7 Marketing Trends to watch out for in 2018.

7

1. non-visual, voice-enabled marketing

Undoubtedly, one of the largest marketing trends from 2017 was the invasion of intelligent personal assistants (IPA’s) into households across the globe. Amazon is the unquestioned leader in the world of conversational marketing, selling over 15 million units of the Alexa powered ‘Echo’, good for 75% of the U.S. market share.

According to research by Forrester, the market for ‘smart speakers’ will continue to grow exponentially, with an estimated user base of 224 million by 2022, and this development does not bode well for typical advertisers.

The problem advertising-heavy companies face stems from a fundamental UI challenge of intelligent personal assistants.

Suppose I want to search for a Greek restaurant near where I lived.

Using Google, I would search for “top rated Greek restaurants near me”. Google would then neatly collate over 16,00,000 search results and subtly top it off with its internal moneymaker; A couple of adwords for Greek restaurants, a feature that brings in 70% of its advertising revenue.

However, with a smart speaker, all I would have to do is say, “Alexa, book me a table at a top-rated Greek restaurant near me.” and using her Zomato ‘skill’ to circumvent the entire search process, she’d do just that.

This is a problem, because in a world where the search function is instantaneous, where do you fit advertisements? How do the Google’s and Facebook’s continue their existence?

The plan for the immediate future seems to be, “If you can’t beat em, join em”. Shortly after the Echo was launched, Google introduced the ‘Home Assistant’. The demand by now was so overwhelming, that Google sold one of its Home Assistants every second during last years holiday season, totaling over 6 million pieces divided amongst its current range of the Home, Home Max, and the Home Mini. According to Digitimes, Facebook is also planning to launch a speaker of its own, the 15-inch touchscreen device is slated for release in early 2018. Apple joined the chat race as well when it launched its Siri powered $349 ‘Homepod’.

All of this has created a gold rush for developers and companies alike, akin to the first iPhone, where people are looking at this technological innovation and asking, “How can I be a part of this?”

If you’re a marketer and not thinking the same thing, then you’re probably not going to enjoy the next couple of fiscal years. Even before the Echo’s arrival into the world, admen were silently fearful.

Case in point; Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP.

WPP is one of the worlds largest advertising and PR firms (it owns ‘smaller’ companies like Ogilvy & Mather, JWT and Cohn & Wolfe).  Sir Martin Sorrell didn’t mix words when he talked about Amazon.

“The answer to the question ‘what worries you when you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning’ isn’t my three-month-old child – it’s Amazon – which is a child, but not three months,” Sorrell said.

Sorrell believes that Amazon is a huge threat to Google when it comes to search. If you’re a sneaker brand, the most valuable place to advertise is when someone is actively searching to buy a pair of sneakers. On Google, they might just be researching, but with Amazon, it’s likely that consumer is in the market to make a purchase right away.

As Amazon flexes its advertising capabilities, 2018 is going to be a wild ride for marketers across the board.

2. apps

Most people would tell you the app market is overgrown, and they’d be right.

According to research by Sensor Tower, the top 1% of publishers that produce paid apps (or apps with in-app purchases) collect 94% of revenue from the App Store platform.

That works out to 623 top publishers collecting $1.34 billion of the $1.43 billion in revenue estimated to come from the App Store. In a world of such a monopolistic dominance, where 99% of developers only manage to collect about 6% of revenue, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s no hope left.

However, Gartner estimates that over 268 billion mobile downloads that were undertaken in 2017, generated a revenue stream of close to $77 billion. This is more than the $58 billion that it brought in during 2016, which was more than the $45 billion in 2015, which was more than the $35 billion in 2014.

But as more people have more phones, especially in countries like India and China, there’s only more money to be made. Apps are now intrinsically ingrained into customers lives, everything from messaging, to fashion to transportation. In fact, today having an app is just as important as having a website.

3. chatbots

If you’re interested in conversational marketing automation, but Alexa and Google Home seem a bit far away for your tastes, Chatbots present themselves as a more tried and tested solution.

2017 was the year of Chatbots, as we saw hundreds of companies adopt this technological advancement. American research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that by 2020, over 85% of all customer interactions will take place without human interaction.

The inherently unique proposition about Chatbots is that it is truly the pinnacle of data driven marketing, while subsequently being more of a humane experience for the end user.

As Micheal Tasner, the CEO of No Joke Marketing puts it

I’m a huge fan of data-driven marketing and have seen open rates exceed 80% or higher with an engaged audience. So, if you send 1,000 messages via your chatbot tool, chances are high that at least 800 people will see your message. Those rates are far superior to email open rates, making this a unique channel not to ignore.

 

This stream of new insights opens the door for a new dimension of business intelligence (BI), with troves of data that provide actionable insights and positions your business to make wise, data-backed decisions. The data shows individual users’ interactions in real time; you can find out your what your customers’ most pertinent needs are, how men or women interact with your brand differently and where they fall off the sales process.

