As we do every January, we bring you the most important trends affecting the world of marketing, digital and business in general. 

The world continues to change rapidly and many of these changes directly affect the world of business. The new news is that while in early 2018 everything seemed to be moving in a very positive direction, the end of 2018 witnessed a return to more uncertainty. Geopolitical risks not just abroad, but here at home as well. Interest rates moving up, more stock market volatility, a split government with Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, GDP slowdown in China, looming trade tariff wars and rumors of a possible recession in 2020. At the same time, marketing continues to be transformed in more ways now than in the past 20 years put together. 

So as we head into the 2019, let’s have a look into the ‘crystal ball’ to see where the marketing and business world is trending. I’m pleased to provide the 15 marketing trends and predictions I believe all businesspeople need to keep in mind, and to integrate into their 2019 planning and execution. In this issue, we’ll cover the first 8 of the 15 key predictions. After you read them, I’d love to get your feedback as to whether these do justice for what is really going on within the marketplace, so please feel free to connect via e-mail, Linked In or Twitter.

Yosi’s Crystal Ball – 15 Marketing & Digital Predictions for 2019! 
And here they are…. 

1. Amazon continues to dominate e-commerce and “change the game” in so many ways and in so many categories 
E-Marketer recently reported that with an incredible 49.1% market share of online shopping, Amazon is bigger in e-commerce than eBay, Apple, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy and Macy’s combined! (And those retailers are all ranked in the Top 10 online!) 

One of the hottest questions clients are posing to me these days is…”People are selling my products on Amazon at prices lower than we sell them for. How do they do this and how can we protect ourselves?” If you’re not at least tracking your category on Amazon, you’d better start as there may be sudden seismic shifts occurring right in your blind spot! In fact, Amazon keeps moving into new categories every year…In 2019, be on the lookout for Amazon’s expansion into healthcare, beauty products and food. 

On the flip side, I have a number of clients who have grown their revenue base so fast through Amazon, that it is today one of their top couple of distribution channels! Think Amazon paid search, sponsored product ads, value bundles, dynamic pricing and “Buy Box” features. The payoff here can be enormous…Are you taking advantage of this new source of revenue yet? 

2. Chatbots, Smart Speakers, Voice Search and Voice Recognition Technology will become “normal” vs. novelty in 2019 
In fact, according to Google, 20% of all online searches last year were conducted via voice search and that number is expected to grow to 50% by 2020…that’s because voice search is much easier than typing so it tends to do very well, especially with longer FAQ type questions. 

For marketers, voice search and chatbots are both starting to become such an opportunity because people are now using messaging apps more than they use social networks, so they’re becoming the new platform for sales, services, customer care and content/information. As chatbots take on more human-like personalities, they can take up a portion of customer communications and literally change the conversation for brands, and lower selling and customer care costs as well. For example, Domino’s Pizza uses voice technology allowing people to order pizzas through Alexa, helping to increase their sales. And another nice benefit…chatbots never lose patience with your customers! 

Juniper Research says that marketing spending within voice powered digital assistants will reach $19 billion by 2022, and will be driven mainly by transactional voice such as ordering products and services. In fact, 80% of businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots by 2020. So keep your pulse on this one….Its potentially a big game changer for all marketers and salespeople.   

3. Artificial Intelligence and Marketing Automation are becoming true necessities, not just passing fads 
For consumers, machine learning and artificial intelligence will penetrate further into our lives and impact a lot of processes that used to be manual, especially in digital and online. For example, with tools such as Intercom and Drift, marketers can use artificial intelligence powered live chat tools to communicate with customers. And according to Gartner, 25% of customer service interactions will use AI chatbot technology by 2020. 

Interesting that marketing used to be mainly a ‘creative’ pursuit. Today, it is much beyond that especially given the intricacies of content, social media and search data. So you need more of a digital platform to manage it all. Artificial intelligence and marketing automation make it much easier to segment contacts, capture and process new leads, schedule e-mail distribution based on consumer behaviors, automate social media postings, manage content flow, track a customer’s lifecycle, integrate cross channel programs, automate workflows, and measure the impact and ROI of specific programs! 

Businesses adopting AI technology will experience significant cost savings, and accelerate their revenue growth…giving them an edge over their competition. Does your 2019 plan have this technology in it yet? 

