With 2018 quickly drawing to a close, it’s high time to examine emerging trends in the digital marketing biosphere for 2019.  As e-commerce and content marketing continue to evolve, anyone doing business online knows that the success of their business depends on how quickly they adapt to changes in the digital landscape.  With things like smart speakers and artificial intelligence seeing more mainstream adoption, people can no longer dismiss them as gimmicks or niche items.  In addition, the increasingly rapid pace of technology means that tried and true methods aren’t the key to future success.  In other words, what worked for you in the recent past, won’t necessarily work in the immediate future.

Let’s take a closer look at five trends that will see greater adoption in the coming year.

1. Internet Becoming a Worthy Rival to Television

Although many pundits have been predicting this change for years, 2019 should stand as the year that internet usage finally equals television viewing.  One study estimates that people will watch 2.7 hours of television and 2.6 hours online.  Since this gap will soon be almost negligible, advertisers are sure to follow suit.  Instead of merely devoting more resources to online marketing, their budgets for online ads, social media activity, and email marketing may soon eclipse traditional television advertising.

2. Video Still Growing

With the widespread adoption of platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram, and, of course, YouTube, video content will continue its exponential growth.  Why wait until you get in front of a television when you can view it on mobile while riding the subway or waiting for your friend to arrive? Since 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate, it’s no surprise that advertisers are expected to spend as much as $20 billion on mobile video next year, a tenfold increase from 2015.

Live video, especially, will continue to grab peoples’ attention.  Businesses are seeing the value of live interviews, behind the scenes glimpses, and event streaming to their online presence.  Interactive video and live content will only grow in popularity as approximately 85% of all internet traffic in 2019 is anticipated to come from video.

3. Customized Content

It’s not enough just to create content that ably promotes the benefits of your brand.  Nowadays, customers expect a more personalized, interactive experience.  For this reason, easily available data such as customer behavior and buying history has become the gold of the technology era. E-commerce businesses report much higher conversion rates when delivering personalized content to consumers.  As a result, businesses such as Netflix have grown by leaps and bound by customizing your online viewing experience.  In other words, they bolster trust and credibility by recommending films or TV series based on your viewing history.  Essentially, these actions increase customer engagement and help to separate them from their competition.

4. Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Until recently, most people consigned artificial intelligence (AI) to the latest science fiction offering at the multiplex pitting man against machine.  In 2019, however, artificial intelligence will start to take center stage in the real world.

One of the best-known examples of artificial intelligence is the use of chatbots, otherwise known as virtual assistants.  Chatbots employ instant messaging to communicate with consumers or site visitors in real time.  One study by Spiceworks revealed that 40% of companies plan to use them as part of their customer service strategy in 2019.  Through chatbots, consumers are now able to get answers to their questions more quickly and easily than by traditional means.  Consequently, businesses are already reaping the benefits through reduced customer service costs and greater revenue.  Furthermore, chatbots will only become more widespread as AI-based technology advances and becomes even more responsive.

5. Smart Speakers and Voice Search

Believe it or not, the Alexa you bought as a curio for your grandmother a couple of years ago is becoming far more powerful than most people anticipated since its introduction in November of 2014. The following statistics show the growing impact of voice search and smart speakers.  For instance, 20% of all mobile queries are voice searches.  In addition, experts are already predicting voice to account for 50% of all searches by 2020.  People are often using voice for local searches such as ordering food for delivery or finding a business location.  With improvements in voice recognition technology, smart search has become simpler and faster than regular search methods.  Notwithstanding some of the rapid-fire texters out there, nearly all of us talk faster than we can type.  As a result, smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa have transformed from a novelty to a mainstream product.  With nearly 40 million Americans using smart speakers in their daily life, companies will need to generate voice content as part of any brand awareness campaign.

Therefore, in the coming year we should see more customized content that takes customer engagement to a whole new level.  The maturation of technologies such as virtual assistants and smart speakers will transform the way people search, transact business, and interact with brands.  For this reason, businesses will have to alter their digital marketing strategies to produce video and audio content that will continue to reach their target audiences in the coming years.