The Maverick Entrepreneur™ Series

Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2019
PART 1
By STC Staff Writer

Almost every marketer wishes they had a crystal ball so they could peer into the future and see what’s hot in the coming year. Unfortunately, most of us are not clairvoyant, but we can usually look at certain current trends and predict which will have staying power. We can also look at emerging technology and how it can be used to further our marketing mission.

In this report, we will be looking at what has happened in 2018 and how it will affect 2019. We will also look at the trends in tech, search engines, and technology and automation.

Top Trends in 2018

Live video has become increasingly popular. Seeing is believing for a target audience. They also like to feel as though they know the businesses that they are dealing with and that they are run by real people who are not just out to make money. Looking inside the business and looking into product creation are just a few of the ways to build a relationship with your audience.

• Instagram and Snapchat continue to grow in popularity, especially amongst 18- to 30-year-olds.

• The Smartphone boom continues, with marketers trying to connect with their prospects in a range of ways, including text and apps.

• Chatbots are being used more and more to open and maintain a dialogue with customers and deliver valuable marketing information.

• Facebook Messenger got a much-needed overhaul and marketing push. It is now a much more convenient tool and a handy chatbot if you set it up correctly to respond to trigger words.

• Facebook lead ads can be one of the fastest ways to grow your email marketing list – provided that you use attractive images, write a good ad, and automate the process of adding the new names to your list to save time. It’s also good for generating leads for Salesforce.com and other customer relations management software.

• Everyone loves a good story. Using storytelling in marketing offers a structure people are familiar with and leads to satisfied customers getting a vision of living happily ever after.

• Influencer marketing is growing in popularity as more marketers try to connect with their target audience. Influencers with a large number of active followers could be the gateway to a lot more traffic and profits. Even if you pay the influencer to post your content to their followers, the return on investment can be considerable.

• Small business owners are catching on to the wonders of remarketing. Facebook pixels are easier than ever to use to track customers from your site and try to convert them from browsers into buyers. Some marketers report a conversion rate as high as 75%. The secret? More customized, varied content, rather than the same messaging they have already seen and acted upon.

• The most recent Google algorithm (formula) change hit on August 1, 2018. Google states that it was intended to give credit to worthy sites that were not getting as much attention as they deserved. While it still looks like a lot of Wikipedia, there have been some changes in placements. As always, the best way to optimize your content is to write naturally.

There will be a couple of changes coming up that will affect sites in 2019, and which are worth paying attention to. Let’s look at the landscape for 2019 next.

The Marketing Landscape of 2019

Some of the hot trends of 2019 will continue, while others will also start to take center stage.

Search engine optimization — not keywords, clusters

SEO will now be more about clusters, not keywords. This has been happening more and more in the last few years, but the algorithms are now being specifically set to look for groupings of words, not just isolated words.

Commonly referred to as semantic support, the algorithms will look at words in relation to one another to determine the meaning of a page and the relevance to a search query.

For example, the word “bachelor” actually has four different meanings:

• An unmarried man
• A person with a Bachelor’s degree
• A young knight
• A young male fur seal

If you see the sentence, “The bachelor lay on the beach,” there is no clue as to which of the four meanings is intended.

On the other hand, if you say, “The animal behaviorists will be studying the bachelors on the beach at Peel for the next six months and determining their hunting and fishing patterns,” then we know that the last meaning is intended. The other words give us clues so that even though the word “seal” is not mentioned, we can still infer it.

There are still arguments over short- versus long-form content. No one can agree on the ideal article or blog post length. Having said that, the longer an article is (650 to 700 words, for example), the more words will be clustered together, including “seal”, and the more clues the search engine will get. About 500 words should be enough to get the point across if writers are really pressed for time and struggling to keep their site or blog updated.

The other thing to keep in mind in relation to this change is that it reduces keyword stuffing and encourages people to write naturally – for people, not just the search engines.

Voice search

With more and more households owning Alexa, Google Home, and similar products, voice search and artificial intelligence (AI) are here to stay. Around 65% of users say they don’t see themselves getting rid of it anytime soon.

Estimates show that approximately 67 million voice devices will be in homes and offices in the US by 2019. Predictions show that by 2020, voice search queries will make up 50% of all queries. So, if you are not already factoring in voice search in reference to your marketing mix, now is the time.

The shift to more natural language in written content can help with this. However, voice search will change results and potentially starve some sites of traffic, because the way a person asks a question can be very different from the way they type in a query. Think semantic support and your content should be highly discoverable.

Predictive / Intent data

Google and Facebook search have enhanced their algorithms in relation to predictive and intent data. What do people want to accomplish when they run a particular search?

Unless you are operating in incognito mode, every search you run is giving these marketing giants information in order for them to then determine the intent of a search and what will be of most interest to you. They can even aggregate data from other sites to predict interest.

The trend is most obvious on mobile. If a person is out of their home (which the GPS locator will determine) and types in “coffee”, the assumption will be that they need a café to go get a cup. A second option might be to list a local coffee and tea shop, or a supermarket. Bricks and mortar businesses need to make sure they have robust listings in Google, so they will be as discoverable in local search as possible – especially on mobile.

Mobile search is booming

Around 50% of all searches are carried out on mobile devices and that number is sure to rise as the latest generation of smartphones have more computing power than the desktop computers of just a few years ago.

Amazon, YouTube, and Facebook are search engines too

Gone are the days when people used to go to Google for everything. Amazon is now a vast product search engine, with the ability to turn browsers into buyers in an instant with the help of their 1-Click shopping. If you want to make your products more discoverable, you need to be on Amazon.

YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world and growing larger with every passing second. Studies have shown that 75% of searches are related to how-to content. If you don’t already have a channel and playlists with these types of content, you’re missing out on the chance to market your business effectively to people who really want to know what you do.

Facebook has demonstrated the rise of social search, with users avoiding search engines completely as they search for information about products, services, and topics within the Facebook interface. This is not likely to change, even though many keep saying Facebook is dead, is just for older users, and so on.

While it is true that the most loyal users tend to be over the age of 30, it is also true that those under 30 who love Instagram and Snapchat still have an account at Facebook so they can keep up with family news, photos and so on.

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