6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019

9 min. read | Last updated: November 28th, 2018

The traditional marketing funnel has changed.

No longer are marketers focused solely on moving a customer through the funnel. Now, marketers are creating experiences that promote brand affinity — and even advocacy.

The funnel is becoming more of an ongoing cycle that prioritizes continuous engagement over transactional relationships. This increased focus on nurturing, especially post-sale, makes customers more likely to stay with you or buy again — and more likely to give recommendations to friends and colleagues.

This year’s marketing trends are all about creating captivating digital experiences.

The growing momentum of social e-commerce, inclusive marketing, or brand activism means that marketers are connecting authentically with their customers.

Marketers like Inc. contributor and inclusive marketing expert, Sonia Thompson; social media marketing experts, Eva Taylor of Hootsuite and Taylor Loren of Later; Or, Andy Crestodina, the authority on content marketing and original research. All of whom we spoke to for this round-up article.

In 2019, say goodbye to the traditional marketing funnel, and welcome this year’s focus on the nurturing the customer relationship. These six marketing trends are set to take off this year:

The acceleration of social e-commerce

Look to the successful rise of Glossier, for proof of the rising importance of social e-commerce.

Quite simply, social e-commerce is the ability to purchase a product within a third party social media experience: think Shop the Look Pins from Pinterest to newer features such as shoppable Instagram Stories,” explains Eva Taylor, Senior Manager Global Social Marketing at HootSuite.

What started as the beauty blog, Into the Gloss, Glossier has disrupted the beauty industry by fostering community where shoppers like to congregate: Instagram.

Traditionally, beauty brands opened up shop on the bottom floor of department stores. Customers would waft through the perfume to discover new products within the mainstays of beauty, in this try-before-you-buy model.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Social E-commerce Glossier
People love Glossier – just look at their engagement on a post about lipsticks.

Powered by the influencer and social proof native to the platform, Glossier has pioneered a new buy-before-you-try purchasing model in the beauty industry by “outsourcing” engagement to third party platforms, according to founder Emily Weiss in this Recode article.

And they’re not the only ones seeing success.

With Instagram shopping, you can turn your feed into a visual storefront, allowing your followers to make direct purchases without having to leave Instagram.

Taylor Loren
Head of Marketing at Later

The potency of the Instagram platform is cause for the projected 3x traffic increase over 2019, according to Salesforce.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Social Ecommerce Instagram Shopping
Instagram and other visual social media make new product discovery easy. S-commerce makes buying those products easier.

For Instagram specifically, we’re really excited about shopping in Instagram Stories through product stickers which are already clicked by 90 million people daily,” explains Taylor Loren.

According to Instagram, 400 million people watch Instagram Stories every day, and one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses. That’s a huge potential audience, and the format is so engaging.

Visual platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram make the discovery of new products easier.

And brands are trying to close the gap between discovery and purchase with social e-commerce.

Instead of hyping up customers to go through to your website funnel, brands are focused on developing an engaged community on these platforms.

Social media excels as a place for product discovery, especially as new features advance social media’s ability to offer an immersive experience for potential consumers.

Video is a particularly effective format that can be integrated into different stages of the buyer journey, while the data collected by the social networks enables brands to create personalized experiences through paid social.

Eva Taylor
Senior Manager Global Social Marketing at Hootsuite

And rumor has it that the platform is working on its own stand-alone e-commerce app.

But e-commerce functionality is changing the way brands engage with consumers on all social touchpoints.

In late 2018, Tommy Hilfiger launched SideFlix, a Facebook messenger app that combines social interactions with shoppable posts.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Social E-commerce Tommy Hilfiger SideFlix
Four screens unlocks this influencer story on Facebook Messenger

How SideFlix works: shoppers gain access to exclusive content when they need to collaborate with their social networks in real life. A combination of mobile screens unlocks the ability to view branded video stories.

For example, when you have two screens side-by-side, influencers Jia-Ye Wu and Mia Kong travel through Shanghai and give users a peek at the 2018 TommyNow Icons runway.

With three screens, you get visual access to the TommyXLewis VIP launch party in New York with influencers Tessa Barton and Cole Herrmann.

And when you tap on any of the items in the videos, you can save the item to a collection and get linked to the shopping details on Tommy.com.

These innovative use of social platforms create a buzz around online shopping.

In 2019, experiment with what platforms and media work best for your brand, your product offering and your community of customers.

Be an early adopter...but be strategic.

Get the interactive Strategic Planning Worksheet to help you plan how and when to implement the marketing trends you've been reading about in this post, and elsewhere.



Searching in our visual culture

By now people have the muscle memory for taking pictures of all sorts of things — not just sunsets and selfies but the parking lot where you parked, business cards, books to read. That’s a massive behavior shift.

Aparna Chennapragada
Vice President of Product for AR, VR, and vision-based products at Google

Our culture is largely visual. Our phones allow us to document and notate our daily lives in minute detail. We take a picture to remember. We record a video to recall.

It’s shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that on the flip side of the social e-commerce trend is the proliferation of visual search.

When you submit an image as the search criteria, AI technology analyzes its content and context to determine related search results.

