Wondering where to focus digital marketing efforts this year? From voice search to data privacy and beyond, here are six digital marketing trends that will shape how you can reach and engage with customers in 2019.

Digital Marketing Icons coming out of megaphoneFrom funnel to flywheel

Last year, HubSpot disrupted the inbound world when they introduced the flywheel, an evolution from the traditional buyer’s journey and funnel we all know and have grown to love. The flywheel approach takes the customers that in a traditional funnel would exit the bottom and moves your relationship with them to the very center of that focus, illustrating that they are a crucial part of your overall momentum and growth.

With this exciting evolution comes a real closing of the loop and a true reflection of the buyer’s journey, which traditionally ends in the delight stage. Because the flywheel represents a circular process where customers feed growth, it puts a renewed focus on the importance of continuing to please and communicate with existing customers. By creating strategies that put more emphasis on customer care and leveraging customer word of mouth in 2019, brands will begin to create an organizational shift to customer relationship management (CRM) that can enable them to build and grow satisfied customers.

The age of data privacy

Data privacy made headlines once again in June 2018, when California passed a privacy law similar to the European Union’s policies that will give users more control over how companies use and share their personal data. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018 will take effect January 1, 2020.

As the enforcement date approaches, many concerns have been voiced. In fact, the Association of National Advertisers recently called upon California’s attorney general to clarify several aspects of the state’s new privacy law by issuing regulations that would make compliance more marketer-friendly.

Furthermore, tech giants are working feverishly to supersede California’s law with a more industry-friendly federal bill. In fact, the Internet Association, representing companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, recently released its own framework for a federal bill, calling for “a strong national baseline [that] creates clear rules for companies and ensures that individuals across the United States can expect consistent data protections from companies that hold their personal information.”

As the debate heats up and the clock ticks closer to 2020, one thing remains clear: Data privacy laws in the United States are just getting started and marketers should follow the topic closely.

The future of voice search

One of the top digital marketing trends of 2019 is the continued rise of voice search. By next year, 50 percent of searches will be by voice, and 30 percent of them will be without a screen. Within three years, it’s anticipated that 55 percent of households will have a smart speaker.

As voice search continues to increase in popularity, the terms and phrases users are searching continue to get longer and more conversational. Brands need to adjust the content they’re developing to fit these types of queries, which they can do by keeping in mind what users are searching for, as well as the fact that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be locally based searches. This means that writers need to create content that answers users’ questions in a conversational way using long-tail phrases that are localized when possible.

So what does this mean for your company? It means that, moving forward, there will be an increased emphasis on developing localized, conversational content that answers your audience’s questions.

The golden age of podcasts

What’s old is new again! There are many reasons podcast listening is on the rise. Podcasts give consumers information and entertainment in bite-size chunks, while at the same time allowing for deeper dives into a variety of subjects. In fact, as of 2018, half of American homes listen to a podcast. It’s the reason brands are turning to podcasts for high reach and engagement — from sponsoring popular podcasts to producing their own.

Brands like Pepsi, Google, and ZipRecruiter use podcast advertising to grow and reach new audiences. Looking forward, more brands are integrating podcast advertising into their marketing strategies, as podcast ad revenue is expected to double by 2020.

Other popular brands like Basecamp and Shopify are producing their own podcasts to create deep engagement with consumers. With more than 80 percent of podcast listeners listening to all or most of each podcast episode, it’s clear why.

If your brand is considering sponsoring or launching a podcast in 2019, consider your goals as a starting point. Is it to increase your brand’s authority on a subject? Grow your business? Establish brand affinity? Your goals should inform the strategy in which you leverage the “golden age” of podcasts to engage with your audience this year.

The rise of social media stories

In October 2013, Snapchat introduced Snapchat Stories. The idea was simple: Snap a photo, put it on your Story, and your friends can view it as much as they’d like before it expires and disappears forever in 24 hours. Little did Snapchat know, they were starting a revolution that would become one of the hottest trends for marketers in 2019.

Fast-forward five years, and several other platforms have now adopted their own form of Stories. In August 2016, Instagram hopped on board with Instagram Stories. A year later, in March 2017, parent company Facebook introduced Facebook Stories. YouTube is currently testing YouTube Reels, and LinkedIn has started rolling out Campus Playlists. Why have so many platforms added Stories, you ask? Users love it. Instagram leads the pack with 400 million daily users of their Stories feature, Facebook is a close second with 300 million daily users, while Snapchat, the creator of Stories, only has 191 million daily users on the platform as a whole (it’s unclear how many of these users post Stories, though we estimate the number is significant).

The success of Stories is far from a surprise. It’s long been known that attention spans are short on social media, and Stories take advantage of just that. They’re easily snackable and visually compelling pieces of content that refresh every day. Brands use this by placing ads between user Stories, partnering with influencers to showcase their products to millions of daily viewers, and doing their own storytelling (pun intended) on their owned channels. We expect social media Story use to continue to rise in 2019, so if you haven’t done so already, it may be time to consider adding Stories to your marketing strategy.

Experience-centric, personalized targeting with geofencing

It’s 2019 and most of us continuously connected to our online world. Whether that be in the office, picking up the kids from school, or driving to watch Beyonce in concert, we have our cell phones with us. And because we’re always on the go, innovation in targeted marketing is now more popular than ever, with one rising to the top: Geofencing.

Even big brands are hopping on board. In late 2018, Burger King encouraged their customers to make a pit stop at the customer’s nearest McDonald’s location where they used geofencing capabilities to unlock a Burger King Whopper for one cent and give easy access directions to the nearest Burger King to redeem the offer. This controversial and innovative campaign leveraged their competitor to ultimately outperform them, a brilliant marketing tactic using this advanced technology.

We expect this trend to grow in 2019 as consumers come to expect a targeted, relevant, and more personalized experience. Luckily, there are several types of geofencing software you can use, Salesforce and Enradius being two of the popular options.

As new digital marketing trends emerge in a technology-centric, always-connected era, 2019 will be all about customer journey, experience, and personalization. Want more digital marketing tips and trends? Reach out to Two Rivers Marketing — we’re always ready to chat — or subscribe to the Undercurrent newsletter.

About Two Rivers Marketing

Two Rivers Marketing is a full-service business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications agency. Email us with your thoughts or questions at blog@2rm.com.