It’s 2019, and by now we’ve moved past the point of saying that digital marketing is the new “it” trend and that everyone should be doing it. Everyone knows they should be doing it. The digital revolution was a game changer, and by now you absolutely should be doing the bare minimum – a strong website, email marketing, and a social media presence relevant to your audience.

However, technology is constantly progressing and evolving, which has a significant impact on digital marketing trends. Here are the ones we think you need to watch:

1. Smart Audio

It appears that regardless of whether ‘they’ are recording our private conversations or not, voice assistant technology is growing rapidly in popularity, with a predicted 100 million smart speaker sales in 2019.

Amazon Alexa currently reaches 15% of US homes, and over 1 billion devices provide voice assistant access today. What impact will this have on marketing? Within the next two years, it is estimated that 30% of internet searches will be done without a screen – instead they will be by voice search.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, may seem like a concept from a futuristic sci-fi movie, but it’s already being used in a wide range of applications, and you probably haven’t even noticed. From chat-bots handling queries on websites, to bot-receptionists who receive and redirect calls while sounding distinctly human, AI marketing solutions are already being widely deployed in the today’s marketplace.

3. Content Marketing

Content marketing has been a buzz-trend for some time now, but going forward, marketers are more likely to spend significant chunks of their budget on this under-utilised and highly-effective form of marketing. From content strategy and syndication through to deployment and promotion, content is going to get even bigger.

4. Experience Marketing

With advancements in technology, it can become more difficult to “wow” your target audience, and truly capture their attention. Marketing tools such as Mirror Photo Booths have become a very popular form of experience marketing that have a ton of benefits – attract the attention of your audience at a conference, exhibition or trade show; users interact with the booth to have a branded experience; the images captured are generally shared online as user-generated content. It’s win-win-win.

5. Mindful Marketing

New reports are being released, on what feels like almost a daily basis, telling us about how damaging excess screen-time is for our mental and physical health (tech-neck is an actual ailment). People are becoming increasingly anxious about their (over)-use of digital technology, including social media, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the best-selling app of 2018 was one focused on meditation and mental wellbeing. 

As a result, instead of using digital technology to relieve boredom and staying “plugged in” all of the time, more people will moderate their use of digital and social to serve a select few key purposes – connecting and communicating with the people who matter to them, including family, friends, and brands.

The idea of a “hard sell” has been over for a while now, and automated and soulless marketing is about to follow suit. Going forward, social marketing with purpose, to add value, or to have conversations will be key. Being authentic with your audience is going to become more important than ever as individuals change from having passive online habits, to controlled online conversations.

6. Controversial Marketing

Historically, brands have shied away from being too “personal” and taking a stance on topical, yet often also sensitive, social issues. This is usually out of fear of causing offence to a particular group and alienating that group as potential customers. However, we are increasingly seeing organisations leaning into more issues that are traditionally viewed as controversial.

With the increase in prominence of values-based leadership and the push towards more transparent business practices, many organisations are choosing to galvanise a portion of their potential customer base by increasing the bond and loyalty between the business and like-minded customers via taking a stance on social issues. While this approach is likely to alienate an opposing group, it usually also results in increased publicity, and a far greater long-term payoff from the like-minded segment.