Remember ten years ago when market analysts were predicting that the paper book market was going to vanish into the ether as the oncoming storm of digital e-books quickly took over the publishing world? Most of us nodded in agreement, thinking it was inevitable. But in fact, since 2009 e-book sales have stalled at a fairly low plateau while paper book sales have gone up and the number of new independent bookstores nationwide has increased by more than 40%. Kindles and Nooks are still plenty popular and useful, but people have not stopped buying bound books.
Remember in 2011 when the launch of Google+ had marketers racing to secure their business pages on the platform? Considering Google’s power in the game, people predicted that they could (and would) take down Facebook. But, earlier this week Google announced it was shutting the platform down due to a data breach…and because of the fact that the platform has turned into a ghost town, with 90% of users spending less than 5 seconds on the site. Thus proving once again that some “inevitabilities” just aren’t meant to be.
Nobody can definitively predict where the future of marketing will lead us. But, we do know what’s working today and what will certainly continue to prove effective in 2019.
1. Video Marketing
Early next week, using the example of UK firm Peppermint Technology, we’ll go into further detail about the power and necessity of high-quality video messaging. The trend has, predictably, shown zero signs of slowing down. Amazon’s Alexa tells us that the video-sharing site Youtube is second only to Google in terms of global daily traffic, and a very detailed Cisco forecast report also tells us, convincingly, that by 2020 video will make up more than 85% of all consumer internet traffic in the USA.
Let’s face it, we are visual creatures. Compelling graphics grab our attention, but movement grabs it even more. Take Facebook, for example. Posts with photos get 3x more engagement than those without, but, posts with video get 135% more organic reach.
Video creation is no longer only for big brands with enormous budgets. Granted, there are still times and places for large-scale productions. But, video marketing should be part of your overall brand strategy in a way that prioritizes authenticity over special effects and personality over polish. Video can be used to tell your Story, do product demonstrations, spotlight clients and case studies, educate your audience, and much more.
Any good marketing campaign is designed to trigger emotion, and no other medium has the capability to do that more than video. Video lends an opportunity to tell your Story in a more compelling, engaging, and memorable way. Just remember: no matter the medium, your audience has a very short attention span. So video or otherwise, make sure you get to the heart of your Story and give your customers a reason to care within 6 seconds.
2. Automated Marketing
A couple of months ago we wrote a series of articles about marketing automation: the value of it, what programs to use, how to create workflows, and understanding if you’re ready to implement. At the time of writing that series, there were nearly 7,000 companies in the MarTech landscape. If history repeats itself, that could be up to 10,000 marketing technology companies by the end of 2019. That is a ton of options for marketers to work faster and smarter, while obtaining a deeper understanding of their customers. Scott Brinker, Founder of Chief MarTec, said, “As much amazing marketing software as there is today, there is still an opportunity for new ideas. Marketing should be — and can be — better.”
Marketing automation empowers marketers to be better and more productive. And for those who fear being replaced by bots—you can rest easy. Automation has become widespread because it makes marketing more effective, not because it makes jobs obsolete. Think of automation as a set of tools that help attract, convert, and close new leads and prospects. We’d be crazy not to take advantage of them.
3. Inbound Marketing
Traditional marketing is too transactional, too tactical, too impersonal and far too interruptive. Inbound marketing is one way to combat that. In terms of attracting clients and prospects in a b2b marketplace, there really is little else that compares with inbound. And no wonder, because the practice relies on producing high-quality, useful content and then using it to position yourself as a trusted authority. Once you do that, you invite business in rather than firebombing customers with targeted ads. As a result, content marketing, automation, social media, multichannel marketing—just about all of it becomes part of the inbound method.
The inbound approach allows you to create a reputation rather than just flash a brand name—and that reputation is seen as authentic and valuable to customers at all stages. By its very nature, the marketing chaff separates itself from the inbound wheat in short order. And just as massive growth predictions were made and met in 2018, neither I nor HubSpot’s stateofinbound.com sees any reason to believe that the trend will change in 2019.
4. Old School Marketing: Direct Mail and Physical Storefronts
Paper brochures anyone? How about an inch-thick value pack of coupons in your mailbox?
Believe it or not, the old tricks still work.
Direct mail just might be the comeback kid of 2018. In an upcoming article, TopRight Principal, Judi Friedman, will dive deeper into how and why direct mail drives results, particularly with the often-forgotten Generation X audience.
Reality is, everyone likes getting mail…when it’s not a bill, when it’s personalized, valuable, unique, aesthetically pleasing and most importantly, relevant to the recipient. All of the advancements in digital marketing and automation have made things like direct mail far more effective than it once was – because marketers are understanding our customers on a much deeper level than we once were. Powered by data, micro-targeting, and segmentation, response rates for direct mailers and value packs have risen to as high as 5%, whereas digital email campaigns can expect response rates of only about 0.7%.
We live in a digital era, so it’s surprising that direct mail is so effective and still relevant. And, so are brick and mortar storefronts. Many originally online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores: Amazon, Bonobos, Casper, Warby Parker. It’s actually a huge trend. As it turns out, people don’t simply want to sit in front of their computers all day—many still prefer to browse, test, touch and interact with products prior to purchasing. Still, I can imagine a time when even brick & mortar stores will be staffed only by computers and require zero human interaction. Oh, wait, that already exists!
This rapidly evolving industry is only going to get more and more excitingly pervasive (or scary, depending on how you look at it). With the expansion and perfection of voice search, chatbots, omnichannel commerce, artificial intelligence, robots, and virtual and augmented reality, we may see a time when there simply isn’t much of a dividing line between real and digital life anymore.
The U.S. leader in this market is (not surprisingly) Amazon, followed closely by Wal-mart. Many of the others in the running are international brands from the Mideast and China. And this is yet another manifest benefit of the expansion of e-commerce—it’s global by its very nature. That could mean that one day there will be no such thing as a dried-out market: with all things immediately available to all people around the world, there may be little reason to fear massive fluctuations in demand. If the need for a product drops away in Cairo you can pick it back up again in Sao Paolo without missing a beat. What a world!
Come see us again on Monday, October 15th next week, when we’ll be digging deeper into the smart use of video marketing. In the meantime, if you’d like to read more right away, just download our use-as-is 3S Playbook for Transformational Marketers or check out this overview of my book Marketing, Interrupted.