In the dynamic world of digital marketing, things move quickly.

New trends regularly come to the fore, and some stick and have a real impact. Others come onto the periphery without making the waves some suggest they might.

At Williams Commerce, our team of digital marketing experts are always on the lookout for new and exciting trends.

Now everybody is likely settled back into working life after a well-deserved Christmas and New Year’s break, thoughts are turning to what the next 12 months will have in store. We’ve picked out some of the areas we think will be big in 2019 to help you get ahead of the game.

Authenticity and Trust

In 2018, from a digital perspective, it’s safe to say data security was a big deal.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal, the introduction of GDPR and the Google Plus data leak were all major news stories last year. Add to that the current environment of ‘fake news’ and security and trust is more important than ever from a business perspective.

This all means that being authentic and able to gain trust from customers will be a major differentiator in 2019 and is something that businesses can’t afford to overlook.

How to do this? One way is through storytelling, which helps engage with customers on a deeper level that simply ‘buy our products’. There’s a chance to show a different side to your business, develop empathy and trust, and reinvent that shopper/company dynamic to your advantage.

Highlighting your business’s history, its commitment to quality and any charitable or philanthropic work you do can all help potential customers deciding whether to shop with you or not.

Being authentic and trustworthy in 2019 is important because there’s a higher level of scepticism than ever before, so it’s something worth investing time in.

User Generated Content

Content marketing is a big deal these days. Whatever approach you take around content for your own business, the fact of the matter is that consumers that are the world’s greatest content creators.

Therefore user generated content (UGC), which promotes your brand from those who use and engage with it, has never been more important.

Social media is a key area of UGC. A study from Social Media Today found that 60% of consumers feel that UGC is the most authentic form of content out there (see above - talk about killing two birds with one stone).

Additionally, information from Brandwatch claims that 3.2 billion images are shared online every day, while 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube daily.

So if UGC is something you’ve considered but not implemented, there’s no time like the present. Seek ways to get feedback and contributions from your customer base and give potential customers access to information created by people that once faced the decision they did – whether to shop with you or not.

Having a customer stories or customer photos page is a handy way to do this, while having an active, interactive social media presence can help garner that user community.

Video, Video, Video

As hinted at above, video is a big, big deal today. It’s easy to consume, accessible and readily available across devices.

This is why businesses are spending big in this area. Cisco has predicted that by 2020, video ad spending will reach US$50.6 billion. They’ve also predicted that social ad video spend with surpass US$11 billion by 2020.

It’s clear that in certain respects, digital content is moving in this direction. In 2019, businesses who are yet to dip their toe into the world of video content should look to do so. The chance to increase conversions and sales shouldn’t be missed.

The great thing for businesses is that a big budget isn’t required to create engaging video content. Modern smartphones have high-quality video making capabilities, so quick how-to guides and product reviews are easy to create.

Experiment with video sooner rather than later and you can make a positive start to 2019.

Boosting efficiencies with AI

Artificial intelligence has been a term thrown around in digital marketing circles for a while. But 2019 could be the year AI really hits the mainstream for retailers.

At Williams Commerce, we’ve seen first-hand how third party AI software like Nosto, Clerk and Yotpo are helping to raise retailers’ game.

AI can be used to create personalised content across your customer base. It can be used to generate personalised email marketing campaigns based on the behaviour and interests of customers. It’s actively being used in areas such as voice search and even to advance the user experience once they land on a page thanks to intelligent algorithms.

We’ve looked previously at how marketers are starting to embrace AI, and as more and more marketers learn about how AI can benefit them, this seems likely to be an area of increased growth and interest in 2019.

Humanising personalisation

One thing to keep in mind as a retailer is that personalisation efforts are likely to only prove fruitful if they strike the user as authentic (that word again!).

Shoppers want to feel wanted, and they want to feel a connection with the brands they deal with. As an online retailer, the more personalised you make the online shopping experience, the higher the chances of securing a sale.

How to do this? Allow customers to engage with you across various forms – blogs, social media, email and even beyond the digital world in stores if your brand has them.

This allows for a cohesive experience to be created and helps your customers feel part of a wider community.

You can also look to use personalisation to address customer needs in advance. If you’re a clothing retailer and winter is coming, an email campaign around coats, scarves and gloves can give your customers not only a convenient guide to what you have available. This can be tailored by information from previous purchases and not only helps your brand seem relevant, but makes customers feel valued on a human level.

Inform and Invest

Digital success for retailers in 2019 will hinge on continuing to do what you’re good at well, and finding avenues to explore and invest in that can help you move with the times.

Take stock of where you are as a business, and if any of these aforementioned areas strike you as potentially beneficial, now is the time to make the leap and see what your company can achieve.

Keen to take advantage of Williams Commerce’s digital marketing expertise in 2019? Say hello today.