Let’s do some time travel back to the year 2006 when I was transitioning out of IT and beginning a new career in marketing. Twitter and the iPhone were yet to be invented. Facebook was only available to college students. The term “content marketing” had yet to enter the vernacular (the Content Marketing Institute wouldn't be founded until 2010).

Marketing Evolution: 2006 to Present

A lot has changed since January 2006. Marketers have learned new disciplines, such as social media marketing and app marketing. According to Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, there are now 6,829 marketing technology solutions available from 6,242 vendors, and this was prior to Marketo being founded.

Without constant experimentation and learning, marketers would become irrelevant. Here's a look at what marketers have learned this year and what they’d like to learn next year.

Related Article: What Marketers Need to Know About Twitch Marketing

What Marketers Learned in 2018

Julie Sims is senior director of marketing and communications at Room to Read, a “global organization transforming the lives of millions of children in low-income communities by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.” There are few quality children's books in the low-income communities of Asia and Africa, which Room to Read serves. The organization fills that gap by publishing books from local authors, written and illustrated in local languages. “This year, we experimented with translating some books into English and offering them as free downloads. People could download the titles through our global book collection and share them with their own children. We advertised the global book collection on Facebook and shared it through our own marketing channels. We had thousands of downloads, and we were able to capture leads from those who downloaded the books,” Sims said.

Scott Wilder, an independent marketing consultant based in the Bay Area, is excited about voice technologies. “This year, I learned a great deal about how to develop and market services on Amazon Echo and Google Home. Voice is the future. Google has stated that 20 percent of all searches are voice-related,” Wilder said.

Wilder’s interest in voice technologies is shaped by requests from his clients. “My clients have asked me to decipher the voice landscape and help them market and sell their services on voice. More and more business products will be voice-enabled. Imagine asking your Marketo instance to run some counts for you,” Wilder said.

Zachary Reiss-Davis, director of marketing at Fieldwire, a construction field management platform, learned about the benefits of splitting an anchor piece of content into multiple formats: an ebook, infographic, blog post, webinar, guest article, etc. According to Reiss-Davis, “The impact is immense. When done strategically, it gets you many times more attention, brand awareness and leads compared to a single piece of content.”

Learning Opportunities

Rich Schwerin, senior content strategist in Autodesk's Digital Platform Experience group, has been immersed in search engine optimization (SEO) for the past several years. Schwerin’s interest in SEO is strategic. “I quickly realized organic search is integral to digital strategy. All of our audience journey stages involve search to some degree or another and I think every content strategist should have more than just a passing knowledge of SEO,” said Schwerin.

Schwerin believes that developing SEO skills achieves the following:

  1. Refocuses priorities around content that best matches searcher intent.
  2. Uncovers content gaps and opportunities to match searcher intent.
  3. Identifies and remedies duplicate and redundant content.

What Marketers Want to Learn in 2019

In 2019, Room to Read’s Sims wants to bridge the worlds of physical and digital. “There's so much joy and understanding to be had by seeing our programs in action. When you actually sit in a Room to Read library and watch the children's faces light up as they read, it's magic,” said Sims. In the year ahead, Sims is looking to deliver new experiences to supporters through virtual reality, augmented reality and related technologies.

Marketing consultant Wilder references eMarketer data (from a Recode article) indicating that Starbucks’s mobile payments system has more users than Apple or Google. Wilder believes 2019 is the year consumers put credit cards away and pay by smartphone. “As a marketer, I better know how to market these services, understand the user experience and be able to track this information in my marketing and sales technology stacks,” said Wilder.

Fieldwire’s Reiss-Davis wants to merge a land-and-expand strategy with account based marketing (ABM). According to Reiss-Davis, “[ABM] is the right strategy for any B2B marketer in 2019, but can't be used in isolation; it has to be combined with the tactics that are already proven, and for freemium business models, that's land-and-expand and organic growth.”

Autodesk’s Schwerin has an ambitious agenda for 2019, “I want to continue to expand my knowledge in three areas: Personalization, ABM and the trifecta of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and pattern matching.”

Schwerin's comment about the impact of AI on digital marketing helps tie everything together, “How will this impact the work we do now and in the future? There's ample opportunity to discover how much we don't yet know!”