Many of our blogs explore recent trends and potential patterns of growth or change in the retail sector. The purpose is to provide information to help the retailer decide on their own company’s direction of travel. In this article we are using information from one of our long-standing partners, Champions Digital Agency, to highlight some of the trends that we can expect to see in digital marketing. Champions Digital is an award-winning brand agency that has offices in Nottingham and London. They have been at the forefront of digital marketing since 2003 and specialise in digital marketing, web design, SEO and social media marketing. According to an article written by Amad Tababa, the key areas of development that can be expected to drive a company’s digital marketing in the coming months are: Artificial Intelligence; Chatbots; Video Marketing; Live Video Streaming; Influencer Marketing and Voice Search. We will take a look at each in turn. Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is the growth area in the digital world, with 61 per cent of businesses surveyed by Narrative Science (a tech company based in Chicago), saying they are adopting AI technology. This is up from 36 per cent in 2016. Of those 61 per cent, more than three quarters said that AI had the biggest impact on their marketing activity of all the strategies they used. In business, AI can assist marketers by analysing and responding to user interactions. It can track and analyse consumer patterns and buying behaviours, information that can help plan the most effective marketing campaigns. Chatbots The little chat box that is being increasingly used by companies to provide a fast reply to consumer queries is another form of AI that is changing the way that companies interact with their customers. The robotic 24/7 conversational interface is fast becoming a popular means for customers to converse with companies. The robotic interface provides fast answers to user queries and is a personalised experience for website users. At the same time the Chatbot technology will also capture vital user information that can be used in future marketing strategies. Video marketing The take home message here is that video is the superstar in the digital marketing toolbox. Video on social media attracts 1,200 per cent more shares than texts and images combined. Businesses using video marketing experience 41 per cent more web traffic from search engines than non-users do. The increasing popularity of platforms such as Facebook and YouTube has made video marketing a major player in any publicity campaign. By creating unique and exciting content, brands can use videos to develop their own messaging and personality. This encourages engagement with online users and increases the brand’s online visibility. Content can be promotional, informative or just fun – the result is increased brand awareness. It is also yet another chance for the marketers to collect important information about their customers – views, shares and comments all indicate how their brand messages are being received. Live Video Streaming In a blow to the writers among us, a survey by streaming platform Livestream discovered that 80 per cent of respondents would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog. This makes it a trend that businesses cannot afford to ignore. Cheaper than producing video marketing content, live streaming can be utilised from smart phones and then used alongside other social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn all provide live broadcast facilities that allow businesses to share live video content. Examples of live video streaming content could include: product demonstrations, interviews with staff or clients, expert tutorials, company news updates, and behind the scenes style snippets of events and life in and out of the office. According to Livestream, 82 per cent of all internet traffic is expected to be driven by video streaming by 2020. That’s in just 12 months time. Influencer marketing If your company gets a ‘share’ from Huda Kattan, you have instantly advertised your brand to 23.8 million people. If your business happens to be in the beauty trade, you have hit marketing payday. Kattan, @hudabeauty is the number one social media influencer in the world and her followers hang on her every word/post. Likewise with Michelle Lewin (fitness), Nash Grier (mobile apps and games), Nikkie De Jagger (makeup and lifestyle) and Jake Paul (teenage entertainment). It is a question of finding the influencer who has a link to your own business offering. Internet influencers are digital celebrities. It is the people with the huge numbers of followers on social media. By tapping into their popularity, businesses can advertise their products and services to thousands or millions of users by just one post upload. This is a generational thing, with 70 per cent of teenagers saying they trusted influencers more than traditional celebrities. For businesses that are looking to attract the millennial generation, this is an area to pay attention to. The most common way of using the power of influencers is through platforms such as Instagram and Youtube. One share from an influencer can hit millions of people and that is digital marketing gold. Voice search Voice search is another wave of artificial technology that has rapidly burst on to the scene. Smart devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo and Siri offer quick access to information and entertainment. They are now being used once per day by over 40% of adults. With the use of these devices continuing to rise, 2019 could be the year that sees voice activated search takes over. All of these digital marketing tools are ever-evolving and what is a hot new trend in 2019 might be obsolete in 2020. The point is to stay aware and engaged with every marketing tool at your disposal. Only that way can you make the decisions that will help keep you ahead of the curve.