The Complete Marketer’s Guide to 2019

The resources and tips marketers need to succeed in 2019

The Complete Marketer’s Guide to 2019
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Next year, consumers will demand that brands deliver on values and experience more than ever before. For this, marketers will need intelligent tools they trust.

Is your team ready to tackle the challenges of 2019?

2018 was a year of big change for marketers.

Thinking back on it all — Facebook dramatically changing their relationship with advertisers and vendors, GDPR taking effect across Europe, value-based shopping and the related buzzy, take-a-stand marketing campaigns — it hardly feels like everything happened in the same year.

After speaking with dozens of the smartest marketers, analysts, and intelligence thought-leaders in the industry, it doesn’t seem like 2019 will be much slower when it comes to change.

It becomes ever more important to acknowledge the widening gap between the two ends of the marketer spectrum – those stuck in the "dark side" who know the latest buzzwords but are still old-school, and those who have "seen the light" and want to explore conceptual and technological opportunities.
— Roger Stubbs, Driving SME Growth LTD

Looking back at this year and examining predictions from brands and agencies like Tyson Foods, Jim Beam, Bloomberg, and PulsePoint, three global trends began to emerge that are primed to affect different sectors in different ways.

This guide explores those trends, with quick tips that marketers can take back to their teams for 2019:

  • First, we explore how purchase behavior is being shaped by more ethical consumers and a disrupted customer journey.
  • Second, we discuss the moves brands are taking to invest more in values and crisis management.
  • Third, we look at the marketing tech (martech) and intelligence industry, and how trust and AI will shape marketing in 2019.

Learn about the huge trends that are sure to impact you in 2019, and print out our abbreviated checklist at the end of this guide to review with your team as we enter the new year.

1. Customers

Tackling 2019’s customer preferences and buyer journey

We’ve been monitoring how customers are behaving, shopping, and talking about brands all year. Without trying to sound like a broken record, the customer landscape has changed dramatically this year in nearly every industry.

Consumers are more likely than ever before to purchase with their heart, buying from brands who align with their values and boycotting brands that don’t. Additionally, brand loyalty has been on the decline for years due to increased competition, and more general cultural shifts.

How can we assess the new decision matrix for consumers in an increasingly complex purchasing journey? Price, convenience, new environments emerging daily – plus consumers want a trusted brand but not too corporate. Yikes!
— Julie Pender, Jim Beam Bourbon

This reduced loyalty coupled with a consumer more likely to purchase based on their personal values means brands need to be hyper-alert to how customers’ changing preferences could impact their bottom lines.

But it’s not just customer preferences and feelings that need monitoring. How customers navigate the ‘real life’ and digital worlds are also vital to keep track of.

For instance, after a dramatic year of both consumer- and business-facing changes, Facebook disrupted how brands engage with and understand their customers through social media, complicating the customer journey even further.

These changes can overwhelm any marketer, which is why it’s important to know not only how these trends affect your company, but also whether they are:

  • Blips — impacting you immediately in the short-term but soon levelling out

or

  • Shifts — cultural or wide-scale consumer changes with lasting effects

The below social media analysis of Nike’s conversation after they revealed their ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick shows the importance of understanding blips and shifts for Nike and its competitors.

The increase in conversation starting around September 3, 2018 (point A) looks like a blip at first glance. Nike’s ad campaign garnered a lot of public and media conversation, however the volume of attention begins to return to regular levels soon after.

However Iris, our AI-powered analysis tool identified a second unique peak in conversation on September 14, specifically discussing Nike’s stock price going up. Both the fact that Nike’s stock price went up and that the news reinvigorated conversation about the ad campaign suggests this decision shouldn’t be considered a blip but instead as a significant shift.

Marketers should invest in tools that will allow them to better engage and understand their customer while making their job a little simpler – CRMs, social monitoring software, chatbots or smartforms, etc.
— Julian Foster, Foster's Food Fair, Ltd.

Broad-ranging digital touch points and big cultural events will continue to change how consumers view, discuss, and communicate with brands. It’s now more necessary than ever that marketers are experts in their customers, the customer experience, and their industries as a whole.

And as your customers change, so should your marketing personas. For instance, does the ‘Millennial’ persona you created five years ago take into account that young people are now more politically active than ever?  Any customer persona or resource your team uses should reflect the constantly shifting and changing perceptions and preferences of your audience.

There are tools designed for marketers that make this easy, where you can quickly understand years worth of data around your industry, or analyze a specific topic or campaign in a much shorter time frame.

Quick tips on evolving customers in 2019:

  1. Recognize blips and shifts. To better invest in the changes that matter, monitor industry and cultural changes closely to differentiate between blips and shifts.
  2. Keep marketing personas flexible. When you come across cultural shifts, make sure your marketing personas are flexible enough to adapt as emerging trends affect your customers.

2. Brands

Belief-driven shopping, CSR, and a new age of brand management

When it comes to delivering to the customer, it’s not enough to simply understand them and what they want. Aspects of the changing customer will require a paradigm shift in the role brands play in society.

As customers are increasingly engaging in “belief-driven buying”, the first question that brands will ask themselves is “when is it worth it to get involved in a cultural or environmental movement?”

