It’s that time of the year when we all look back and take stock of what we did with our 2018. It’s been a busy year of evolving trends in digital marketing. We’re looking at our marketing predictions for 2018 and evaluating current trends to predict 2019’s trends in online marketing.

Prediction: Greater Personalization of Content

Actuality: This is true. In the age of Instagram and social media, people want personalized and special experiences. That goes for everything from photos, to events, and even to the content they consume. With many marketers putting a greater focus on content in 2018, there’s more of it to choose from. And to reflect the trend, the delivery channels have become more personalized. If people can’t find what they want through your content, they go elsewhere.

A 2018 trend was for companies to get to know their customers on a personal level to better deliver content and experiences they want. These are data-driven decisions into learning about audiences and demographics in order to deliver brand content to the right people, and then adjusting course when they discover trends and other effective channels beyond current marketing efforts. But there’s still a long way to go to maximize personalized content reach.

Prediction: New Formats for Content Mean Larger Teams

Actuality: This is partially true. New formats and a new emphasis on content means more money spent on content, but not necessarily more people creating it. A Content Marketing Institute survey says team organization is similar to what it was in 2017, and more than half of respondents have small or only one-person marketing/content marketing teams serving the entire organization. Also, a majority of respondents outsource at least one content marketing activity. What has increased in 2018 is the success of content marketing with a greater organizational commitment to content marketing.

Prediction: More Social Messaging

Actuality: This is true. More than half of internet users in the U.S. use messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and others. And while this is an increasingly improving content marketing channel, there’s still a ways to go for marketers to maximize the reach of these social messaging channels and deliver personalized content right to consumers. Nearly 20 million Facebook pages, not accounts, but pages, use Messenger to communicate with their audience. And to enable a lot of these businesses, there’s been an exponential rise in 2018 of chatbots using social messaging. Chatbots provide a consistent voice that is available 24-7 where consumers can get their questions answered.

Prediction: An Increase in Advertising

Actuality: This is partially true. While statistically, the number of advertisements we see in a day hovers somewhere around 5,000 per day for the past several years, targeted advertising has increased. These targeted ads are based around location, interests, web traffic, and so much more. Targeted ads show up on all online platforms and devices including search engines, social media, and smartphones. Marketers have learned that targeted advertising helps to quickly reach the ideal audience, people who are already looking for a related product. And targeted advertising boosts brand awareness. Overall, Google and Facebook still see the majority of digital ad spend in the U.S. with 38.6% and 19.9% respectively.

Prediction: Use of New Technology

Actuality: This is true. The rise of new technology innovations will only increase with every passing year. The trick for marketing professionals is to figure out how to use this new technology to the max for their brand. We’ve seen an increase in artificial intelligence, voice search technology, targeting, cloud computing, and even robotics. Augmented reality is growing in popularity because combined with mobile technology, it’s sizing up to be the new frontier of marketing experiences for consumers. A Forbes article says that it could lead to everything from interactively trying on clothes, to touring new cities from your own couch, or even hologram meetings if everyone can’t be in the same room. The use of new technology will continue to increase as a marketers playground.

Prediction: Voice Search is Changing Content

Actuality: This is true. Voice search may have grown bigger than anyone planned during 2018. Content should now be created with an audio audience in mind instead of just a visual one. It’s a changing atmosphere that many content creators are spending time trying to figure out the best ways to tailor individualized content that is meant for voice delivery. Hubspot reports the number of voice queries increased 3,400% between 2008 and 2017. VanyerMedia created an entire convention called VoiceCon in New York during 2018 to explore voice-based opportunities for brands and marketing professionals earlier this year.

Prediction: Influencer Marketing is Expanding

Actuality: This is true. Influencer marketing has taken a giant leap in 2018. In the past, there was hesitancy that influencer marketing could be seen as brand-led content. But if anything, influencer marketing is seen as much more authentic than previously anticipated. Influencer marketing creates a human connection for a brand and is something that will continue to increase into 2019.

Prediction: Generation Z is Gaining Significance

Actuality: This is true. Millennials have received all the attention in recent years from the media, from advertisers, and from technology companies. But the trend is shifting where Gen Z is starting to become a powerhouse. The first Generation Z-aged adults are just starting to enter the workforce and bring in a whole new set of challenges and opportunities. If marketers aren’t starting to tailor their strategies with Gen Z in mind, they’re losing out big time, especially as we head into 2019. Gen Z grew up in the age of cell phones and digital media with everything accessible through mobile technology. Privacy is also top of mind for Gen Z-ers, which will impact targeting content marketing. 61 percent of Gen Z would feel better sharing their personal information with brands if they could trust it was being securely stored and protected.

Prediction: Marketers will Experiment with Sending Emails at Different Times

Actuality: This is true. But there’s a catch. Marketers are always trying to figure out the best platforms, the best times, and the best methods for sending out messages and get high click-through rates. And this will always be the case. The best time to send email depends on the campaign, and it’s important to figure out when is the best time for your business. Some studies say the best time is Tuesdays at 10 am, and others say Thursdays at 2 pm work best. These are good starting points, but it’s all about learning what is best for your business and your target audience.

Prediction: Growing Importance of Reviews

Actuality: This is true. Reviews have gone from word of mouth and onto the web. Online reputation management, or reviews, can be one of the strongest drivers of consumer buying power. 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and it’s even the second most important factor of purchasing decisions behind price. The importance of reviews crosses boundaries across all industries. There are lots of different review platforms like Google and Yelp that could impact sales. But reviews on platforms like Glassdoor, Comparably or DesignRush could also affect future hiring. The taboo around asking for reviews from customers has broken in 2018. There are different platforms to help build up your online reputation and create reviews from the people who visit your business.

Prediction: Online Video Spend will Soar

Actuality: This is true. By the end of 2018, digital video ad spend is predicted to increase by 30% to $29.8 billion according to a report eMarketer. That means video spending will make up 25% of all digital ad spending in the U.S. And a quarter of that spending will just be on Facebook. So what does all that mean? Video advertising is a powerful tool that will only increase in the years to come. Much of that comes from influencers as influencer marketing continues to expand. But it’s important to look beyond typical channels for video advertising. There are increasing spend levels on all social networks including Snapchat and Twitter.



Kristine is the Director of Marketing at Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.