2019 will soon be here — a new year, new challenges, new opportunities for growth, and a whole new set of digital marketing trends!
To help your business prepare for what the new year might bring, Think Tank of Three’s Julie Holton and her team at mConnexions put together a walk-through of some up-and-coming trends that you can expect to make a strong statement in 2019. From social media aesthetics and graphic design to writing and content curation to websites and project management, we’ve got the inside scoop to help you hit the ground running even before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
Trends can often be fleeting — the hot new thing one year can quickly fall off the radar in subsequent years. Inbound marketing, however, is a trend that is here to stay. As certified inbound marketing specialists, we are thrilled to see a continued emphasis on this method of digital marketing, because we see it work time and again for our clients.
As Principal Strategist & mConnexions owner, Julie Holton will tell you, inbound marketing “is all about putting your marketing to work for you, to generate leads for your business.” This method is focused on building trust and increasing engagement to grow strong relationships with your customers, creating long-term opportunities for development and growth.
If you haven’t implemented inbound marketing into your digital strategy, 2019 is the perfect time to start. This infographic will help you get started.
To emphasize the significance of inbound marketing is to recognize the importance of content marketing. In 2019, this term will become even more synonymous with the standard definition of marketing, as consumers seek out brands and content that establish a two-way relationship between consumers and the business.
At mConnexions, content marketing is one of the core values of our firm, and a cornerstone to all of our services – yes, it’s that important!
“Content is one of the best tools your team has,” says mConnexions Content Strategist Melissa Genther. “With the right content, you can establish trust, build relationships, and produce quality leads.”
The evolution of those leads will help cement your position in your particular industry, and the right content marketing will be focused on turning those leads into repeat customers.
While every marketer has their own preferred way of connecting with clients, there’s one thing we can all agree on: there is no shortage of ways to communicate with our audience. One of the most effective ways to distribute content to current and future clients is through the power of email marketing — which is our next trend to watch in 2019.
A big part of the growth of email marketing in the coming year is the use of automation to send targeted, customized messages to consumers at the right time. Email automation also helps you target the users who are interested in hearing from you, cutting down on the unnecessary messages and focusing in on quality leads. It also works as a successful tool for retargeting.
However, don’t mistake the term automation as being bland or irrelevant; on the contrary, automation should be targeted and personal. A great example of a highly personalized automated email is the weekly playlist email that Spotify users receive each week, customized just for them.
The best way to be successful with any type of email marketing, including automation, is to know and understand your audience. This will give your 2019 email marketing campaigns the boost they need to convert leads into trusted consumers.
While email might seem like an overly simplistic form of marketing, there is a right and wrong way to send successful email campaigns. Make sure you have the basics down before diving into email automation.
Social Media Marketing
By now, every business owner and brand marketer should be aware of the power of social media marketing. Whether you’re tapping into the organic reach of posts on a business page or utilizing the targeting tools and big data while paying for ads, social media offers a variety of ways to reach clients and prospects.
“Big data has become a big buzzword in marketing, particularly when it comes to social media marketing,” says Holton. “A lot of marketers groaned when Facebook, for instance, rolled out major algorithm changes last year. Keeping up with the constant evolution of social media platforms is a pain for all of us. And every time there’s a big change, people like to say they’re going to stop using the platform. But there is no indication that’s actually going to happen. And when marketers actually dive in and embrace some of these new tools — you’d be surprised at just how targeted we can get in our lead generation, thanks to big data.”
It’s important to be aware of all social media platforms, not just the more traditional ones like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In 2019, we expect to see Instagram gain continued traction as a business tool; in particular, as a way to emphasize the look, feel, and tone of a brand.
There are several recent statistics from Hubspot that put power behind this up and coming trend:
- 60% of adults online use Instagram
- Instagram has over 800 million active monthly users
- 50% of Instagram users follow at least one business.
- 60% say they’ve learned of a product or service through the platform
However, simply joining the platform won’t be enough to boost your business next year. mConnexion’s Social Media Strategist Katharine Witt notes that in order to gain loyal followers and potential repeat customers, “you must have a visually appealing feed that is consistent with your brand’s overall aesthetic and theme.”
This type of brand consistency also applies to your posted content. When consumers are scrolling through their feed, they should be able to recognize an image as yours, without even reading the caption.
Graphics & Design
Equally important as the words we use are the images, colors, and graphics that go alongside them. Trends in graphics and design are constantly evolving, and 2019 will continue down that path. Consumers are increasingly looking for a personal connection with the brands and businesses they love. Graphics help to create the right look and feel to make that connection happen.
A top trend for the upcoming year is the emphasis on authenticity in design.
“There are a variety of ways to showcase the human element in your graphics, all of which will take an increasingly center-stage spot in the coming year,” says mConnexions Digital Strategist & Designer Alexis Neumann. Some of these ways include:
- Hand-drawn/custom designs and texts, which communicate intimacy and originality
- A focus on people, in both brand photography and product interaction
- Unique designs that are reflective of your branding and message (no more stock photos!)