For example, Wayfair, a furniture and housewares company, implemented visual search into its e-commerce site. A shopper can take a picture of a chair they see out-and-about and upload it to gain similar items.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Visual Search
Wayfair uses AI technology to make shopping easy. Shoppers can get inspired by things they see, photograph it, and find similar items on the Wayfair site.

According to Gartner, brands that adopt visual and voice search in these early days can see their digital commerce revenue grow by 30% by 2021.

But the rise of visual search is part of a larger trend of “sensory search”. Voice search is still important in 2019.

The rise of UX Writing

In last year’s marketing trends round-up, I talked about conversational marketing. This year, the dialogue with your customers continues with the rise of UX writing.

UX writing is not a trend but a complete methodology that is on the rise,” explains Yuval Keshtcher, who founded his UX Writing community two years ago to fill a gap for experienced UX writers.

We need experienced creators that can tell the story of our digital products while creating meaningful conversations with our users.

UX writing can be distinguished from copywriting by its lack of focus on selling; instead, the UX writer seeks to guide a user through a website, app or product in a clear and delightful way.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends UX Writing
Eat This Much is an app that creates creates personalized meal plans, so instead of saying “Loading…” the writer wrote this playful microcopy.

A digital product must sound and feel like there is a human behind that digital screen.

The largest companies in the world such as Google, Amazon, and Dropbox use a UX writer to craft that kind of experiences that makes user fall in love with their products and services which automatically increase the sales conversion and retention rate for the company.

Yuval Keshtcher
Founder of UX Writing Hub

Buttons, menu labels, error messages, and other microcopy turn a design into a customer experience.

In fact, UX writing can often solve design problems through the ability to clear identify and motivate the user to complete particular actions in the experience.

Whereas a few years ago, UX designers might slot in some Lorem Ipsum to hold space before the copywriters filled the blanks; Nowadays, more and more companies are employing UX writers.

These writers understand technology, psychology, and user research to collaboratively build the user experience with designers, product managers, developers, etc.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends UX Writing
Do you understand what is intended by this page and form? Yuval Keshtcher provided this design-first example in his UX Writing Weekly newsletter to make a case for content-driven experiences.

In 2019, expect to craft messages that do more than sell; write to guide, write to motivate, write to delight.

UX writing will become common parlance in the marketing world, with innovators maximizing the experience beyond just the jobs to be done.

Related reading

Credible content marketing after #FakeNews

According to 69% of respondents to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Global Report, the number one job of CEOs is to build trust in the company.

Building trust is also crucial for content marketers.

We’ve seen the rise of long-form content over the past few years; not only does content over 2,000 words see higher SEO rankings, but long-form content is also more likely to be shared on readers’ social media.

But credibility in the era of #FakeNews means that more content marketers will be taking a journalistic approach.

At the very least, marketers will be citing academic research and other thought leaders.

At most, content marketers will be spearheading original research themselves.

A good article cites original research. A great article IS original research. Over and over throughout 2018, I saw huge successes for marketers who published original research and made themselves the primary source for new information,” explains Andy Crestodina, author of “Content Chemistry.”

It’s so much harder, that most marketers don’t do it. It takes time to create a credible study. It requires data gathering, outreach, analysis and visuals. It’s inevitably long-form content. But look at the correlation between long-form content and success.

According to our annual survey of 1000 bloggers, only 8% of bloggers publish 2000+ word articles. But more than half of those who do report strong results.

Andy Crestodina

What’s more, marketers build credibility with their audiences through transparent research methodologies and data-backed messaging.

Related reading

Brand activism in a polarized world

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick became a household name when kneeled through the national anthem before his 49ers games in protest of several police shootings of unarmed African-American men.

The protest incited a heated debate. Some agreed with Kaepernick’s stance; others saw it as insulting. Once a free agent, Kaepernick lingered, unsigned by a team because of the fear of repercussion.

Though he remained on Nike’s roster of sponsored athletes, they didn’t know how to promote him at first.

And many in their boardrooms didn’t want to.

But to cut him from his contract could have caused media and consumer backlash.

In the end, Nike just did it.

Nike Colin Kaepernick Campaign Brand Activism
Nike featured Colin Kaepernick in their 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign.

The campaign was provocative and unapologetic. A bold move best suited for Nike’s 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign.

And it ignited the debate further — some burned their Nike products live on social media. Others praised the brand for its support one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation.

But what would seem like a gamble for Nike actually turned into a winning move for its core consumers: two-thirds of which are under the age of 35 and a consumer based that is ethnically diverse, reports Bloomberg.

But Nike wasn’t the only brand that took a stand in 2018.

Tech Giants like Apple, Google and IBM rallied against Trump’s immigration policy. And Dick’s Sporting Goods banned assault weapons after the Parkland school shooting.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Brand Activism IBM
IBM rallied against Trump’s immigration policy, even making a social media statement on the issue.

In 2019, more brands will be getting off the fence when it comes to controversy.

According to Edelman’s Earned Brand study, nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents choose, switch to or boycott a brand based on its stand on social issues.