4. influencer marketing

Influencers have made real splashes over the past two years in the world of marketing. The industry and its participants have gone from small-time guerilla marketers to being essential cogs in company’s marketing budgets.

The market—estimated to be worth $2 billion in 2017 and set to reach $10 billion by 2020, will continue to see more growth in the industry and become an efficient marketplace.

In a world where you could be the hottest company on the block by raising $120 million for a product you haven’t even started selling one minute and out of funds and on sales the next, you have to vigilant.

Increasingly, companies are looking to an “always-on” method of marketing rather than a one-off campaign mechanism. As brands and marketers work to build more holistic relationships with their customers, influencers help them stay on the consumers’ minds.

Not only does this make for a great working relationship, it also creates a two-way channel that benefits both parties in the short and long run. Influencers can aid marketers and their audiences on new trends, increase eyeballs and provide feedback for their products, while brands can crowdfund ideas and pain points from their followers.

5. interactive marketing

Gone as the day where you’d just lead your customers to the pond. Everyone does that. Today, you have to convince them to dive head first and drink it all up if you want to make an impact.

With the internet comes the power to engage your customers in ways that traditional media like print and television simply couldn’t. While in the past, customers could just be spectators to your marketing efforts, more and more companies today want their customers to feel like they’re a part of their company culture.

A survey conducted by ExpoTV.com found that 55% of respondents would prefer to have ongoing communications with the companies they buy from. That same survey found that 89% of respondents would feel more loyal to a company if they were invited to provide feedback.

Interactive tools would seem the best way to go about that, they offer valuable information in an easy-to-understand format, making them appealing from a logical and practical perspective.

But you need to carefully plan them out before you invest time and energy into creating one. Your tool should be able to do four primary things.

  1. Make your company a thought leader in the industry
  2. Introduce your audience to something new.
  3. Be thought-provoking, and importantly, shareable
  4. Fulfill a ‘desire’ of your customers’

One of my personal favorite examples of interactive content comes from visual essay creator, “The Pudding”. Visualised data from the Billboard’s Top 100 over nearly six decades to create this time-lapse animation showing the top five songs each week. Best of all, it plays audio clips from the number ones, giving the user a real feel for culture at the time. And yes, it’s as glorious as you think it is.

6. transparency

President of the Marketing Firm Yankelovich, Jay Walker-Smith estimates that we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day today.

“It seems like the goal of most marketers and advertisers nowadays is to cover every blank space with some kind of brand logo or a promotion or an advertisement,” Walker-Smith said.

5000 a day. You notice, what, like 10? 20 maybe? Of course, most of these go unnoticed. One possible reason? People are increasingly tuning out inauthentic and blatant marketing attempts.

For a long time, marketers have been liars. Using fine print, the FOMO, and misusing social proof to coax customers into buying products, because what else could they do?

But today, customers have more choices than they’ve ever had. We’re ready to pay more to do business with companies that are honest and transparent. Everything from where they sourced their raw materials from to pricing, customers are starting to refrain from “gotcha-marketing”. No one likes to feel like they’ve been made, regardless of whether that’s not being upfront about the actual downside of the offer, offering sponsored social media posts that don’t deliver any value or other ways companies trick customers.

For this reason, we’ve seen a recent rise in what’s known as ‘transparency marketing.’

According to research by Label Insights, 94% of respondents will stay loyal to a transparent brand. Over a third of shoppers said that they’d switch to a new brand if it offered more transparency. Another 81% of consumers will try a brand’s entire portfolio if it offers transparency.

Companies like McDonald’s, Southwest Airlines, Dominos, Panera, Patagonia and Canadian Tire have all taken to a more transparent approach to their marketing and its bred the intended results. But perhaps the most well-known example of transparent marketing comes from Saturn, the US carmaker.

Honesty, however, is a double-edged blade. If your customers do find out you’re lying to them, you may lose even your most loyal customers and any casuals you picked up on the way. Jessica Alba learned this lesson the hard way, when her company, called “The Honest Company” was forced to $1.5 million nationwide class action lawsuit claiming it misled buyers about ingredients in its laundry detergent and dish soap.

7. video

Wonder why this article is filled with cute gifs? Becuase videos help drive points.

Most every major trend you’ve heard of over the past year, about what will define life five or ten years down the line is defined by video. From augmented reality like Google Glasses, Snap Spectacles or Pokemon Go, to virtual reality like the Oculus Rift or the Google Cardboard, the future is undoubtedly video.

There’s still time for AR and VR to become pervasive enough to the extent where advertisers can use it for mainstream marketing, but video marketing is right here and right now. Google panders to this view so much, that it has 10 different video advertisement options. 

There are more than 7 billion videos watched each and every day on Facebook and YouTube. According to research by Animoto,

  • 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
  • 1 in 4 consumers actually lose interest in a company if it doesn’t have video.
  • Customers are nearly 50% more likely to read email newsletters that include links to video.
  • 4 in 5 consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important.

 

About the author

Anush Fernandes

Loves Canines, Conversational automation, and Curry. Stephen and otherwise.