Even though I was deeply convinced that there is no possibility for someone not to know what is digital marketing, the truth is, that we, as digital marketers, are part of a tribe. Nothing more, and nothing less. And as the tribes of lawyers, and economists, physicians, and psychologists, the tribe of digital marketers tend to forget that people don’t really care about our techniques.
Thus, even though people are constantly exposed to ads everywhere they go, and whatever they do, those of us who are not part of the digital marketing tribe, are usually not impressed by all the ads.
What people want is the right product at the right time.
People want solutions to their problems.
That is the essence of being a marketer. Figure out and manufacture a device, a process, or another type of solution to a problem that people may or may not realize they have.
Thus, it is evident that marketing is marketing. Being it digital or ‘conventional’.
The big difference is in the tools that marketers have at their disposal.
Online the pace by which we are able to try, and fix ideas is far beyond comprehension. Not only that but the scale at which we, as digital marketers, can reach people is a lot higher, as well. And at significantly lower costs.
Lately, there are trends in the digital medium, that may or may not change the whole game. Still, they surely have the potential to do so.
#1: Big Data
First things first. Big Data is not for everyone. And even though it is absolutely capable of changing the digital marketing field that will happen either gradually or someone will find a way to sell that data to the smaller businesses.
But what is big data, and why it is so important for digital marketing?
In his brilliant book, ‘Everybody Lies‘ Seth Davidowitz explains big data in such an understandable manner that one almost doesn’t realize he is learning.
While reading the book, the reader becomes aware of the fact that every one of us is asking Google questions that we would hesitate to direct even to our doctors. Yet, the search engine is allowed to visit our deepest fears and our greatest desires.
And those questions, and searches, and desires, and fears, and dreams, and hopes, and fantasies and illusions would be useless if they were the all originating from the mind of a single person. Good thing that we are all using search engines. Thus, the information accumulates to a level, that it could be used in the form of the so-called Big Data.
Big Data is the piled up information of every little action that you and I are performing in the digital environment. Thanks to it Amazon, for instance, are able to foretell whether someone (not a specific person) will order a (specific) product in a (specific) state or even city. Thus, they are sending the product (to their storages) before the order has taken place.
Once, the digital marketers of small and medium businesses get access to the Big Data, that will be a game changer. An enormous shift in the digital marketing world will take place.
Expecting for the Big Data to become more and more accessible, we may easily consider that it would be one of the leading digital marketing trends in 2019. Surely, one to keep your eyes on.
#2: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence is granted one of the most controversial topics in the tech industry. While people like Elon Musk and now deceased Stephen Hawking have warned us multiple times about how dangerous AI could be, the experiments of developing such technology are not discontinued.
Quite the contrary.
But except for phone cameras that are calibrating their settings taking into consideration what we are photographing, we are not much closer to the type of Artificial Intelligence that the movies and the books have made us fear from.
Machine learning is able to process a massive amount of data and to spot patterns. Which, considering the accumulating of more and more data is making the Big Data even more useful. Machine Learning can make predictions based on the processed data.
Therefore, thanks to this data we are gathering, these algorithms are able to predict consumer behavior.
And even now, some tools are making machine learning accessible to everyone.
Granted you have big enough pile of data to work with, the tools are available.
This is one more trend in the digital environment that is capable of changing the rules of the game fundamentally.
Start a website in less than 20 minutes!
I can see how, centuries ago, a shopkeeper in a small market, located in a small town, felt the inability to touch(metaphorically) his potential customers. Therefore, he was rehearsing the list of products that we available at his stand. Shouting. Hoping for someone to hear him. To become interested in his products. And to buy some.
Probably that same shopkeeper was going home tired, after another long day at the market, dreaming that he could offer each potential customer what he needed, at the moment he needed it. Speaking in his language, using the words, that the customer would be touched from.
Of course, all that daydreaming was ineffective for the shopkeeper.
But in the second decade of the 21st Century, we are getting closer and closer to the personalization of marketing. Even today we are not able to quite personalize every marketing effort, but we are getting there.
The technology is present.
But due to the EU Regulation that became known as GDPR, it gets harder to collect the personal information that we need to personalize our marketing efforts. One more thing, to customize your marketing to the customer that you are trying to reach, you need to have either excellent programmers or a lot of time to prepare the materials.
Yet, the first steps are taken. Probably sooner than later, we’ll all have access to tools that will allow us to personalize our marketing.
#4: Data Protection
Speaking of GDPR and data, and personalization, we should take into account the effects that the EU Regulation made on the way we use the Internet.
The Regulation is focused solely on user data. Thus, companies are now obligated to be more transparent about how and why the personal data is processed.
And although GDPR was legitimated on the 25th of May 2018, the effects of the Regulation are lying ahead. In the end, users are becoming more and more familiar with their rights and obligations when being online. Which is good.
After the Regulations has taken place, companies are obligated to ask for permission before collecting personal information and to delete it, once the customer requests or the information is no longer needed.
Therefore, although Data is getting bigger, the ways digital marketers are able to use it are somewhat shrunk by the law.
The most important part of the GDPR is that the Regulation has defined what personal information is. Thus, we understood that every piece of data by which we are able to identify a specific person is way too personal.
Therefore, Big Data, by definition is still a viable option for marketers.
#5: Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market
Speaking of trends and the digital world, there is undoubtedly one more thing that deserves to be mentioned…
Sadly, in the fall of 2018, the European Parliament has voted, and have approved (not finally) another Regulation, that according to Forbes “threatens to Kill Startups”. Not only that, but users of services like 9Gag are scared of whether the memes will be ‘banned’ due to the Regulation.
The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (the full text of which, you can read here) was intended to ensure “a well-functioning marketplace for the exploitation of works and other subject-matters… taking into account in particular digital and cross-border uses of protected content”.
Yet, due to its controversy, it reached nothing more than scaring the users of the Internet… which makes all of us.
The directive was approved by the European Parliament on 12 September 2018 and is currently passing through formal Trilogue discussions that are expected to conclude in January 2019.
Good news is that in November 2018, Google began campaigning against the proposal, threatening to shut down YouTube in the EU unless concessions are made. So, we hope, that we’ll be able to Save Our Internet.
What effect could it make to site owners?
Well, for starters, every website owner should think twice before allowing a piece of content on his website.
Which means that everyone that has a forum of some kind, should think of ways to filter the posts so that they are compliant to the new Regulation.
Again, the fact that the directive passed doesn’t automatically make it a law. Technical time is needed before every country (part of the EU) implements it into the domestic law. Still, you, as a website owner, need to get prepared by figuring out what content might need to be removed, so your personal website complies with the law.
According to ITPro ‘Punishment for copyright breaches in the UK is typically a 3-6 month prison sentence and/or a £5,000 fine, so staying original has never been more important.’
The digital environment has significantly changed the way we communicate, learn, and, of course, sell.
But that same environment is something that could go through changes. In fact, it is ever-changing. Regularly newer and newer techniques and tools are invented. And all of them are getting more and more sophisticated, and digital marketers are using them in new and creative ways.
Thus, the digital marketing trends that are present now may not be here tomorrow. These digital marketing trends may be offset by another, better tendencies.
The next year, like the one that has past, will bring us new technologies, new ideas, new ways, and new answers.
Thus, the trends listed may or may not change the whole digital marketing game.
And whether that happens or not, in the next year we’ll witness the implementation of these technologies and regulations.
So, what is left for us, as marketers, to do, is to find a way to implement these digital marketing trends in our work.