Automation has always had a big role in marketing. From the very beginning, automated technologies and the artificial intelligence (AI) that power them have been used by companies like yours to provide a better customer experience.

In 2018, the key developments in the consolidation of technologies, with many companies acquiring the programs and systems they need rather than develop them internally. Some of that will continue. Marketing automation is technology-heavy and in many cases, it is cheaper to buy new tech than create it – but that is only scratching the surface of what is happening in marketing automation for 2019.

More Personalization

One of the biggest buzzwords out of the marketing world in 2019 is “personalization.” Until recently, this term was used to mean the way a company can deliver a more personalized experience to its customers, such as automatically sending out emails that correspond with each buyer’s shopping tendencies, highlighting specific products when a customer visits your website, and so on. According to MailChimp, this type of customer segmentation has open rates that are more than 14% higher and click-through rates that are almost 101% higher than marketing efforts that are not so differentiated.

In 2019, personalization is expanding to inbound content.

Inbound content has historically been one of the best ways for a company to attract website visitors. A closing on each article with a call-to-action was the gold standard for compelling people to stick around, contact the business, or buy a product. Content is still big, but now it is getting a makeover thanks to personalization. New systems allow specific content to be tailored to buyer demographics as well as shopping behavior. For example, a work from home mom who clicks on a link for “spring styles” is going to see the type of outfits she tends to wear, say maybe jeans and leggings, while a professional woman is going to see more business casual clothing and suits.

Predictive Lead Scoring

Predictive lead scoring is also gaining traction. Companies are using data analytics and AI to take traditional lead scoring models to the next level. In earlier evolutions of lead quality evaluation, the most relevant factors were selected by people and thus, subject to human error. Big data is making it possible for organizations to look at sales and evaluate all the factors that correlate with sales conversion, from basic demographic information to minutia that a human evaluator would likely miss.

Powerful and effective, new scoring models not just identifying more casual relationships, but they are helping companies uncover customer bases that had previously been overlooked and identify new opportunities.

Fewer Forms

Customers like a personalized experience, so you can expect automation to infiltrate other areas that are normally more standardized, like filling out forms.

“Forms are used to collect data about prospective customers. But, forms are passive, and people avoid filling them, especially since they’re mostly using their cell phones to surf the net,” explains Contentworks. “Forms can be replaced with chatbots, which use artificial intelligence to have a conversation with website visitors.” Newer systems could allow this to happen over text or through speech. Either way, your company can use that chatbot conversation to collect information about your customers while highlighting key aspects of your brand, such as your company culture or products.

In addition, chatbots will change how customers interact with your brand when they have a question or concern. Traditionally, a shopper would need to go to your website, click on a “contact us” button, and route their own query by saying what their issue concerns. This is another type of “form” and it is rapidly becoming passé. In 2019, chatbots are collecting all that information, then routing the issue to the appropriate person or solving it without human assistance. It’s a game-changer and one of the key ways that early adopters can differentiate themselves from other companies.

Illustration showing key elements of GDPR (effective 25 May 2018) – DPOs, Compliance, Data Breaches and Personal Data (http://www.iworkglobal.com/quick-guide-to-gdpr/)

Data Security

Last year was also the year of GDPR – shorthand for the EU’s General Data Protectionism Regulation. This data security standard covers the methods companies must take to safeguard data and the steps they must take after a data breach. While the GDPR went into effect in May 2018, companies should be aware that any market automation efforts will have to remain in compaliance with the EU regulation.

Technology and Integrations

According to Forbes, around 87% of retailers believe that having an omnichannel strategy in place is important to their success, yet only 8% of respondents offer their customers an omnichannel experience. Expect that to change in 2019.

Historically, technology has been the biggest hurdle to making omnichannel a reality. Only the biggest companies with the most resources were able to sync the information they learn from customer buying behaviors with the emails they click on, their browsing histories, and their mobile shopping tendencies. Omnichannel marketing was expensive to set up and manage, but that was then.

More and more marketing tools are becoming capable of consolidating information, delivering a cohesive marketing message across channels, and analyzing the success of those efforts. For example, Adobe uses Marketo technology (a recent acquisition) to integrate email marketing with social media efforts and generate personalized content that gets clicks, then they generate analytics to continuously hone their approach.

