The year is coming to a close, with continued unease about data collection and targeting, heaps of sentiment we call ‘brand purpose’, confusion about real-time bidding and EU regulation, a feeling in some quarters of ’emperor’s new clothes’ about personalisation and customer experience, and that’s just the good news!

In all seriousness, 2019 has seen an admirable focus on marketing effectiveness, many product and UX teams trialling Agile methodology, and everybody getting reacquainted (again) with the importance of business and marketing strategy.

Anyway, this isn’t intended to be a ‘state of the nation’ article, merely a collection of our most popular articles on the Econsultancy blog in 2019 (by number of pageviews).

Dig in, and just click the heading / title to open each article.

25. 18+ stats that show how search and SEO are changing

This piece does what it says on the tin, and rather well. That’s Deputy Editor Rebecca Sentance for you.

If you’re of a mind to know how DuckDuckGo traffic has grown since 2010, or how many algorithm updates Google performed in 2018, or perhaps, more practically, what has happened in local search and product search over the years – then this is the blog post for you.

24. Is Google’s new BERT technology another nail in traditional SEO’s coffin?

In October, Google unveiled Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT, which Google VP of search Pandu Nayak called “the single biggest change we’ve had in the last five years and perhaps one of the biggest since the beginning of the company.”

Econsultancy’s Patricio Robles explains what that could mean for SEO.

23. How to measure marketing in a world without cookie-tracking

Daniel Gilbert, founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Brainlabs, shares some measurement and testing strategies which could survive the cookie crackdown.

And by cookie crackdown, I mean the cumulative effect of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) on Safari, Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) on Firefox, and more granular third-party cookie blocking on Chrome, which aim to prevent companies from monitoring their visitors’ browsing behavior on other sites.

22. What will Instagram’s ‘like count ban’ mean for influencers?

In May of 2019, Facebook announced that it would be testing a so-called ‘like count ban’ on Instagram, starting in Canada. By November, the trial was rolled out globally.

With some users no longer able to see the number of likes or video views on other people’s posts, why has Instagram taken this measure, and what could it mean for influencers?

21. Over half of Google searches now don’t lead to clicks and what it means for SEO

Patricio Robles digs into the numbers from clickstream data firm Jumpshot, which suggested that in June, for the first time ever, over half of Google searches didn’t lead to clicks.

20. 15 excellent examples of content design & UX on travel websites

Next up we’ve got Econsultancy’s designer Lizzy Hiller, who keeps her hand in on the blog, too. This post brings together interesting design features, such as Booking.com’s accessibility filters and Skyscanner’s price alerts.

19. Six case studies of machine-learning powered email marketing

You didn’t think it would be long before we got to AI, did you? Well, machine learning at least. Email marketing is a fertile testing ground, from imagery to subject lines. Econsultancy writer Nikki Gilliland rounds up some case studies.

18. How Google Chrome’s cross-site cookie & fingerprinting changes will affect marketers

More explanation of the year’s cookie clampdown on Chrome.

17. How Lemonade disrupted the insurance industry and built a multi-billion dollar business

Lemonade offered a refreshing new customer experience, in a sometimes grey industry, with its app-based service.

The insurance upstart offers homeowners and renters insurance policies in 23 US states, and raised more funding in 2019, being valued at around $2 billion earlier this year.

Patricio Robles explores how the fintech insurer successfully broke into an industry dominated by powerful, entrenched firms.

lemonade insurance

16. Six new and creative examples of user-generated content

Another listicle next – featuring six examples of brands creatively incorporating UGC into their social strategies.

15. Five influencer marketing issues that will dominate 2019

Fake content, algorithm changes, agency drama, focus on ROI, the influencer entrepreneur – Patricio Robles laid down his thoughts about the troubles of influencer marketing ahead of 2019. Why not go back, have a read, and see if any of it was on the money?

14. Three trends shaping programmatic advertising in 2019

A similar format here, with Nikki Gilliland looking at Econsultancy’s new Optimising Programmatic Campaigns Best Practice Guide and sharing some trends for 2019.

Though they are all bang on the money, perhaps the one trend missing is discussion of the growing debate about whether real-time bidding models comply with European privacy law. That’s one that we might learn more about in 2020.

