Over the last decade, marketing has undergone a variety of changes. The purchase funnel is more complex than ever before, and marketers have more information at their fingertips.
Marketing is smarter now—it pulls data from different sources and uses modern technology to reach new customers and keep existing ones. It's possible to predict where the next trend will lead, which helps with planning out marketing campaigns for the months ahead.
Out of top-performing companies, 65% have a written content marketing plan. Before you focus on any specific marketing trend, you should write out your goals for the year and how you plan to reach them.
Major goals include increasing sales, adding more customers, retaining current clients or expanding brand recognition. Once you have a specific goal in mind, consider the following trends as potential ways to reach it.
1. Intelligent marketing attribution
Artificial intelligence (AI) helps marketers and brands determine where their impressions, sales and leads come from more easily than trying to analyze data manually. Since most data is already in the cloud, AI simply takes that data, does a few computations and comes up with algorithms showing what works from a marketing standpoint and what needs adjusting.
Use AI and recognize patterns from different data sources so you can predict upcoming changes. For example, say your inventory records show that every November, sales of blue sweaters pick up, and you've sold out of blue sweaters the last seven years in a row. Now you know you should probably order more blue sweaters before November.
Marketing and sales will intricately tie into one another, so marketers know which inventory to push, and salespeople know what inventory they need more of. The seamlessness of a system that tracks marketing efforts, results and sales means more effective marketing—and more revenue.
2. Increasing voice search
About 13% of all U.S. homes owned a smart speaker in 2017, and experts predict that number will reach 55% by 2022. An increasing need for voice search will drive marketing towards offering voice-friendly search functions and thinking about the way people naturally speak.
What questions does a person ask when hunting for a specific product?
With conversational AI, marketers have an opportunity to send out targeted messages faster than in the past. AI can analyze the voice search conducted around a subject and help you craft descriptions and website information to match those long-tail keyword phrases.
Expect voice search to impact brand voice as it becomes more prominent, even on social media and e-commerce sites. Marketers should be aware of the key phrases people are using for voice search, so marketing campaigns align closely with those phrases.
3. A/B testing with AI
A/B testing is a powerful tool for marketers. It empowers them to quickly see how changing one element of an ad campaign or landing page impacts their conversions. As AI adoption increases, brands no longer need their own data science departments. Instead, they can call on a huge pool of information stored in the public cloud.
In the past, A/B testing meant trying out changes on one element at a time and waiting several weeks before getting the results. In 2019, expect A/B testing to become lightning-fast as tests are streamlined. You'll be able to find out how multiple variants work with just a few clicks of the mouse. The result is a visually pleasing design that attracts users.
Marketers will become savvier about which types of AI to use for which projects, saving time and money for their companies and making the analysis more accurate than ever before.
4. Automated workflows
Adding automated workflows saves time and effort because it gives marketers the freedom to focus on tasks that can't be automated.  For example, you could create a workflow that pairs phone calls and emails. If you make a phone call and get the person's voicemail, an email is triggered along with your voicemail message. If you spent time discussing a specific aspect of your brand with a lead, then you can trigger a different email.
Personalization is still possible, even with automatic triggers. Simply add the person's name and change a few details based on your conversation. For most brands, though, the same conversations happen over and over, and the same emails go out after those conversations. Automated workflows keep you from repeating the same work multiple times.
5. Experiential content
In the past, e-commerce stores have presented simple, straightforward descriptions and images. However, as augmented reality (AR) enters every area of life, expect websites to become more of an immersive experience.
Online retailers create content that engages the user and creates an experience. One example might be a local real estate brand. Rather than simply throwing up a few photos and a description of the property, they'll give you an interactive 360-degree walkthrough, where you choose which room to go into next and which angle to view the room from.
Storytelling and user experience will be more critical than ever before.
6. Relevant and interesting videos
Video is no longer optional when it comes to marketing. The trend for a while has been heading towards more video-viewing, but recent studies show that about 73% of Americans engage with YouTube. Across all social media platforms, video-viewing is on the rise. What does this mean for marketers in 2019? It means video is a necessity when it comes to creating a marketing campaign.
However, consumers are also savvier than ever before, so throwing up just any old video isn't going to work. You need short, to-the-point and entertaining videos if you'd like the attention of your target audience.
Effective marketing includes planning for a digital presence, but your efforts should also take into account changes in technology and how people interact with brands online.
In addition to the behavior of customers, you must also consider any Google algorithm changes and where your target audience hangs out online.
The savviest marketers never stop learning about trends in the marketplace and aren't afraid of trying new techniques to stand out and grab attention.