While we don’t have a crystal ball, we feel we’ve got a pretty good handle on what the future will bring. Let’s break down and discuss 8 trends – which we’ve been implementing long before they were trending with our Agile model – we feel are going to have an impact on brands and marketers alike for 2019 and beyond…The Marketing Funnel Is Shifting
This might sound scary at first, like some tornado spiraling out of control, but we promise it’s not a bad thing. At least, not if you understand what it means.
The traditional marketing funnel is no longer exclusively focused on moving a customer through it (although, yes, that is the ultimate destination). It’s now important to create experiences that promote Brand Affinity — and even Advocacy – along the way. In other words, people want to connect with their brands on a personal level. No one wants to feel like digital sheep being herded through a generic sales pitch. They want to feel like they are discovering – and being discovered by – something they align with.
With unique content, you can transition your brand from a mere product to a creative partner. In this sense, The Funnel is becoming more of an ongoing cycle that emphasizes continuous engagement over transactional relationships. This increased focus on nurturing, especially post-sale, makes customers more likely to stick around or – even better – to buy again.
In the animal kingdom, developing this connection is known as “imprinting,” when a young animal comes to recognize another (animal or person) as a parent or figure of habitual trust. Become that figure and watch your kingdom grow… Or as they said in The Lion King, “everything the light touches” will be yours.
Video Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Video may have killed the radio star, but it certainly keeps giving life to digital brands the world over. You can convey a lot of information along with your brand’s entire personality with video. These numbers show the importance of incorporating this medium into any digital marketing strategy for 2019 and beyond:
– 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video.
–72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate.
–52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.
YouTube and other videos are displayed in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), so video SEO is becoming much more important, and actually populates itself incredibly fast when compared to text entries and web pages. Use text overlays and closed captions, in addition to your description, title and file names for all new videos you create. That said, don’t just think YouTube. Facebook, Instagram and even LinkedIn – yes, LinkedIn – can all be useful platforms to display your amazing new video content.
The not-so-secret sauce these days is the fact that video is now paired with incredibly accurate and valuable user metrics, which provide crucial data on how specific efforts are performing.
Micro-Influencers Are Having Macro-Impact
Influencer marketing is not new, however, it’s misunderstood by many brands. 20th Century marketing was dominated by celebrity endorsements. Makes sense, considering we were all just regular, anonymous consumers once upon a time. But that era came to an abrupt end with the rise of social media, when Andy Warhol’s prediction that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes has essentially come true.
Welcome to the Influencer Era – a time in which anyone, and we mean anyone, can become a hugely impactful marketing personality. Some stumble into being influencers by mistake, others spend more time, money and energy on becoming Insta-famous than they would ever like to admit. Either scenario proves that brands no longer only have to dish out big bucks to the Kardashians or star athletes to attract attention and make conversions.
You might have guessed by now, this subset of personalities are called “Micro-Influencers” and you should rejoice at how great this can be for your brand: they are often the fastest way to raising brand awareness and generating a connection within a specific target audience.
Don’t just bribe them, think about how you can partner with them. If they’re the perfect fit for your brand, consider co-creating content, and ask them to also post content on your platforms that you can then leverage and promote for a long time to come. Stop thinking short term, “How can I make this content go viral?” Instead, look at the bigger picture and ask yourself, “How can I build a mutually-beneficial relationship where we both win?”
Speaking of the horrible word “viral,” don’t get us started. We have a whole blog dedicated to that topic alone that you should also check out.
In keeping with the micro theme, let’s take a moment to discuss… Micro-Moments. Micro-Moments is a “new consumer behavior,” as termed by Google, that delivers your marketing message clearly and concisely within a span of seconds.
Blame it on A.D.D. – or the fact that people spend an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes on their smartphones every day, and by 2019, mobile devices are projected to be the medium that finally surpasses television in viewing time.
Either way, now more than ever, people are making instant decisions on what to eat, which restaurant to choose, what to purchase, or where to go, all via their phones and all within a matter of seconds. One such example of a Micro-Moment is our “Rearview” vertical ad for Timex. Short, sweet and weird.
Social Media Stories Are Worth Telling
Gather round the digital campfire boys and girls, it’s story time! With the growing popularity of social media “Stories,” it’s important to consider this format for digital marketing strategies.
