We are living in a time of radical transformation, with emerging technologies, methods, and consumer behaviors constantly changing the field of marketing.

If you want your business to self itself apart from its competitors in a very crowded marketing environment, you need to not only be aware of emerging marketing trends, but to also take advantage of these trends to keep yourself ahead of the pack.

You already have a marketing strategy or approach that has previously worked well for your business, and at this point, you might wondering why you need to bother learning about any new trends when you have something that works just fine for you.

I’ll tell you why. You see, marketing trends don’t just evolve for the sake of it.

The engineers at Facebook don’t just sit in their offices at Menlo Park and say something like, “You know what, it’s a boring day today, why don’t we have some fun by changing the algorithms that determine what users see on their timeline?”

You can bet that has never happened.

Instead, changes in the marketing world are initiated by changes in consumer behavior.

Consumers change the way they interact with advertisements, how they research products before purchasing, how they shop, and their preferred methods of making payments, which in turn forces the marketing world to instigate its own changes to reflect the changes in consumer behavior and preferences.

If you don’t want your business to become irrelevant and obsolete, you have to stay up to date with any changes and trends in the marketing world and adapt your businesses to these changes.

Sure, sticking to your old way of doing things might be cheaper in the short term, but in the long term, your business will be left behind while the rest of the world moves ahead.

Below, we have compiled a list of 10 trends that will define the marketing world over the next one year.

If you are interested in putting your business ahead of your competitors, go through the list, find those that are most suitable for your business and start implementing.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL PLAY A BIGGER ROLE IN PERSONALIZATION AND AUTOMATION

Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of computers to perform tasks that have been ordinarily believed to be the reserve of humans, or tasks that require some level of intelligence to accomplish.

I’m talking about tasks such as reasoning, talking, socializing, learning, solving problems, and so on.

When a computer program is able to accomplish such tasks, it is considered to be artificially intelligent.

Artificial intelligence has been steadily growing in prominence, and it has already become a natural part of our daily lives.

There are several situations where you interact with AI on a daily basis, even if you might not have been aware of it.

When you ask Siri to give you directions to get you where you are going, or when you ask it to text someone, you are interacting with AI.

When YouTube recommends videos you might like, it does this using AI. When you post a photo on Facebook and Facebook automatically recognizes and tags everyone in the photo, that is AI at play.

Slowly, AI has been inching its way into the world of marketing and is poised to revolutionize how businesses advertise to and interact with their customers.

AI will improve and expand the ability of businesses to connect with their customers and allow them to solve customers’ problems much faster and more effectively.

Today, consumers perform a lot of activities online, and in so doing, they leave behind a treasure trove of data.

AI makes it possible for businesses to analyze this data and gain useful insights about customer behavior, priorities, interests, and preferences.

Using these insights, businesses can then provide a more customized and personalized online experience to their customers, leading to improved engagements between customers and the business and increased conversions and increased sales.

While the use of AI in marketing is not new, recent advances in the technology will make personalization of the customer experience better and more accurate than ever before.

Granted, there are concerns about how ethical it is to mine customer data to understand their behavior and drive sales, but reports show that customers have no problem sharing their personal data in exchange for a more personalized experience.

If you have not been utilizing AI in your marketing strategy, it might be time to jump on board.

Start researching different ways you can incorporate AI into your marketing operations.

To get you started, here is a list of marketing skills you need in the era of artificial intelligence.

INTERACTIVE VIDEO CONTENT

Video marketing has been on steadily growing for a couple of years now.

Every month, more than 1.9 billion users log onto YouTube, the world’s largest video streaming platform.

Every single day, over one billion hours of video are viewed on the platform.

A report by Cisco also predicted that video content will account for over 80% of internet traffic by this year.

According to Spiceworks, adoption of video marketing by marketers will grow to 68% in 2019, up from 49% in 2018.

With video marketing showing so much promise, markets are trying to come up with news of taking advantage of the trend. One of these is interactive video.

You might be wondering what exactly interactive video is.

Traditionally, watching video has been a very passive affair. You click play to start the content and then lean back as the content plays till the end.

The only interactions allowed when watching traditional video are pausing, rewinding, and fast forwarding. Interactive video, on the other hand, gives you numerous options to interact with the video content.

You can drag the video to see the content from different angles, input data that will alter the direction of the content, answer quizzes within the video, view additional information about elements within the video, and do several other things.

Basically, a user’s experience with interactive video is unique based on how they choose to interact with the video content. You can check out an amazing example of an interactive video here.

Interactive videos are gaining a lot of popularity because they help boost engagement. Interactive videos perform better than traditional videos, and viewers are more likely to get to the end of an interactive video compared to an ordinary video.

According to an infographic by Advrtas, 98% of Americans feel that the content in 360° videos is more exciting compared to regular video content. 360° videos also have a much higher click-through rate than regular videos.

According to Oh! Video, 70% of marketers believe that interactive videos have helped boost their business.

With such reports, you can expect that the use of interactive video in marketing will only keep growing.

CHATBOTS ARE HERE TO STAY

Ever made an inquiry to a business and then had to wait for 24 hours or more before getting a response?

How did it make you feel? By the time the response came, you had probably forgotten about the inquiry, or maybe you had already purchased what you were looking for from someone else.

Generally, humans are very impatient.

According to HubSpot, over half of your customers expect their sales, marketing, or customer service inquiry to be responded to within 10 minutes.

Unless you have hundreds of customer service representatives, responding to ALL customer inquiries within 10 minutes is not possible.

Or is it?

Turns out it is possible with the help of chatbots.

Chatbots are little AI powered assistants that integrate into websites and play the role of customer service representatives by typically responding to customer inquiries and fulfilling customer requests quickly.

These bots have the ability to understand complex requests and give personalized responses. They can also learn and improve their interactions with customers over time.

Sometime, customers might not even realize that they are interacting with bots.

With chatbots, businesses no longer need to have a free human member of staff to hold a one on one live chat with a customer.

Bots are highly scalable and can chat with hundreds of customers simultaneously, while giving these customers the perception of a one on one interaction.

While chatbots have been around for a while, the technology will continue growing and defining interactions between businesses and customers.

According to a report by Oracle, 80% of companies are already using or plan to be using chatbots by next year (2020), while another report by Grand View Research predicts that the global chatbot market will hit $1.25 billion by 2025.

Such reports show that this trend in marketing will continue growing, and if you have not started using this technology in your business, you should start considering it.

AI Chatbot

Source: RubyGarage

THE RISE OF VOICE SEARCH

When was the last time you used one of the major voice assistants – Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Alexa?

I’m guessing you have had an interaction with one of them at least once in the last one month.

These voice assistants are becoming more popular and changing how we search for and consumer information.

Voice recognition technology is not new.

However, in the last couple of years, voice assistant devices and smart speakers have become very affordable, leading to an explosion in the use of this technology.

Many of them already come with your smartphone. You can get a smart speaker, such as the Google Home or the Amazon Echo for less than $150.

The ubiquity of these voice assistants has led to an increase in the number of search queries that are made by voice.

The growing popularity of voice search stems from the convenience offered by these devices.

You can easily find information without pulling out your device or having to free your hands from whatever you are doing.

Asking a question or issuing a command verbally is also more natural than typing something on a keyboard or clicking icons and buttons on a screen.

Marketers have realized the potential of voice and are already responding and finding ways to capitalize on voice technology to reach their target audiences more effectively.

According to Search Engine Land, commerce sales driven by voice hit $1.8 billion in 2017, and are expected to hit $40 billion in the next 3 years.

If you want to cash in on this growing market, this is the right time to get into the game.

Voice Search

Source: CodeCondo

FOCUS ON EXPERIENTIAL COMMERCE

In the past, most marketing initiatives were focused on pushing products to customers.

However, businesses are doing away with this approach to marketing in favor of experiential commerce, which is aimed at pulling in customers to the brand.

Experiential commerce is all about giving customers a great experience throughout their interaction with your brand and focusing on building a lasting relationship with them, rather than simply focusing on a single transaction.

It’s all about creating a seamless experience for customers across different channels and platforms and removing friction in all the customer touch points where a customer might engage with your business before making a purchase decision.

While the focus on a single transaction is less costly and will bring results much faster, experiential commerce has greater benefits in the long run.

It turns customers into true fans of your brand and increases their customer lifetime value.

Companies have already started embracing experiential marketing.

For instance, a Bloomberg report outlines Walmart’s plan to introduce VR into their shopping experience. The retailer has a plan to introduce virtual showrooms accessible on VR.

Customers can navigate the virtual showroom and grab items off the virtual shelf. These items then get sent to the customer’s home.

Similarly, men’s clothing store Nordstrom has introduced a new store that allows customers to navigate their experience through an app on their smartphone.

A customer selects the clothes they would like to try on, and the dressing room is set up in advance with the clothes they chose.

This trend will only continue getting bigger, and if you don’t want to be left behind, you should start looking for ways to make customer interactions with your brand more appealing.

THE RISE OF VERTICAL VIDEO

It seems video will play a very important role in the future of marketing.

Today, mobile usage is at an all-time high, and therefore it goes without saying that most videos are consumed on mobile devices.

Previously, however, people were forced to turn their mobile devices to the side when viewing videos in full screen mode, something that people do not always like.

This led to the rise of vertical video, which was introduced by Snapchat and has been popularized by Instagram’s IGTV.

This is a standalone app that allows mobile users to watch videos in vertical mode. IGTV also allows users to post videos that are much longer than the main Instagram app allows. Facebook has also embraced vertical video format.

