Change is the only constant thing in the world of digital marketing. Every year comes with a set of new developments and exciting innovations – 2019 was no different. It was filled with exciting trends and developments aimed at refining the techniques and processes associated with digital marketing.
From improved artificial intelligence methods to profile buyers to creative and gripping product demonstration techniques like augmented and virtual reality, a lot of good stuff happened in 2019 in the digital marketing landscape.
Businesses all over the world adopted these trends and innovations to gain a competitive edge in the market. This is because, in today’s digital era, a business cannot expect to thrive and grow without adapting to the ever-evolving changes in the digital marketing landscape. In fact, according to world-renowned digital analyst and futurists, Brian Solis, “Each business is a victim of Digital Darwinism, the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than the ability to exploit it. Digital Darwinism does not discriminate. Every business is threatened.”
Fortunately, a relatively simple way to deal with Digital Darwinism is to keep track of the growth of the digital marketing industry and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. It is crucial for all businesses that are in for the long haul. So, before we enter 2020, let’s take a look at a quick overview of how the last year unfolded for the digital marketing industry. It will not only help you understand the current inclination of digital marketing but will also help you understand the digital marketing industry trends 2020.
Without further ado – here’s a list of some of the most exciting developments and trends that inspired digital marketers in 2019.
1. AI and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning find multiple applications in the digital marketing industry. In 2019, these technologies were mainly deployed for content marketing, smart and targeted advertisements, and customer services. It also emerged as a powerful tool to identify trends, search up competitors, and extract insightful information from raw data.
AI is employed to analyze consumer behavior and identify patterns, helping businesses find the most lucrative ways to attract customers and generate more revenue. It helps the decision-makers of the business understand the various ways in which consumers reach their products or services, allowing them to make better decisions. Apart from that, we find applications of AI in the following areas:
· Content Creation
Did you know that AI is now being used to generate online content? While it still needs work to match the level of personality and authenticity of human-written content, most of us are already reading AI-generated content without even realizing it. Currently, the technology is mainly used to generate data-heavy content like briefs and news.
· Product Recommendations
Have you ever wondered how the product recommendations section on ecommerce websites manage to suggest just what you needed? Well, you can thank AI for that. By employing AI, recommendation systems manage to make the most accurate predictions about consumer preference. AI-powered algorithms allow them to collect consumer data and identify your preferences accurately. It not only helps businesses market their products to the right audience but also facilitates consumers in finding what they require.
· Basic Communication
AI takes basic communication to the next level. One example is AI chatbots. Backed with natural language processing, AI chatbots can help customers like a real person. They can answer various queries and help customers navigate through various processes, saving time, effort, and money on your end. Take the example of Mastercard Facebook Messenger chatbots which respond like a real person to customer queries and assists in handling payments.
· Email Personalization
AI and machine learning have also impacted email marketing. Personalized emails based on consumer behavior are three times more likely to get the desired response out of the targeted audience than batch emails. AI evaluates data and helps you tailor your email marketing strategy for best results. Marketers can use AI and machine learning to create personalized data monitoring customer behavior, sending automated-triggered emails about special events, and creating a segmented email list based on factors like demographics, psychographics, etc.
It is safe to say that AI and machine learning played a significant role in the growth of the digital marketing industry in 2019, and it will continue to do so in the coming years. The field of AI presented some really exciting trends, developments, and opportunities for marketers and will continue to do so in 2020.
2. Google BERT Update
Another exciting development that we witnessed in 2019 is the Google BERT Update. It is being called one of the most significant leaps forward in the history of search technologies and is expected to streamline the process of searching for information online.
BERT stands for Bidirectional Representation from Transformers. While the name may be daunting, BERT is merely an algorithm update that affects the world of digital marketing, especially content marketing.
According to Google, “This breakthrough was the result of Google research on transformers: models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. BERT models can, therefore, consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.”
How the BERT Update Affects Marketers
So, we know what the BERT Update is and how it affects the searching process. But the question remains —how does BERT Update digital affect marketers?
To put it simply, BERT favors content that provides value. So, as long as your content is of good quality and provides value to your audience, you can expect to rank high. As a content creator or marketer, you can benefit from this Google update by creating highly specific content around a topic of your expertise. In other words, it minimizes the efforts related to ranking high on the search engine results.
