With 2019 planning now in full swing, there's no time like now to consider the trends that are likely to affect your business in the new year.
Since not all trends are necessarily best practice, we want to be focusing on the ones that have authenticity and longevity - so that they can become a permanent part of your planning beyond just the year!
Here are our thoughts on the REAL trends worth following across digital marketing, UX, design and content for 2019. These trends are practical, promote greater work habits, and you won't have to transform into a tech whiz or blow your budget just to adopt them.
There’s also a bonus all-round Supertrend we’ll reveal at the end of this post. Stay tuned.
Digital marketing trends 2019
Email marketing automation, segmentation and personalisation will dominate
Hands up if your promotional email inbox looks like this most days:
Now imagine your customer's promotional inbox in the same state. Would your brand be able to stand out from the rest? If your marketing emails don’t command attention, they’ll be lost in the noise in 2019.
It’s time to throw out any generic one-size-fits-all messages still in your repertoire and start segmenting users, personalising your messages and sending more automated emails.
Use tools like Hubspot to divide your customers into segments based on demographics, behaviour and/or life cycle stage. Plan how you can send each segment automated, attention-grabbing messages with a clear call-to-action.
You can take the first step by: Cleaning your email list. Make sure it’s not a graveyard of customers from a decade ago who haven’t opened your emails in just as long. Then, do an audit of all remaining customers. What segments can you group them into that can improve the personalisation of your messaging and service?
Google algorithms will keep changing - and you need to stay on top of them
Backlinks are still important. So is domain authority, meta tags and page speed. In 2019, you need to understand the impact of every change on Google’s platform. There are about 200 ranking signals for organic search page rankings, ranging from important to crucial. Learn more about them here or check out the Google Algorithm Change History tool on Moz for a quick rundown of updates.
You can take the first step by: Running a quarterly marketing housekeeping session to review and interpret Google algorithm changes and the impacts/benefits it will have on your business. It’d also be helpful to run through changes to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube algorithms.
Contextual marketing will completely lift your game (if done correctly)
In 2019, contextual marketing is going to be more popular than ever. It draws upon your customer’s demographic, behavioural and open-time context data to create the perfect messaging that gets delivered at just the right time and on the right platform.
A contextual customer experience sits in the sweet spot where you can use all facets of available data to make a customer's experience with your brand as natural and easy as possible. The more relevant and convenient your messaging is, the more likely you are to capture their attention. Also, since advertising on one platform to drive customers to another isn’t always a seamless experience, it's often better to show up where they already are.
You can take the first step by: Finding out where your customers are. Check your Google Analytics to find out where your traffic is coming from - social media, PPC, google search, referrals etc. and plan how you can be more visible within those environments. Platforms like Cluep even let you target users based on what they’re saying or sharing on social media, which is definitely worth exploring.
UX trends 2019
Rethink your use of pop-ups, because Google is paying attention
Thanks to Google’s RankBrain algorithm, user experience has become inextricable to your SEO. UX bad practice (like intrusive pop-up ads and CTA boxes that cause users to leave your site) are going permanently into Google’s bad books. Other metrics tied to user experience like pages per session, dwell time and organic CTR are also going to impact your SEO.
By UX standards, you can improve your SEO in 2019 by keeping a responsive, clutter-free site with high-quality images to keep users returning over and over again. And rather than pop-up ads, try native advertisements with contextual photos that flow well with your existing web pages.
You can take the first step by: Identifying pages with high bounce rates on your site, and evaluating if they might contain any intrusive elements that need a design overhaul.
Tab navigation on mobile will make a comeback
Hamburger menus have come under fire recently. They’ve been said to decrease the discoverability of features, since everything they contain is hidden by default. On the other hand, many users are becoming more familiar with the appearance of a hamburger menu so we recommend a case-by-case approach.
If you're experiencing low traffic on certain pages of your site and suspect this could be related to your hamburger menu hiding those pages, tab navigation bars (like you see on sites like Facebook) can be a more intuitive solution. They tell users where they are currently (by highlighting the active tab) where else they can go (by showing other icons in the row) and what they will find when they get there (by making the icons descriptive).
You can take the first step by: Identifying what menus your customers engage with the most, and aim to design your navigation in the most simple and accessible way without interfering their shopping experience.
Design trends 2019
Unconventional, futuristic and minimal
Think about your typical corporate or professional brand palette: trustworthy blues, blacks and reds. Got it? Alright, now throw them all out the window for 2019.
Just kidding - but it is becoming super important for brands to start differentiating themselves in a crowded marketplace, and a great way to do this is by playing around with colours that challenge the norm.
Try to strike the right balance though - don’t go overboard and blind your customers with every taste of the rainbow. If you add a vibrant colour to your palette, offset it with milder/more subtle colours to maintain stability.
You can take the first step by: Reviewing your existing palette and seeing if there’s room to add any fun, new colours. Maybe it’s your entire logo, or maybe it’s for the infographics/ online ads that your designer creates…
More customisation in design and illustrations
Custom, hand-drawn illustrations (think something like this) may not yet be the norm, but they are definitely effective. When they’re used, they leave a stunning impact - especially on customers are fatigued with seeing stuffy, dull business designs everywhere.