Vertical video is better suited for mobile devices, and with predictions that mobile devices will account for 72% of internet traffic by 2025, you can bet that this trend is not going away.

All the major social media platforms have also embraced vertical video.

Early tests by Facebook also show that vertical video boosts user engagement.

This shows that vertical video will become big in the near future, and as a marketer, you need to start familiarizing yourself with this new video format and start adjusting your strategy accordingly.

IT’S TIME TO FOCUS ON GEN Z

Generation Z is coming of age. They have started entering the workforce and gaining some purchasing power, which means brands will start to pay more attention to them.

If you remember how marketers struggled to understand the millennials, you can expect the same thing to happen with Gen Z, who already make up about 25% of the population.

Most people in Gen Z are digital natives.

Most don’t recall much about life before the rise of smartphones and internet giants like Google and Amazon.

This generation wants brands to provide guidance rather than trying to sell to them, and therefore brands should start adapting themselves to their preferences.

In addition, Gen Z wants brands that are socially responsible and authentic.

They are more aware about the impact of capitalism on the world, and they want to deal with brands that are committed to making the world a better place, so brands need to start aiming for authenticity and social responsibility.

Even as they focus on Gen Z, brands should also pay attention to the Alpha Generation, which consists of children born after 2009.

Despite having no purchasing power themselves, they have an influence on the shopping habits of their millennial parents.

In addition, they started using mobile devices just as they were learning to walk.

THE GROWTH OF MICRO-INFLUENCERS

Ever since the rise of social media, influencer marketing has been a major element in most brands’ social media strategy.

However, the mainstream approach to influencer marketing is starting to change.

Traditionally, brands have been engaging in influencer marketing by partnering with individuals with high follower numbers – celebrities and industry experts in most cases.

However, celebrity marketing is becoming less effective.

Instead, people are paying greater attention to micro-influencers – ordinary people who have earned the trust of their peers and followers.

For instance, if your brand sells camping gear, your customers are more likely to trust other campers than a celebrity who just went on a fully paid camping trip to shoot photos for the campaign.

While micro-influencers have lower follower numbers than celebrities, their followers are more likely to relate with and respond to them, because they view them as “real people,” which in turn leads to higher engagement – more clicks, more subscribes, and more purchases.

Aside from delivering higher engagement, partnering with a network of micro-influencers is more cost effective for brands compared to engaging high level influencers.

In the near future, the use of micro-influencers by brands will continue growing, because this approach has been shown to have better results and to be more cost-effective.

Therefore, next time you need to work with influencers, ignore the follower count, and instead do some research and identify ordinary people who have built their followers trust in their specific niche.

CONTENT MARKETING WILL CONTINUE GROWING

Content marketing has been at the forefront of marketing for a while now, and this is not about to change any time soon.

Unlike traditional approaches to marketing, which try hard to push products to customers, content marketing is a form of inbound marketing, which attracts customers to a brand by writing interesting, engaging and valuable content.

According to HubSpot, 47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content before they make the purchase decision. 70% of customers also prefer learning about products through content rather than through traditional advertising.

By adopting content marketing, you make it possible for potential customers to research and learn about your products at their own pace, without feeling like they are being pressured to buy.

This explains why almost every business today has a blog.

However, with everyone producing content, simply having a blog and posting content randomly won’t help you much.

If you want your content marketing to be effective, you have to come up with a well thought out content marketing strategy and ensure you produce high quality content that resonates with your target audience.

THE RISE OF VISUAL SEARCH

Another new trend that will redefine how users search for information and bring a totally new experience is visual search.

Visual search allows people to upload images and then get more information about whatever is in the image.

A number of companies have already jumped on the visual search bandwagon. For instance, Pinterest launched a visual search tool known as Lens.

By taking a photo of an item using Lens, users can learn more about the item, learn where they can buy it online, view pinboards for similar or related items, or search for similar items.

Google also has a similar tool, which is also named Google Lens, though it is only available on Google Pixel phones. With Google Lens, all you need to do is point your camera at an item, landmark, or other object and the tool will give you more information about the item.

There is also a visual search mobile app known as CamFind, which allows users to perform a visual search by simply taking a photo, instead of typing a search query.

You can even take a photo of a movie poster and get more information about the movie, view trailers, and even find local theaters where you can watch the movie.

While visual search has not gained a lot of popularity, the technology is steadily growing, and jumping on the trend early can put you ahead of your competitors and make it easier for customers to find your products.

WRAPPING UP

Marketing is an ever-changing field, and it is always better to be prepared for coming changes rather than find yourself left relying on old strategies while everyone else has moved on to new technologies and new approaches.

Fortunately, this list has brought you up to speed with some of the trends that will shape marketing for the next one year or two.

While you don’t have to jump on each of these trends right away, it is good to keep you thumb on the pulse of these trends and be ready to adapt where necessary if you want your business to remain relevant.

10 Marketing Trends to Watch

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