2019 : A Marketing Odyssey

The future is not only calling, it’s also talking back.

While researching marketing trends for the coming year, I realized that calling them “trends” was like calling the Internet a “fad.” History may well refer to them as Cultural Milestones, developments that are coming of age, creating new opportunities and challenges that will change the way we think of, and conduct, business well into the future—and beyond!

ArtificiaI Intelligence

Our first item is “virtually” straight out every sci-fi movie ever made. Artificial Intelligence is finally being used for good, automating mundane tasks, collecting and analyzing data on consumer behavior.

AI is making an impact in three key areas:

Look-Alike Audiences—AI can use the profiles and behaviors of your current clients/customers to find prospects who share the same attributes. If you are familiar with Facebook’s Look-Alike Audiences, you have a general idea of how this works.

Personalization—One of last year’s hot topics. AI allows you to take it to a whole new level, creating personalized content and tailoring campaigns for highly targeted market segments.

Data Analysis—AI drives Marketing Automation through analyzing your customer data at a granular level, spotting trends that can inspire campaign, create dynamic content, and expand your target audience.

Chatbots are Your Friend

You have seen these little pop-up windows, usually on websites, on pages that have something to do with support or customer service. These little helpers are programmed to mimic the give and take of conversation and are useful in answering repetitive questions and basic interactions. They can also tie into your various systems to answer questions like: “When will my package be delivered?” “What time is my appointment?” “Where are you located?” 

Chatbots are not meant to replace human conversations. They can help, but they are no substitute for an actual person.

Voice Search

By now, we’re all familiar with Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google app. They can all serve up information and search results via voice commands only,  answering requests like “Order me a pizza” or “What’s playing at the local movie theatre.”

The increasing popularity of Voice Search means that companies, especially local businesses,  would be wise to make it part of their digital marketing strategies and optimize their content accordingly.

Not only does Voice Search make it easier to find information online without pulling out a device; it also reduces screen time.

Visual Search

As if  Voice Search weren’t exciting enough, businesses will also have to optimize their images to show up in Visual Searches. 

The Pinterest App, in particular, let’s you use your camera to initiate a search, “letting you use the camera in your mobile device to discover ideas inspired by objects you see out in the real world.” Take a photo of an object, and Pinterest brings up similar images. In the case of products, the results are drawn from e-commerce sites, so you can also make a purchase.

Not to be outdone, Google’s visual search app, Lens—it will soon be native to Android smartphone cameras—has several functions. It will “read” names, addresses, and phone numbers. Point it a product and will find similar items. It can also identify plants and animals, books, and media and even read barcodes.

Video Live Video

Video is still at the top of the Content Marketing world. The only thing better is Live Video. It creates a sense of immediacy and puts your target audience right in the middle of the action.  Behind-the-scenes tours of your office,  product demos, press releases, live Q&As, you can even have them “sit-in” on a meeting.

Let’s Not Forget About People

Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 – 2005, is coming of age, entering the workforce and the marketplace in large numbers.  Marketers have been struggling to understand Millennials. The children of Baby-Boomers ended up acting very differently than their parents.  Now here comes the next generational cohort,  Gen Z.

They’ve grown up in post-2001 America, lurching from one crisis to another, while dealing with an unsettled economy. Many of them are still teenagers, so it’s hard to make any predictions, but they do seem to prize authenticity and favor socially responsible businesses, for now anyway.

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