The year is winding down, which means marketers are deciding which 2019 marketing trends to follow in the year ahead and why they matter. Each small choice to follow or overlook a trend can contribute to the success or failure of the plans, strategies, and actions marketers take to build more personalized connections with their client base in meaningful ways.

Some tech trends are also maturing, opening new opportunities, target markets, and scalability that offers a new dimension of functionality to leverage. Other trends continue to enhance personalization tactics, taking conversational selling into version 2.0 and bringing dynamic content to new levels of creativity and innovation.

Pulling together the right trends versus current tools is critical and worth the time and effort each year. It helps brands check in on what needs an upgrade or expansion and offers a chance to clarify the necessary marketing power of trends in your particular industry to make the most of the year ahead.

Are you in the process of marketing planning? Now is the time to think about how the following trends can help your brand take advantage of new opportunities and tools in powerful ways as you create marketing plans and content.

Leverage Trends to Create Focus, Then Refine

The best way to take advantage of trends that matter is to have an open mind while keeping past and future performance goals front and center. When marketers see where they’re growing from, it’s easier to implement the key trends that empower them creatively and in the minds of customers.

1. Update Site Design with Mobile in Mind

It’s no secret that everyone’s target market shops and price compares online in record numbers, often using a mobile device to do it. So, take a beat to think about the current state of your mobile presence. Does it need a tune up to improve mobile usability and search? Are there new keywords that cater to mobile users? Is functionality outdated or clunky for mobile devices?

As more B2B buyers use smartphones to conduct business, having a mobile-first website increases the amount of time on site, decreases bounce rate, and reduces overall site load time—each a factor in site ranking. Also, keep in mind that over half of all Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, and Google prioritizes mobile optimized websites in search results, according to Forbes.

To prioritize mobile on your brand’s site, pour through data analytics and review mobile stats from the past year. Use them to upgrade the quality of a brand’s web presence using key terms clients leveraged to find you. Clear out old content and pump up overall site performance with mobile in mind as a content driver. Remember, potential customers want a cohesive online experience on any device, so make it easy.

2. Rethink SEO and Longtail Keywords

There’s a reason why longtail keywords are so important—they serve as a peek into the mind of a target market. When you know the phrases they use, it’s much easier to connect the dots to common ways they find your brand and offerings.

In addition to providing buyer search patterns, SEO and longtail keywords can be different for mobile. Think about it: when you’re in a hurry or using a small device, do you type in different, shorter keywords than when you’re at a comfy desk? Mobile devices also make it easy to improve open rates on personalized marketing content, which means the wording included in content outreach needs to be relevant, too.

Also, take note that 70% of all search traffic originates from longtail keywords, and people who use them have higher purchase intent because they’re searching for a specific thing.

To improve site performance, optimize each webpage with different longtail keywords to increase relevance and search results. Consider leveraging latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords—the words or phrases that are semantically related to each other and often found together within a page of text but not limited to synonyms or keywords with similar definitions.

In short, LSI keywords help build context without keyword stuffing techniques and improve the chances of a variety of search strings getting accurate results.

The most important part is that LSI keywords help search engines more accurately understand the brand’s content and make it easier for voice-activated AI to deliver quality search results, too. As voice-activated search matures, LSI keywords will become increasingly essential and valuable. Some analysts also say close to 50% of all searches will be made through voice search by 2020.

3. Pump up Visual Content and Video

The power of video continues to dominate, even though B2B marketers are still exploring ways to use it that resonate with their audiences. In fact, Cisco projected that more than 80% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021—which means brands definitely need a video content strategy.

Visual content is easy to consume from any device, increases on-site time, and can clearly demonstrate the why behind a product or service. This is what makes video such a powerful tool for education and conversions. According to Forbes, 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions, and 64% of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy.

For B2B marketers, that’s a sign it’s time to take stock of content creation habits and how much can be transitioned to video.

Some existing content can be revived with a new twist using video. It can be used to show a day in the life kind of perspective or feature influencers or previous customers to create a more personalized perspective. Snackable VR experiences can also boost traffic and be leveraged at tradeshows or other public venues to enhance creative storytelling opportunities that keep people hooked to find out what’s next.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to video is that not all potential customers will listen with the sound on, so factor that into the creative process.

4. Use Templates to Save Time and Sanity

When it comes down to content management clarity and saving time, marketers can’t beat digital marketing templates. Templates help kick off a year of content in an organized way and enable marketing teams to effectively plan for diversified content including video, voice-activated content, social media, and more in a way that captures what kind of personalized touch customers want this season.

It also offers a chance for marketing teams to compare successes from the year before and use it as a measuring stick to move forward in a strategic way that builds on prior success or new marketing directions and modalities.

To make the most of templates, set up a quarterly meeting to review existing strategies and see how they’re performing. Templates are a powerful yet simple way to track efforts and directly compare them to results received. The important part is to decide what stats are most important to measure or track for business growth ahead of measure and review time.

5. Blend Technology with Authentic Customer Service

No matter what’s trending as a specific modality or tool, customers care most about how that tech is going to improve their user experience. The trick is knowing what your customer base prefers—especially how they communicate—and finding a way to deliver supportive, authentic, personalized customer service throughout the buyer’s journey.

Automation does not mean a lack of personal touch or using tech to do all the customer connecting for a brand that appears human. Find a way to balance both that pulls on all the strengths of teams throughout the organization and offers a personalized touch from each as a client moves through the purchase process.

No matter what trends are in season, focus on what works best for your brand and customer base to create the most impact and improved sales.

To make marketing planning fun and effective, think from the customer’s perspective, then apply a relevant trend to take their customer experience to the next level.

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.