In 2018 we experienced many ups and downs that will greatly shape and evolve our strategies in 2019. Big changes are coming and we’ll need to hit the ground running in order to keep up with the competition.

Not to worry! We’ve come up with the top five trends for 2019 to help you make some fail safe resolutions for the year ahead:

  1. The shift from personalization to individualization

Remember when we thought personalizing emails was cool?

Adding “Hey Suzy,” to the heading of your email and recommending a book she’s already read is not going to impress her.

Personalizing emails and sharing content based on personas is now becoming old school. We’re moving towards a new era in which, to be effective, marketers will have to know exactly what Suzy wants, even before she does.

Last year 94% of marketers were focused on improving their data and analytics capabilities, personalization technologies and customer profile data management. Improving customer experience will be one of the top priorities for decision makers in 2019 according to a Forrester Consulting study.

  • At the same time, 2018 was the year of data protection

Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out, people have become more concerned than ever about how companies are using their data. In the US a survey by Pew Research found that about half of social media users were not at all or not too confident their data was in safe hands. In fact, 91% agreed or strongly agreed that people have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by entities.

In the EU, businesses were scrambling until the last minute to get their practices in line with the new GDPR regulation. The blanket data protection rules are now the strongest in the world, greatly limiting companies’ data collection practices and protecting the personal information of EU citizens from being shared.

The growing realization of how personal data can be twisted and misused has expanded globally. Edelman’s 2018 Global Trust Barometer found that 71% of respondents want brands to safeguard their personal data and 70% want them to curb the spread of fake news.

This means that in 2019 marketers will need to both win back trust and rethink the way they collect and use data.

  • Dark social, the next frontier

While concern over user protection really got the conversation rolling, as a society we were already moving away from our once overzealous need to share every detail about our personal lives publicly. According to Buzzsumo’s 2018 Content Trends Report, social sharing has been cut in half since 2015.

Where have all the cat videos gone? Not to worry, RadiumOne found that, while social sharing has gone down, dark social shares have increased from 69% in 2014 to 84% in 2018 globally. Dark social includes all interactions that are difficult for marketers to track such as shares via messaging apps, Facebook groups, Slack channels, Meetup pages, chatbots and even customer service tools like Intercom.

Smart marketeers are leveraging the rise of dark social to identify, join and create groups about their niche. Others are going one step further by engaging in direct conversations with people, successfully moving from personalized to a more individualized marketing approach.

  • Brands become more vocal and encompassing

Sharing high-quality content has always been a prerequisite to good marketing practice. To make individualization work we’ll need to go even deeper.

Brands aren’t just about their products anymore. A large majority of millennials believe that businesses have the potential to solve society’s economic, social and environmental challenges (three quarters of millennials and Gen Z workers according to Deloitte). Meanwhile, Kantar Consulting’s Purpose 2020 Report found purpose driven brands have increased their valuation by 175% over the past 12 years.

Going beyond your product, your brand should encompass a sense of purpose and a lifestyle that enables your consumers to live and breath your ethos. We’re seeing more and more brands (like Nike and Patagonia) voice their opinions on everything from environmental issues to politics.

In the age of purpose marketing, storytelling will become an extremely important skill. Instead of creating the same old sales pitch, consider creating a sub-brand publication on Medium or a branded podcast that will influence, not only your audience’s purchasing choices, but also their lifestyle choices.

  • Outsourcing to freelance digital marketing experts

The need to build and maintain a consistent online identity will require more marketing muscle than ever. But will marketing now become the department with the lowest operating costs and the highest payroll? 

The rise of the gig economy has made it so much easier for companies to hire individuals to help them build up, promote, and advertise their content. However, up until now if you wanted to have it all done in one you either had to find a very multi-talented and fast working freelancer or hire a very expensive agency.

Now we’re seeing a move towards greater online cooperation. Instead of hiring one freelancer for PR, content creation, social and growth marketing, freelance marketing teams are banding together to offer an all in one service at a lower cost and higher quality than traditional marketing agencies.

With this 2019 cheatsheet you’re now ready to get on track as soon as you head back to the office. So sit back, relax and Happy New Year!

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