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Published December 18th 2018

Ask the Experts: Top Companies Chime in on What’s Changing in 2019

This is probably the last "end of year trends" post we're going to write. Maybe.

It’s been a year.

Through our user conferences, our client networks, and our end of year survey to our audience, we got the chance to hear hundreds of thoughts about what’s to come in 2019. They span a wide range of topics, coming from a wider range of people.

How will data integration change? How will companies close the gap between the capability of their tools and the skills of their teams? And in this socially-charged world, how will belief-driven marketing play a role in the future of their brand?

As this year comes to a close, we’d like to share some of the expert thoughts we gathered, along with some of the challenges, changes, and opportunities that lie ahead in 2019.

1. Rethinking data

A key challenge we continued to hear about was turning data analyses into actions that help drive marketing and businesses forward.

What are the big data obstacles holding companies back? Our network spoke to us about the specific ways they have trouble connecting the dots with data.

“A big challenge to acting on data is understanding if and how [social data] matches up to audience opinions in the ‘real world’ – i.e. is social listening research an accurate portrayal of the UK audience?”

Tara Clark, head of social analytics, BBC

“There’s a loss in translation from numbers to emotion. On top of that, data is easy to manipulate. It can truly say whatever you need it to, to prove your point.”

Kate Moore, creative services manager, American Animal Hospital Association

“[One of our biggest challenges is] Consistency. Manufacturers get data from so many sources and in so many formats/fields/types that bringing it together requires a great deal of effort.”

Genevieve Mazzeo, manager, digital commerce, Tyson Foods

Making sense of different data sources is still a huge challenge to many brands and agencies, particularly when we have access to so many of them. Understanding how each data source contributes to the overall customer picture still trips us up.

This is why unsurprisingly, many people mentioned that in 2019 marketers should invest time and resources into data blending and integration.

“Marketers should invest in data integration. Marketers need to bring their disparate data sources together to really find trends and make decisions.”

Brittany Paxman, senior director, PulsePoint Group

“[An important trend for marketers in 2019 will be] blending corporate data (what you know) with social data (what’s coming).”

Steve Dodd, SVP, Socialgist

These goals mark an important shit that marketers plan to make in 2019: moving past looking for more data sets and putting data together in a way that means something.

2. The growth of moral marketing

What about the growth of corporate social responsibility (CSR)? How does and doesn’t it translate into what’s called ‘moral marketing’?

“The thesis is that if you say ‘we stand for this, which is the same thing that you stand for’ it then increases kinship amongst that group of customers and correspondingly increases the likelihood that they will buy from you.”

Jay Baer, founder, Convince and Convert

This seems antithetical to everything traditional about marketing, and the old dogma that you shouldn’t alienate any subset of people, because everyone’s your customer.

But the reality is, across every segment, the majority of customers today are buying from companies because they align with their beliefs or values.

This is forcing a new perspective on the role companies play in environmental, social, or political conversations.

“The best companies are defining their values and aligning all of their work to their values. These companies aren’t trying to be trendy and they are comfortable when some people disagree with them.”

Brittany Paxman, senior director, PulsePoint Group

Here are some of the ways some companies will approach taking environmental or social stands in 2019:

“Hammerson is working towards ‘Carbon Neutral’. It’s high on the public agenda, therefore it’s high on retailers’ and landlords’ agenda too.”

Claire Murray, marketing manager, Hammerson PLC

“For spirits brands, [CSR] means sustainable sources of our water & agriculturally based ingredients, and now it means better recyclable packaging.”

Julie Pender, international marketing manager, Jim Beam Bourbon

3. The big changes and shifts in 2019

We also learned a lot about the juicy stuff: the goals, challenges and predictions companies have in mind going into 2019.

“I expect to see more advertising on social media by more pharmaceutical companies next year, as well as incorporation of AI to respond and direct patients to the appropriate channels.”

Nat Bourra, owner and pharmaceutical marketing consultant, Marketing 4 Health Inc.

“We need to get better at experimenting. Not just finding different ways to collect information, rather finding different problems to solve and taking new directions.”

Mike Wittenstein, founder and managing partner, StoryMiners

“Protecting the consumer – as they become increasingly aware of what’s happening, they are becoming far more concerned and cautious. Without them participating (publicly), we have nothing.”

Steve Dodd, SVP, Socialgist

“I think video content will continue to pick up in 2019. I also think influencer marketing will start to change a bit. I predict it will remain an important part of the marketing budget however I think brands will start to get picky with who they are working with.”

Jenna Hanson Abramson,president and creative director, Mavelle Media and Mavelle Style

“The biggest trend we’re going to see in digital marketing in 2019 is all about trust. With the headlines we saw in 2018, marketers are more skeptical than ever about the reporting and results they’re seeing from their digital partners…the winners in 2019 will be the digital partners that can restore faith with the marketing industry and consistently prove ROI.”

Courtney Silverstein, global head, corporate social media, Bloomberg LP

What are your predictions or goals for 2019? Tweet us @brandwatch to tell us what you think

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