Snapchat popularized the concept of “My Story,” then Instagram and Facebook stories were introduced, and now YouTube has unveiled their own story format, “Reels.”
Since stories disappear after a set period of time, this is a great opportunity for brands to make good use of the dreaded phobia that has crippled an entire generation of Millennials: FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Think of it like “blink-and-you-miss-it” content, which may seem counterproductive until you realize just how rampant FOMO really is.
Because of their off-the-cuff, shoot-from-the-hip aesthetic, Stories can be fun ways to show behind-the-scenes content for brands, influencers and their campaigns. Interviews, office culture, and even comedic sketches are all fair game. Or, you can be all mysterious and generate intrigue by glimpsing a new product or event before its official launch…
Either way, social Stories – when done right – have happy endings when it comes to engagement.
Get Personal (With Email)
“You’ve got mail!” For the elderly among us, those three words provided boundless joy and euphoria during the early days of electronic mail. An instant letter! From the computer-net!
But these days, more mail? UGH. Spam, chainmail, bills, and yes, marketing emails have cluttered our inboxes to the point of cynicism and indifference. But this doesn’t mean we should disregard this ancient mode of correspondence, just the opposite.
Email continues to be a major instrument for communication and commerce, with billions still using it multiple times daily. In fact, most people still depend on email to conduct their business. In others words, email is here to stay, and email marketing itself continues to be important. And, if implemented properly, effective.
However, if you want to stand out in 2019, you need to personalize your marketing. With the availability of data like purchase history, consumer behavior and links clicked, customized content has never been easier to create. In fact, 96% of marketers believe that personalization advances customer relationships.
Businesses like Netflix and Amazon already leverage the power of personalization. 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 personalized for you.
As they say: Personalization = Maximize enjoyment + Minimize search time.
After all, email is often the final “trigger” to motivate a Call To Action, especially when combined with your remarketing techniques. So if you want to stay out of the Spam Folder Purgatory, use these metrics to add a personal touch to your efforts and you won’t be disappointed.
Content Authenticity Is King
You might be picking up on an overarching trend here. Small moments, real stories, non-famous influencers, personal engagement – it all adds up to one main thing: Authenticity.
In 2019, there is a global level of consumer savviness that now impacts consumer buying habits more than any previous era. People know when they’re being pitched, and if you don’t approach them with a genuine angle, they are likely to be turned off.
Content should accurately reflect a brand’s voice, the mission its company stands for, and the value it delivers to a target audience. One such recent example would be Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” ad that went super viral. Whether you found it inspiring or pandering, it checks all of the above boxes for Gillette, and got a LOT of people talking about it.
Case in point:
–86% of consumers say that authenticity is a key differentiator that leads to a purchasing decision
-73% of consumers would pay more for a product if the company behind it promises transparency
-94% of consumers say they would remain loyal to a brand that provides complete transparency
The purpose of content marketing has never been simply to sell products or promote a brand. Rather, content marketing has always been about providing value to an audience in some way – whether it’s educating or entertaining them. Whatever you do, be real.
Work Smarter, Not Harder! (With Data-Driven Decisions)
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Well, the same can be asked of an entire digital campaign. All the above trends won’t amount to much if they aren’t implemented intelligently. Content marketing strategy MUST be prioritized and based on data-driven decisions.
You don’t need to be the first or best brand on every new social network that launches. Instead, you should focus on being the best at serving your customers – but you won’t know what content is helping you achieve that if you don’t become a Data Jedi Master.
When you develop a strategy that’s based on data – aka, the needs of your customers – this enables, and empowers you, to be more Agile. Being Agile frees you to test new content and ways to implement it without having to push all your chips into the middle of the table every single time. This is the very foundation of Giant Propeller’s business model, and how we’re able to catapult emerging brands to the next level.
We live in a Data-Driven Era. Use the Data. Be one with the Data. The Data is your friend. The Data is your weapon. But, as we wrote in this previous blog, your brand is worth more than a click. Use the Data, but don’t be a slave to it. Strike this balance, and you will prosper this year and beyond…
Gently placing the mic on the floor (because that’s what we do in 2019).