13. What SEO beginners need to know: a basic skills guide

Ah, now this is what i would call classic Econsultancy content. Bex Sentance brings us an incredibly practical beginners guide to SEO, to complement our chunkier Best Practice Guide.

12. Four trends driving experiential marketing in 2019

Perhaps due to a backlash against the tactification of marketing and also in line with a new trend for brand purpose, experiential marketing seems to be increasing in popularity.

Budgets for experiential marketing grew again in the first quarter of 2019 by 3.4% according to the IPA Bellwether report. Nikki Gilliland looks at some of the trends in this growth.

11. Which ecommerce sites are getting it right? Here’s 21 of the best…

This post has been around in our archive for years, faithfully pulling in search traffic. In 2019, we gave it a little refresh and added some of our newer favourites.

10. Why is Lush moving away from social media?

Social media continues to be of interest to our readers, in part because of its efficacy as an acquisition channel.

But Lush announced in Spring that it didn’t want to pay to appear in your newsfeed and is more interested in real conversations. The storied brand announced that it was to step away from its corporate social media channels, just as JD Wetherspoon did in 2018.

Nikki Gilliland digs into why.

9. The impact of technology and social media on the music industry

A passion project next for Econsultancy social media manager and music-lover Sean Cole. He charts some of the changes to the music industry caused by digital technology and social media.

Social media and the music industry

8. What does ASOS’ new returns policy mean for ecommerce? We ask the experts

Ecommerce endures as one of our most popular topics on the Econsultancy website. So, when Asos decided to crackdown on its serial returners, we asked a few experts what it could mean for the industry. There may be more to come in 2020 on what remains a huge challenge for many online retailers.

7. How one company’s rebrand and domain name change led to SEO disaster

Clickbait, us? No, this is just good headline writing.

Patricio Robles summarises the fallout when logo and brand identity platform Looka changed its name from LogoJoy. The stuff of nightmares (though maybe all the coverage has helped?).

6. These are the seven retailers at the forefront of China’s New Retail revolution

You might regularly walk past the scan and pay stations in your local Tesco, but in China there are retailers taking an even bolder approach to bringing digital into grocery shopping. At Freshippo, using the retailer’s app you can do everything from scanning goods to learn their provenance and flavour, to ordering 30-minute delivery if you live nearby.

With many Western retailers investing in their apps and loyalty schemes this is a big area to keep an eye on (beyond all the operational benefits digital is driving for these Chinese retailers behind the scenes).

5. Boohoo: 12 clever ecommerce features and strategies that drive sales

Whatever you think about fast fashion, some of its proponents don’t miss a trick when it comes to designing usable and persuasive ecommerce websites and apps.

Nikki Gilliland drills into Boohoo’s website to look at how it works.

boohoo - something similar

4. Six digital trends set to disrupt financial services in 2019

Yet more predictions, this time about the world of financial services. Perhaps most notably, established brands are creating their own challenger banks, to rival the newer fintechs. Open Banking and the ‘rebundling’ trend are also dissected in this article by Patricio Robles.

3. What is the impact of Google’s March 2019 algorithm update?

Google always ends up somewhere near the top of this list, such is its sway over digital marketers. In this piece, we look at the “March 2019 Core Algorithm Update”, providing a run-down of the changes, and what it could mean for SEO.

2. 20+ stats that show how online retail is changing

Retail trends continue to dominate in many areas of the press, with ecommerce always a talking point. Rebecca Sentance tried to cut through the noise by providing some stats to show how online retail is changing.

1. Five marketing lessons from the success of Gymshark

And without further ado, the cream of the crop, the most popular article of 2019 is all about a direct-to-consumer, influencer-powered brand in the fitness and lifestyle sector – Gymshark.

The brand launched in 2012, and was named in 2016 as the fastest growing retailer in the UK, going on to generate sales of over £100m in 2018.

Nikki Gilliland looks at what marketers can learn from the company’s success.

And that’s your lot. Thanks for reading this year, we hope to provide more interesting articles over the rest of December and into 2020.

As usual, subscribers can explore our reports and briefings archives.