This post was originally published on Mira’s LinkedIn here.

Another New Year ritual is upon us as marketers. Predictions of top 2019 marketing trends now abound. They may seem bewildering in their diversity. It’s like that proverb about blind people feeling different parts of the elephant and coming to different conclusions about what animal it is. We each see different trends, depending on whether we have primarily a business strategy, technology, or perhaps data analytics view. So, how can we sort through this maze of choices?

I like to distinguish marketing fundamentals from marketing technology choice. In my New Year’s eve blog, I offered three pre-requisites I see prior to taking the plunge into adopting new marketing technologies; in summary, know your customer pain points and how they interact with your touch points, and harness all your enterprise-wide resources towards customer focus. Easy to capture in one breath, tough in practice to get right all the time. Clearly, companies differ in their starting points and corporate transformation is never really linear. In practice too, the pre-requisites I identified and technology choice can never be neatly separated and sequenced. Nonetheless, getting the fundamentals right is useful to minimise the risks of costly mistakes. Depending on where they stand with respect to these prerequisites, enterprises may be differently positioned to successfully follow the latest marketing technology trends.

I also made a New Year promise to review projected 2019 marketing trends. Below are five priorities I selected from among technology, business strategy, and data analytics trends. All of them involve technology choice which should be subordinated to business vision and strategy. Collectively, these five priorities represent a continuum of closely inter-related challenges with which I expect most marketers and their leadership to intensely grapple in 2019. Notwithstanding differences across verticals and industries, I would expect these five priorities to prevail one way or the other at the forefront of marketing leadership thinking this year albeit with variations from heavily B2C to primarily B2B enterprises, and from large to small businesses:

1) Transition from Multichannel to Omnichannel Marketing

Mastering your digital to multichannel to omnichannel marketing transition. We will see no end to a wildly disruptive 2019 technology landscape increasingly dominated by AI, mobile, analytics, voice, video, and virtual and augmented reality.  Underpinning such technology choices is a business vision and omnichannel marketing strategy which bridges the digital and physical worlds of customer experience.  Solidly grasping your customer pain points and touch points will position you to compete in the disruptive environment of omnichannel marketing. Expect your competitors to continue to unlock across all marketing channels the power of data-driven business analytics concurrently with powerful AI algorithms to anticipate and respond to your customers’ moves at various touch points, including chatbots, voice-based and other virtual assistants, mobile and other platforms. Many, if not most, businesses remain in a state of flux with respect to omnichannel execution. Noteworthy is that B2B buyers are seeking to match what appears well underway in B2C e-commerce omnichannel execution. I am also struck to read that UK retailers appear to fare better than US counterparts in achieving the supply chain economies from omnichannel marketing.  

2) Social Media Analytics

Harnessing social media analytics, given its projected 28.2% CAGR over 2018-2023,can easily be expected to preoccupy marketing leadership in 2019. No competitive marketer can afford to miss actionable insights on consumer sentiments which can be gleaned from mining vast amounts of data from platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Yet, even in 2019 many companies may find the discipline and cost of effective social media analytics to be overwhelming. But the ultimate payoff is noteworthy and compelling: “It gives marketing teams the knowledge and actionable insights they need to run better online media campaigns, with more audience-relevant content and posts, higher social-to-website traffic, and more engagement with content, leading to better results (pipeline, sales, or whatever targets are specified for social media campaigns).” 

3) ‘Everything in one spot’ platform integration

Pursuing ‘everything in one spot’ platform integration is a vision coming closer to reality for marketers as 2018 saw a wave of acquisitions which herald a significant consolidation of major marketing technology platforms. Martech integration can range from finding natively integrated tools within single platforms such as Hubspot or Salesforce , orTerminus or, more narrowly, workflow integration across specific tools such as LinkedIn and VimeoAI-assisted marketing, augmented reality, and voice-activated tools will dominate marketers’ attention in 2019, with virtual reality remaining a longer term proposition. AI and conversational user interfaces can benefit from being on a common platform with data/information security, digital marketing and The Internet of Things . With one 2018 estimate showing 6,829 unique MarTech solutions available, platform integration appears to become a dominant 2019 trend. Platform integration opportunities and choices will remain critical for small businesseswhere falling behind or making wrong technology choices in hyper competitive market spaces can spell near instant death. For small biz in particular, platform integration will mean allocating incremental ad dollars to existing platforms rather than paying for additional tools from additional platforms.

4) Data management

Aligning your data governance with regulation and customer preferences will in 2019 remain a crucial challenge and imperative, even placing data monetisation under severe legal scrutiny, just as social media analytics are exploding as a dominant trend as marketers enter our post GDPR world. Savvy players will marry a compliance culture with smart “less is more” principles which respect data privacy and consumer consent without sacrificing many of the key benefits of social media analytics. Once again, effective marketing will be crucial to convince consumers that companies can be trusted with their data

5) End-to-end customer centricity

Integrating enterprise-wide customer focus will be the essential glue which organizationally ties together the above four priorities. For example, just visualize what seamless cross-silo workflow it takes to make omnichannel marketing work smoothly with social media analytics while integrating platforms. Marketers ensure that all customer touch points feed the data scientist the raw material to model the optimal shipment point to anticipate and fulfill an order, which the developer then turns into a fulfillment app used by inventory-optimizing supply chain managers. Completing the data loop at the customer touch point, the contact agent uses real-time access to customer profiles for instantly actionable order execution and fulfillment confirmation while also exploiting cross-sell and up sell opportunities. In 2019, AI tied to large data sets will multiply opportunities for such seamless customer experience. Yet, as I highlighted in my previous blog,  end-to-end enterprise-wide customer centricity involve technology enablers which require C-suite leadership to drive collaborative integration across the enterprise. Expect 2019 to demand more than ever that CIOs and CMOs in particular will need to champion one another’s role (and budget) to realize the holy grail of fully delightful end-to-end customer experience.

Feel free to follow my Twitter account for continued analysis and updates. I also appreciate your feedback.

Once again, best wishes for 2019!