This is a guest post by Victoria Greene.
UX Expert, Social Media Executive, PPC Consultant, YouTuber, AI Engineer: just a handful of job titles that didn’t exist a decade or so ago and a prime example of how fast digital marketing is evolving.
The world of technology is rapidly changing, and this year, it’s enabling digital marketers to push the boundaries of brand and consumer relationships further than ever before, into a landscape that’s more curated, customized, and organic. Content is no longer king; it’s transparency.
Here are the key digital marketing trends to look out for in 2018 and a peek at what the industry may look like this time next year.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been creeping into our everyday vocabulary for a while now as it continues to revolutionize several industries in forms like Amazon’s Alexa and Tesla’s self-driving cars.
With around 51% of marketing leaders already using the technology and preparing to pilot it in the next year or so, AI is set to take over digital marketing.
AI means several things for marketing professionals, namely more efficiency and more personalization thanks to the data collected from users tapping and clicking through pages, conducting searches, and buying products.
2018 is likely to bring about a dramatic shift in the advertising landscape as digital marketers start to embrace the AI revolution, customizing content in a way that’s aligned with consumer behavior. These “predictive” marketing campaigns will enable richer interactions and, ultimately, more conversions. By the end of 2018, AI will be the ultimate marketing tool all businesses strive to integrate.
Chatbots are a branch of AI and have been around for years. They’re primarily used for customer service functions, but 2018 is likely to see businesses using them to drive product recommendations.
While bot-powered commerce may seem like a risky move in a world that craves organic content, data science enables businesses to create a customized journey that’s far more reliable than email blasts and a large amount of finger crossing.
Powered by AI, chatbots allow users to not only experience a concierge-type service but also content search and discovery – the perfect way for brands to push products and create a funnel campaign in an organic way.
Just check out the advancements Whole Foods has made with its Messenger bot — allowing people to browse food inspo and products.
Image Recognition & Visual Software
Image sharing on social is huge. All digital marketers should know that image-centric tweets receive 150 times more shares than their plain text counterparts.
But it can be a challenge for marketing teams to sift through Facebook and other social channels manually for most the popular images users engage with organically. Image recognition software will eventually automate the searching process using an image database, analyzing specific characteristics of the images to find similarities.
This software will also enable brands to generate tightly targeted marketing campaigns as the software will act as a social listening tool. Pinterest has already seen huge success with its visual search function, and it’s something that more and more platforms are likely to embrace.
Visual software will allow businesses to assess their marketing decisions, such as campaign sites and placements, and push their creative marketing strategies to new heights throughout 2018.
Google claims that 20% of its mobile queries are voice searches, and this is only set to increase with the likes of Alexa and other voice interfaces on the market.
As the trend goes mainstream in 2018, voice search will have an impact on the way content strategists implement keyword research. Voice searches will require more long-tail content, causing marketing teams to rethink their content generation and distribution strategies.
Because of voice marketing, 2018 is also likely to witness brands merging their brands with voice assistants and creating content exclusively for that medium. But businesses will need to make sure all communications hit the right note with their consumers if they want to successfully pull it off.
Content Marketing Beyond The Blog Post
While all content marketers are familiar with the current value of a high-quality blog post, this value is likely to skew as the content landscape adjusts to deal with the evolution of new content formats and the continued popularity of video.
Combined with the predicted popularity of voice search, in 2018 we are likely to witness a fresh approach to content strategies that don’t rely on the popular Buzzfeed-esque listicle. Content is likely to be more interactive and pushed to integrate with other UI feature.
A side effect of this shifting landscape is a change to content teams – having a bunch of talented copywriters will no longer be enough to devise and execute a marketing strategy. To succeed in 2018, you’ll need a content team with experience in:
- Video production and editing
- Content optimization, distribution, and promotion
- Communications and branding
- Analytics, metrics, and reporting
And with 48% of marketers planning to add to their YouTube channels in the next 12 months, placing it as the most popular content distribution channel; high-quality content and a pertinent strategy that addresses these landscape changes has never been more essential.
As the European Union prepares for the launch of GDPR, brands across the globe are taking a second look at their personal data protection and their means of communication with users. With a non-negotiable opt-in comms policy in place, it’s predicted that consumers will expect businesses to provide a user experience tailored to their interests, habits, and needs more than ever this year.
52% of consumers state that they are likely to leave a brand if the business fails to personalize communications to them, so customized comms and effective user journeys are essential. Brands will need to send the right message to the right person at the right time to get them to convert and remain loyal.
Anyone seeking to buy an ecommerce business in 2018 will need to ensure that the appropriate data management and protection measures have been put in place, or spend time implementing them yourself. You don’t want to inherit someone else’s bad business management that could jeopardize your customer communications. Customer trust is key in the world of hyper-personalization.
It’s no secret that the power of influencer marketing has grown from strength-to-strength. In fact, nearly 40% of Twitter users report that a tweet from an influencer has caused them to make a purchase.
But during 2018, we’re likely to see the collapse of the celebrity influencer market as brands simply haven’t seen the results they needed. Plus, not every business can afford to throw a five-figure budget at every post from an A-lister without putting its campaign ROI in jeopardy.
Micro-influencers will be the new powerhouses of digital marketing. While they typically have a smaller following, research suggests that they’re more inclined to experience higher engagement rates. Because of their dedicated following and transparent conversations with their audience, a micro-influencer’s endorsement is more likely to result in conversion and at a cheaper rate – particularly on Instagram.
Virtual And Augmented Reality
In the attempt to create more authentic and personalized engagement opportunities, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are set to assume a prominent role in digital marketing this year.
Clothing retailers were one of the first to experiment with VR and AR, using 360 videos to showcase products and create an interactive consumer experience. This year, travel brands are next to embrace the new technology to present locations and destinations in a new way to their customers.
Other industries are expected to adopt VR and AR in their marketing campaigns to convey products, themes, or situations with their consumers. Plus, this tech works great on mobile; a huge benefit for digital marketers since mobile usage has overtaken desktop.
All these trends are set to carve the landscape of digital marketing this year, resulting in a scene that’s much more reliant on data science, robotics, and hyper-connectivity.
To keep ahead of the curve and ensure your digital marketing efforts are on point, address your use and protection of data, reassess your content strategy, and explore new branches of AI. Do so, and you’ll thank yourself this time next year.
Author Bio: Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how companies can improve the way they represent their brand. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their reach.