By Sammy Dalglish, Group Account Director, Zadro
With consumers and markets constantly evolving, it is important to stay up-to-date with the current market trends to remain ahead of the competition. We live in a connected and shrinking world, therefore marketing efforts need to be focused and targeted. As you look ahead to 2018 and begin planning your marketing strategy, it’s important to keep a pulse on trends so you hit the ground running in the year to come.
Trust is essential as we begin to relate to brands in human terms. Humanising your brand is a clear advantage in a world where social media can sweep aside a brand in a millisecond. Brand humanisation leverages the power of people – to help tell stories about your brand, your company and your culture. Prospective customers want to know more about you, not just products and services, which helps build trust in your brand. The tone is important – wherever possible allow prospects to see the people behind the power of your brand.
Influencer marketing is expected to broaden its scope and strengthen its impact in 2018, as consumers increasingly rely on recommendations from those they see as ‘thought leaders’. As demand for influencers increase, so does the value for their service. Influencer marketing builds an emotional connection and experience for target customers to deliver relevant content along the entire customer journey. The word-of-mouth advocates spread is powerful. For businesses already in the space and looking to maximise their campaigns, differentiation is key. As the space gets more saturated, brands need a defined influencer marketing strategy to cut through. Engagement can be tracked through total audience or followers, likes, comments and hashtag usage.
Putting your audience first isn’t just something you say, it must be a thing you practice. It’s a mission you must live by! Your customer must be at the heart of your strategy by providing content that is valuable to them. Using content as a strategic resource, techniques like personas and content mapping is a trend we will see more of in 2018. The window for building a trusted and loyal audience is right now. Brands who build new and trusted content will have options to monetise that content from prospects and customers. One of the biggest buyers of content is Amazon. Google is purchasing original content from both brands and media to fill content gaps. Facebook is spending considerably on original video and Apple is planning to invest $1 billion on original content to stay relevant and consistent.
Social Messaging Apps
Social messaging apps are gaining popularity and in 2018 it’s predicted they will overtake social networking as the preferred platform. So, what’s the appeal? Social messaging apps allow for instant, more personalised, real-time connection that invites transparency and collaboration, particularly amongst millennials. Messenger apps allow you to chat instantly, connect with brands, watch content and browse merchandise. How does this translate for your business? It redefines the way you conduct customer service, using personalisation and one-on-one communication as part of the user experience. Savvy business owners and their marketing teams can take advantage of very profitable online commerce opportunities, as well as increase their loyal customer bases through these expanded customer services.
The challenges of customer service have been given a huge boost by artificial intelligence. Instant connection has conditioned us to want things yesterday. Chatbots are live chat boxes that engage directly with customers, learning from user experience, that has a conversation with you via messaging in real-time. Think about where you message the most; Facebook Messenger, mobile text, Twitter or Instagram direct messages. Chatbots can help businesses save on customer service cost and speed up response times. Chatbots give you the chance to interact quickly with your audience, on a more personal level – making customer service faster and easier.
This year Apple announced the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone X which offer users new augmented reality (AR) experiences. It’s highly likely that social channels will start to introduce new ways to integrate AR into their platforms. Ikea recently launched a flagship AR app that enables customers to virtually drop 3D furniture into their own home to assist with purchasing decisions using their smartphone camera or tablet. This is a game changer for AR technology which will be used to accelerate consumer buying processes, so expect other retailers to follow suit in 2018.
Smarter marketing with big data
Big data has played a role in marketing since its inception. If you have the right data, you can better understand your customer behaviour and what it takes to deliver results. This year saw vendors such as Microsoft (Azure) and Amazon (AWS) extend their cloud offering to help businesses identify actionable insights to drive business decisions. The Azure platform can be applied to personalised marketing solutions, demand forecasting, price optimisation and predictive marketing campaigns. Throughout 2018, we can expect to see increased adoption of platforms as businesses strive to find more insights within their existing datasets.
Video has grown in popularity fuelled by social channels. YouTube processes more than 3 billion searches a month, as 100 hours of video content is uploaded every minute. YouTube is bigger than Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and AOL, making it the second largest search engine after Google. According to Recode¹ mobile video spend will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion 2018. The average viewer is expected to watch 36 minutes of video online per day on a mobile device. According to a study by Cisco by the end of 2020, video consumption will account for 75% of total mobile traffic (currently 55%), so ideally, marketing budgets should increase for video content creation. The good news is it doesn’t have to be expensive. Most consumers want short, easily digestible content that feels like it has been created by real people.
It’s not imperative that you incorporate every trend into your marketing strategy – it’s about assessing what works for your business and your customers. It’s all about creating meaningful relationships with your customers. Content needs to be original, unique and engaging to make a lasting impression.
2018 will present numerous opportunities for brands and businesses to reach customers, create engaging conversations and help to build long-term relationships. Constantly evolving technology brings with it newer challenges and opportunities, and in this always-connected world, marketers will need to be agile and adaptive to succeed.