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It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about curling up in front of the TV to watch your favorite classic holiday films (though it is that time of year, too). December is the month where we begin to think about the new year – in this case, 2019 – and everything that lies ahead. As is our tradition here at WSI, we like to make a few predictions while we look toward the future.

Dating back to 2014, we’ve made a marketing predictions post for 201520162017 and 2018. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the entire reason we started doing these marketing predictions posts: Rand Fishkin’s annual predictions on the Moz blog, which he began doing all the way back in 2011.

Since we like to keep things real here on the WSI digital marketing blog, we’ll grade the claims we made last year, just to make sure we’ve still got the Nostradamus touch.

Here’s the grading scale we created for the OG predictions post in 2014:

  • Oracle (+2) –when we’re so right it’s like we channeled that nice lady from The Matrix
  • Oracle In-Training (+1) –we didn’t quite see the whole picture, but hey, we still saw the future
  • Clear As Mud (0) –we weren’t right, but we weren’t wrong, either
  • Just A Bit Outside (-1)– we tried to paint the corner of the plate, but the ump didn’t give us the call
  • Swing And A Miss (-2)– like a batter who expects fastball and gets a curve, we weren’t close

For 2018, we made these five predictions:

#1: The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Powered Future of Marketing Will Take Shape

Grade: +2

We won’t pretend this was an overly hard prediction to make but hey, when you’re right, you’re right. There is no doubt about it – AI is changing the way marketers do their jobs and thus, the way businesses market their products and services. Deep learning is giving marketers access to unprecedented amounts of extremely detailed data, which in turn is plugged into automated systems and platforms. There’s still a strong need for human marketers (so we’re not panicking just yet) but AI is no longer just part of marketing’s future – it’s the present.

#2: Smart Digital Assistants and Chatbots Become Mainstream

Grade: +2

We’re just going to leave this here: Why Your Customers Want to Chat and How it Can Change Your Business. And this too: Why Advanced Technologies like Chatbots Continue to Rely on Traditional Marketing. If we’re writing about a topic this often a year after predicting it’d be a big deal, you better be giving us two full oracle points.

#3: Marketers Start Creating Augmented Reality (AR) Content

Grade: +1

It’s not mainstream, so we aren’t going to take full marks, but AR content definitely became a thing in 2018. Apple has ARKit, Facebook has AR Studio, and big brands Ikea, Pepsi and Sephora have done massive AR content campaigns. AR content is only going to grow from here.

#4: Influencer Marketing Maintains Its Foothold

Grade: +2

Influencer marketing not only maintained its foothold – it continued to grow. See for yourself:

Google Trends Influencer Marketing

#5: More Brands Invest in Perfecting Their Customer Experience

Grade: 0

We do this once a year. We feel strongly about something, make a prediction on it, and then it’s nearly impossible to properly grade. In our mind, businesses should absolutely be investing more money into improving, and then perfecting, their customer experience journey. But whether it’s actually happening is much harder to say. We’ll call it even.

Final Score: +7

Well would you look at that! 7 points is the highest we’ve ever scored for the previous year’s predictions. Good stuff, if we don’t say so ourselves. All the more reason to jump right into what we see for the future of marketing in 2019:

The Future of Digital Marketing 2019

#1: Google Searches Resulting in “Zero Clicks” Will Increase (Again)

The aforementioned Rand Fishkin has been warning us about “zero click” searches for a while now, and we’re listening. The game is once again changing, and to ignore the significance of searchers clicking SERP results less often is to get totally left behind.

#2: On-SERP SEO Becomes a Term and a Tactic

We’ve written about why you need to care about on-SERP SEO, and in 2019, we predict that “On SERP SEO” becomes the latest buzzword in the marketing world. Something has to give here. We’re surprised more people aren’t talking about how much SERPs are changing, or alarmed by how fast actual clicks are declining.

If the trend continues like we expect it to, the companies that find a way to do amazing on-SERP SEO will be the biggest winners.

#3: Game-Changing Influencer Marketing Tools Make a Big Splash

The big one we’re waiting for is SparkToro, a company that states its goal as the following:

Our mission is to make it easier to discover the websites, blogs, podcasts, social accounts, and publications that reach your audience.

Sounds not only a sorely needed, but absolutely fantastic tool. We can’t wait to use it!

#4: Marketers Realize the Importance of Optimizing Content for Voice Search

We touched on voice search in our recent post about the four content marketing ideas you should try in 2019, so we’re going to double down here. With the rise (and vast improvement) of smart speakers and digital assistants, the use of voice search is becoming more prevalent. And yes, you guessed it – voice search is another thing responsible for less clicks on SERPs. Content that’s optimized for voice search will outperform content that isn’t in 2019 and beyond.

#5: Video Content Grows in Popularity (Again)

This prediction is related to both #1 and #4. You already know that video is a great way to ignite your marketing campaigns. Smart marketers also know that Google will still feature videos on SERPs, which makes sense since Google owns YouTube. Not that video wouldn’t grow in popularity anyway, but it’s nice to know video isn’t going to take a hit despite Google actively trying to decrease clicks on SERPs.

As for video getting a boost from voice search, this is already happening on smartphones and tablets, but when smart speakers with displays begin to hit the marketing, the impact will be even more pronounced.

That’s it for WSI’s predictions for the future of marketing in 2019 and beyond! We know it’ll be tough to top the 7 points we scored for our 2018 predictions, but we certainly gave it our best shot.

Until next year – cheers and happy holidays, we wish nothing but the best for all our friends, readers, customers and partners! Here’s to a banner year in 2019!


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