While it may be tempting to stick to what’s safe, no business wants to have the same illustrations or iconography that can also be found on 6 other websites. By adding customisation to your website and design collateral, you’re differentiating yourself from competitors and possibly even changing perceptions of your business.
So take a leap and create something different for your brand. For example, here's a multi-purpose illustration our designer made that was totally random, yet totally on-brand with alphawhale (and we're in love with it):
A whaley, whaley good time.
You can take the first step by: Getting some custom illustration concepts for your business and identifying where (blog posts, home page, eDM banners etc.) they would work best, and where they can be reused to increase exposure.
Stock photos will be more genuine, interesting and contextual
How exciting or thought-provoking do you find this image?
What does this image mean? Something about technology, but no one truly knows.
If your answer was "not very", then it's probably not going to excite your customers either. If you're currently using images like these as blog thumbnails or anywhere else in your marketing collateral, you may not be getting the engagement you'd hoped for.
In 2019, images are no longer the afterthought but the priority. High quality images are needed for better advertising click-through, news feed exposure, blog engagement, you name it…
So, it’s time to upgrade your image game in 2019 with authentic photos that display a strong grasp on your user’s identities and the products, places, or themes they love.
Even better, strive for contextual photos where people who resemble your target customer are actively engaging with your product or service. (Hint: you can definitely do better than using an anonymous hand holding a mobile with your business Photoshopped into the screen).
You can take the first step by: Revisiting the stock photos that appear on your site or social media. Are any of them overly edited or sterile? Do they feature people smiling uncomfortably, or flat-lays of desks with coffee cups that mean zilch to your customer? Do a little spring cleaning, and swap them out with more meaningful photos from credible sites like Unsplash or Adobe Stock Photos.
Content trends 2019
The same content will be used in 101 ways
Many businesses don’t have the capacity to crank out brand new content everyday. Rather than posting irregularly about topics a whim, only to never touch that topic again (which is bad SEO practice), content planning should start from the top down and be built for re-purposing.
Create a theme or pillar and let the topics branch out from there. As you create content for each topic, factor in all the different ways it’s going to be re-purposed i.e. videos, social media posts, podcast scripts etc. Your content then becomes a lot more strategy-driven in a world where 59% of larger organisations don’t have a documented content strategy. That’s a chance for you to get ahead - and your content will have much more longevity as a result.
You can take the first step by: Doing a content audit - create a list of everything you’ve published, ever, and see if any older posts can be brought back with a newer feel, newer images and re-purposing potential.
Video content will be omnipresent, with production more accessible than ever
Everyone is smitten with video content at the moment, with 51% of marketers worldwide naming video as the type of content with the best ROI. Thanks to smartphones and the rise of live streaming, pre-recorded videos with high production value are no longer the only forward.
In 2019, we predict there’ll be a major surge in brands engaging in DIY video creation on social media (YouTube, IG stories, Snapchat) and editing platforms like slide.ly, as they strive to create more authentic relationships with customers. For eCommerce brands, we expect to see a huge uptake in shoppable videos for 2019.
You can take the first step by: Figuring out where you want your video(s) to be hosted, and combing over your existing content i.e. a blog post from last month that you can re-purpose into a video. If you plan on filming yourself talk for the first time, shake off any stage fright and remember how great you look and sound!
Content creation will be more of a collaborative process across teams
What we mean: Those in your customer service, IT, design and sales team may not consider themselves writers… but they most likely have a wealth of knowledge and diverse perspectives that can be harnessed to create truly outstanding content for your business. Not only that, but the team bonding opportunities here make it a double win. How often do you see people in worlds-apart roles sitting down to collaborate on a piece of content?
You can take the first step by: Creating a chart that outlines which topics or content types (eBooks, podcasts, videos etc.) would be best suited for each department, and creating a clear content plan and brief so that team members understand the goal of the collaboration.
Finally… the super trend for 2019… Buyer personas will inform everything
When researched and created properly, buyer personas can be invaluable to a business, revealing insights that almost every single department can benefit from.
Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t getting value out of their buyer personas because:
- The personas are misaligned with their brand, or
- The opportunities to use them are unclear.
In truth, strong buyer personas give your whole team/brand a newfound purpose and understanding of the end user to improve decision-making around everything from web design, marketing, business development and customer service.
You can take the first step by: Revisiting your existing buyer personas and evaluating their accuracy. You can also check out these 14 ways to get more use out of your buyer personas.
In summary, the top trends that alphawhale predict will take off in 2019 are:
- Marketing automation, segmentation and personalisation
- Changing Google algorithms (and the need to stay on top of them)
- Contextual marketing (if done well!)
- Creating spam and clutter-free web pages to improve SEO
- Improving navigation (tab vs. hamburger) on mobile
- Unconventional, futuristic and minimal
- More customisation in design and illustrations
- More genuine, interesting and contextual stock photos
- More content will be repurposed into different formats/platforms
- Video content (and more DIY video editing platforms)
- Cross-department content collaborations
- Clear, detailed buyer personas to inform decisions across design, marketing, customer service and the business as a whole
So that's our take on the trends of 2019, and now we want to know what you think! Leave a comment or ask us anything below: