Another year, another seismic shift in the digital marketing landscape.
While certain pillars, like Facebook, Amazon and Google, will undoubtedly continue to loom large in 2018, and while a number of 2017 trends will most likely continue to gain momentum, we predict that the new year will bring with it some big changes all its own. As consumers and brands demand greater transparency and authenticity, marketers and agencies must leverage technology to deliver the right message, to the right customer, at the right time with increasing efficiency to stay ahead of the curve.
Instead of outsmarting the customer, the brands and agencies that will succeed in 2018 are those which most effectively get out of their own way and build revenue through greater data insight and increased consumer engagement.
5 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2018
1) Machine learning will power digital marketing in 2018
Digital marketing is all about how technology helps clever humans gain superhuman reach. Regardless of where in the funnel you work, your ability to connect with consumers will increasingly be determined by the success of your data-scientists and AI.
This trend is not new, but artificial intelligence and machine learning is the mega-trend that will fuel a number of 2018 digital marketing innovations. A growing presence over the past couple of years, AI will soon assist brands and agencies in making even more data-driven decisions. Far from turning marketing into a robot’s game, machine learning and artificial intelligence will enable sellers to become more human and engage with customers in a more personal (and personalised) way.
2) Brands and digital agencies must answer to customers
With Google penalising mobile sites for pop-up ads and native advertisements, and with advertorials performing better than ever, it’s clear that the digital marketing ecosystem is shifting in favor of the consumer. The good news is, this can be a good thing for nimble advertisers as well.
Digital buyers need help separating the signal from the noise, and brands that do this by creating quality content that’s not designed just to sell, but to engage with them in emerging channels like the ephemeral Snapchat or by successfully leveraging machine learning to deliver personalised experiences on demand can get a leg up on the competition, build trust and drive revenue.
3) Visual content will take over
Content marketing will continue to be a key tentpole of any successful digital marketing strategy, but the kinds of content that work with modern audiences is shifting. Video content helped set brands apart in 2017, and in 2018, brands won’t be able to afford not to integrate it. Effective visualisation can make or break a campaign, and video adds a layer of authenticity and humanity that even the most slick infographic or awe-inspiring text can’t.
Add to that the untapped potential of emerging digital media technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality and you have the perfect recipe for a massive shift in the way brands and consumers interact.
While the potential that virtual and augmented reality bring to the customer experience have yet to be fully explored, 2018 may well be the year that blows the lid off.
4) Shoppable marketing will gain even more traction
Retargeting ads to follow consumers around the internet may increase the chances that they’ll finally click to purchase, but making it easier for customers to shop whenever the impulse actually hits is far less intrusive and now possible through emerging shoppable media technologies.
With new channels to explore and the explosion of video, not to mention the sheer mass of advertising the average consumer faces, the responsibility is on brands and agencies to make sure that whatever the medium, customers can go from desire to checkout in as few clicks as possible. Nailing down this marketing trend is a win-win for both buyers and sellers.
5) Voice activated assistants will fill shopping carts
What’s better than having a world of goods and services at your fingertips? Not having to even lift a finger. Thanks to the popularity of voice activated digital assistants, brands now have direct access to consumers sitting in their own homes.
While high street browsing will continue to be a leisure activity and big-ticket purchases may warrant online comparison shopping, customers will increasingly order their daily FMCG and CPG items through the most convenient means possible. Brands that can establish themselves as the top sellers on Google or Amazon will reap some of the benefits of this easy new way to shop, but turning to the internet’s behemoths may not be the answer for every brand. Developing and implementing such technologies in-house, or through third party products like Adimo, will allow brands to reclaim control of their own digital advertising destiny, collect their own data, and move forward into the new shoppable reality independently.
Technology is blurring the lines between human and digital experiences and creating ever-more integrated marketplaces. Instead of advertisers pushing their message to consumers, the power is shifting to buyers who will determine where and when they will be sold to. It’s up to brands and agencies to decide whether they will be peddlers, or partners.