by Matt Kendall
As 2018 came to an end, we spent some time thinking about what the digital sector can expect from the year ahead.
Last year was an exciting and challenging for digital marketing. Conversations around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and influencer marketing became fused, as the rise of virtual influencers like Lil Miquela and Sophia the Robot marked new opportunities for engagement. Concerns over security and data privacy, heightened by GDPR compliance, remained at the top of everyone’s Twitter feeds. Conversational UX and video marketing are all trends from this year that will spill, and expand, into the next.
Here are our predictions for what the industry should be anticipating - and implementing - in 2019.
How DNVBs are doing it better
Historically, there have been two key retail channels: wholesalers and direct to consumer. Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs) don’t generally engage in wholesale; they are created on the internet, for the internet. They’re changing customer service as much as they’re transforming UX - and that’s important.
In 2019, established brands will make a point of learning from the DNVB model. According to We Are Social, more than three billion people are on social media worldwide and DNVBs like Glossier have capitalised on social media platforms to tell their brand story and have built their audiences through direct customer engagement. Listening to the customer, and learning from them, are not just built into the design process, for DNVBs they’re a point of origin. Structuring a business around the consumer experience, and prioritising their perspective, is the future of accelerated growth in the digital sector.
This will be the year that DNVBs make their biggest challenge to the high street yet by expanding into physical retail. Following the likes of established DNVBs like Warby Parker, Casper and Bonobos who have reimagined their customer-centric, digital concept as bricks-and-mortar shops, we believe big brands can benefit from focusing on their direct-to-consumer channels and creating engaging, purpose-driven experiences that tell a story worth sharing.
Data-driven insights become the norm
Investigation of data is not just integral to the UX design process, it’s the start of it all. In 2019, brands will use data insight to listen more closely to their customers and apply their findings to inform design decisions. By using software like Google Analytics and Hotjar, and face-to-face conversations with consumers, digital experts can gain a 360 degree understanding of a user’s experience easie than ever. It’s all about getting a clear feedback loop on what the customer wants; telling a story by following the funnel of data, from where it begins through to conversion. We predict that data and insight will become a pivotal element in conversations with clients around UX, and empower their decisions to take onboard new directions of design.
Marketing automation, AI and personalisation
During 2019, marketing automation tools powered by AI will continue to increase, and hone, personalisation. Mapping the customer’s experience - from the messages they receive, to their eCommerce journey - will fuel the UX design process in new ways. According to research by Forrester, global spending on marketing automation tools will grow from $11.4 billion US dollars in 2017 to $25.1 billion in 2023.
The use of marketing automation will only increase as digital marketers discover new, smarter ways to learn about their customers. New trends, like Machine Learning-as-a-Service (MLaaS) products, Machine Learning Data Catalogs (MLDCs) and semantic SEO will have a bigger part to play during 2019.
Ultimately, marketing automation and AI will feed into the new model of consultancy that we’ll see more of next year by empowering agencies with rich data and a customer-centric approach to the design process.
But don’t forget the basics
The next big trends in the digital marketing space are all well and good but at the heart of everyone’s strategy for 2019 should be a clear focus on getting the greatest commercial return for their investments in eCommerce. Sometimes, that means accepting the latest tech innovation or update is not in a brand’s best interest right now.
By challenging all that is trendy, and achieving, together, long-term, lasting results that add real value to their business, we hope the basic tenets of understanding your users, designing for real needs, and not forgetting basic skills such as SEO are still allowed to deliver solid growth for brands.