Marketing trends for 2018. Another year unravels in front of us with endless possibilities.
Where to start, what’s new where should I focus?
Will the stuff we were doing last year work this year, or have there been some changes?
What is trivial?
What is edging into the mainstream but is not worth the investment of time and money, just yet?
What’s going to deliver bang for bucks performance and get you ahead of the competition in the marketplace and get you more decent business?
The AlignandPull research team have been busy compiling and debating.
So let’s get stuck right in.
1. VIDEO STREAMING, LIVE
A video is great, but a live video streaming is much more exciting. Statistically streaming video accounts for about 75% of internet traffic, and is predicted to keep growing to 82% by 2020 at its current growth rate.
Studies suggest 80% of consumers prefer watching a live video from a brand as opposed to reading a blog.
If you weren’t using live video to interact with your customers in 2017, it needs to be more of a priority for you in 2018.
Get this, 67% of people are more likely to purchase a ticket to events like a concert after watching a live stream of a similar event.
The main protagonists in order of live video priority are (argue amongst yourselves):
- Facebook live
- YouTube live
- Instagram live
Live video is great, as you get to interact with your audience directly, what could be more fun that?
What could be better than live and honest feedback from your customers?
It’s also not like your live video is gone forever once you stop streaming, record, list and categorise for search.
You can save those videos and reuse all that super content in the future.
2. THE RISE OF THE MACHINES, AI OR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
All the good marketing conferences I went to the buzz was AI and some fab tools that analyse user behaviours online.
Then the bots can make some real-time informed decisions, on how to personalise and interact with the user.
AI robots can then start to take over the more trivial marketing tasks, freeing up more time for your team to play Battle Field 1 online.
Personally like the Gallipoli campaign, support with Bren Optical and Mortar. (sorry I meant more productive work, don’t listen to me I am a bad influence)
There are lots of AI, some working more mysteriously in the background, enhancing and personalising your experience online.
One you are likely to be familiar with is a chatbot as a common example.
I do feel that marketers and business, in general, are slow to adopt the great possibilities and customer experience advantage gained by embracing AI.
The future, let’s look at science fiction for our guide.
A slightly warped film, which left me feeling a little weird was ‘Her’.
It messed up my emotional responses for a while and made me question the human condition, and what it is likely to become when exposed highly sophisticated AI interactions.
Or you can go to the more profoundly disturbing but enjoyable ‘Ex Machina.’
And don’t get me started on the Westworld series, which was simply awesome!
It’s not science fiction anymore is my point. It’s every day.
Right now, is the time to get involved in AI and embrace this shift, save time and money and create a delightful customer experience.
It will give you an edge over your competitors who aren’t prepared and will resist change and miss out.
3. MICRO INFLUENCERS
Love’em or hate’em, online influencers are a thing worth looking at. They certainly part of the legitimate marketing strategy.
Previously we focussed on big knob celebrities and hung off every word they tweeted, but this has changed for the better in many ways.
Celebrity is now widely accepted as anyone with over 1 million followers.
Then further down the food chain are the 500k to 1 million followers these can be called the macro and middle influencers.
Micro influencers have smaller numbers like 1k to 100k followings, the little guy.
I have noticed a trend of brands reaching out to these little guys as it is easier for people to relate to them, they are more of that magic ‘real’ that brands desperately need to connect with today’s consumers.
Personally, I switch off to celebrity endorsements; I think there is an undercurrent of a backlash. It’s also kind of obvious that they are promoting a product.
Look at like Dollarshave.com who have had seriously resonated with consumers and the fact that they are filling celebrity pockets with their hard earned cash.
Opposed to making a smart choice and buying a good razor at a fraction of the price.
It’s all about relating to the ordinary person.
Well, these people are not famous for one.
They have regular jobs and regular 1st world issues, dealing with rush hour traffic, stroppy teenagers, mortgages and no phone signal.
But they are popular on social media, liked because they can be related to, in a real, uncurated, staged and perfect way.
Today’s consumers are smarter and see through the carefully lit and composed ideal reality.
Less is more in this case.
Notice the difference in engagement in this case between influencer with 1k followers to 4k followers and then influencer that has over 100k?
And get this, bang for bucks they are cheap. If you want to partner with a celebrity, say Beyonce for instance, you are looking at $1,000,000 per mention online.
Whereas a micro influence is likely to be wholly chuffed and made up, with £200 – £500 a post or maybe even for free.
You can also send them some goodies, and they will be happy. No need for a big trailer with a hot tub or dealing with the spoilt diva strops.
4. KEEP CONTENT MARKETING
If you have enjoyed marketing successes I am sure you have already included some good healthy content marketing in your mix?
Although time-consuming it still going to be rewarding for 2018, so hang on in there and commit regular, relevant and good content.
The content marketing is a thing and is still an upward trend and shows no signs of abating, and I doubt it ever will.
If you have not committed to content marketing, then what the hell are you playing at?
Businesses with savvy marketing departments surveyed are marking this their top marketing activity.
To save some time as content marketing can be very time consuming and you are busy right?
Refine and build on your existing strategy around what was popular content.
Make sure that your audiences are super defined and stick with the evolution and changes.
Content marketing is super duper as typically it’s very inexpensive.
You do have to commit time to this activity and be consistent.
Iterate your content, could I improve that popular article with some more research?
You will receive a good return on your investment in 2018 with content, so keep at it.
It’s a friend of search rankings too.
Google rewards good content, that is well read. Think about it’s in Google interest to find good content. The cheating is over.
