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Dream Less, Do More: 2019 Marketing Predictions

Dream Less, Do More: 2019 Marketing Predictions

Sarah Steimer

2019 fortunes

We’re closing the book on a decade ​marked by digital marketing trends, influencers and AI. This final year of the 2010s means less dreaming and more implementing.



The largest percent change (8% increase) in marketing knowledge investments in the prior 12 months was in developing new marketing knowledge and capabilities.


Not sharing the knowledge across teams

26% of creative professionals say that a lack of cross-departmental collaboration is the biggest barrier to executing digital initiatives.


“In conversations with most of our clients, training has been discussed at length. From distributor training to internal staff training, utilizing interesting, interactive [learning management systems] to bring organizations and brands together has been a focus. Each organization has their own issues, but leveraging technology to train about products, culture and mission is a trend that will continue and grow in 2019.”

—Jim Heitzman, president of advertising agency Celtic Chicago


Deeper customer insights

31% of consumers say that they would find great value in services that intuitively learn about their needs over time to customize product, service or content recommendations.


Failing to speak with customers directly

Only 42% of B2B content marketers say they have conversations with customers as part of their audience research. As explained in Liam Fahey’s The Insight Discipline, insight often comes from small data—which means interacting directly with consumers.


Working across departments 

Professionals give their company’s cross-department collaboration efforts a 3.5 out of 5 rating, leaving plenty of room for improvement.  


Conflicting goals and priorities

37% of professionals say conflicting goals and priorities are the biggest barrier to cross-departmental collaboration at their companies.

“[There’s] lots of pressure to be integrative [and] cross-functional in approach to go-to-market strategy.”

—Bernie Jaworski, the Peter F. Drucker Chair in Management and the Liberal Arts



43% of U.S. consumers are more likely to shop with companies that always personalize experiences, and 31% say that they would find great value in services that intuitively learn about their needs over time to customize product, service or content recommendations.  


Limited concern about data privacy and security

92% of U.S. consumers say it is extremely important for companies to protect their personal information, and 48% will try to buy only from companies they believe will protect their personal data, though they don’t fully trust all of the brands they conduct business with. Despite high customer concern about data privacy, marketers rank the topic as only 3.6​ on a scale from 1 (not at all worried) to 7 (very worried).

“Personalization will continue to be a big differentiator. Using technology does not mean talking to customers at scale generically; it creates the opportunity to talk to customers specifically on the right channels at the right time.”

—Erika Brookes, CMO of Springbot


Making a social stand

64% of consumers are belief-driven shoppers, a 13-point increase from the year prior. It’s not just millennials, either: A majority of all ages and all incomes are belief-driven buyers. 75.8% of CMOs who take a social stand say it shows their company cares about more than making profits.  


Negative effects on the company’s ability to attract and retain customers and partners

78.6% of CMOs do not believe it’s appropriate for their brand to take a stance on politically charged issues. Although this is down from 82.6% six months prior, CMOs remain concerned that taking a stand will negatively affect their ability to attract business, make them stand out in the wrong way and be a waste of resources.

Marketing careers in 2019


Keep your team happy: The top three drivers of workplace happiness for creative and marketing professionals:

1. Doing worthwhile work

2. Feeling appreciated for what they do

3. Interest in their work7

Foster a positive culture: 35% of job candidates would not accept a position if the role were perfect but the corporate culture wasn’t.

Consider flexible work arrangements: Half of advertising and marketing hiring decision-makers feel productivity would increase if their company instituted a compressed schedule, where employees work four 10-hour days. 76% support allowing staff to attend to nonwork-related tasks while on the clock to boost overall performance.

Provide opportunities to learn new skills: 70% of creative professionals rate efforts by their organization to prep employees for new technology adoption as fair or poor. The top skills they would like to develop include: 

1. Web and user experience design (24%)

2. Content creation and content marketing (8%)

3. Data visualization (8%)

4. Video production (8%)

5. User interface design (7%)10


In 2019, the number of marketing hires is estimated to increase by 6.4%. The biggest percent increase in planned marketing hires in the next 12 months is in B2C product companies (9.7%), followed by B2B product companies (7%), B2C services (6.3%) and B2B services (4.1%).

