Digital marketing moves fast, and in 2019, we saw some major trends explode on to the scene. Many are more than fads; several of the trends that we saw begin to crystalize this year are going to continue to shape the world of digital marketing in 2020. Let’s take a look back through some of the most memorable marketing moments of 2019 and speculate how they may influence the future of marketing.

Voice Search Is Taking Over

Voice search has been happening for several years now, but in 2019, we saw the trend gain some pretty incredible momentum. Amazon has now sold over 100 million smart speakers. In fact, they sold 10.4 million in Q3 of 2019 alone.

Plus, with Google Home, Apple’s HomePod, and the voice assistants on our mobile devices, we’re only going to see voice search continue to grow. While it’s all speculative, of course, some marketing experts predict that half of all searches will be voice searches in 2020.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to start optimizing your website for voice search. The steps to optimize for voice are less complex than you might think. Start by designing a mobile-friendly site (which you should already have for a variety of other reasons!), focus on creating content that’s written in natural language (not designed to game some SEO system), and make sure you’ve listed your business’s information properly on local listings.

AI Is Revolutionizing Advertising

Just about every industry is excited about the prospect of AI, and they’re all scrambling to find useful applications for the technology. When it comes to marketing, AI is revolutionizing just about every aspect of the advertising process.

For one, AI allows businesses to optimize their spending. By automating the bidding strategy on advertising campaigns, brands can get the best bang for their buck on every ad.

AI can also help behind the scenes in finding the ideal audience for your content. AI can analyze your past audience and ad performance and measure this against current performance data and metrics. It then uses that information to find new, relevant audiences for your content.

But this technology’s potential uses go beyond that: Some companies (ahem, LOCALiQ) are even turning to AI to create the ads themselves. This allows us to generate copy with the kinds of keywords and phrases that are likely to get the highest engagement from your desired audience. While the AI frontier is still largely unsettled, this is going to be a space to watch in the coming years.

Social Messaging Apps Aren’t Just for Friends Anymore

Many people use popular social messaging platforms, like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to stay in touch with friends. With 1.5 billion users on WhatsApp and 1.3 billion people on Facebook Messenger, it’s possible to get in touch with nearly a sixth of the entire world population via these platforms.

But it’s not just friends chatting it up on these platforms; lots of conversations are happening between brands and individuals as well. More than 20 million businesses connect with consumers via Messenger.

These statistics show how important it is to have a chat option for your customers. People like to be able to reach businesses on their own terms.

Using Facebook Messenger, a platform they already spend a lot of time on, makes it easy for consumers to connect with brands. And with messaging, they’re able to reach out when it’s most convenient for them ““ they don’t have to limit themselves to business hours or sit and wait on hold for the next representative.

Make 2020 the year that you integrate a chat option into your website. Facebook Messenger easily connects to your website, or you can investigate other web chat options, be it live chat, AI chat, or a chatbot.

Visual Search Has Entered the Scene

Search started out as written queries. Then smart speakers and voice assistants made it so that we could ask questions aloud. Now, we’re seeing the latest evolution in search, and this time, it’s visual.

It’s now possible to use a photo as the basis of your search query. Pinterest, a visually-driven social network, has embraced the technology through the creation of their app, Lens. With Lens, you can upload a picture of a product into the app, and Pinterest will show you where to buy the exact product or others like it online.

Again, this is an emerging technology, but it’s an interesting one, particularly for brands in the retail space. While it might not be time to build out your own virtual search app yet, it’s certainly worth keeping this technology on your radar screen, so you can beat your competition to the punch once it becomes more readily available to marketers.

Augmented Reality Is Changing E-Commerce

Augmented reality (AR) is an exciting new trend that allows you to create a memorable, highly personalized experience for your audience online. AR allows you to superimpose digitally-created images onto the real-life world seen through a smartphone’s camera lens. In recent years, we’ve seen savvy marketers use the technology to elevate buyers’ online experiences.

Furniture titan IKEA has designed an app that allows you to point your phone at an empty corner of your room and test out how its furniture would look in the space. Everything is to scale, so prospects get a real sense of how the piece would work in their home.

Other retail brands have begun to create AR apps, and I see the space heating up in 2020. Now’s the time to consider what AR could do for you.

Remember, the technology is not just for retailers. (Consider Burger King’s foray into AR if you’re looking for inspiration from another sector.) But no matter what industry you’re in, you want to create an AR experience that looks great and adds value for your customer.

This past year brought some exciting new tools, tricks, and technology to digital marketing, and I’m excited to see where things are headed for 2020.

If you want a partner to help create your marketing vision for the new year, we’re here to help.

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