Now that 2019 is here, let’s have a look at how digital marketing is going to change this year. Digital Marketing is one of the fastest evolving fields and sometimes it might be hard to catch up with latest trends.

That’s why it is important to predict the upcoming trends and prepare yourself for it, than trying to catch up with things that have already changed.

1. SEO will become Content Focused

SEO is one of the most important areas in digital marketing. It has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years. Black hat and grey hat SEO is really coming to a dead end.

Gone are the days where you can follow certain tactics and game the search engines. Search engines (read Google) has become very intelligent at spotting patterns of artificial manipulation of the search engine results.

Having seen so many updates over the years, I would say that SEO is here to stay but it will be focused on content. Many so called SEO experts claim that SEO is dead, but it is far from dead. May be the methods for manipulation of the search results are dead, but the traffic keeps coming to good content. Organic results on the search engines get almost 100x the traffic of paid search results.

If you focus on content marketing and just keep creating good content that your audience wants, search engines like Google will be more than happy to send you traffic. It’s the search engine’s job to find out if your content is worth it and rank it high for the benefit of internet users.

Focusing on the long tail is one of the most important SEO strategies that you can leverage for 2019. Short tail keywords are extremely competitive, but there is a lot of long tail keywords in almost every industry that is still untapped.

If you can leverage long tail keywords with good content, you will get high quality traffic with high buyer intent. And if you can create a strong funnel that converts people’s attention into revenue, you can invest that money back on creating high quality content.

2. Social Media will not grow that much

Social Media is yet to die, and I am not sure if it will ever die, but it will not grow beyond what it is now. People have realised that social media has its cons and it is not satisfying to have a lot of friends online but very few friends offline. I personally know many people who have stopped using social media in 2018.

The novelty of social media has worn off and networks like Facebook and Twitter are running out of ideas for new features. Most networks have remained the same in 2018 and they have stagnated in growth.

Celebrating years of friendship on Facebook with an auto photo collage with someone on your friends list that you don’t even know that well, having balloons for saying “congrats” and temporary stories are all the innovative things they could come up with in the recent times – and honestly, they do not add real value to people’s lives.

Advertisers also have realized that the quality of traffic from social media is always less than that of inbound traffic. The best way to get inbound traffic with high internet is to focus on search. Both SEO and SEM can bring very high quality traffic that social media sites can never match.

Advertisers are tired of trying to cut through the clutter, by adding more clutter. It’s a losing game. When social networks lose out on revenue from ads, their possibility for growth and innovation will also stagnate. The source of funding the platform’s growth is advertising. If ads do not work, then the platform cannot sustain and grow.

3. Permission Marketing Will Grow

Customers have burnt their fingers with businesses who promise a lot and do not deliver. It is easy to create hype online with targeted advertising and fabricated social proof, and it can give great results in the short term. But in the long term, the overnight sales strategies will fail and cost the brand.

Internet users are now more careful than before. They are looking for signs of authenticity and trust. Trust is built over a long period of time and putting yourself out there.

Meeting customers in person, doing offline events, delivering value over a long period of time, being authentic, apologizing when you have screwed up, and having a sense of obligation to your customers will be rewarded.

Permission Marketing build trust over time. It is very difficult to get attention just with good content. Good content is not going to spread itself in this attention scare world. That’s why permission marketing is a wonderful tool to deliver content in sequence. Getting people to subscribe to a newsletter which delivers good valuable content will never die. Because people want to hear from you.

There are many online personalities that I follow and learn from and I will never unsubscribe from them. They have my permission to send me content and such marketing will never die.

Focus on building relationships and delivering value. You will build a strong brand. Once you build a strong brand, you wouldn’t need advertising to drive sales.

Marketing is a means to an end. The end is to build a strong brand that is remembered and preferred in the minds of people. It is a continuous journey that can take decades, but it will pay to build a strong brand.

4. Need for Experts and Agencies will Grow

India spent 7,000 crores INR in digital marketing in 2018. Estimates predict that India will spend around 19,000 crores INR (little less than $3 billion) in 2019.

Most of the business who want to leverage digital mediums for marketing are not going to learn how to do it themselves. The demand for professionals, consultants and agencies are going to grow.

If you decide to start a digital marketing agency, 2019 is the right time. If you miss 2019, you might have too many people running agencies by 2020 and the market could get very competitive. If you start your agency in 2019, you have the opportunity to carve out a niche for yourself in this space and build a business that will serve you, your team and your clients for decades to come.

It takes a long time to understand marketing fundamentals, let alone digital marketing. Marketing is not an easy subject. In fact, marketing comes through practice than through learning. The more years you put into it, the better you are going to get at it.

No one can read a few books about marketing and become an expert overnight, though some people think they can do it. Investing yourself in learning and doing marketing is going to give you rewards for a long time to come. And as you gain more experience in your field, people are going to hire you to help them with their marketing.

So if you haven’t started with building your personal brand and marketing expertise, start now. Everything in a business can be automated except marketing, communication and customer service. Marketing is a safe field to choose for long term career and business growth.

