By Veronica Perry(opens in new tab), reporter at Grow Wire
⏰ 6-minute read
As technology’s ability to track marketing campaigns increases, there’s growing focus on which marketing trends yield a genuine return on investment.
Grow Wire analyzed lists of marketing trends for 2019, extracted the most commonly-cited trends, then cross-checked them with available data to prove they’re capable of driving ROI.
While some trends like AI and machine learning are fairly new, some marketing trends never go out of style, like personalized messaging and content.
Nowadays, it's easy to broadcast your message across media channels. The more challenging aspect is actually tracking how your creative communications contribute to business growth. But the technology to track it has never been better, so marketing executives are under pressure to deliver their companies a return on investment.
At Grow Wire, we analyzed the content of 12 articles about “digital marketing trends for 2019” from publications like Forbes, the Digital Marketing Institute and Entrepreneur to determine which trends emerged as most commonly-cited. We then cross-checked these top trends with data to confirm they’re proven to drive ROI when put into practice.
Within each of the 12 articles, the authors outline anywhere from 5-22 trends. We recorded each response and grouped like responses together. If more than half of the articles mentioned a given trend (say, artificial intelligence), we listed it below. (Some trends fall under a broader category. For instance, videos are a type of content, and voice search and chatbots are more closely aligned with artificial intelligence):
This analysis conveys that, in order for businesses to stand out from the competition while maximizing ROI, they’d be wise to consider the following trends in their marketing strategy for the back half of 2019.
Note: A quick word about “ROI.” Often beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but ultimately what matters is what you can measure. For most marketers, that means driving leads, and more specifically driving leads that help a business grow. Doing so effectively requires a variety of efforts, from brand awareness to very specific lead generation tactics. The art and science of that is beyond the scope of this particular article, but for the purpose of our discussion, we’re using ROI broadly.
1. Artificial intelligence
More and more, businesses are investing in artificial intelligence (AI)(opens in new tab) and machine learning to drive profits. In fact(opens in new tab), revenue from these business analytics tools is on track to double from $122 billion in 2015 to $260 billion in 2022.
(Note: The term AI is often used too broadly to include any intelligent processing and analysis of data by machines. From our sister website, The Brainyard(opens in new tab): “Analytics help humans make decisions based on historical data. AI(opens in new tab) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. Systems use machine learning technology to analyze current conditions, learn from experience and either help the human make the decision or ‘make’ the decision on its own.”)
Data analytics can provide insights into strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that can improve business development, and automating those learnings is now becoming more commonplace as companies develop their marketing strategies. Some examples of advanced analytics and AI in marketing are personalized product or content recommendations, image recognition, sales forecasting, chatbots, product pricing and categorization and audience segmentation. Businesses use machine learning(opens in new tab), a facet of artificial intelligence, to forecast trends in behavior using consumer data.
For instance, businesses like Airbnb(opens in new tab) are improving their review systems using natural language processing (NLP), a subfield of AI. NLP assists in prioritizing reviews relevant to the specific listing (reviews sometimes tend to focus on the city, according to Airbnb). In addition, Airbnb uses machine learning to personalize search results for its guests in conjunction with price prediction algorithms that can determine the probability of future bookings. In a VentureBeat article(opens in new tab), Airbnb’s VP of engineering stated that these are two of the company’s “most impactful incremental business growth drivers.”
Ninety-three percent of businesses are using content to market their product or service, according to the Content Marketing Institute(opens in new tab). Content is the backbone(opens in new tab) of many marketing campaigns: It drives consumer engagement, increases brand visibility and improves customer (or lead) conversion rates.
Content encompasses multiple forms of communication(opens in new tab) such as blogging, case studies, long-form articles, white papers, e-books, infographics and video. But not all content is created equal. Some forms generate more ROI than others. For instance, HubSpot(opens in new tab) says that “marketers who prioritize blogging over other forms of content are 13x more likely to see positive ROI.” Meanwhile, over half of marketing professionals worldwide say that video content(opens in new tab) generates the most ROI.
In any case, the results of content marketing are positive: Sixty-one percent(opens in new tab) of online consumers have been compelled to make a purchase after reading a blog on a company website that recommended a product. In addition, websites or pages with videos garner double the views(opens in new tab) of websites without videos. Content marketing is also cost-effective, generating around three times the leads(opens in new tab) of paid search advertising but costing 62% less.
