By 2021, digital advertising spend in the United States is expected to exceed $300 billion. The popularity of online marketing has also gained a strong foothold overseas: a survey of UK marketers found that:
- 88 percent believe that SEO has importance for marketing — with 60% saying it is extremely important
- 77 percent report that using SEO has increased their number of leads and decreased the cost of customer acquisition.
- Yet over 30% still report struggling to get the funds they need for their desired projects
With the incredible heights that SEO and digital marketing have risen to, it can be valuable to look back at the trends that have really taken off over the second half of the year and what will likely dominate the conversation and practice next year. It provides ideas for building strategies and where marketing plans need to mature to meet the needs of the modern consumer.
Here is what we believe the biggest marketing ideas and strategies that will likely dominate the first half of 2019.
Six marketing trends to watch for the first half of 2019
1. Resurgence in storytelling
A few years ago, there was a lot of conversation about the importance of creating a story for your prospects and the idea has experienced a resurgence. The idea of storytelling now extends far beyond just creating textual content. With the growing popularity of visual platforms, such as Instagram, brands now have the opportunity to create entirely new storytelling opportunities for their customers.
On social media and on websites brands need to carefully consider the story that they want to tell their customers. Communicate the story of the brand to people, rather than just the services and products that the brand provides. You want to create a brand image and narrative that engages people, connects with them, and lets them know more about the brand on a personal level. Companies might use this narrative to connect with people based on their buyer persona or to build a relationship based on shared values with the customers.
2. Necessity of high-functioning mobile
Thanks to the mobile-first algorithm, brands have to adjust their site development away from being simply compatible with mobile devices, and instead design for those on-the-go users. Our own research at BrightEdge reflects that well over half the visitors to most sites — 62 percent — come from mobile devices and still growing each month.
To rank well and properly engage your users, you will need to make sure your site has been developed with mobile users in mind.
Consider first the type of content you develop. Mobile users tend to have particular contexts in mind, such as contacting businesses while they are on the go. Think about the types of intent that people likely have when they search for your targeted keywords. If they want to find your address or other contact information, make sure your information is featured prominently.
When they do elect to read articles and longer types of content, mobile users are on smaller screens, which should influence how you construct your material.
Your content should have:
- Font and text size that can be easily digested on mobile devices
- Organize your interface in a way that mobile users can easily navigate. For example, buttons that allow people to skip easily to particular sections of content or return to the top of the page can be helpful
Make sure you also pay attention to the visuals on your page. Images and videos, for example, might not always be compatible with the screen dimensions or browser capabilities of certain mobile devices. Make sure that any you include have been carefully formatted to play on mobile devices. If possible you should try to QA your pages on multiple devices to try and catch any issues with your responsive design.
As you create your pages, keep an eye on on page load times. Mobile users will click off a page in as few as 3 seconds if the page has not yet loaded.
3. Growth of vertical searches
Vertical searches have begun to reach across a number of different channels. Vertical searches allow users to access more specific information. A number of alternate search options have arisen in response and have gained considerable popularity. Consider Amazon, Yelp, SlideShare, or TripAdvisor.
Even Google’s SERPs reflect the growing importance of vertical search. BrightEdge Research finds that 95% of Google SERPs include a vertical element. Google’s understanding of user intent has resulted in the development of customized vertical SERPs that reflect these desires. Different types of searches will have different numbers of ads, visual content, textual answers, and Quick Answers depending upon the likely intention behind the search.
As a result, moving forward brands need to carefully consider the vertical search engines their searches and optimize accordingly. A hotel chain, for example, will want to verify and pay close attention to their appearance on TripAdvisor and Kayak. Ecommerce businesses need to consider Amazon as well as the new ad formats Google has put out to promote vertical searches and keep users in its ecosystem.
4. Machine automation and AI
Machine learning will also continue to emerge as a necessary technological investment. Brands will spend an estimated $60 billion on the technology by 2025 as organizations across sectors realize the value of using technology to create superior content.
The digital universe contains more data than the human brain alone can process. With machine learning, however, organizations can use the technology to interpret the data and better understand what their customers want to see. They can use this insight to improve their content production.
At BrightEdge, we have made these capabilities available to our partners through our products, such as BrightEdge Insights. Customers use this technology to better understand search data and identify content topics faster and more effectively. Brands will be able to identify market changes and trends in real time, allowing them to produce the content needed to capitalize on these moments efficiency, reaping the benefits of getting content prepared and published at the forefront of the industry.
5. Greater personalized care
Customers also want to see more personalized attention and care moving forward. Consider the growing trend of incorporating chatbots into websites. These bots enable organizations to answer customer needs in real time. They help customers complete purchases or find other information they need, keeping them engaged with the organization and moving forward rather than clicking off when they cannot find the answers they seek.
This emphasis on more personal relationships with customers can also be seen in the growth of video. By next year, it is estimated that 80% of online traffic will be video. Videos allow customers to digest information passively and create high engagement. They also allow brands to create more personalized connections with their audience. Videos allow the audience to feel as though the subjects on the screen speak directly to them.
6. Voice and image search
We also cannot discuss growing trends without including voice and visual search. Voice search has become increasingly popular, with the growth of personalized assistants as well as voice search features on mobile devices. Google estimated that over 20% of queries performed on android devices are now done through voice search.
Similarly, Google has also recently drawn attention to the popularity of image search with their introduction of a new potential ad format. This new ad format would allow users to specifically target shoppers browsing image results to get ideas before deciding to shop.
Brands should focus on developing content that speaks to the needs of these users. Brands in highly visual sectors should take advantage of opportunities, such as Google’s image ads, while also creating a strong brand experience with their images.
For voice search, organizations should create content that aligns well with the verbal searches. Consider how voice search influences keywords and the type of information they likely want to find. With personal assistant devices offering a SERP of only one, for example, you also want to focus on earning key Quick Answer or top result positions for highly-relevant queries.
Search and digital marketing continues to grow and mature with each passing year. As we look towards the first 6 months of 2019, reviewing these trends as well as other new strategies for the end of the year can be immensely helpful. Look at the ideas we discussed here to see which ones can have the greatest impact on your brand’s online strategy.
Using a comprehensive SEO platform will keep you on top of the changes and evolution in organic search.