5. Long-form Content will Make a Come Back

When the internet was new and when there was not much content production, people used to love long form content that engaged them for a long time. That’s there was available. Then there was a period where short content took all the attention online.

Looking at how much content can gain attention online, many people started making short pieces of content. But the content they made was not focused on value creation.

Content such a 1-2 minute video clips, short articles and tweets, infographics, memes were all the rage. It was difficult to ignore because they caught our attention. And we did pay attention for a while.

Internet users have realised that short form content is like junk food. It feels good when you are consuming it but it doesn’t add value to your life.

People are not looking for cheap entertainment anymore. There are enough memes and enough funny videos on the web. It has reached a saturation point. It is difficult to make people laugh with a video like “Charlie bit my finger”.

For high quality entertainment, there are enough TV shows, fiction novels and movies out there. People want education and high quality content. Impactful content can never be delivered in small packages.

People now know that the 10 weight loss tips to reduce 10 kg within 4 weeks is actually fake. Reading a book about weight loss is going to take them much ahead in life than a 100 articles on the web.

The culture of snacking is going away. People do not want to snack anymore. It is tiring emotionally and intellectually. And I am seeing long-form content is making a strong come back.

Podcasts that go for hours, videos that talk about important fundamentals, 10,000 word blog posts from blogs like WaitButWhy, and 50,000 word ebooks are now being highly valued by people who are serious about learning. And these are the people who will also become your customers. Learn how to attract high quality audience that can have long attention spans with your content.

Content creation in the long term will have a compounding effect. Long-form, non-time sensitive content is going to build content assets in your business that will reap rewards for a long time to come. That’s why for 2019, I am going to focus on writing books, long blog posts, long video tutorials and long podcasts.

It is difficult to change lives with 2 minute videos and 140 (or 280) character tweets. You need to take your audience on an intellectual trip for learning and deep engagement to impact them. You need to create behaviour change and mindset change. Else content is not going to be useful for anyone.

6. Affiliate Marketing will Grow Stronger

In my world, display ads have already died. No one wants to run a display ad anymore. The CTR for display ads have gone down from 60% when it was first introduced on the web to almost 0.1%.

You will get 1 or 2 clicks out of a 1000 displays of a banner and it is a terrible waste of design talent, server resources and website real estate.

I do not use display ads on my blog. I do not run display ads to let people find out about my brand. I run display ads only for re-targeting, which still works to some extent, but the results are not that spectacular. People have always ignored ads from the times of TV and newspapers and the internet is not going to be any different. They will use ad-block plugins, or just mentally and visually block ads that are on the face.

Brand can spoil their reputation if they run too many ads on their website. It’s just not a good web experience. 2019 is going to be a year of content. And when people engage with content, it is also easy to recommend and suggest products to them. Affiliate marketing has one of the most solid foundations in digital marketing, and it is based on the age old method of referrals.

Affiliate marketing offline has been working for a long time in many industries and there is no reason to believe that it will ever die. It will only grow stronger. At PixelTrack, we are also going to focus on building affiliate programs for our products and also make revenue by promoting products as an affiliate.

If you are a blogger or a web-master and if you own content properties, you will be better off monetizing the content production with affiliate marketing than with display ads. Do not create content on topics where there is no scope for affiliate marketing. And in the long term, create products and have affiliate programs for it.

7. Funnels will Grow Stronger

I saved the best one for the last. 2019 will be a year of funnels. It will be the year of sequential content and advertising.

More brands than ever have realized that they cannot ignore digital and they have started making their presence online. However, online advertising until now has been extremely inefficient. It has been just scratching the surface with display ads and social media. It generates buzz and brand awareness but it doesn’t build a relationship with potential customers.

People have been using the internet as a giant billboard and advertisers have slapped video ads and banners on the faces of internet users. As more people do it, surface level marketing is going to become ineffective. That’s why marketing funnels, fuelled by content is going to take the center stage.

People don’t want to see ads. They want to read content that can help them. The internet is great of distribution and consumption of content, but it is yet to be properly leveraged by all the brands.

Content draws high quality attention than ads. Permission marketing creates a way to deliver more content without the cost of advertising. More sequential content will result in more attention. More attention can be leveraged to build authenticity and trust. Trust can be leveraged to do a transaction.

So the framework here to remember is CATT. Content, Attention, Trust and Transaction.

By funnels, I don’t just mean email marketing funnels alone. A marketing funnel is spread across all the channels of digital communication. People first get to know about your brand, then they interact with your brand, then they subscribe to hear from you, then they trust you and then they buy from you.

Managing the various levels of relationship across all digital communication channels will be the challenge for digital marketing in 2019. Marketers who can build a strong leak proof funnel will end up earning more from the attention which gives them more power to create amazing content that gets even more attention.

Final Words

There are a lot more changes coming in digital marketing in 2019 and beyond, but these are the top 7 from my personal experience. I hope the content here helped you look forward to digital marketing 2019.

What do you think about the points discussed? And do you think there are some points I missed here? Leave a comment below. I would like to hear from you!