Businesses can use any combination of content marketing types to position themselves as a thought leader while educating and building trust with their clients. No matter the particular strategy used, content creation remains a priority, and consistency is key(opens in new tab).
3. An omnichannel experience
Omnichannel marketing(opens in new tab) provides an integrated and seamless consumer experience. Effective integrated marketing campaigns are engaging and consistent across all channels including websites, social media, print ads, email, direct mail and face-to-face interactions.
Starbucks is especially successful with omnichannel. Guests can use the mobile application to browse, order, customize pickup and pay, but they can also do the same in-person. Other notable brands(opens in new tab) that are maximizing consumer engagement with a mobile application are Disney, Chipotle, Sephora and Walgreens.
Overall, omnichannel marketing takes a customer-centric approach, placing emphasis on a personalized experience. One common KPI associated with omnichannel marketing is cross-channel conversion rate, or how many visitors of each channel become customers.
Here are some interesting stats about the ROI of omnichannel campaigns(opens in new tab), from a recent report by Omnisend:
Purchase frequency: 250% higher on omnichannel vs single-channel
Engagement rate: 18.96% on omnichannel vs 5.4% on single-channel
Average order value: 13% more per order on omnichannel vs single-channel
Customer retention rates: 90% higher for omnichannel vs single-channel
Bottom line: Taking the omnichannel approach increases loyalty(opens in new tab) to your brand and is directly correlated to growing sales and revenue.
We are so overloaded with information these days that personalization matters more than ever. Emails that lack a personal touch are often marked as spam or simply ignored. In the beginning of 2019, 70% of millennials indicated(opens in new tab) that they were frustrated with brands sending them irrelevant communications.
The majority of consumers(opens in new tab) would rather engage with companies that prioritize a personalized consumer experience. According to Accenture (opens in new tab), 91% of consumers are more likely to shop brands that offer relevant product recommendations. In addition, a recent study from SmarterHQ(opens in new tab) concluded that 72% of consumers only engaged with marketing messages customized to their interests within the past year.
In order to best capture the attention of a recipient, businesses should focus on personalized marketing strategies geared toward authentic relationship-building rather than mass distribution. In the way of email marketing, a few ways(opens in new tab) to do this are personalized subject lines, images and product recommendations in line with past purchases. (And remember, advanced analytics combined with machine learning, as discussed in the first section above, can create endless opportunities for intelligent personalization.)
5. Influencer marketing
Social media provides a platform for just about anyone to build their brand, and as soon as businesses began using social media as a sales tool, the modern-day influencer was born. Since then, influencer marketing has become an integral business method used to increase brand awareness, credibility, sales and conversions - especially when targeting younger generations.
Influencer marketing(opens in new tab) is so successful because it's more relatable than celebrity marketing. Although often confused, the key difference(opens in new tab) between a celebrity and an influencer are the channels through which they grew their influence. Influencers built their followings using non-traditional media channels like blogs, vlogs and social media. Typically, celebrities build their followings through television, film or radio. Influencer marketing works because the average person knows celebrities generally advertise lavish products and services that are out of their reach. On the other hand, the new recipe that a small-town nutritionist posted on Instagram seems totally attainable. Influencer marketing uses the concepts of social proof(opens in new tab), proximity and belonging. People feel inherently closer to influencers than celebrities, which makes them more likely to replicate their behavior.
Of the many brands employing influencer marketing strategies, Bigelow Tea has seen major growth. The brand saw an 18.5% increase in sales(opens in new tab) after a campaign in which bloggers showcased refreshingly creative recipes, and it built brand loyalty in the process. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, almost 70%(opens in new tab) of marketers promote their product or service through influencer initiatives, and it pays. A recent Tomoson study(opens in new tab) concluded that influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.50 for every dollar spent, compared to $2 for every dollar spent on Google Ads(opens in new tab). Talk about ROI!
The bottom line
In the marketing industry, there is an increased emphasis on quantifying conversions, tracking progress and measuring ROI. With tools like artificial intelligence, businesses can optimize their ROI in content and influencer marketing. Just as well, machine learning allows businesses to personalize the consumer experience on multiple platforms.
Successful marketing strategies don’t just promote a product or service. They add value, increase convenience, strengthen relationships and deepen the trust between businesses and their clients. Try implementing some of these tools and trends to maximize your return on investment in marketing.