Innovation, across all verticals, has fueled significant growth in the tech industry. Markets such as healthcare, retail and construction—ones that have historically been slower to evolve—are now embracing innovation to better serve their clients, meet business goals and increase the value of their brand.

We know as communication professionals that our industry is changing at warp speed, too. Testing new ideas and pushing outside of our comfort zone is the only way to avoid falling behind. As we look to 2019, here are three trends I see that comms pros need to know and embrace:

Take advantage of AI’s infiltration

According the State of Marketing Report, AI is the leading technology where marketers expect most growth over the next two years. Fifty-one percent of marketing leaders are already using AI with a significant number planning to do so within two years. And 57 percent say using AI is absolutely or very essential in helping their company create one-to-one marketing across every touch point.

Its appeal lies in its ability to improve efficiency and drive even greater levels of personalization. From decisions about programmatic ad placement to lead scoring; from dynamic pricing to chatbots—AI driven solutions have entered the mainstream marketing world.

Investing in these technologies as a comms professional can save you time and money, too. Routine tasks such as clip reports can be automated, allowing your team to focus on the creative ideas and strategic counsel your clients expect and deserve.

Let’s get Phygital

We’re seeing a fascinating trend that may seem a bit counter intuitive. It’s the rise of the joint physical and virtual world. A place where savvy brands are realizing that even in today’s digital lifestyle, consumers want the physical touch. We are calling the confluence of the physical with the digital—Phygital.

Take books—everyone predicted the death of the book store, so it might come as a surprise that eBook sales in the US have dropped by 19 percent in 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Or that sales of vinyl records have risen for the 11th consecutive year, according to Nielson Music. The rise of Phygital allows consumers to experience the tactile joys of analogue without skimping on the speed and convenience of technology.

This emerging concept is effective communications at its best—connecting brands and consumers across both environments. For those of you developing digital campaigns for 2019, be mindful that consumers are still looking for that physical presence.

Keep customer experience top of mind

Everything we hear from clients and influencers today revolves around customer experience, and that’s not going to change in 2019. In fact, 91 percent of high performing marketing teams agree that a connected customer journey across all touch points and channels positively impacts customer loyalty. Another 89 percent say the same for its impact on revenue growth.

As communication professionals, it’s up to us to activate the right channels to engage with the customer most effectively. This will require advanced insights into the behaviors and journeys of target audiences, which will help deliver personalized content, improved awareness and engagements and a higher customer acquisition rate.

2019 is going to be an exciting year, and as comms pros we can help our businesses and clients exceed their goals by embracing the innovation to come. Take advantage of AI, consider integrating non-traditional mediums in your comms plans, and always keep the customer experience top of mind in everything you do. I guarantee you’ll be a leg up from the rest.

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Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates is the Global CEO of Hotwire and the former founder and CEO of Eastwick Communications, which was acquired by Hotwire in 2016. She has more than 25 years’ experience working with brands to tell their stories, accelerate growth and build value working in Silicon Valley and beyond.

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