Trends to watch out for in 2019

Posted by Alison Leishman

Are you ready for 2019? Our team lays out the trends to prepare for in the year ahead, from marketing strategy to content and more.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 28 seconds

2018 was a quick paced year, laced with hot news and fast moving trends. But what lies ahead, and how can we use this to our advantage?

Each year we look forward and consider as a business what trends we see taking front stage.  This year is no different. With subject lines concerning digital transformation, data privacy, customer centricity and alternative search filling our inbox, there is so much that is happening in the world of marketing, sales and services.  We asked our team to put pen to paper and share their perspective as to what 2019 has in store for us.

ROI and marketing budgets

Darren Leishman, MD

“2019 will see companies under increasing financial pressure. In turn this means that marketers will have to work even harder to justify budgets. I believe the focus for 2019 will be on effectiveness, measurability and increased return on investment. The pressure to deliver revenue will force marketers and sales teams to work closer together to ensure they are able to identify opportunities sooner and convert them to revenue. 2019 is an election year in South Africa so we can expect lots of disruption and political wrangling which will pull focus away from core economic activity. This is a threat to the macro environment but if we are tactical and in touch with our customers there is lots of opportunity for growth.

Digitising and reporting on events:

Marlize Laubscher, Inbound Marketing Strategist and Inbound Events

I believe that businesses are becoming more aware of the need for reporting on previously unmeasured activities such as events.  Companies often host or attend events for personal growth, learning or networking and in so doing are spending money without really know the ROI they are getting. In my opinion, with the economic changes in South Africa, people will need in depth tracking and reporting to justify hosting and attending these activities. More than this, they will need to use them to build relationships and close deals.

Brand transparency: Trevor Van Rensburg, Commercial Director

“My trend to watch in 2019 is transparency. More and more companies are encouraging open two-way communication channels with their consumers to help form better relationships and build trust.  Martech companies have recognised this and will prioritise the development of automation tools that will help teams communicate one-to-one with customers and prospects at scale.  HubSpot is again at the forefront with the launch of its Conversations tool which brings together live chat, team email, and an easy-to-use chatbot builder.  Marketing, sales and customer success teams can now work out of one inbox and all of those conversations are automatically saved and stored for total transparency.”

Live chat: Shiran Sugerman, Inbound Marketing Strategist

“I think for me in SA specifically we're going to start seeing a push to have more live chat. It's a trend that has been building overseas but I think the SA market is starting to want more discussion directly with brands. Live chat will become expected (and not an exception) and people will want to get answers NOW rather than fill in a form and hope they get an answer in time. Audiences are also becoming more tech savvy each year and this will mean that they want to have that conversation anywhere anytime, so mobile experience is going to be important. This could potentially see a rise in the use of apps like Facebook messenger where people can have that "live chat" with a brand.”

Shorter emails: Sarah Mills, Inbound Marketing Strategist and Operations Manager

“For me, I think we might see a trend towards fewer email threads and more ‘"human"’ conversations as we've seen emerge in 2018. The need for long workflows, I predict, will dwindle. Instead, shorter, sharper and to the point emails will become prevalent, and the nature of marketing automation and nurturing will adapt to this.”

Less is more: Alison Leishman, Strategic Director

“I believe that we are entering the period of less is more.  This could be through shorter, more concise emails, or through creating fewer pieces of content but ensuring that they either start a conversation or add more depth to an existing conversation. It could be ensuring that you are using personalisation to ensure a great consumer experience or by using data visualisation tools such as Databox to prepare your dashboards for your clients which allows you to focus on the insights. My focus on less is more is around ensuring that we are consistently delivering what is required for our client and their customers - not following a new trend or technology merely because it is trending, but because it is what is right for our customers audience. It is time to apply learn, not only learn.  It is time to stand out for consistency, authenticity and creativity in a digital world. At Spitfire Inbound we are experts at inbound marketing, sales and events - our 2019 trend is to continue to stand out in this space and deliver exceptional work for our clients.”

Customer delight: Nicole Sengers, Principal Inbound Marketing Strategist 

“While 2018 was the year where we saw a shift from funnel to flywheel, who can forget Brian Halligan's own real life flywheel at Inbound18... but that means that 2019 will be a year where customer experience is king. Brands will have to work harder at delighting their customers and as customers get used to better and better online experiences, companies will have to keep up. This will manifest itself in more real time responses and will increase the use of tools like live chat to assist customers when they need help. It also means that brands will have to work even harder to stand out and leave consumers with a more personal and memorable experiences.”

Niche content: Samantha Steele, Content Director

“Content is the engine that drives many marketing strategies, and as a result the internet is saturated with content - some great, some awful, but the majority of it is completely mediocre. Many brands have tried to cash in on any traffic, and jump on trending bandwagons despite a lack of expertise or new insights to add to the conversation - and often despite the topic being well out of their industry. The best way to stand out from this white noise is to stick to what you know, and add real value to those conversations. And this means taking the scary leap of becoming more niche! As we’ve seen in 2018, audiences trust and engage with topic authorities. The best way to become an authority is to illustrate credible expertise on the topic! So my best advice is, brands, stick to what you know.”

Greater investment in paid ads: Maricelle Gouws, Social Media Specialist

“The social media industry changes at an alarming speed, so I think there will be a big move towards Instagram Stories and IGTV, because people will find this an easier and cheaper way to create engaging and interactive content. More and more brands will also invest more money on paid ads to make their content stand out from the crowd. There will be an even smaller organic growth and reach than 2018, because platforms are moving more towards paid reach and engagement from paid ads.”

With so much to watch out for in 2019 please sign up to our blog. We promise to deliver you less with more - more depth, more trends, more tips and more results. Happy 2019.

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