It’s that time of year, where we at Bright Planning take a look at the marketing landscape as a whole, and then drop our two cents on the direction we believe 2019 marketing trends will take. So grab your coffee, your pen and paper (if you’re like me and love to go old school), and let’s get real, shall we?

Authenticity

Speaking of real, authenticity has become quite the buzzword in the last several years. There’s a reason for this. Consumers are smarter than ever, and they’ll see through any gimmick or ploy designed to entice them into making purchases big and small. With the internet at their fingertips, there’s no small amount of information to find concerning the brands they might do business with. The only way to earn their trust is to keep it real. By showing your cards up front, you’re saying, “See? Not bluffing,” and consumers have come to appreciate that.

The most convincing authenticity campaigns include past and present customer reviews and testimonials. Getting user generated content is right up there as well. When everyday people use and love your brand, and show that love far and wide across the internet, consumers believe them. There’s no reason not to. So how can your marketing message carry a tone of authenticity that says you’re not just selling something, but you believe in what you’re doing?

Voice Search

Voice searches make up a third of the 3.5 billion searches performed every day on Google. Let that number sink in. We’ve recently written about AI assistants and how voice searches through home speaker bots such as Alexa and Siri will change the way people make purchases. This trend will only grow in the coming years, and those businesses seeking to become a trusted recommendation through the AI assistants of the future will need to consider carefully what skills they create and how those skills provide value beyond the sale of your brand’s wares. Skills such as Tide’s helpful stain remover skill, or Zyrtec’s AllergyCast give consumers more information at their fingertips, and they’re beyond a simple commercial on the radio or ad promoted through Facebook.

AI and Possibilities

AI can often do what humans can’t: be available 24/7 and ready with whatever answers your customers need. But AI is evolving, and not just in the home speaker market. Chatbots have the potential to do so much more than annoy website visitors with a popup the nanosecond they arrive. The fashion and beauty industries are now using them to help consumers choose colors that look good on them, and clothes that fit them.

It’s not only these helpful chatbots, either. Using augmented reality, home buyers can tour properties for sale. Car purchasers can virtually test drive all range of vehicles through their smart phones. Or, paired with programmatic ads, AI can be exactly where they need to be when they need to be there. Consumers are used to instant information, and not having to wait for an email response to answer their questions could be the difference between earning their trust and converting the sale or losing them entirely. The trick is to keep it real. The more intelligent the AI and the chatbot interface, the more authenticity can be interjected into the interaction, to the point where the consumer may never know they’re talking to AI and not a human.

Visual Search

What is visual search? In the simplest of terms, instead of typing in the name of a product to find more about it, users can simply point their phone camera at an object and receive text-based information. It’s a more interactive SEO tool, one which Google and Microsoft are working hard to make competitive.

For example, a person interested in a computer could point their camera at one option and learn all about its features, its competitors’ offerings, and a host of other comparison tools. While this sounds remarkable, the tech is still pretty limited. The machine must be able to recognize patterns and shapes the way the human mind does.

Social Media

Obviously not a new segment of marketing strategy, social media is one of the most important cornerstones of any business’s marketing campaigns. Social media is embedded in society’s daily life. The most popular trends right now include video, influencers, and automation. Because the various social platforms are constantly changing how they do things, it’s imperative to remain up-to-speed on those changes and roll with the punches in how they affect your marketing strategy.

Predictive Data

Big and small data is a treasure trove of information about consumers and their habits and behaviors. Profiling shoppers is one of the most effective ways to reach a wider audience. When you have details on not only their browsing and internet habits and search history, but their behavioral habits and what makes them tick, you can create new and personal ways in which to interact with them. By creating a fuller, more comprehensive picture of who your target audience really is—beyond the carefully curated internet persona they’ve invested years in building—you can reach them on a deeper level to understand their pain points and help rectify them.

By taking a cross section of predictive data across a segment of your market, you can extrapolate what will and will not catch their attention in the most effective way. While drilling down into an individual’s shopping habits isn’t possible for every single one of your customers, you can pull out patterns of behavior common within segments of your audience and react accordingly to bring them into your orbit.

If there’s one thing these trends for 2019 have in common, it’s that consumers are complex creatures with varying ways of conducting their shopping habits. Some will live and die by their AI assistants, while others will fall in love with visual search. Yet more will be impressed by the seamless integration of chatbots into their lives, and all of them will be persuaded by a brand’s authenticity and how they interact with their customers in a real way. No one likes to be “sold to,” in this day and age. So whether you’re creating a skill for home speaker bots or strategizing a marketing campaign based on predictive data, be helpful and valuable in your messaging, and transparent about the passion with which your brand does business. Consumers will know if you’re not.