There are a few digital marketing trends that business owners need to be aware of in 2019. More people than ever before are looking for information and communicating online, and they are doing it 24/7, which means that digital marketing continues to grow in importance for all business leaders as they strive to connect with their audiences.
What are the drivers behind the current digital marketing trends?
Drivers of current digital marketing trends are primarily due to the rapid advancement of computer technology; providing improved solutions, more options, and lower costs to the growing number of online users. With this demand, more money is being invested in the development of innovative technology; research, education, and start-up businesses. As ‘big’ data continues to develop and become more accessible, business owners and digital marketers are considering data intelligence to inform their marketing decisions. However, with all this new technology and data collection comes privacy concerns and new regulations that are part of the digital marketing trends for 2019.
Mobile technology has revolutionized the world. From the days of the old flip phones, cell phones are a now a mobile device that is a computer, camera, and telephone all-in-one. It is rare to see someone without a cell phone; accessing and sharing information 24/7 for business and personal use. With increased memory, a higher camera resolution, and a variety of software solutions, anyone can take a photo or video, edit it, and share it online with only a few taps to the screen. Want to know how? From beginner to advanced, you can access tips on how to create a video by watching YouTube. Phones are durable, have GPS technology and larger screen sizes to extend the usage capabilities. Now flexible screens are a possibility. Peripherals such as connected home appliances/devices and watches can all be managed through a mobile phone or tablet. It is not cheap to buy a good phone, but with data management companies offering plans with monthly buying options, it is affordable for most to have access to this ‘on-the-go’ technology.
Location marketing, artificial intelligence, and influencers are some top digital marketing trends in 2019.
If you have a physical location, you need to consider location marketing. The fundamentals of location marketing are the ability to have people find your business when typing in an online search request for your business name or product/service. Sometimes the search words are the name of your company, but people will also type in a request for a product/service ‘near-by’ if they aren’t sure of what is in the area, such as a coffee shop, dentist, doctor, and pet store. Ideally, you want to have your business show up on the map with all the information they need to find your place of business. Setting up a Google business listing is essential and free for a physical location. Adding other online directories, such as YP (Yellow Pages), will give you more opportunities to be found when people are searching online. With the additional links back to your website from these profiles, it will also help your search engine ranking (SERP - Search Engine Results Page).
For more advanced digital marketers who want to stay on trend for 2019, there are options available to personalize, optimize local sales, and gain more insights. With the use of technology such as GPS, blue tooth, and additional items such as beacons, you can take your location marketing to the next level. Geotargeting, geofencing and beaconing are three types of location-based marketing trending in 2019. Opportunities include building your own branded application, offering 3rd party app engagement (e.g. coupon apps), social media ads, and web ads. What needs to be considered when getting into this type of personalized marketing, is that you need to have it part of an overall marketing plan, especially since there is often a higher cost to this type of marketing. It is also highly recommended that you are transparent about how you are collecting the data and how this data will be used, and give people the option to opt-in.
Artificial intelligence refers to ability a computer has to be able to learn from collected data to start to ‘think’ for themselves. Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, is the term used for the process that the computer uses to take this data and apply programmed algorithms to predict or make decisions.
Now with the advancement of these predictive algorithms and available ‘big data’ sets, machine learning is giving business owners market intelligence to provide the right information at the right time to their targeted audiences. With machine learning opportunities readily available, offering a personalized experience to current customers and attracting new customers is easier now than ever.
Marketing is using this information to target advertising, anticipating next purchases, voice recognition, chatbots, content marketing, in-store experiences, and more. For retailers, the advancement of technology and data intelligence, integrating online and offline data is now possible and at a lower cost (omnichannel).
Google Analytics and social media insights are just some of the sources of this ‘real-time’ marketing intelligence. Buzzsumo, SEMRush, and MOZ are some other sources of information to help with market intelligence; including identifying influencers, popular content, and keyword strategy development. There are market intelligence sources that are free or have a variety of price plans depending on what you need. However, knowing what data to collect and how to apply it to marketing efforts takes some learning and expertise.
Data is collected when people visit websites and social media activities. With all this data collection, there are some concerns about privacy. Transparency about what information you are collecting, and how you are using it is something all business owners and digital marketing professionals should keep in mind. Some regulations already exist, such as CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) and GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation). However, depending on where you are in the world, and for other data collection best practices, the jury is still out on what information should be collected, and how to use it, to allow for these personalized consumer experiences.
At the heart of influencer marketing, is the power of relationships. We, as humans, are social creatures (some more than others) and seek out the support from those we trust. Depending on the topic at hand, we seek out opinions and advice from friends, business colleagues, and those whom we deem knowledgeable and wise on the subject.
90% of people surveyed believe brand recommendations from their friends, while 70% believe general consumer opinions. 
Now with access to a large amount of user-generated content at our fingertips, we seek out product reviews when we want to purchase something, how-to-videos when we need to learn something new, or articles offering expertise and insights when considering investing in a new idea or product. Those who have built their online brand as trusted experts in their field, or are knowledgeable about a particular topic, can influence many people's purchasing decisions. In the past, it has been celebrities that were believed to have the most significant influence, but now it is niche micro-influencers, both external and internal, that are proving to have more power.
Micro-influencers deliver 60% higher campaign engagement rates and those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than those with influencers with larger followings… Companies are increasingly realizing the value of tapping this invaluable resource of credible influence. 90% of brands say they are either pursuing employee advocacy programs or have programs already active. 
Leveraging the power of influencer marketing can be a formal process, such as developing a plan and contract with someone, or it can be as simple as using online reviews, such as Google or Facebook reviews, to encourage your customers to share their purchase experiences.
Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they make that decision quickly: 68 percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews. 
Digital marketing opportunities and best practices continue to evolve at an exponential rate as people engage digital communication more often and in various ways. With the advancement of technology, more opportunities are available for businesses to connect and engage with their audiences. With so many options available, business owners will need to have a plan that is strategic to get the best return on investment. One thing for sure, the importance of leveraging digital marketing to be competitive in today's business world continues to grow for businesses and organizations of all sizes.