As digital marketers, we are expected to keep up to date with the trends and technologies influencing industry and business. In a fast-moving and ever-changing world, this may seem like a daunting task, but the key to success is to understand your audience and develop a marketing strategy that delivers an amazing customer experience. As we look forward to 2018, here are the top trends you need to consider as part of your digital marketing plan.
Machine learning and big data
Machine learning and big data is set to transform how businesses interact with customers. Deep learning and natural-language processing techniques will enable marketers to make better predictions about customer behaviour, which will allow for more customised content.
According to Salesforce, high performing marketing teams are twice as likely to use artificial intelligence (AI) in their campaigns. 57% of marketers who are already using AI say that it is essential to help them increase touch points with their audience.
This is a trend that you cannot ignore in 2018, so take control of the data and work in collaboration with AI-based automation to enhance your customers’ experience.
In the last few years, there has been a general shift towards using mobile phones for all kinds of consumer purchases. Whether it’s buying groceries or a mortgage, practically everyone reaches for their smartphones to conduct research.
Customers also expect brands to respond immediately to their needs by providing them with reliable information, regardless of the time and location. These instances are referred to as “micro-moments” and are game changers in the digital world. In 2018, micro-moments will definitely gain more interest from marketers, who will try to provide a personalised as well as time and location-relevant user experience.
While content marketing will continue to be an integral component of marketing plans in 2018, the focus will shift away from traditional static content to more dynamically rich content. A well-planned website and marketing automation plan will help to achieve this. Personalisation of content will help in offering unique, tailored experiences for customers. HubSpot defines this as “smart content”.
This will be a key area of marketing as HubSpot suggests that the majority of customers favour businesses that create personalised content and are more likely to choose these companies for future purchases.
Dark social refers to people sharing content through private channels. Consumers are now using dark social more and more to engage with each other discreetly. This trend has been largely driven by mobile messaging and businesses should explore this unique opportunity in 2018 to target niche demographics and expand their reach.
Video content and live streaming
In 2017, video streaming accounted for three-quarters of all internet traffic. More than half of marketing professionals across the globe feel that video content will deliver the best return on investment. Earlier this year, Facebook started using six-second ads to engage consumers with concise messages and YouTube has been quick to follow suit.
Video will continue to dominate social and it’s expected that live streaming will have a huge uptake in 2018, especially with younger audiences. Research shows that viewers spend three times longer watching live streams than pre-recorded video. It’s estimated that the average viewer will watch 36 minutes of online video per day on mobile. At the same time, mobile video ad spend is estimated to grow to $18 billion.
In 2018, more businesses and brands will start to integrate chatbots into their communications to improve customer support and enhance the buying experience. According to Gartner, it has been estimated that by 2020, 85% of interactions in customer relationships will be with chatbots.
Chatbots are intuitive, automated and driven by AI. They are better at driving customer engagement as they can facilitate faster, more effective conversations. Businesses across various industries are already exploring chatbots to drive engagement. In 2018, chatbots will be a key ingredient for digital marketing success.
Online advertising spend has continuously shown an upward trend. Statistics from eMarketer show that display advertising expenditure is expected to reach $41.87 billion in 2018. Programmatic advertising will be the principal method of trading digital display, accounting for nearly 80% of U.S. display spending. It is expected that next year, Facebook will generate about $20.2 billion from display ads.
From predicting user behaviour using data and machine learning to mastering micro-moments and 24/7 customer support via chatbots, 2018 will present several opportunities for brands and businesses to reach customers, create engaging conversations and help to build long-term relationships. Constantly evolving technology brings with it newer challenges and opportunities, and in an always-connected world, marketers will need to be agile and adaptive to succeed.
What do you think will be the biggest trend in 2018? Please let us know.
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