If this year has taught as anything, it’s that customer engagement and trust will be some of the biggest buzzwords of 2018 as experience becomes a primary focus for digital marketing. Brands will put the consumer experience at the forefront of their strategies, chasing a more dynamic level of personalised engagement with their audience.
According to reports from Forrester Research, trust between consumers and brands were at an all-time low throughout 2017. Businesses will want to start closely examining this trust deficit and developing strategies to win back customers by offering more authentic and personalised experiences.
After looking back on the trends that shaped the industry this year, here are our predictions for what to keep any eye out for in 2018.
A shift in social media strategies
The influencer market has had its day, and throughout 2017 brands began to switch up their strategy and move away from middle-tier influencers to focus on more organic, grass roots promotion. We’re going to see a lot less budget spent on the influencer market in 2018, as brands turn back to the more traditional route of focusing on select individuals with high-followings and celebrity promoters.
The use of augmented reality (AR) through social media, is set to explode in 2018 and once again disrupt the current digital marketing landscape. Thanks to the popularity of apps like Pokémon Go, augmented reality technology is developing fast, and we’re going to see brands begin to use AR as a major tool for engaging with their consumers. There are so many possibilities available, from sponsored filters on snapchat, to more exclusive content which can be triggered by visiting a location.
Fake news has been one of the biggest buzzwords of 2017, and as a result, we’re going to see customers becoming shrewder when they encounter content both within the mainstream media and on organisation websites. We’re going to see the rise of a more informed and well-researched consumer base, and brands will need to create more genuine and insightful experiences as a result.
Capitalizing on viral sensations and memes is something brands finally began to get the hang of in 2017, and some clever meme based marketing campaigns gained brands traction and followers on social media, but we’re likely to see less brand created memes on our social media feed. Thanks to the prevalence of memes on social media, their average life cycle seems to have shortened. Furthermore, it’s often difficult to determine what will make a meme successful, which makes this a tricky area for marketers.
The rise of AI and Machine Learning
We’ve seen the various uses of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing through this year, especially with regards to streamlining processes and improving customer experiences. We can expect this trend to continue through 2018.
Machine Learning and AI is going to shake up the industry. Research from Salesforce predicts a growth of more than 50% over the next two years. While Gartner expects we’ll see around 20% of business content in 2018 being written by machines. These technologies are a gamechanger for marketers, allowing them to better track and predict their target audiences and providing more accurate, detailed information to consumers.
Apps like CamFind will be able to put sophisticated image recognition technology into the hands of consumers, allowing them to search the web for comparable products online, just by taking a photograph.
We’ll see a boost in predictive marketing, as businesses are able to analyse the digital crumbs left behind as users browse the web. This data can provide insight to customer behaviour, their needs and future actions. AI platforms can then create personalised algorithms to make the most relevant recommendations to the specific user.
Chatbots too, have started to change the experience of the user, and we’ll see a greater use of this technology by brands and organisations to improve customer satisfaction.
Growing popularity of live video
Livestreaming has had an enormous impact on the creative industries, providing independent creators the opportunity to access wider audiences. It also made some waves in digital marketing where it can provide opportunities for audiences and brands to connect, and help brands build authenticity with their target market.
Livestreams are an excellent tool for social media, as it gives influencers or brand ambassadors the opportunity to respond and react to the audience’s questions and comments. Live video is also more transparent, and less scripted, than other marketing strategies, and brands can capitalize on this to build trust with audiences.
[If this year was anything to go by, then 2018 is shaping up to be another exciting year. The rapid advancement in these new technologies will lead to more new and innovative ways for businesses to reach their consumer base and increase brand awareness. The key for marketing teams is to research, experiment and adapt to stay ahead of the curve.