By T.J. Welsh

Source: Forbes

As brands strive to remain competitive, efficiency and customer experience are top priorities in marketing today. With so many tools on the market, marketers know they have to stay on top of things or risk being left behind. As 2019 rapidly approaches, you’re likely sitting down to plan out your own marketing strategy for the year.

With each passing year, technology continues to shift the way brands connect with customers. The first step is to identify the tools you will need, then find ways to use those tools to boost your own marketing campaigns. Before you can come up with an approach, though, you need to first identify the challenges you’re facing and find ways to plan in advance to overcome them.

Top Challenges For 2019

Every brand has limited funds for advertising and marketing each year, so the biggest challenge is figuring out how much and where to spend them. Should you put your money into paid social media ads or organic marketing? It is hard to say, but understanding changing trends can make a big difference.

These are a few of the top challenges I see brands facing in the coming year:

• Digital ad costs are increasing. One factor complicating advertising decisions is the fact that the price of digital advertising is increasing, five times faster than inflation, according to a report by Adobe Digital Insights. This means each ad dollar is potentially less effective, leaving you to decide whether to invest more to get your ad in front of the same audience size.

• Influencers are charging more and reaching fewer. Your budget will also see the strain of increased competition for influencers and the challenges social media algorithms pose on reaching their audiences. Furthermore, celebrity influencers on social media with large audiences reportedly command as much as $1 million per post — a cost that can put a significant dent in your marketing budget, without a clear path for measuring your return on investment. In addition to this is a growing customer distrust for businesses. This distrust could spread to influencers who come across as inauthentic.

• E-commerce competition is on the rise. Lastly, each year seems to bring more innovators to each space. From more established markets to new categories like athleisure wear, it’s easier than ever for competitors to start a new business, grow a following and win over customers that once were loyal to your own brand.

Six Trends Affecting Your 2019 Planning

Once you’ve identified your own unique challenges, you’ll need to look at the opportunities that will be available to you in 2019, hopefully, driven by current trends.

1. Video Marketing: As social media continues to evolve, I’ve taken note that video is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to get a marketing message across. I predict live streaming will become even more popular in 2019. Additionally, marketers should use personalized video messages and 360-degree videos to give brands more venues to reach customers in 2019.

2. Augmented Reality: Augmented reality (AR) is creating new ways for customers to try out products and services — letting customers interact with products as though they were standing directly in front of them. I think brands that can develop content that allows customers to truly experience their products may start to come out on top.

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