We’re less than a month away from bidding farewell to 2018, which means many marketing teams are beginning to reflect on how they did this year and what kind of new tactics they’ll implement into their strategy in 2019.

The proliferation of emerging technologies in the past several years has led the way to cutting-edge marketing strategies and has driven the rapid evolution of the entire industry.

Digital marketing is a fast-paced and dynamic landscape, and it’s critical that marketers stay up-to-date with current trends, technologies and strategies to remain ahead of their competition. When preparing your strategy for the upcoming year, make note of these 3 online marketing trends that are sure to make a major impact in 2019.

1. Authentic Content

2018 was the year of personalization, but authenticity will be key in 2019. The overwhelming majority of consumers (86 percent) state that authenticity is an important factor when deciding which brands to support.

Today’s social media users are exposed to mass amounts of thoughtful, curated content, so they can quickly discern social media posts that seem overly promotional or inauthentic. As such, consumers are becoming harder to impress and more reluctant to believe your pitch.

Personalized messaging has been shown to foster the brand-consumer relationship, but many believe the concept of mass personalization is soon to be a volatile strategy. What value does your customer actually receive when you remember to include their name in the subject line of an email? Marketers will need to place greater significance on authenticity and transparency in order to establish consumer loyalty in 2019.

Don’t forget to incorporate user-generated content into your restored marketing strategy in 2019. It brings audiences together and establishes a community of stories, connections and interactions that’s preferred by modern consumers. Make an effort to motivate your customers to share their experiences with your brand. It’s sure to pay off, as consumers are three times more likely to say that content created by a consumer is authentic compared to content created by a brand.

2. Voice-enabled Search

Nearly one-third of the 3.5 billion Google searches performed every day are voice searches, with personal assistant devices leading the way. More and more people have begun to use Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri every day to search for information on the Web and to accomplish tasks around the house. Odds are you already have one in your own home or you will soon, as it’s expected that 56.3 million smart speakers will be sold by the end of 2018.

What does this shift mean for marketers? Voice search establishes a completely new medium for search capabilities, and it’s vastly different from that of traditional desktop and mobile. When you open Google on your browser and type in your search query, you’ll see hundreds of pages of search results, which means your brand has a greater chance to fall into one of the first few results. When you ask Siri a question or request an action from your Amazon Echo, however, it will likely only respond with the top ranking page. If you happen to be that first result, your CTR can potentially be much higher, but if not, your content will likely take a hit.

Voice recognition technology is only expected to grow and improve in 2019. Jelli CEO Mike Dougherty anticipates that voice search “will completely transform UI and open up opportunities for marketers and brands to get creative and interact with customers in new ways. Voice will surely shape consumption patterns, consumer behavior and future tech for years to come." Though there are no specific solutions to optimize exclusively for voice search as of yet, understanding the nuances of voice search and implementing them into your marketing strategy will definitely be worthwhile.

3. Chatbots

Although artificial intelligence and its capabilities have been around for years, consumer-facing businesses and their marketing teams have finally woken up to its many benefits. Chatbots, which utilize AI to simulate conversation with human users over the internet, greatly supplement customer service functions in order to answer customer queries more quickly, more efficiently and oftentimes more accurately.  Almost 89 percent of consumer messages that require responses are ignored by brands, even though most consumers expect a reply within four hours. That’s where chatbots can step in; they provide an instantaneous response and fulfill consumers’ demand for immediate support.

What many brands often fail to realize is that investing in the consumer experience is greatly rewarding. Chatbots cater to the culture of immediacy that today’s consumers prefer and expect from online brands. They also humanize your brand, create stronger relationships with customers and establish both a brand voice and image. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd believes that the vast majority of today’s consumers (86 percent) are willing to pay a higher price for brands that provide them with a positive customer experience. With many other business leaders indicating that they have used or will consider using chatbots by 2020, now is the time to incorporate it into your own marketing strategy.

Digital marketing continues to develop and evolve, which means it’s necessary to continuously adapt and update your brand’s marketing strategy. New marketing trends will come on the scene year after year, each with the potential to completely reshape the industry. Picking up on trends ahead of the pack will ensure your brand is consistently unique and exciting while effectively serving the needs of your audience.

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