In February we chose hyperspecialisation, proliferation, integration, and artificial intelligence as the key themes of our 2018 SaaS marketing trends.
In keeping with the theme of themes, we’re spotlighting intelligence, personalisation, privacy, and sophistication as the things which will define 2019.
Data will continue its exponential increase, and tools enabling more sophisticated insights to be sifted from it will become more prevalent. An outcome will be marketing which feels more personalised and personable to counteract consumers’ increasing awareness of and fatigue by marketing.
Consumers also place higher value on our privacy after seeing so many breaches. Brands who want to succeed will have to acknowledge these concerns, rather than ploughing on with the approach of seeing what sticks.
Buzzword: The Right Content At The Right Time
Or, as industry legend Seth Godin says: "be relevant, not loud".
This is our guiding mantra. Giving users what they want when they want it provides real value, and helps them to move along the buyer journey at their own pace without feeling pressured.
Tools like HubSpot emphasise this philosophy, and give the means to effectively incorporate it into digital marketing strategies. Google spends more time serving bespoke information in search results, rather than just a list of links. We expect this proliferation to continue.
Buzzwords: Silos and Omnichannel Marketing
Many marketers have a standalone strategy for each channel, creating silos.
We predict increased efforts to break out of these silos, by creating and implementing strategies which seamlessly incorporate multiple channels.
This allows more reach to more prospects on more channels, meaning prospects can be lured into your workflows from a more varied range of start points.
Every channel is getting more crowded, so being present in as many as possible increases your odds of being seen. And remember: "be relevant, not loud".
Buzzwords: Persona and Personalisation
Continued emphasis will be placed on tailoring your marketing efforts to data-driven personas. These invented individuals reflect the tastes, needs, and desires of broad sections of your market, and allow you to create content designed to satisfy them.
And if a persona reflects a segment of your market, personalisation reflects the efforts made to appeal to the individual user.
This delves deeper than just putting a first name in an email. Proper personalisation looks at user behaviour online and interactions with a brand, and analyses these to deliver them bespoke communications and content. "The right content at the right time".
As we upload more content online - social media posts, YouTube videos, questionnaire responses, etc - brands find it easier to build sophisticated picture of us. Our tastes, our habits, our budgets, and so on. These insights allow for more granular and individualised marketing efforts, so expect marketing to feel more and more intuitive and intelligent.
Personalised marketing can be more conversational, which lends the feeling of personalisation.
Chatbots will continue to proliferate. They will be powered by AI growing ever more sophisticated. They'll continue spreading to other channels - Facebook messages, et cetera - rather than being confined to on-page pop up boxes.
It's not just chatbots, though. Conversational interfaces will likely see increased use as a means to collect data from prospects and curate marketing efforts accordingly. Quora's sign-up process is an established example of this. By being asked about your interests during registration, your feed is populated with relevant content straight away:
Buzzword: Voice Search
People search differently when they use voice. Queries are longer, and more naturally conversational: "Alexa, what is 2 cups of flour in grams?" as opposed to "2 cups flour in grams". Baking this conversational tone into your website copy will be rewarded, as will writing copy based on user intent (although this isn't new).
As more and more people invite Alexa into their home, voice search will continue to grow. Its growth has been slower than some people expected, but it is still happening.
Buzzword: Live Video
Live streams are being adopted by politicians, brands, influencers, and all sorts of content creators. They are personalised, they are conversational, they work across channels, and users can tune in and out as they please. If anyone tunes in, it is implied that they have decided this is the right content for them at this time.
Pundits think that the internet will catch up to television this year in terms of hours watched, thanks to live streams and increasing use of video content. We lend our voice to this prediction.
Whether it be through technology like HubSpot, whose automated workflows can simplify and scale your lead nurturing efforts, or through Artificial Intelligences who can direct prospects to where they need to go, we think automation of some of the more menial aspects of marketing will continue apace in 2019.
Featured snippets are getting more prevalent and more sophisticated across search engines. We predict they will become more useful and feature in more searches, gradually chipping away at the amount of searches which actually require the searcher to navigate away from the search engine’s ecosystem.
This ties strongly into ‘the right content at the right time’: search engines are trying hard to answer every search query with the perfect piece of information.
Sometimes they get it wrong, though:
The time you have to capture and leverage a prospect's attention will continue to reduce, especially as expectations are shifted further. Google will continue to boost rankings for sites with quick page load speed, and page load speed will drop even lower when 5G is rolled out late in 2019.
Marketers who don't aim for instant information and instant gratification will suffer.
GDPR came into force in May 2018.
Facebook is getting absolutely spanked because of privacy violations, and people are aware of privacy breaches and their impact.
Seth Godin speaks wisdom here, too: "We’re entering this age where everyone knows there’s no privacy left, everyone knows there’s no data security, everyone knows you can’t trust anyone. But when someone we can trust shows up, people go, “Oh, that person’s different. They’re one of us."
We predict businesses will continue to be rewarded for baking privacy and security into their services. Payment logos, accreditations, and other trust factors which boost credibility and get rewarded by Google.
It's going to be an exciting year. It always is, in this industry!
As always, some of these trends will continue to grow. Others will fizzle out. Some that we've not included in the list will make a huge impact, despite current indications and the predictions of industry insiders.
Whatever happens, we'll have our fingers on the pulse.
The industry will continue to evolve, to refine, and to improve.
And who will be riding this wave?
You, our clients.