What can communications professionals learn from the IBM 2019 Marketing Trends report?

So I recently saw a link to the IBM 2019 Marketing Trends Report on LinkedIn and I thought it would be something good to read. Turns out, although it has a slight marketing slant, there are a lot of things that communications professionals can take from it.

If you want to access this report in full for yourselves, then you can download it on the IBM website. I’ve summarised the report within the article, but I’d advise giving it a full read!

The first thing I want to mention is how they’ve presented this report. They’ve provided a full-screen web experience, article content for each trend (with an anticipated read time), video content and – for the traditionalists – a downloadable PDF file.

Screenshot of the 2019 Marketing Trends website

This is a fantastic example of how you can develop one publication into multiple mediums to suit your different audience groups. Finally, like all good content, they have provided links to their products at the bottom, however, it’s not in your face and it doesn’t feel like a sales push.

So, on to the actual report and what comms professionals can take away right now. The report itself has 9 key trends, however, I have focussed them down into four themes that I believe communications professionals should be considering as part of their working lives for 2019.

1. Technology is our friend

The first trend within the report is about the “tech-savvy marketer” and how now more than ever there is a shift from marketers focussing on budget, tools and talent to a focus on how they can harness technology to create amazing customer experiences. The report also states how there is a huge skills gap within the sector with the standard corporate marketer lacking the technical skills to truly embed technology into their work.

Building on technology, the report suggests that businesses will need to look at their C-suite teams to maybe include a Director of Marketing Data. As the world of digital expands and more and more data is available for businesses to use, there is a huge opportunity to utilise this information to enhance the organisation. As businsses become better with their data, they will be able to employ AI and hyper-personalisation so that customers can feel like they are being personally sold to and don’t feel like they are just part of large database.

“While 94 percent of companies agree that personalization is critical to their current and future success, almost half say that IT roadblocks (47 percent) and legacy technology (46 percent) are major barriers to their personalization efforts.”

IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 3

Ultimately, marketing and communications departments need a shake up so that design, data, engineering, product and marketing teams can also work better together to satisfy their customers and make sales.

2. Data protection laws are our friends

Ultimately, GDPR should not be the enemy of a business. GDPR should be an opportunity to improve your security, your customer privacy and make you better at handling personal data.

“A recent study from IBM reveals that nearly 60 percent of organizations surveyed see GDPR as an opportunity to improve privacy, security, data management or as a catalyst for new business models, rather than simply a compliance issue or impediment. “

IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 5

This trend is all about improving your operations thanks to the GDPR legislation. IBM share the story of a business in Canada that saw their open rates after preparing for the new anti-spam laws in the country.

© IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 5

Therefore, it makes you think, instead of being glum that you have lost a large chunk of your database because they didn’t opt-in, or being annoyed you can’t hold as much data, is this an opportunity to get to your know your customers better?

“GDPR and other privacy regulations force marketers to focus their attention on improving data hygiene processes, leading to better targeting and higher quality interactions.”

IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 5

Maybe the customers who did opt-in are actually your true customers, of which are probably more likely to engage and ultimately transact. Essentially GDPR shouldn’t be our enemy, it should make us want to be better for our customers and respect the data they entrust us wtih.

3. Customer focus will allow us to evolve our practices

IBM open their 8th trend by saying how the expectations that customers have from the businesses they deal with are at an all-time high. It is now business critical that organisations transform how they connect, interact and personalise content for their audiences.

“A recent IDC FutureScape study predicts that by 2022, 35 percent of CX-focused organizations will adopt commerce everywhere business models and generate 50 percent of their revenue through contextual discovery experiences.”

IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 8

The traditional marketing funnel is dead. Yes, it is important to generate a pipeline for your business, but instead of transacting once, organisations need to develop a longer and deeper customer cycle that centres around the customer experience. Every one who has studied or worked in marketing will know that it costs more to attract a new customer than to service an existing one, therefore we need to create a higher life time value.

© IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 8

Businesses will need to engage with the data they have available, learn about the behaviours of their customers and deliver a hyper-personalised service to them, whilst simultaneously attracting new business. This will place more pressure on marketing and communications departments, however in order to compete in this changing marketplace it will become a necessity.

4. We need to be emotive with our audiences

Today’s world is all about personal customer engagement and understanding the value and power of emotions. IBM reinforce how for many customers, buying from a business is an emotional decision therefore a certain trigger must be pulled in, in order to enact a transaction. If an organisation wants to sustain that growth and encourage repeat business, it must pull these emotional triggers again and again.

“Buying is often an emotional decision, and customer experiences have to trigger the right emotions to get them to buy — and keep buying.”

IBM 2019 Marketing Trends | Trend 9

There is more and more importance placed upon a business to consumer relationship. This is growing in importance even more within the younger consumer base. These consumers, who often have less brand loyalty, will want to engage with authentic brand that a clear standpoint and acts in accordance with their values.

With the increasing data protection and privacy laws, attracting new business is becoming more and more costly therefore, in order for businesses to secure long-term success, they need to focus on building a purpose-driven brand and develop a marketing program backed by technology, insights and data.

No pressure then.


There are 9 trends in total in the report which are described as the “most exciting trends developing in the world of marketing in 2019”. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use these four takeaways and start making positive change in your communications for the upcoming year.

The full report is definitely worth a read and also it’s a great example of how to display content in a more engaging way.


If you have any comments or areas that you think I may have missed, please do let me know.

Follow me on Twitter for more updates . . . @BradTheCommsGuy

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