And, if you’ve been ignoring all trends in favor of the tried and true, then guess what? 2019 is the year to shake things up.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to jump on every trend as soon as you become aware of it. I am saying that I’ve noticed that a lot of small businesses aren’t taking advantage of the big trends – the ones that, for better or worse, aren’t going anywhere. And with that in mind, here are 7 trends that you can no longer afford to ignore in 2019.
#1: Artificial Intelligence
I wrote about artificial intelligence last month, so you already know I think it’s important for small businesses to embrace this technology.
In marketing, the use of AI in the form of chatbots has taken root and many small businesses are adopting it. The bottom line is that a well-programmed chatbot can improve your customer service and increase sales.
AI is also becoming increasingly important in the field of marketing analytics. You can use it to make market predictions and get ahead of the curve as your audience’s preferences change and develop. And, let’s not forget that programmatic advertising – which uses AI to automate ad buying – is on the rise.
One-size-fits-all marketing is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. While there’s still some benefit to targeting ads to a large audience, the trend increasingly is toward the kind of one-to-one marketing that Amazon has done brilliantly for years.
If every visitor to your website is seeing the same content, it’s time to think about how to personalize it. You can do that using cookies that make recommendations based on a user’s previous activity on your site. Or, you can allow users to choose the type of content that they want to see. Either way, the goal is to make every customer feel that you’re speaking directly to them.
Incidentally, the same trend should be applied to email marketing. Sending emails that are triggered by a customer’s behavior is three times more effective than sending batch emails – something to keep in mind in the new year.
#3: Influencer Marketing
Ad blocking has been a challenge for marketers for years now, but the recent stats show that it’s now impacting mobile advertising as well as desktop. What can you do to get around it?
I’ve written about influencer marketing before, but it really has proven to be one of the best ways to engage with potential customers without needing to worry about ad blockers. It uses influential social media accounts that appeal to your audience.
It can take a bit of trial and error to find the right influencers but once you do, influencer marketing can be a cost-effective way of attracting new customers to your business.
#4: Video Marketing
If you’re not making marketing videos to share with your audience, it’s time to stop pretending that video is too expensive (or too technical) to be worth your while. Research shows that businesses who use video marketing grow 49% faster than businesses that don’t. How can you ignore that?
The good news is that video doesn’t need to be expensive and you don’t need to be Spike Lee to make a terrific marketing video that will attract new customers. Even a simple Facebook Live session where you take questions from your followers can help you grow your business.
#5: Social Messaging Apps
Did you know that every month, businesses exchange 2 billion (that’s with a B!) Facebook Messenger apps with their customers? That’s not just a trend – it’s a tsunami.
Using social messaging tools like Messenger or WhatsApp can help you connect with customers on a personal level. And – hearkening back to the first trend I mentioned – artificial intelligence can help you do it.
Creating a chatbot for Messenger or any other app is a relatively easy (and affordable) thing to do. A lot of companies use chatbots to suggest products or answer simple questions. That means that using messenger apps is an extremely effective way to connect with your existing audience and attract new potential buyers for your products and services.
#6: Voice Search – smart speaker
If you’ve said “Okay Google” or asked Siri, Alexa, or Cortana to find something for you online, then you know that voice search is here to stay. In fact, researchers estimate that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 – and that means that it’s time to optimize your web content for voice search now.
You can start by using the language of voice search – optimizing for the terminology that your audience is most likely to use. You may also want to start thinking about audio-only ads. It’s probable that you’ll start hearing sponsored content on Alexa before long. This is an opportunity for you to beat out your competitors who may be lagging in this area.
#7: Social Media Stories
If you’ve logged onto any social media account lately, you’ve probably noticed something: stories. Facebook may prompt you to add to your story, and other platforms – including YouTube – have jumped on the trend.
A social media story is temporary content that can be used to trigger your customers’ FOMO (that’s fear of missing out.) It’s ideal for seasonal promotions and deals, and it can be a great way to engage your audience. If you’re not already using social media stories to connect with your customers, 2019 is the year to start.
Trends aren’t all fleeting…
It’s one thing to avoid jumping on a trend bandwagon at the first opportunity. But ignoring the 7 key trends I’ve outlined here in 2019 will put you in a tricky position if your competitors are using them.