Colors are also making a statement in 2019, with vibrant, vivid, and bold colors emerging as a top trend. Gradients are also increasing in popularity, giving websites, graphics, and emails that “wow” factor. However, keep it simple. Simplicity in design is still a strong movement. Minimal designs prevent your message from getting lost in translation or disappearing in a sea of clutter. At mConnexions, we will always love our “white space” in design, keeping it clean, polished, and professional.
Design isn’t the only place where we’ll see authenticity trending in 2019. Putting an emphasis on the human element of our brands and businesses will continue to take a front-row seat in digital marketing strategies in the coming year. To say that people connect with other people sounds too simple to be true, and yet it’s critically important to be aware of the most effective language to communicate your brand’s unique story to your intended audience in order to establish a loyal relationship with your consumers.
Becoming comfortable with using a more conversational tone will better prepare you for another 2019 trend that is poised to only get stronger with time, and that is the rise of voice search queries. Over the last year, 60% of people started using voice search, which means that if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to integrate this trend into your marketing strategy. Optimizing your written online content for these intimate and personal requests will support efforts drive your business to the top of Google’s results and help to humanize yourself and your company, allowing you to make a trusted connection with your intended audience within the first few words.
We’ve all seen the rise of video in our online lives, from social media platforms, news organizations, or business websites. And this hot marketing method shows no signs of slowing down, let alone disappearing, in the coming year. In fact, a recent Cisco forecast report suggestions that video traffic will account for 82 percent of internet traffic by 2022. Suffice it to say, we’re confident that video marketing is here to stay.
Because of its likability, video is increasingly easier to market. In addition to social media platforms, whose search algorithms favor video, video has a direct impact on search results. Rich media is widely favored by search engine algorithms, which influence website rankings.
We will continue to see live streaming video play an important role on social media. More than 2 billion people have watched a Facebook Live, and Instagram’s more than 1 million users also favor video as their most-watched medium. But a word of caution when producing your own videos.
“It’s good to have something that is spontaneous, but it’s also even better if you plan for that look,” says Paul Schmidt, owner of UnoDeuce Multimedia, a key strategic partner for mConnexions. “That way you have control of the situation and can handle any variables that get thrown at you. Believe me, when working with video, there are a variety of variables that can throw you for a loop if you aren’t prepared.”
“A lot of businesses are doing video, but not all of them are doing it well,” adds Holton. “When you’re looking for ways to differentiate yourself in the market, video is a great way to connect in ways that are personal and authentic, both of which will grow in importance in 2019.”
A trend growing in importance in 2019: website accessibility. It’s so important that we’re going to skip right past website design and development trends to discuss it. Not only are we seeing a concerning increase in large lawsuits over websites that are not accessible for those with disabilities, our team also believes that it’s the right thing to do.
“The goal of AKEA is to help businesses and organizations address the needs of all users and ensure that potential obstacles are removed — because it’s the right thing to do,” says CEO of AKEA Web Solutions, Ash Harris.
Imagine if your business was missing out on a quarter of the U.S. population — simply because the site couldn’t be accessed by those 56 million people? If your website is not compliant, that’s exactly the problem you face.
When websites are correctly designed and coded according to standards set forth by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508, all individuals, including those with disabilities, can use them. Web accessibility experts, like our partners at AKEA, can assist with a variety of tools such as audits and remediation to ensure those guidelines are being followed.
Web accessibility not only benefits every user’s overall experience but is also benefits search engine optimization (SEO) as well. With an ADA-compliant website, you’ll have happy customers, more business, and, most importantly, your business will not be excluding customers based on their physical abilities.
“Your business website, just like your commercial location,” adds Harris, “needs to be barrier-free for all populations.”
We’ve covered a lot of marketing trends so far, and as with any comprehensive marketing strategy, you may be wondering how to keep it all together. You’re in luck: we have a 2019 trend for that, too!
A key part of digital marketing, and a focused direction for 2019 is project management. Organization is the key to making it all work. mConnexions Project Manager, Stephanie Barnhill is a believer in work management software, Asana.
“Using Asana for project management can help teams stay organized and on task from the planning phase through streamlining the workflow,” says Stephanie. “Our team uses it on a daily basis, and loves it!”
You can also connect Asana to popular communication tool Slack, to encourage internal communication for seamless less project management and collaboration.
Another facet of project management, and important focus in 2019, is how to become and stay agile as a company and a brand. Agility can have a significant impact on the success of your project management efforts, in addition to tech, development, and more. certainly impact project management as well as all things tech, development, etc.
Going agile can be scary, but the positive impact on your organization, services (and yes, your marketing strategy) will help to improve your culture, productivity, performance, and boost creativity. Being a flexible and fast-moving company will also allow you to better keep up with the ever-changing needs and interests of your customer base, preventing your digital marketing strategy from falling behind or becoming obsolete.
This blog was first published by mConnexions, LLC.