Perhaps more interesting to note is that “belief-driven” buying is up from 51 percent in 2017, alluding to the rising power of brand activism.

In fact, more than 50% of Gen Z-ers agreed that a brand showing dedication to social impact is an important factor when they make purchases, according to a survey by MNI Targeted Media Inc.

Whether that is an organization’s diversity and inclusion initiative or their charitable contributions, socially conscious brands are meaningful to this consumer category.

And so, marketers need to know where the organization stands on social issues. Having an opinion will trickle down through different marketing tactics: from your “voice” on social media to your PR key messages.

But taking a stand on social issues needs to come off as authentic — not solely a marketing ploy.

Political activism is an issue-by-issue, moment-by-moment decision that is not only conscience-led, but brand-aligned. The tone that brands adopt must be true to the brand and make sense to consumers, especially when key messages come from CEOs themselves.

Christine Moorman and Holly Larson

Marketers and business leaders should look to their organizational values to dictate which social issues mean the most to the brand — and their consumers.

Belonging and Inclusive marketing

Diversity and inclusion are becoming top business priorities in a global market. In recent years, we’ve seen marketing become more diverse, more body positive, more culturally sensitive.

Business is increasingly becoming more global, and as the US and other countries grow more diverse – we all have to cater to niche audiences that continue to grow, if we want to remain relevant. Those niche audiences have the power to move and influence entire markets.

Sonia Thompson
The Customer Magnet Show podcast host and Inc. columnist

For one, Google’s Mobile-First Index recognizes that many communities don’t have high-speed internet access that many of us take for granted.

But people can access the internet from a cheap phone with a 3G connection. So, you need to deliver your experience as fast as a broadband connection and be optimized for mobile in a way that includes these marginalized markets in your experience.

Because that’s the thing – when marketers talk about understanding their customers, you can’t rely on one or two personas without marginalizing some of your customers.

And you do have to understand your customer to create marketing campaigns that will resonate.

In the article, 4 lessons we’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, about inclusive marketing“, Lorraine Twohill, Chief Marketer at Google, described the customer research that they underwent to make sure their Chromebook advertising resonated with the Hispanic community.

And she also described how Google worked with pride organizations to help tell the stories of the LGTBQ community.

Inclusive marketing is all about focusing your efforts to include as many people as possible with the products, services, and experiences you deliver – in particular, the people who don’t fit cleanly into what is considered mainstream,” explains Sonia Thompson.

In 2019, marketers will need to understand the customers they include and the customers they potentially exclude with their campaigns.

When designing digital experiences be sure to think about your ideal customer avatar – and evaluate whether or not that vision of a person allows you to be inclusive of others who don’t fit the traditional mold, or if it does more to exclude others,” Sonia advises.

For instance, that may mean utilizing photography that resonates with people of color, accommodating people who have food allergies or dietary restrictions or even making allowances for folks whose first language isn’t the one your business primarily does business in.

To reach niche audiences, marketers will need to ensure that they are personalizing their efforts.

And they will need to know that those efforts will resonate by basing their decisions on customer research and thick data.

Being intentional about getting to know on a broad scale about all the different types of customers who have the problem your business solves, will help you craft a customer profile that is more representative of the customers you want to serve.

With the advancements in technology and customer research like our MotivationLab, there’s no excuse for leaving your niche audiences neglected.

Inclusive marketing is a trend that you can’t miss.

De-siloing the customer experience

Read any trends round-up post for marketers and you will see the usual listing of buzzwords: Augmented and virtual reality. Personalization. Artificial Intelligence.

Of course, these are emerging trends and technologies worthy of your attention.

But, really, these trends reflect the desire to captivate the customer’s attention with delightful digital experiences.

Think of a website that personalizes recommendations based on your past purchases and sizing. Or, an app that allows you to envision what new furniture looks like in your apartment.

It doesn’t matter if it’s AR or AI-driven, these trends and technologies are secondary to the customer experience.

But to achieve this level of delight, marketers need to work cross-functionally with other teams.

Marketers need to work with product managers, technologists, data analysts, and developers. They need to work with customer service specialists and the sales team.

Together, they create the experience of the customer journey.

Corporate silos are customer experience killers because customers don’t care about how your company is organized. They simply see one fluid experience — their own.

At the very least, marketers need to consider what the customer was doing before the experience in focus and what they would be doing immediately after.

In 2019, Marketers need to work beyond their team or department; they need to de-silo the customer experience to see success.

Related reading

Experimentation is at the heart of every marketing strategy.

Being on the cusp of new trends is exciting, but it doesn’t necessarily result in a winning marketing strategy.

It can be hard to know when the timing is right for your business.

You need to know what your customers will respond to at what touchpoint or trigger action. You need to understand the customer’s perspective of your experience to know what they need and desire.

That’s why even the most experienced marketers now test and learn their way to see which new trends and technologies will work.

Experimentation allows you to minimize your investment in new marketing trends while allowing you to constantly adapt your marketing strategy to customer preferences and behaviors.

In 2019, be an early adopter, an innovator — experiment.

What marketing trends for 2019 did I miss? Let us know in the comments!

Author

Lindsay Kwan

Marketing Communications Specialist

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