2018 was a wild one.

Between Bitcoin and eating Tide-Pods, online brands battled through GDPR, twelve Google updates, and began to embrace Marketing AI.

So what’s next? Where should marketers put their efforts now that 2018 is behind us? We’ve put together our predictions for the top five marketing trends of 2019. And we’ll forget about this article in December if we get it wrong.

1 . Micro-influencer marketing: a more personal way of advertising

Imagine you want to buy a new pair of earphones. Are you going to be more swayed by a Facebook ad or your favorite podcast? I’d pick the latter. Hey, I like familiarity, don’t you?

Searches for influencer marketing over time.

Small-scale influencer marketing works more like word-of-mouth advertising. It feels genuine. Also, influencers with a smaller following get higher engagement. Oh, and micro-influencers are nearly 7x more cost-efficient than big celebs. That employee of the month prize is so yours.

Make customer interactions feel personal. Credit: Josh Rose at Unsplash.

2 . Voice search: it won’t feel so strange

Despite Alexa going full-on horror story in 2018, we continue to let more and more virtual assistants into our households. Over 50 million Echo devices have been sold worldwide to date.

And Alexa’s not the only voice assistant on the market. Google Home is becoming a must-have, and Apple has truly upped their game with Siri’s functionality. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 30% of all online searches will be done through a voice-controlled device.

Searches for Alexa over time.

Voice search is still far from perfect. Devices can’t quite get their robot-heads around a thick Scottish accent, and they struggle with lesser-spoken languages. But the tech’s getting better by the day.

So what can you do to prepare for the voice search takeover?

SEO marketers should focus on climbing up the SERPs and getting featured snippets so Alexa reads out their brand’s content. And hopefully not a list of nearby funeral homes.

Alexa's listening, and marketers should be too. Credit: Andreas Urena at Unsplash.

3 . Chatbots: they’ll provide more value

We’re used to getting answers instantly. Nothing’s more frustrating than a company taking ages to reply to your questions. This is where chatbots come in.

56% of people would rather type their question than call someone—myself included. 24/7 customer service is difficult to maintain, but a chatbot types back at any time of the night.

Searches for chatbots over time.

Here’s our Social Media Strategist, Matilda, on why Chatbots will win us over in 2019:

“There are now chatbots that can help with pretty much anything, from sending you daily jokes to reminding you to submit a tax return. This is what’s exciting for me—they’re useful! And from a marketer’s perspective, they’ve made highly-personalized marketing scalable.”

Matilda Fulford, Social Media Manager at Typeform

4 . Personalized marketing: but not in a creepy way

There are 7.53 billion people in the world. Do you really want to send every single person who visits your website the same message? People have different browsing habits and buying intents. And as a marketer, you should embrace that.

Salesforce found that 58% of people say personalization is important in their shopping experience—and that most are willing to trade their data for personalization.

Unsplash personally thanked their community with handwritten notes. Credit: Rainier Ridao at Unsplash.

So focus on your relationship marketing to learn all you can about your customers, without getting too freaky. Find out their names, what they like, what they do on the weekend—and run with it.

Look at Spotify. Their Discover Weekly playlist is a huge USP for them and a perfect example of personalization. You can discover your new favorite band, then use Spotify to stream them round the clock. Clever.

Start simple with your personalization this year. If you sell wine, ask if they’re a fan of red or white with a customer information form. Or send out a fun quiz to learn more about your leads, like Amplitude did:

5 . Brand storytelling: inspire, convert, and retain customers

What does your About page say about your company? Probably where you’re based, what you do, and how to get in touch. Pretty basic stuff. But these days people are looking for more. They want to know what you’re really about.

Customers want you to stand for something. Nike schooled us in brand storytelling last year and got more publicity than they could’ve dreamed of from one advert. See that spike on the graph? That’s the number of Google searches Nike got when their advert dropped.

Searches for Nike over time.

So why will brand storytelling still be a marketing trend in 2019? Over to Eric for an insider’s opinion:

Wouldn’t you rather hear a story than wade through a list of facts? Don’t tell people what your product does, tell a story of how you can make their lives better.

Eric Johnson, Head of Content at Typeform

When you tell a story about your brand, it’s up to 22 times more memorable. Use imagery so people really connect with the story. And make it authentic—show your employees and customers reality, and people will remember you. And your brand.

How you ask is everything.

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