Traditionally, many would suggest that to keep your customer base as wide as possible you shouldn’t alienate anyone by taking a social, political, or ethical stance. But with brand loyalty out the window, this attitude could lead marketers to miss opportunities to build stronger alignments with their customers.

And we’ve seen that this year. Nike was not the only company to take a political, cultural, or environmental stance in 2018 – Dicks Sporting Goods and Patagonia, among others, have made public commitments to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

We spoke to Julie Pender, Marketing Manager at Jim Beam Bourbon, who explained, “for spirits brands, [CSR] means sustainable sources of our water & agriculturally based ingredients, and now it means better recyclable packaging.”

We predict that 2019 will see even more brands decide to invest in ‘moral marketing’. While this could lead to stronger brand-customer relationships, it won’t be without risk.

Ethics-oriented consumers are impacting every industry. 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, PulsePoint Group

To best prepare for the unexpected consequences of an investment in CSR, and to manage the increasingly unknown risk of reputational crises arising either way, brand strategy in 2019 must also incorporate a comprehensive crisis management plan of action.

In our guide to expert crisis management, we provide an in-depth outline of seven steps to ensure your brand is prepared for any digital, social, or consumer changes.

Quick tips on brand management in 2019:

  1. Be proactive with brand values. Proactively establish your brand’s values early and communicate them across your organization.
  2. Build a crisis management plan. Have a crisis management plan in place to deal with the unexpected.

3. Tools

Intelligent tools that marketers can trust

The enormous changes outlined above will make it necessary for marketers to have the right technology and skills in place to keep up.

AI, machine learning, big data analytics, and chatbots are some of the rapidly growing technologies and skills that marketing teams are considering investing in in 2019. These tools offer marketers new opportunities to deal with the questions and challenges the digital and social world are continually presenting to them.

However, with great opportunity comes great challenges.

Marketers already have difficulty proving the ROI of their financial and time investments, and the martech landscape is already so big. Can you trust that new tools will deliver results or data that exceeds what your team is already investing in? And are you making the most of the data and technology you’ve already got?

While digital media and marketing analytics budgets will likely increase in 2019, marketers will be more wary with what tools they add to their stack and will demand their tech produce reliable results and ROI.

As we become increasingly time poor, the need for the 'slow data' vital to understanding the way the audience is changing, is going to be even more challenging to get stakeholder buy-in and difficult to fund and support.
— Tara Clark, BBC - Marketing & Audiences

An important way to identify whether new technology solves your problem is by explicitly benchmarking against the ways you usually work, so you can answer the question: is this tool actually quicker, easier, or more reliable?

[Brandwatch's AI analyst] Iris provides expert users with a crucial second opinion, to make their insights even more reliable.
— Ben Donkor, Research Strategist, Brandwatch

If you regularly create monthly brand health reports for your C-suite and a new product touts that they use AI to create more insightful brand health analyses in less time, measure how long you usually spend creating those reports and request a demo of that product to compare the results and time frames.

As marketers look to innovate without giving in to the hype across our industry, tools purporting to help marketers perform better will need to prove their ROI as they’re scrutinized more heavily in 2019.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of unused technology or data that isn’t actioned. Sometimes, the solution lies in utilizing what you’ve already got in different ways.

Social intelligence is a great example of this. A recurring theme we’ve found from our research was the growing initiative to connect social media strategy and data back to other key corporate data points.

In 2019, marketers will need to be able to blend corporate data (what you know) with social data (what's coming).
— Steve Dodd, Socialgist

More generally, marketers typically struggle with driving actions from their regular reporting. When keeping social reporting siloed from web reporting or analyses of brand activations or print campaigns, social media marketers make it it harder for themselves to understand the impact of their work.

[For tools to] allow data to be securely shared between manufacturers and retailers is an opportunity to improve CX and drive added value for manufacturers, retailers, and shoppers – but I don’t think anyone's solved for it yet.
— Genevieve Mazzeo, Manager, Digital Commerce, Tyson Foods

However, as tools like Vizia (that can automatically pull data from across the tech stack) grow in popularity, we predict that in 2019 marketing teams will begin to build wider scale analyses, leading to more impactful and comprehensive reporting.

Quick tips on trustworthy tools in 2019:

  1. Benchmark before investing. Technology like AI will continue to advance, promising easier, faster, more reliable work. Before investing, benchmark against your traditional methods.
  2. Ditch the technology silos. Present data and results alongside one another to find meaningful insights quicker.

Closing notes

We predict that in 2019 companies will be faced with even more complicated customer journeys, pressure to define their brand values from more ethical consumers, and more and more tools aiming to solve these problems.

The successful marketers will be able to sift through their new and old resources to build strategies that understand their customers, align with their corporate values, and are flexible enough to change with disruption.

We’d like to thank everyone who’ve contributed to these insights, including the folks we’ve included throughout this piece:

Have trends or tips we’ve missed? Want to be included in our next article?
Tweet us @brandwatch, or drop us a line: info@brandwatch.com.

What will marketing and social analytics look like in 2019?

Watch the webinar, where you’ll hear from experts at Jaguar Land Rover and Hootsuite on how you can place smarter bets for more effective marketing in 2019 and beyond.

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