Keyword density and other such specifications will play a less important role in determining the worth and quality of your content once search engines better understand the context of the content. BERT is the first step in that direction. Content creators and marketer will be able to focus on creating high-value content rather than spending time on SEO and other specifications. Apart from that, BERT will also help bring more relevant traffic on your website, which will bring down your bounce rate.
3. Changes in Social Media Algorithms
Talking about algorithm changes, social media platforms are not much behind. In 2019, we saw some significant developments in social media marketing trends that affect digital marketers.
Since the Facebook data controversy in 2017, Facebook has been transparent about how it ranks content and shows it on the Newsfeed. However, the changes in the Facebook algorithm are equally focused on displaying and promoting content that provides value to the audience (much like Google). The new algorithm is primarily based on three factors:
- Inventory: It refers to the stock of posts that Facebook can display on your Newsfeed. It includes posts from friends and publishers. Keep in mind that the algorithm is more inclined towards displaying posts from friends of the user. So, make sure your posts provide value to users so that they feel compelled to share it.
- Signals: Signals help Facebook decipher what the post is about. This is an important area as it helps the algorithm decide when and where to display the post. The good news is that you have control over signals. Make your content highly relevant to your audience to help the algorithm identify it and associate with the right audience.
- Predictions: Another critical part of the algorithm, predictions, helps Facebook predict your reaction to the post. It represents the behavior of the users. Keep in mind that the goal is to display posts that are likely to receive a positive reaction from the user.
Good news is that as a marketer, you can use these factors to create content that is more likely to be displayed to your audience. Post content that promotes positive engagement. You can do that by posting content that starts conversations. For instance, many brands post questions when marketing their products on Facebook to encourage people to comment on their posts.
Another strategy is to generate high-quality content that provides value. For instance, it is best to avoid all the “comment if…” or “like if…” posts because they don’t add value. Such posts are known as click baits and will bring down the value of your content.
4. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
2019 saw an increase in interest regarding the use of virtual reality and augmented for marketing purposes. These technologies emerged as powerful tools to capture the attention of current or potential customers. They present marketers with a creative way to market their products and services to their audience. As for consumers, these technologies allow them to make better purchasing decisions.
Despite the growing popularity of virtual and augmented reality, a lot of people are still unclear about the use of these technologies in marketing. Before we take a look at how you can employ these technologies to market your products or services, first, it’s important to understand them.
- Virtual Reality: This is a generalized term that refers to any experience that places the users in an immersive environment, allowing them to check out products or facilities like never before.
- Augmented Reality: Augmented reality refers to placing content into the real world, for instance, by using the lens of your camera. It allows you to augment content on the screen in real-time.
Virtual reality finds a number of applications in the marketing landscape. For instance, Volvo offers VR test drives to its clients through a downloadable app. They also came forward with the “weekend escape” version of the app that includes 360-degree landscapes that users can explore in their VR Volvo adventure.
Similarly, augmented reality technology is also employed by multiple brands to market their products. For example, it is often utilized by brands selling sunglasses. Users can choose different pairs of sunglasses through the app or website and augment them onto their face using the camera on their phones – a lot like Snapchat filters except that once you have tried on the virtual glasses, you can actually order them!
Both the technologies are making waves in the ecommerce sector where consumers are always looking for better ways to test products before purchasing them. Virtual and augmented reality technologies allow them to do just that, helping marketers attract more customers than ever.
5. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is one of the biggest social media marketing trends in 2019. It can be described as a digital take on the concept of marketing by “word of mouth” or celebrity endorsement. The difference is that instead of friends, family, colleagues, or a celebrity sharing reviews or recommending products and services, in influencer marketing, a social media influencer vouches for your products or services.
An influencer can be described as a person who has gained credibility or “following” on social media. Unlike celebrities, an influencer can be anyone. What makes them influential is their large group of followers. So, in a way, they act as a medium to help you reach a wide audience. Keep in mind that influencer marketing is not all about finding someone with a large following to market your products. You need influencers who have spent time building their brands and are preferably related to your field. This will give them higher credibility and users are more likely to get interested in your business.
These are the top five developments and innovations that the digital marketing industry saw in 2019. Marketers all around the world benefited from them will continue to do so in the future. We can’t wait to experience what digital marketing industry trends 2020 has in store for us!