It's hard to believe, but we're real close to wrapping up another year. Time to see what's ahead!
2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the world of digital marketing. Here's what I think you're going to see.
Trust signals grow more sophisticated
Does Google weigh reviews more, or links? Is link building valuable at all? Ask any five experts and you'll get five different answers, but a few themes have shaken out nonetheless.
1. Google's already way better at detecting low-quality, easily-obtained links than it used to be, and tends to ignore them.
2. The best links come from reputable news sources, requiring marketers to think more about traditional PR than they do about guest posts and directories.
3. Great reviews are a major trust signal for almost every industry, but not for all of them.
4. The amount of weight Google is giving to reviews likely depends on the business and the industry, as some companies, by their very nature, have a hard time gathering reviews.
Some digital marketers have phased link building out of their service catalogue already. Others have stepped in to offer their clients guidance on what they need to do out in the real world to become more link-worthy.
Either way, evaluating the business type, industry norms, and opportunities for that business to gain either reviews or valuable links becomes an important exercise when you're trying to determine where you'll spend your time, energy, or money.
Video comes to email
In my email marketing resources post, I pointed readers toward a tool called BombBomb, a tool which allows you to send video emails out to your list. Everything video continues to be hot stuff, and I suspect plenty of companies will jump right on this trend.
Quick Tip.Don’t go overboard by sending video-only emails. Make sure you put a text version of the copy somewhere in the email as well. Different people enjoy their content in different ways, and some people still prefer to read rather than watch.
Audio content becomes a big deal
Amazon Echo, Google Hub, Facebook Portal, and more. Our tiny domestic robot overlords are getting more sophisticated by the moment. The late model devices offer video, but the speaker-only versions are both popular and affordable for most users.
Podcasts? They're only getting hotter.
Thus, the demand is increasing for content you can listen to.
Here, you've got options. Lots of options. Check out this article from CMS Wire to get a head start on developing your audio content strategy.
We'll be talking to a lot more robots
Chatbots are on the tip of everyone's tongue. Adding Chatbots to your website, Facebook messenger, and, eventually, Twitter will ensure customers get service 24/7, 365. When I visited with Jason Swenk, he had a lot of positive things to say about bots, and identified them as a trend.
I also got to meet Jason's fun bot, who succeeded in making me laugh.
I came across the same trend in several social media blogs and articles. The buzz is out there.
If you program them right, your bots can become pretty useful.
What's programming it right entail?
When the bot can't handle the job anymore, or when someone's available to talk, a human being takes over. I'd also argue programming it right means it tells customers when that's happening, as well as when they can expect to hear from a real, live human.
Quick Tip.Remember the lessons taught to us by those insufferable automated telephone menus. Bots that are boring, difficult to understand, and clunky will just make customers howl for a real person. Make sure your bots are super-competent for the job you’re giving them. If it doesn’t clash with your brand, following in Jason’s footsteps by setting up bots to convey a little humor never hurts either.
Fake reviews become a thing of the past
This prediction comes to you directly from my interview with Jason Brown of ReviewFraud.org. He believes Google, Yelp, and Facebook are in a race to create a system for verifying reviews so that it will become difficult, if not impossible, to leave fake reviews.
There's no telling how they'll do that, or even if they'll get it done by the time 2019 comes to a close, but it's worth preparing for. If you don't have a review strategy in place to get great reviews from living, breathing, honest customers then it's past time to get started.
In fact, fake everything is on its way out the door
Okay, so everything might be a bit of an overstatement. But there are already moves being made in the quest to make sure real, accountable, verifiable people are the ones doin' stuff on the Internet. Especially on social media sites.
This year we saw accounts lose millions of followers in Twitter's great purge. We watched Facebook delete 550 accounts and 250 pages.
Great news for honest marketers, because nobody wants to waste money talking to fake accounts.
But I've also spotted, and signed up for, a new social media site that's aimed directly at the fake account phenomenon. It's heavily wrapped up in blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.
The network is Social Chains. It looks and feels a little like Facebook. Except it makes you upload your photo ID (they say they delete it when they're done with it). They give you cryptocurrency to sign up and participate. And they've got a bunch of solutions for marketers ready and waiting to go.
Will it take off? Maybe, maybe not. They're in start-up mode and right now they're still flying way under the radar. And getting people to sign up for yet another social media network is kind of a tough sell.
But similar concepts are bound to spring up, and it's possible the social sites we've been using all along will come up with their own innovations.
More overlap between digital marketing methods and traditional marketing methods
Integrating digital media with traditional media has been the talk of the marketing world lately, and there have been some truly innovative campaigns.
There is increasing overlap between the physical world and the digital world. Which world are you in when you tell one of your devices to close your garage door, or to turn down the heat? How about when you pull up an augmented reality display on your mobile phone?
I found plenty of blurred lines between both forms of advertising as I prepped my Digital Advertising resource post. To the point where I finally just gave up on finding a lot of resources that were strictly about the digital side advertising.
I'd even go so far as to say we might be on our way towards a time where people stop specifying what kind of marketing they're engaged in, digital or otherwise. It will all come full circle, and we'll just start calling it "marketing," period.
The wheat separates from the chaff
When I interviewed Andrew Shotland he pointed out there are an awful lot of companies doing SEO who really shouldn't be doing SEO.
"Shouldn't be doing it" applies to more than SEO. There are a lot of bad marketing companies out there. Quite a few are run by slick, high-energy salespeople who would be better off working as an account executive for a company full of marketers instead of trying to function as one-or-two person shops.
The slick salesmen types tend to happily rely on quick, dirty tricks. Some of them are still getting away with it. But as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites all tighten up their game there's going to be fewer and fewer places for bad marketers to hide.
We've now come to a point where there are practically zero "tricks" and "techniques" you can use to win visibility. There are only best practices that can earn it.
There are no more quick, dirty wins. Playing the long game is all that's left. The hare has lost the race.
2019 will be the Year of the Tortoise.