Key Trends

Personalization: Connecting Content & Data—Ethically (CMO.COM)

  • Companies in 2019 will work on building agile marketing execution models in which cross-functional teams can experiment, leveraging the data and technology stack to capture value.
  • New laws such as GDPR—plus California’s privacy law, which comes into effect in January 2020—means marketers must be focused on ensuring ethical data collection practices and earning consumers.
  • American companies will begin preparing for the CCPA during 2019.

Account-Based Marketing In B2B To Hit New Highs (CMO.COM)

  • Sales and marketing executives need to align teams, technology, and governance models around a strategic set of target accounts.
  • Sales cycle length, customer retention of exposed accounts, and strategic accounts engaged are just some of the measures of success for ABM in 2019.

Video Ads Will Continue To Grow (chiefmarketer.com)

  • As consumers spend more time on their smartphones watching videos, advertisers are expected to spend $20 billion on mobile video in 2019 (up from $2 billion in 2015), and video is expected to account for 85 percent of total Internet traffic by 2019 (both live video and video ads).

During 2018, 65 percent of ad impressions on Instagram were the result of video content, and this is expected to grow even further. 

Messenger Ads and In-App Ads are on the Rise (chiefmarketer.com)

  • The top APAC chat apps are already ahead of western developers in using messenger ads to reach audiences. In South Korea, a country of 50 million, KakaoTalk counts 32 million local users who spend an average of 850 minutes on KakaoTalk per month.
  • 55 billion messages are sent via WhatsApp every day.
  • In 2019 the number of apps using in-app advertising will grow by 60 percent as advertisers increase conversion rates with these captive users.

Macro Trends: APAC App Ecosystem Expands into Europe and U.S. (chiefmarketer.com)

  • In the global mobile ecosystem, Chinese and other APAC-based apps from chat to mCommerce began to soar through the ranks of the U.S. and EU app stores in 2018. Discounts, seamless payments and customer service were driving factors in APAC apps gaining traction in global markets.
  • Traction will continue to grow, and with it, new concepts being introduced by APAC to western markets like social commerce are expected to rise with social media and campaigns in 2019.

OTT and connected TV seek starring roles in ad budgets (MarketingDive.com)

  • While over-the-top streaming and connected TVs have forever changed how consumers watch movies and linear programming, advertisers are still trying to determine the best ways to reach viewers and wondering if the scale of broadcast TV can ever be replicated. Answering these questions will be top of mind in 2019 as cord-cutting continues.

People are putting more trust in others they know and reputable content, not ads. (Forbes.com)

  • 30 percent of all internet users are expected to be using ad blockers by the end of this year, meaning traditional ads now won’t even reach 30 percent of possible target audience members.

Understanding how the customers communicate will be vital. (Forbes.com)

  • Close to 50 percent of all searches will be made through voice search by 2020.
  • As adoption becomes more mainstream, brands will move from gimmicks to finding ways to add real value to consumers lives. By 2020 it’s predicted that every major brand will have a voice strategy baked into its marketing plans, so time for us all to get thinking.  
  • A report by Slyce revealed that 74 percent of shoppers found text-only searches to be insufficient when searching for products

The rise of UX Writing (WiderFunnel.com)

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

Mobile will become supercharged (TheDrum.com)

  • Won’t kick in until the end of 2019 when the first networks will start to roll out their fifth generation mobile technology; 5G is going to be the rocket fuel we’ve all been waiting for from a mobile data point of view.
  • Brands will be more ambitious and creative with their plans, confidently bringing mobile content to the fore.

Love thy neighbour (TheDrum.com)

  • Unlike any other time in recent history, the threat of global conflict looms heavy; from the Middle East, Russia, Korea and China. The arguments, the uncertainty and the political jockeying are not going to abate anytime soon, which provides an interesting opportunity for brands. Read: Not necessarily political stance but an emotional one.
  • 88% of people felt the need for unity and 60% thought brands could help achieve this.

Conclusion

Marketing automation is changing in 2019. Personalization and chatbots are becoming necessities while influencer marketing is getting a makeover and omnichannel efforts are becoming more attainable and more unified than ever before. Companies looking to use marketing automation should take note and look into ways to apply new technologies to their businesses – before one of their competitors does.