room or answering common queries relating to business services and products. Pre-existing negativity and scepticism surrounding Chatbots and AI powered customer service are rapidly fading.
Many companies are choosing to get ahead of the curve and acknowledging that fast and efficient customer services with minimal response times preside over the ‘voice on the end of the phone’ that many businesses struggle to consistently provide.
The many faces of digital marketing
Despite digital marketing platforms becoming increasingly complex and demanding, one thing remains incredibly important when considering your 2019 strategy, and that is to cater for the real person. This sentiment is reflected across the digital marketing giants including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, who respectively cite audiences and ‘human’ content as the driving force behind all their developments. The opportunity to personalise and streamline experiences can only be impactful if driven by human intent and consumer motivation. Therefore, just like in every other sphere of marketing, knowing your consumer and understanding how to resonate with your audience is key whatever channel and technology you choose to explore.