4. Messaging Mobile App usage will continue to grow dramatically
Whereas messaging apps have in the past traditionally been used only to send text messages, the explosive growth of mobile has allowed them to become more adaptable and integrated with many other digital “slice of life” tasks such as mobile payments, scheduling appointments, money transfers, dialing phone numbers, social networking, hailing Uber/taxi rides, and instant customer service rectification. 

Messaging apps are now used more often than social media is, and the big players are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. In fact, 55 Billion messages are sent every day via just WhatsApp! Marketers are starting to take advantage of these apps for marketing “monetization” as well via advertising, customer acquisition, exclusive deals, and in-app transactions. Are you capitalizing on this marketing technology opportunity?

5. Video continues to be the most influential form of digital content for businesses 
Per Forbes, this is because as our attention spans decrease, marketers are relying more on creating short video content to get people’s attention, boost search engine rankings, increase engagement, and website traffic. And no wonder…With 5x higher recall than the written word, video is the most engaging media format and the most effective in assisting conversations. 

And videos really deliver for marketers. For one, videos on landing pages increase conversion by 86% and shopping cart sizes by 125%! In fact, according to Forbes, YouTube has the best ROI of any social platform. Another hot trend right now is leveraging “live” video. 

And don’t just think YouTube for video dissemination. You can also post videos or start a live broadcast on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook as well. So are you ready for this revolution yet? 

6. Self-Driving cars and other “Mobility” solutions will begin to create a huge paradigm shift in how we get transported and how marketers can engage with consumers
While autonomous cars won’t be in every garage anytime soon, today’s cars have never been more “connected”. Radio once held driver’s hostage as the only form of in car entertainment, but as mobility continues to proliferate, car companies, leading marketers and ad agencies are looking to transform cars into the next hot marketing and media platform. 

According to McKinsey, connectivity services and featured auto upgrades will significantly increase toward on demand and data driven services. This will allow a car to become a platform for drivers and passengers to use their time to consume new and novel forms of media and other services….potentially opening new opportunities for marketers to connect with their customers. In fact, by 2030, they predict that 15% of new cars will be fully autonomous and self-driving, and 10% of cars being some sort of a “shared” vehicle. 

And what will happen when drivers don’t need to pay attention to the road because their car drives itself? They’ll consume new content and of course that content will come with in-car ads. Stay tuned! 

7. Cybersecurity risks are starting to become top of mind for not just IT, but for marketing and sales as well 
This was prompted by recent Marriott and Equifax hacks that affected hundreds of millions of consumers. But it’s not just broad enterprise and corporate risk…it’s marketing/sales risk as well via consumer lists, e-mail lists, and other databases where consumer data is stored. Experts say that in 2019, bad actors will not only look to steal sensitive data, but to try and actually “manipulate” it. Do you know where your customer data is stored and how it is protected? 

8. “Outsourcing” of the CMO and CFO functions is starting to become much more common 
This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses who want high level world class strategic thinking, but cannot afford it. They can hire an outside CMO or CFO to work on a “fractional” basis (e.g. 5 or 6 days per month) to oversee key strategic and financial thinking and planning at a fraction of the cost of a full time executive. 

I’ve actually done this for a good number of companies…For example…I was brought in to explore a company’s products and financials, articulated key insights, write a strategic marketing plan, and then work with them a few days per month (as a “Fractional Outsourced CMO”) to create budgets, hire mid-level marketing associates, conduct research, create new products, and develop advertising and digital programs, sales materials and the like. 

By combining the high level thinking of a former big company CMO and the executional capabilities of a more junior marketing person, the client experienced tremendous increased revenue/valuation growth, but at much lower marketing/sales employee costs. Do you wish you had a high level CMO at a much lower cost than hiring one full time?

Yosi’s Final 7 Predictions for 2019:
As there is so much to say, and we’re out of room here, please join me in a few weeks for the second half of this report when I’ll lay out the second set of 7 additional marketing predictions. We’ll discuss some of the other hottest topics and trends of the day including influencers, LinkedIn, blockchain, content, mobile and more. Be sure you’re on our subscriber list, so you’ll get them hot off the press. If you’re not subscribed, you can do so HERE.