2018 is almost over, and while we can’t quite work out where the year has gone, one thing we do know is that a lot has happened in digital. With the online world moving so quickly, it’s inevitable that each year sees a whole lot change – and 2018 didn’t disappoint.
From new global regulations to the rising power of voice search, here we’ve highlighted a few key things that happened in 2018 – as well as looking at whether or not they’ll continue to grow in 2019.
Some industry know-it-alls dubbed 2017 the ‘year of the chatbots’ – but 2018 became the year where they started to get good. While last year saw many companies adopt the chatbot, it was 2018 which saw them grow – with 36% of marketers surveyed saying that they’re using Chatbots to provide customer service. On top of that, 80% of brands plan on using Chatbots for their customer service efforts in the next 36 months. So, with this widespread adoption, the key for success is making sure that your chatbots actually work. 2019 will see a focus on improving the quality of communication between bots and customers, with a focus on Natural Language Processing and AI tools to make it a seamless process for the end user.
Ah, GDPR. If you have anything to do with the digital world then this year saw you get bombarded with GDPR-related content. It came into effect in May 2018, and sets out to strengthen the data rights and protection for all EU residents, as well as creating a more harmonious data protection law across all participating countries. It’s a user-first move, putting more power back in the hands of the people and forcing companies to be more transparent about their previously somewhat shady practices. The fines for breaching these regulations can be astronomical – up to $20 million in some cases – but so far we’re yet to see anyone take a hit. It will be interesting to see how these regulations are enforced in 2019, now that people have had a little more time to settle into them.
2018 has been the year of the digital assistant, with everyone from your younger brother to your nan seeming to now own an Alexa device or Google Home. Following the popularity starting to rise towards the end of 2017, now the stats show some pretty epic growth – with some saying that 50% of all searched will be voice searches by 2020 (we know, we know – you’ve probably seen that stat before). Many experts feel that there’s still a way to go with voice search, with some deeming it still a novelty, but it doesn’t look set to disappear any time soon – so it’s worth thinking about including voice search in your SEO strategy for 2019.
According to the 2018 Digital Trends report from Adobe, it is “abundantly clear” that the companies who invest in digital skills and training achieve the most success – with “top performing organisations being twice as likely to make significant investment in digital skills and education”. With the world of digital marketing ever-expanding, from chatbots to voice search, the trend for investing in teams and ensuring that you know your AI from your accessible design is still going to be important in the years to come.
What were the key trends you spotted in 2018? Or is there anything you can’t wait to see the back of? Let us know over on Twitter – we love a good chat.