While 2018 saw the rise of video content and influencer marketing, 2019 is set to be the year of emerging technology, and as a result, changing values for marketers.

So what does 2019 hold for you as a marketer? To help you plan for the next year, we’ve gathered five digital marketing trends, and emerging technologies that we think should be in your sights for 2019 if you want to improve your strategy and stay ahead of the curve.

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1. AI & MACHINE LEARNING

Big Brother is watching. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, people WANT it. According to research by ClickZ, 47% of consumers assume that brands will use their data, and want them to. 73% are disappointed if their data isn’t used to create the convenient, personalized experience that they’ve come to expect from marketing in 2019.

While the demand for personalized experience isn’t necessarily new - it’s been called for over the last decade - the issue has always been that every consumer is unique with different interests and tastes, so full personalization has been hard to achieve until now.

Artificial intelligence has now risen to the forefront of marketing thanks to the advancements in algorithms and software available and the massive increase in the amount of data we currently hold. With more insights than ever into what consumers want and need, and the innovative software and technologies available, machine learning now allows us to provide a unique experience tailored to the wants and needs of individuals.

2. AR & VR

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) may not be new (we’ve all used Snapchat filters before…), they are set to evolve into something more than just a fun gimmick.
A few years ago VR was the talk of the town, so to speak, with marketing conferences worldwide shouting about how this exciting new technology would become part of our everyday experiences. However, when it didn’t become ingrained in our lives, some considered it ‘dead.’ However, think about some of the other things considered to be ‘dead’ - email, Youtube, TV, Snapchat, The Internet of Things… Now you tell us if VR is dead?

The truth is, VR and AR didn’t take off in the what it was predicted, or when, but both are still robust marketing technologies that many brands are utilizing in 2019. While there are still stumbling blocks to overcome, it’s one to watch.


3. VOICE SEARCH

With over 100 million Amazon Echo devices now sold, not to mention competitors such as Google Home and Apple Homepod growing in popularity, it’s inevitable that voice is the future of search. Comscore predicts that by 2020, 50% of search queries will be spoken, not typed.

In addition to smart home speaker devices, which you can ask a question and receive an immediate vocal response to, there are also voice search options in our smartphone, tablet and desktop devices including Siri and Google Assistant. With the latter, you can voice a query and receive visual search results in the same way you would if you typed in Google; saving you the effort of manually inputting the phrase.

Due to this rise in voice search, it’s more important than ever to reconsider how we are optimizing for search engines. Although Google has been strongly nudging us in the direction of more natural written content (written for the reader, not the robots), we are now taking this a step further in that we have to consider how the user would naturally speak and what they would ‘ask’ in their search query. This shift will be a positive one, as this will mean marketers will deliver much more targeted and relevant content, leading to rising click-through rates.

4. SMARTER CHATBOTS

With machine learning on the rise, chatbots have become increasingly popular and will continue to be used more and more in customer service into 2019.
Chatbots are vital to the improvement of the customer experience, and allow marketers to engage with and learn from the consumer with little extra work. They improve the experience for the user as they can get quick and tailored responses to frequently asked questions, and in turn, the marketer can learn more about the common queries and understand what issues real consumers face when using their products or services.
The amount of users opting for online communication over face-to-face or phone interaction is predicted to double in 2019.

5. BLOCKCHAIN

If you’ve been following financial news and cryptocurrency for the past ten years, then you may have come across the development of blockchain. Even if you haven’t, you can’t escape the mention of the blockchain’s first largest application, Bitcoin.
While the idea of cryptocurrency may still seem a way off for the general consumer, blockchains aren’t just about currency. It’s about recording the millions of transactions made daily online and how the shift in control will change what marketers can leverage to ‘market’ to individuals.
While blockchain might seem like a futuristic concept, it’s already happening now; just one example is that Homeland Security is working on the development of blockchains to track imports and exports as well as people crossing borders. Although it might still be a while off for consumers, marketers need to understand and prepare now for how this shift will impact how we work.

CONCLUSION
There’s much emphasis going into 2019 and beyond on personalization. Consumers have come to expect that if they surrender their data, they will, in turn, receive a relevant and unique experience tailored to them.
There are also a lot of new technologies that will allow us to evolve that personalized experience, even more, gaining more data and insights and churning out ‘consumer-first’ content on a much more regular basis.

Key takeaway: to consumers, technology and personalization is the norm. However, is it for your business? It needs to be in 2019.