Polish your digital skills: 71% of creative and marketing professionals say it’s hard to find talent with up-to-date digital skills. Employers are increasingly interested in candidates who are proficient in:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Content creation and content marketing
  • Data science, data analysis and A/B testing
  • Digital strategy
  • Front-end web development
  • Motion graphics
  • SEO and SEM
  • Social media management
  • User experience and user interface design
  • Video production

High-Tech Trends to Watch

Authentication technology: 67% of consumers are interested in fingerprint recognition to make payments. 59% of consumers abandon online purchases because they didn’t have their debit or credit card and 49% abandon their cart because they forgot their password.

Smart speakers: The number of smart speaker users in the U.S. is expected to grow to 76.5 million by 2020. The average smart speaker user has the same profile as most early tech adopters: affluent, older millennial males. However, smart speakers have started to gain traction among other demographic groups, particularly younger Gen X women with children.

Nanoinfluencers: Marketers are tapping nanoinfluencers—online personalities with as few as 1,000 followers—to reach desired consumers. Unlike celebrity influencers, these smaller-scale influencers are easier to work with and their lack of fame makes them more approachable and more genuine to their followers. Instagram users with 1,000 to 10,000 followers earn the highest “like” rate, and 82% of surveyed customers say they would be very likely to follow a recommendation from an influencer of this size.

Blockchain: If you still don’t know what blockchain is, it’s time to do your research. Blockchain may have major implications for marketers, as the technology is predicted to change data collection, digital display ads, consumer targeting and digital asset security. 

Chatbots: Chatbots can deliver the speed consumers crave. The top three potential benefits of chatbots identified by consumers are 24-hour service (64%), instant responses (55%) and answers to simple questions (55%).

Snackable content: Think tweet-able graphics and bumper ads (typically six seconds in length). These easily digestible pieces of content are almost too short to ignore. Google tested more than 300 bumper campaigns​ in 2016 and found that 9 out of 10 drove a significant lift in ad recall.

We Asked Marketers: What’s In and What’s Out for 2019?


“Continued migration to digital marketing and budget shifts away from traditional sources. Increased buzz on predictive analytical modeling and focusing more on the future than on past historical data.”

—Bernie Jaworski, the Peter F. Drucker Chair in Management and the Liberal Arts

“Communication and conversion via technology that moves further into the background, learns daily habits and frees the user from a handset.”

—Tasha Cronin, co-director of interactive production at Droga5

“2019 will be the year when the AI hype cycle turns into AI implementation in most of our marketing tools. … First, AI functionality, flexibility and ease of use will increase. Second, there’s a growing awareness of the cost-saving benefits of AI within marketing. Third, companies are realizing that AI is crucial for implementing one-to-one marketing—particularly across social media channels.”

—Grad Conn, chief experience and marketing officer at social media management software company Sprinklr

“The surge in influencer marketing will reach further into the B2B world. While few B2B brands will have the budget—or desire—to earn a Kardashian plug on Instagram, receiving an endorsement from a valued expert voice within the field can go a long way.”

—Jeremy Hogan, associate director of content and social, Celtic Chicago

“Widespread use of virtual and augmented reality as a marketing tool. With commercial applications for these technologies coming online at a breakneck pace, these are no longer futurist concepts, they are the present. … Look for [small- and medium-sized businesses] to get in on the act in 2019 and determine creative ways to use this exciting technology to engage their customers and prospects.” 

—Adam Grossman, CMO and EVP of Boston Red Sox & Fenway Sports Management


“I have the same item that I’ve been unsuccessfully wishing away for years, but it’s getting closer to reality all the time: the end of demographic targeting.”

—Peter Fader, professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

“Treating content like a test-and-learn budget. It should be a cornerstone of marketing and sales strategy. (Same with) fixed marketing plans and budgets. Agile is the new world order for marketers, not just for developers.”

—Erika Brookes, CMO of eCommerce marketing automation platform Springbot

“User interest is no longer king; marketers need to focus more on intent. While a company’s value and story will be the same, the language around any outreach must reflect the intent of the user. Whether that’s looking for growth, profit or something more qualitative, [language] needs to clearly align with your user’s intended outcome.”

—Hana Abaza, director of marketing at Shopify Plus​

Sarah Steimer is a writer, editor, podcast producer, and yoga teacher living in Chicago. She has written for Marketing News, Chicago magazine, Culture magazine, the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, and other outlets.