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5 digital marketing trends to embrace in 2019

While most of us understand the importance of having a proper digital marketing strategy, not many of us have an actual long-term strategy in place. A strategy that has a clear set of goals and a vision that includes digital transformation is key to survival in this millennium. Those of us who don’t have one yet, we are in for a rude awakening and unless you heed my advice and get one, your business will suffer. Here are a few predictions on how digital marketing will evolve in 2019. Digital transformation will be mandatory to survive the new millennium. While many companies out there have adopted technology at various levels, not many of them have a clear-cut strategy of how they plan on using technology to deliver a superior customer experience. Many leading marketers and business thinkers believe that while the primary use of technology should be to help organizations get more productive, the end beneficiary should always be the customers and as such brands don't just need to come up with a digital marketing plan but learn to survive in a market that is digital. An omnichannel approach as opposed to a multi-channel approach. To make this point I will simply quote John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable who explains how omnichannel strategies are more customer-centric. “Multichannel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omnichannel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omnichannel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!” Sales and marketing funnels will evolve Gone will be the days when you could simply run a Facebook or Google Ads campaign, point to a landing page, gather leads and make sales happen. In a time when customers are inundated with hundreds of marketing messages daily, it will be cost effective for marketers to qualify leads before getting email addresses or other contact information, thereby not only weeding out the time-wasters but also giving customers a better experience once they do sign up. A marketing funnel is the best way of accomplishing this. Key characteristics of a funnel will include an opt in page, an explainer page that contains either video, text or imagery that explains the benefits of the product and an upsell page to get a certain percentage of your new customers to spend more money with you. Search will dominate but will become faster and more personalized. Search engines (mainly Google) want to give their users a more personalized and painless experience and utilize data science to deliver this. In addition to this, with Google's Speed Update for 2019 will initially only affect the slowest sites, from past experience, we can expect Google will change the weighting on the algorithm to affect more sites that don’t improve their speed within time. This would be similar to what the search giant did with https encryption earlier this year whereby it ranked websites without encryption way lower than the ones with encryption. Eventually, https will be mandatory for all websites on Google. This level of standardization will help encourage an even playing field and should essentially help marketers who follow the rules and keep up with the latest trends. Additionally, search is gradually moving towards voice and 2019 will see a significant increase in voice activated search thanks to voice assistants like Google, Siri and Alexa. Social media will continue to evolve Instagram and Snapchat will continue to dominate the millennial demographic especially with Instagram offering good returns on ad spend to advertisers. Facebook however will decline in this segment but will increase in the 55+ demographic and this will in turn help brands target middle aged and older customers with better engagement. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn and Twitter will continue to provide a good engagement platform. With Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016, I am happy to say that the platform is back on track and provides a more focused approach to not only individuals wanting to network and look for sales and job opportunities but also for brands to create a solid value proposition and create a following. I would feel extremely proud if even three of these five predictions come true so I guess we will have to wait, watch and see what 2019 has to offer. But one question still looms ahead; with trends evolving and customer demographics changing rapidly, is your business ready to embrace what 2019 has to offer?

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