By: Ro (Rougeyar) Parry
Over the last few years, new trends have emerged that have had an enormous influence on how marketing organizations collaborate, communicate, innovate and evolve. As digital marketers, we live in a fast-paced world where the rules and strategies change on a daily basis. One minute you think you have nailed the YouTube algorithm and the next, you are pulling your hair out wondering why your content isn't getting enough views.
As we look forward to 2018, here's a look at top trends that will boost your marketing strategy.
1. Live Streaming
It's no surprise that video continues to dominate social. Expect to see a continued shift towards video content and in particular, live video. Video streaming was 75% of all internet traffic in 2017 and there are no signs showing things will slow down. Studies found viewers watch live streams 3x longer than prerecorded video. Look for major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to double down on live videos by improving feed quality and adding more interactive features.
2. Mobile Video
Mobile video ad spend will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018, reports Recode, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to fall 1.5% to $15 billion. You can expect to see a decline of video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time — while video views on phones and tablets is expected to grow by 25%. The average viewer is expected to watch 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, as opposed to half as much — roughly 19 minutes — on a computer.
3. Growth Hacking
Also known as growth driven tactics, these are marketing processes specifically targeted for increasing growth in revenue. SEO is the still one of the best growth hacking strategies simply because you are getting more traction from people who are already inquiring about your product or service. As technology evolves to allow additional search options, you have to adjust your strategy to meet your audience where they are looking for you. Attracting leads with awesome content and exciting twists (such as a giveaway or a challenge) can help move the dial in converting these leads to sales.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Combined with big data and machine learning, AI is expected to make a huge impact on how we market to our consumers. Users can expect highly-customized content delivery, automated based on their persona and lifestyle. Starting an AI strategy can be costly and require specific skill that are often hard to come by as the role is in such high demand. However, the large upfront investment shows promising results for those willing to take the plunge. Take for example recent data captured from the Salesforce State of the Marketing Report where high-performing marketing teams are more than 2x as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers. 57% of marketers using AI already say it’s absolutely or very essential in helping increase touch points with customers and prospects. Salesforce also points out that marketers anticipate AI use will grow by 53% over the next two years.
5. Explainer Videos
Explainer videos are short, uncomplicated videos that explain your company’s product or service. They pack a big punch when it comes to driving results. The visual elements in an explainer video help viewers understand more about what’s explained with only a few short sentences. On websites where an explainer video is present, they are 4x (wirebuzz.com) more likely to watch the video than to read text on the page. An example of an industry that's taking on explainer videos head on is Healthcare -- where animated videos can work best to communicate complicated ideas and educated the patient beyond their doctor visit.
6. Chat Bots
We'll continue to see a sharp rise in companies integrating chatbots as a valuable communication asset that helps drive marketing strategy and improve customer support. In fact, it is estimated that 85% of interactions will be with chatbots by 2020, according to Gartner. Chat bots are driven by a predefined workflow and help drive customer engagement and facilitate faster conversions by answering questions or offering suggestions. Use of chat apps has actually surpassed the use of social media and audiences will expect it from most companies.
7. Viral Content
When you hear viral, you think cute cat cuddling with a newborn. When doctors hear viral, they think of a disease. When marketers hear viral, they see brand awareness and dollar signs. Everyone wants to have their content go viral. Marketing teams are doing everything they can to develop and procure viral-worthy content that leads to revenue. However, creating content that has potential to go viral is very challenging and needs to be authentic, funny, witty and relatable.
For many, their mobile devices are becoming one with our body. Wherever we go, the device goes. On average, users trigger 75 separate mobile sessions per day, that means they engage with the device throughout their day across lots of locations. Marketers use geofencing technology to collect information about and target their customers as they enter, leave or stay in specific areas, also known as geofences. Geofences are specific areas that prompt mobile notifications on a when a customer is active in a certain area. During those key moments, marketers could send promotional messages offering discounts to users. Geofencing is an excellent way to engage with your customers who are on the go in a more contextual way. Keep in mind that customers have to 'allow' your app to track their location. You'll need to highlight the benefits of location sharing and how it will improve their customer experience.
9. Micro Influencers
Think of micro-influencers as digital influencers with a total audience size of between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Surprised with the audience size? There's data to support it: Micro influencers are 4x more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers (who usually have ~10 million followers). Micro-influencers are more likely to post about specific niche topics and they have the loyal followings that share their passion and a staggering 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33% trust ads. With more than 32% of internet users enabling ad blocker in 2017, it's increasingly harder to reach users and micro influencers can bridge that gap moving into 2018.
10. Brand Blog
We'll see companies taking control of their content by creating their own blogs. Topics like company updates, engaging customer stories, featured guest posts and relevant business trends will allow marketers to cultivate their brand and connect with customers while having the interactions take place on their own website.
The odds are that 2018 is going to be another exciting year for new and innovative ways to reach consumers and increase brand awareness. Rapid development in technology is making it increasingly challenging and marketing teams will need to explore, invest, experiment and adapt in order to keep up. Do you agree with the trends in this list? Do you have any of your own to add?
Ro (Rougeyar) Parry is a Senior Digital Marketing and Customer Experience Manager at Apple. She's a data driven, tech-savvy, marketing leader passionate about building unique out-of-the-box campaigns that optimize experiences throughout the customer journey.
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