We are back to content meritocracy.
5. GENERATION Z
Get this then, the year 2000 babies popped out are now turning 18, and are the next cohort entering the consumer and workforce space.
Feeling old just now?
We have all be focussing on the Millenials and why the hell not, each generation is different.
Ask religious cults, McDonald’s and the tobacco companies many years ago why it is crucial to target the young so that you can hold onto them as long as possible as customers.
Loyalty patterns formed as children are surprisingly hard to break.
That’s one happy meal please and the toy, what do you mean you don’t have the Buzz Lightyear?
Every generation has different expectations from brands and value sets.
The millennial lot help shape some very profound changes to the way business needs to behave.
Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, Post-Millenials are people who were born in the late 1990s to mid-2000s.
The most vintage variety are entering their early 20’s
They are going to University and will start to enter the workplace and will be wanting to spend.
Organisations will need to understand this group, not only to sell to them but to recruit the best talent.
No matter which sector your organisation occupies, this matters.
So, shift to Generation Z in 2018.
Of course, I’m not saying you should dump your approach with Millennials or Generation X, but just recognise there is a fresh market for you to understand target.
6. CONSUMER PERSONALISATION, GET REAL PERSONAL
To succeed you need to personalise your customer experience as much as possible.
And with AI technologies, that’s within easy reach, so there are no excuses for not doing this.
It what customers now demand. The research confirms this with 75% of consumer saying there prefer retailers that make an effort to do this and improve their shopping experience.
The research confirms this with 75% of consumer saying there prefer retailers that make an effort to do this and improve their shopping experience.
You get the super opportunity cross-sell sell to your customers, complimentary products and services. How’s that then?
It much cheaper to prospect your existing client than get new ones?
With AI, you can send personal emails, just be careful with all the scandal stuff going, so not too personal; it could bite you in 15 years time.
Performance improvement stats like this are too good to ignore.
If you were not using personalisation in 2017, need to get going with this 2018.
7. PRIVACY, PROTECTION AND CONFIDENCE.
With lots of headline data breaches and sophisticated criminal gangs. People are understandably worried about their privacy, who are watching, who‘s using my data, are my bank and credit card details going to get pinched?
Establishing and creating a strong feeling of trust is everything.
So, you need to create trust, let your customer know how you are protecting their information.
143 Million Americans citizens were affected by the Equifax breach in 2017. And that’s a consumer credit agency.
So if your information is not safe we these guys, where is it safe?
It’s tempting to think this is a US problem the UK has had some big breaches too.
Often the cause is just stupidity and the thinking ‘it can’t happen to us’ or outdated technology with know flaws, weak hosting setups.
It’s sobering reading.
So, as a result of these clangers consumer are on high alert to anything dodgy looking, and that includes a gut feeling, which could be wrong.
If your user experience and design are below par, it repels users from committing to a purchase. It evidenced by a high bounce rate.
With the rise of templated easy to launch websites it key to make even templated sites as unique as possible with great content.
A templated site with generic content, stock imagery is treated with great suspicion.
It will make potential customer wary of entering in credit card details or personal information.
So how then can you make your online experience more trustworthy?
- Get your security badges out
- Lots of (real) customer reviews and testimonials
- Great quality design, user experience and great content
- A great user experience, be quick to fix browser conflicts
- A blog and a passion for your art, with regular updates
- Established social media real estate
- Change from HTTP to HTTPS security encryption of data
- A human contact somewhere
- Mobile friendly
- Build a worthy brand
All this helps build your trustworthiness; if you look amateurish or fly by night, this will have a big impact on your business and sales, especially anything that involves online transactions.
A client recently had a 200% increase in sales from investing in building and solid and differentiating online brand and carefully considered user experience, a bounce rate of over 80% to down to 37%.
8. OH LINKEDIN FOR B2B WE LOVE YOU.
B2C have some great success using social media for marketing, it’s not always great for B2B, but fear not there is a more specific professional arena and that’s Linkedin – but you already know that.
Linked in was always a bit dull, dry and overtly corporate. What pleased me in 2017 is they improved their web app and their profile targeting, improving accuracy.
I also feel Linkedin taken some nice bits from the Facebook.
If you want more new customers, Linkedin is the one for you.
Connecting with a potential client increases the chance of doing business with you by 50%.
Linkedin is not going away and in my view remains a mainstay for 2018, so keep investing in you Linked in presence.
9. INTERACTIVITY AND THE INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE.
The expectations of the user never said. Still, the users are demanding and expect more to grab their attention and keep them engaged.
So, interactive content is still relentlessly pushing forward; this is especially so in email marketing, which if done well is far far from dead.
You just have to keep it interesting, and interactivity is a big grabber. In 2017 interactive marketing was a big trend and this is going to continue into 2018.
- Real-time marketing
- Get your surveys and polls in there
- Get some motion going on with video
- Add menus for easy navigation
- GIF right up with some animation opposed standard jpeg statics
- Live and ready shopping carts
SO THEN IN IN SUMMARY WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
It means that there are even more ways to get differentiated and steal a march on the competition, especially if they are a bit lazy or resist new ways of thinking.
It’s not just one thing, but lots of little things that need orchestrating to benefit the big objectives of market share and stronger sales.
Congruence plays a major part in this as does a relevant and strong brand value proposition to the market. None of this stuff will work to its maximum potential unless everything is considered as one cohesive thing and benchmarked.
Consumers seek more substance than ever either consciously or subconsciously a ‘why you’ in a vast and highly commoditised, disrupted, competitive marketplace.