By Zizi Averill
Blending together the perfect digital marketing mix requires marketers to keep their eyes out for new ingredients. As 2018 begins it’s a good time to review your strategies. What are the freshest trends and what’s past its use-by-date?
To keep your customers excited into the new year in this article we examine some of the top 10 trends for 2018.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
After years of hype Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning has left many disillusioned with the technologies slow advancement. However, 2018 will finally see the technology blossom as new AI tools come to market.
These technologies are no longer limited to major tech giants, as brands of all sizes adopt these tools. Salesforce research showed that 51 percent of marketers currently use AI, and a further 27 percent plan to implement it by 2020.
AI allows campaigns to predict the likes and dislikes of consumers. It can also recognise customer patterns and predict price points and incentives needed for a conversion.
Brands should begin training and be experimenting with AI technologies to find the right automation products for their businesses.
For years Australians have been downsizing their screens, switching from computers to mobiles. According to the Sensis survey, Australians are eight times more likely to search for products on their mobiles than they did in 2011. Marketing strategies must be mobile first. Designers, developers, and marketers should look to create engaging content that is mobile-ready. Apps and mobile websites are only one element of a larger mobile strategy. Being mobile first is not only a good user experience for your potential customers but sites that have not yet gone mobile will be heavily penalised by Google with regard to SEO.
Optimise for Voice Search
Audiences are no longer looking to webpages, instead, they are turning to Alexa and Siri to answer their questions. As the technology giants, Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft, develop voice-activated searches, brands need to recalibrate their SEO strategies. For example, rather than type “heaters”, customers will ask “where can I buy a heater?” and Google will channel them to sites that effectively implement natural language queries. So far Australians have been slow to adopt voice searches. However, with the launch of Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, this is predicted to change.
Create a Multichannel Experience
When you walk into your local café, you could expect the staff to remember your order. For digital customers, the expectation is the same.
As audiences move from one device to another they expect a cohesive and consistent customer experience. Audiences often use their mobiles to digitally window-shop, then finalise the purchase on a desktop. Marketers need to focus on mapping the customer journey across different devices.
An effective multichannel approach will customise the digital experience to the customer’s needs, moving them smoothly from the landing page to the checkout.
Tell Great Stories
Australian marketers will be under increased pressure this year to maintain customer loyalty in the face of the retailing juggernaut, Amazon. Marketers are using content to win back customer trust through personalised, distinct and authentic experiences.
Customers are more loyal to a brand they believe empathise with them. The most effective way is through developing AI campaigns to track user interactions and specifically target them according to their needs. Marketers should also involve audiences in content production, with user-generated content. By inviting customers to comment, share or upload their own content allows them to become part of the brand story.
2018 will continue the strong partnership between brands and prominent social media personalities. Brands are investing heavily in influencers, with this marketing tactic growing at a faster rate than paid digital ads.
The changes to the Facebook algorithm in January will see influencers becoming even more important. The changes will deprioritise posts from businesses, brands and media and emphasise interactions between friends and groups. To get around these changes, companies can invest in influential personalities to sidestep the damages of the Facebook algorithm. Marketers need to acknowledge that social media will require some investment, either by investing in advertising or by using influencers. Also be sure your influencers acknowledge the sponsorship – this is not only good practice but transparency helps to build trust in your following.
2018 is no time to be camera shy. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are all challenging the dominance of YouTube as the video platform. For companies, video has become an essential for a marketing diet.
Live streams have seen high levels of engagement. According to Facebook live videos gain three times more views than scheduled video content. However, audiences will develop push notification fatigue unless marketers focus on the creation of quality videos.
The ephemeral content trend has seen the rise of Snapchat, Instagram stories and Facebook Moments. These platforms produce content that only lasts a short time before disappearing forever.
Instagram has seen high levels of engagement compared to other social media platforms. Instagram Stories have overtaken Snapchat in popularity and it is expected that more brands will make the leap to Instagram for both ephemeral and lasting visual content. Especially when combined with influencer marketing, ephemeral campaigns can have a serious impact.
Chatbots are getting smarter
Chatbots are an old technology that has found a revival with advanced machine learning and AI. More and more businesses are deploying these virtual brand ambassadors to answer questions from their customers. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have already begun developing chatbots for brands.
In 2017 Facebook announced there were nearly 20 million businesses responding to messages every month, and over 100,000 active bots. Chatbots are being adopted by many businesses to streamline customers services and deploy direct marketing.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have suffered from a year of over-hyped expectations. After the mass appeal of Pokémon Go, marketers enthusiastically brained-stormed on how to expand the technology, often with little result. But 2018 shows signs of these technologies finding their legs.
Mobile apps have allowed miniature reality machines to sit in every customer’s pocket. 2018 will see AR become more widespread, flexible and affordable. While brands need to be wary of over-enthusiastic adoptions of AR technologies, marketing teams should begin developing skills now.
Marketing moves fast online, and we’re sure to see rapid evolution in 2018. But to be ready, you need to start preparing now. Knowing how your marketing mix best targets your audience and incorporating new and tried and true tactics will allow you to stand out from the crowd. Talk to us at Digital Democracy 0423 073 099 about your digital marketing needs in 2018