A digital marketing ninja in 2019 cannot afford to have a one-dimensional approach when it comes to selling a product or service online. During the advent of digital marketing, it was only SMS and email marketing, then came PPC, SEO & SEM in the early 2000s followed by social media boom and marketing as the way the world saw it, was changed forever. It was no longer about subjective opinions and ideas of individuals, marketing evolved into a customer-driven, data-centric approach of selling things online. It's targeted, it's measurable and let's face it, it's fun.
Keeping up with all the latest technologies and trends in digital marketing can be a bit overwhelming and books(even audiobooks) are entirely out of the question. By the time an author writes and publishes a book, some of it is already outdated. The best way to stay up to date is with blogs, podcasts, Quora, and Reddit.
To become a digital marketing ninja, you cannot just stick to marketing. That one-dimensional knowledge sphere will not do you much good, especially not in 2019. Think of your mind as a continually expanding neural network that keeps adding new connections over time. Whether it's from marketing, analytics, design or programming. The cross-linkage between these connections gives way to a profound understanding of how the different elements can link to one another. And that is powerful.
A couple of years ago, there was no need for a digital marketer to know how to code but now with the advent of web technologies and the increasing reliance on developers, a new wave of "code literate" marketers have evolved who understand the necessity of knowing how to code. From something simple like using regular expressions in Google Analytics to something complex like automating AdWords reports in Google Sheets via Apps Scripts, you essentially become more efficient, productive and self-reliant.
Digital Marketing is rapidly evolving, and it's getting harder and harder to keep up. I often struggle to retain my focus towards one particular topic, I guess the internet is to blame for our declining attention spans thanks to the repeated bombardment of targeted & retargeted advertisements, but who am I to complain, it's a necessary step towards a future where there is enough data(exabytes of it) to create personalized advertisements for each user that is indistinguishable from their personal preferences. All this could very well be possible in 2019, with great strides in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence, that takes the guesswork out of marketing. We will be able to develop and deploy hyper-targeted campaigns with dynamic creatives that are optimized in real time. We are moving away from full-page magazine and newspaper adverts to tiny 250x250 HTML5 animated banners that deliver 50X the ROI.
Let's look at the demographic you will be primarily targeting in 2019 - Millennials!
Millennial marketing will be a "thing" in 2019, these tech-savvy individuals spend up to 7.5hours per day on the internet and are 2.5X more likely to be an early adopter of technology than other generations. Consuming that much content online means very little attention span, hence the current targeting techniques and channels won't be adequate. It has to evolve, and that's where IOT, AI, AR, MR & VR come into play. This is where they will be, in the virtual world and AI will help in personalizing their online shopping experiences. It has to be fluid, fast and interactive. Understanding how millennials consume information will be key towards designing and deploying effective experiential campaigns.
Online experiences almost typically begin with a Google search(consideration phase), the first touch point for your brand, and if you're not on the first page, then you essentially do not exist, because "the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of google search results". Google crawls 20 billion websites every single day, that in any niche is a hell lot of competition. Back in the day, it was relatively easy to fool Google's algorithm into thinking the website is relevant by stuffing keywords all over the page. Since then Google's algorithm has gone through some pretty radical changes focused more on the context and meaning of the search query rather than the keyword itself. If a search result does not satisfy the search intent then Rankbrain(Google's ML algorithm) pushes the page further down. In today's competitive world even being on the first page of search results might not be enough since the top 3 results get 50% of the clicks which makes sense because the CTR drop below the fold is logarithmic.
Getting to the top page of search results is the Holy Grail, there are over 200 signals used by Google to rank websites. The Top 3 broad ones being - Content, Backlinks, and Rankbrain; which is Google's machine learning AI, part of the larger algorithm - Hummingbird. One of the most challenging things in all of SEO is to get high domain authority websites in your niche to point back to you. The only way to do that is reaching out to webmasters and blog writers and ask for a backlink, but this doesn't work 99% of the time unless the content you're asking them to point to is incredible. This task becomes even harder when you have an eCommerce website with no blog for others to points to, no one is going to backlink to your product pages or homepage for that matter. The only backlinks you can get in this case will be from the brands you're dealing with, these brand domains usually have a quite high domain authority, and since you're already selling these products, Google will pick up the relevance and boost your rankings. Reach out to them if they're not linking to you already from their dealer/store locator pages. The number of links from the same root domain does not matter and will not affect your ranking, no of unique root domains will. You can use Moz's Open Site Explorer to find out which domains are linking to you and their domain authority.
In the Digital world, things move fast, and if you can't keep up, then well..you know the ending to that. As your business starts to scale, certain repetitive tasks will clog up your time, and that leads to inefficiency and which equals slower revenue growth. Marketing Automation platforms aim to streamline such processes through workflows so that we marketers can focus on things that matter. Automation in its simplest form is a configurable software with a Yes or No logic function; if yes do this else do that. If you're a blogger, then you know how painstakingly annoying it would be to manually set up an email campaign each time after you publish a new article.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have already begun to integrate into this arena; generating, optimizing and A/B testing content is not a future prospect, it's already happening. It's just a matter of how much data you can throw at it to analyze and learn. Wordsmith, a natural language generating platform uses data to produce narratives that seem as if an expert wrote it.
An upcoming solution from Google, the Google duplex virtual assistant, is a combination of the various Google initiatives such as Natural language processing, deep learning, text to speech, artificial intelligence, etc. It’s something truly remarkable and just gives us a sense of how far the emerging technologies have come. Here's Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai showcasing the capability of Duplex with a real call between Google assistant and a hair salon.
These are exciting times, and we'll just have to wait and see the impact of these technologies on digital marketing.
I've put together this infographic "How to be a digital marketing ninja in 2019." to illustrate visually what I believe should be a part of an online marketer's arsenal based on what will be expected of one in the future.
Let me know if you have any questions or if you feel there is more to add to this.