I find it really interesting to follow the trends in new marketing techniques enabled by new innovations in technology and how they’re managed. To gain an idea of the most important trends to businesses, each year we ask our members to rate THE most important digital marketing technique.
In our latest research, we asked which tactics marketers think are most important with the question:
“Please give the digital marketing technique which you hope will give the biggest commercial uplift in 2019.”
These are the top rated trends from the report.
There are four clear leading techniques, here’s my view on why these tactics form the top five techniques.
- #1 Content marketing – this has featured consistently in the top 3 for several years. I think it’s number 1 since content marketing can be applied by all types of business regardless of their sector or size and if the right strategy is followed can make an impact that supports communications across all touchpoint of the customer lifecycle. It fuels all digital channels from search, email and social media marketing. This makes having a defined content marketing strategy essential to competing in many sectors.
- #2 Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – This is an exciting ‘new entry’ into the top 5 and suggests that marketers now believe they will see a return from deploying the latest AI tools supporting the many marketing applications for AI we review in this infographic. Within AI, I believe the most popular marketing applications will enhance personalization and marketing automation which brings us to…
- #3 Marketing automation and email marketing – This is also a perennial feature in our top five and it’s no surprise since, like content marketing, it’s effective for both B2C and B2B marketing. While some more mature organizations will make improvements through use of AI, other less mature businesses will benefit from improving the relevance and timing of their emails through using rules-based automation and personalisation.
- #4 Big Data (including market and customer insight and predictive analytics) – It’s good to see big data in the top five since we believe in the power of data-driven marketing. Big data analysis such as predictive analytics typically requires larger budgets, so will be restricted mainly for larger organisations, but the use of market and customer insight using the tools shown in our Martech tools wheel is open to all businesses and I think is why this is a relatively popular choice.
- #5 CRO and improving website experiences – This is the first time that CRO has featured in the top 5, which is again a sign of increased adoption of data-driven marketing as processes improve in organizations who can now run ‘always-on’ improvements using structured AB testing programmes. There is also the option of new lower-cost tools including Google Optimize which is freely available.
On my full blog-post on Smart Insights I give more examples and details on 8 digital marketing trends for 2019.
Each year, to get an idea of the trends that will have the most impact in the year ahead, we ask Smart Insights readers to select the ONE marketing activity that they think will give their business the biggest incremental uplift in leads and sales in 2017 (or their clients if they work for an agency or as a consultant).
Here are the results for 2017 which make for interest reading since there are two clear winners.
So, what do the responses show? Well, there are two clear winners in popularity: Content marketing trends and Big Data. Content marketing has been in the top 3 for the last 3 years we have run this poll, so it shows the aspiration for content marketing to commercial success. A focus on content marketing makes perfect sense for modern marketing since it supports a more integrated approach to digital marketing where content is used as the fuel to increase engagement across different inbound channels including organic and paid search, social media and email marketing and also out outbound. Content marketing can support a strategic approach based on engaging different customer personas across the customer lifecycle, rather than treating different channels in isolation.
It is more surprising that Big Data is in the second position since it not a specific term and you may think that is limited to use in big businesses with big budgets. Its popularity is explained since, in the poll, we caveated it to include market and customer insight and predictive analytics. With IBM reporting that the volume of marketing data has doubled in the last eighteen month, it’s understandable that marketers want to mine and apply this as insight to boost response and conversion. Applying Machine Learning, a technique that was much hyped in 2016 supports this well.
You can read more details on the other channels in my Smart Insights article on 2017 Digital Marketing trends and a free download on 9 higher level megatrends that impact businesses of all sizes.
Our research has shown that many marketers are now advocates of Content Marketing, but don’t have a Content Marketing strategy. I believe that since content marketing should be at the heart of digital marketing, a content strategy is essential, since specific tactics for other digital channels should flow from here. Content marketing can fuel SEO, Social media marketing, email marketing and conversion strategies too, meaning that they can managed together. From a customer point-of-view, a content marketing strategy supports customer engagement across the customer lifecycle.
So, what’s involved with developing and implementing a content marketing strategy? We cover this in our Smart Insights Content Strategy guide and I have also summarised it in this infographic which we have illustrated with our Content Marketing 2015 research report (free download) published with HubSpot.
Earlier in February I was interviewed by Daniel Rowles of the excellent Digital Marketing podcast – Daniel and Ciaran Rogers have been running this podcast since 2010 and their interviews have become of one of the best ways of learning about the latest developments in Digital Marketing… particularly, if like many, you have a commute and a podcast is an efficient way of learning the latest.
In the discussion I discuss the latest trends, techniques and tools for getting better results from integrating digital marketing. Do let me know if you have any comments or questions in the comments or via social.
In the interview I summarise the research with the Technology for Marketing and Advertising Conference – 25th and 26th February London, where I will also be presenting it.
Resources mentioned in our discussion
State of Digital Marketing 2015 infographic
Here is the full State of digital marketing 2015 infographic we first shared on Smart Insights summarising the research we discussed in the report.
In the latest editions of my books on Digital Marketing, we feature the SmartInsights.com RACE framework for creating and managing a Digital Strategy. The idea behind RACE is to provide a simple structure for companies to develop a digital plan which meets the challenges of reaching and engaging online audiences to prompt conversion to online or offline sales.
To mark the start of 2015 we asked our friends at First 10 to update it to change from a focus on content marketing to a Digital Strategy focus as explained in the post where we launched it. I have added an introductory section on Digital Planning and reviewed and updated some of the KPIs, for example to reference the full range of VQVC KPIs for Digital. You can see that each stage of the visual gives an overview of the focus, tools and KPIs used to measure and control.
This RACE Digital Strategy infographic is one of a series of 10 infographics we have developed to help manage digital marketing. Smart Insights members can download all in this free compilation of digital marketing infographics.
Innovation Horizons are a useful way of encouraging forward-thinking outside of the box of of market penetration in existing markets using existing technologies. The concept was developed in Innovation Tournaments by Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich explain these three horizons.
They’re described well here by Sheldon Laube on the PwC Innovation blog.