In today’s fast-paced, on-demand society, innovation drives progress at lightning speed – especially when it comes to marketing. Each year, marketing becomes increasingly complex, so it’s always a good idea for marketers to keep their eyes on emerging technologies, methods and patterns. Just when marketers believe that they’re ahead of the game, a new technology, new behavior or even an entirely new audience alters everything.
 
Marketers and brands that embrace emerging trends will thrive in the new year, remaining ahead of the curve, while those focused solely on “tried-and-true” traditional models may well find themselves lost in the shuffle as competition for consumer attention infinitely increases.
 
Here are a few marketing trends you would be wise to keep your eye on going into 2019.
 

Content is king. 

Now more than ever, content is everything. You already know that you need to entice your audience: inspire them, provoke their thoughts, excite them or appeal to their emotions.
 
The goal is not to simply put content in front of people and hope they respond to it, but rather to encourage them to share and engage with it. Content – whether it’s an blog on an outlet or a video on social media – opens the door for two-way communication, which is crucial for building trust and letting customers know that you appreciate their business.
 

People are increasingly cautious about security. 

Every company should ensure that its security is thorough. Even if customers do not notice it, they deserve the utmost respect when it comes to their privacy, data and financial details. Not every company promises this, though – and customers are starting to notice. In the past year, the torrent of data-related scandals drove new popular awareness of privacy issues.  
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal involving Facebook, the Pew Research Center found that a whopping 74 percent of American adults had adjusted their Facebook privacy settings, taken a break from the platform, or deleted its app from their phones. More broadly, it also found that people are worried about their personal information online, and that the vast majority of American adults say it is important to them to be in control of who can get information about them.
 
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in Europe this year, consumers are beginning to pay more attention to how businesses handle their information.
 
Game plan: Talk about your security with customers. What makes it better than others? In an economy where people are rightfully cautious about hacks, leaks and theft, they will favor brands that can promise them the safest business experience.
 

Listen up! Voice search is getting louder.

Voice-based commerce sales in the United States reached $1.8 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $40 billion by 2022. Yep, you read that right. 40 billion! This trend means 2019 is the year to get ahead of the game.
 
Voice searching is an ingenious bit of technology. After all, who doesn’t like being able to simply say out loud to the nearest smart speaker, “Call me an Uber.” Not only does voice searching make it easier to find information online without pulling out a device; people love it because it reduces their screen time. This year, make sure you’re optimized for voice searches.
 
Related: OK Google: How Can I Optimize My Website For Voice Search?
 

Keep an eye out: Visual searches are taking off.

Another up-and-coming form of search, visual search enables consumers to capture photos of desired products with their smartphones and locate similar items within a given store’s inventory. Home Depot, Target, ASOS and Urban Outfitters have already tapped into this new arena on the retailer side, and platforms including Google, Pinterest, and Bing have rolled out search functions that allow users to locate items inspired by objects in the real world.
 
Google Lens is an app that allows your smartphone to work as a visual search engine. The app analyzes pictures you take and gives you information about those images. For example, you could snap a photo of a business card and have the information saved to your contacts. Pinterest launched its own Lens product last year that provided features like Shop the Look and Pincodes. Users can take a photo with the app or select one from their camera gallery and the image will be analyzed to show you pins, blogs and shopping options. The photos that you take through the lens can also be saved as your own pins. Microsoft announced Bing Visual Search that also allows you to search within an image to expand it out to related objects. There is a magnifying glass at the top of each image that allows you to create a box around a specific aspect of that image and Bing will show you more results for the area you selected.
 
The game plan? Start by optimizing the photos on your site and social pages.  This can help those photos rank for the images that show up in text queries, images that display in featured snippets, for object searches within an image and for visual searches within an app. Having prominent images displayed in these areas will get you more clicks and traffic on your site and lead to more conversions for your business.
 

AI and chatbots.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another pivotal trend to watch in 2019. It’s no wonder: AI provides enhanced analytics that helps marketers more efficiently plan and execute campaigns. Specifically, AI can be used to better perform keyword tagging, segmenting and tracking in current campaigns. As the year progresses, we’ll see the technological capabilities of AI continue to improve.
 
One major way this will take place is through chatbots. Powered by AI automation, bots are reshaping the way customers interact with brands. Available to answer queries and provide helpful direction, chatbots move website visitors through the customer journey and offer a personalized experience — all while leveraging machine learning to improve their interactions over time. Odds are, by the end of 2019, chatbots will become the norm on business websites across a broad range of industries.
 
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Published by Merilyn McGonigal

Merilyn McGonigal (alas, no relation to the professor) is a writer and editor based in South Florida. She has crafted content for small businesses, large non-profits, tech startups, and everything in between. Writer by day and reader by night, she loathes to talk about herself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time. So it goes. Find her on Instagram here @MerilynMcg