2017 is almost at its end. This is the time of year when we peek into our digital crystal balls to see what’s in store for next year. Here are some of the digital marketing trends that brands need to prepare for in 2018.
The continuing popularity of influencer marketing
Reaching out to influencers is a popular strategy for many brands. According to studies, 74% of people turn to their social media networks for advice on purchasing decisions. The ability of influencers to sway these networks plays a major role in the campaigns of many brands. That’s why you see Kendall Jenner hocking brands so often:
— Kendall (@KendallJenner) August 11, 2017
The coming year is seen as the time when the integration of different types of influencers into campaigns becomes more popular. Each of these influencers can capture a specific section of an audience, allowing the brand to reach a larger number of people. Influencer marketing, and even micro-influencer marketing, will also be more fully combined with other marketing strategies like:
- Word-of-mouth promotions
- Referral programs
- Brand loyalty
- Advocacy campaigns
The integration with these campaigns will make influencers an essential part of the customer journey.
Attracting better influencers
Brands are expected to more deeply scrutinize the influencers they work with to be sure that they get the right ones. They will be less likely to connect with influencers based solely on their popularity. More emphasis will be given on how effectively influencers can deliver the desired results.
To get the right influencers, brands need to have better strategies to engage them. This involves catching their interest with effective pitches. Creating a stronger social media presence through increased social proof helps make these pitches more enticing. Use tools like our Twitter Retweets Service to quickly build that social proof. By having your content retweeted often you will catch the attention of influencers.
The rise of B2B influencer marketing
Like its business-to-consumer counterpart, business-to-business marketing also relies on influencers. The trend is expected to rise in 2018 as brands look for more effective ways to reach out to potential partners. B2B influencer marketing will involve more social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
I help B2B clients grow their social media audience & leverage Twitter for sales networking, engagement & social selling. Building a network of fellow B2B influencers to help brands with scale & thought leadership: https://t.co/38iMJT9P4q & https://t.co/fuzBUqbcdD pic.twitter.com/JciXIJrBcm
— Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel) November 27, 2017
Unlike B2C, B2B influencer marketing will focus more on longer-term relationships instead of short-term promotional campaigns. Brands are going to search for influencers that better align with their businesses, especially when it comes to LinkedIn influencers. Focusing on a smaller group of influencers will help foster that relationship.
The use of artificial intelligence for marketing
The rise of artificial intelligence-based marketing tools is expected to be one of the biggest digital marketing trends of 2018. Chatbots have already been implemented in various stages of marketing, like this one developed by IBM for for providing support to Mercedes customers.
The end of the car manual as we know it: Introducing "Ask Mercedes," the #chatbot powered by Watson that knows the functionalities of a #Mercedes car by heart. https://t.co/C63eySkDl2 pic.twitter.com/QPdONoERGa
— IBM Watson (@IBMWatson) November 30, 2017
Other automation tools are employed in tasks like post scheduling and order processing.
As these tools increase in sophistication, they are going to be used more often by brands. Their roles will be expanded to include new tasks like lead generation. Brands need to start experimenting early to determine how these automated solutions will play into their efforts.
Using AI to better understand consumers
One of the biggest applications of artificial intelligence in 2018 will be for the analysis of customer behavior. AI has improved significantly to now better identify patterns in how customers engage online. These patterns can help brands more effectively catch the interest of consumers or even detect complaints.
The various social media platforms have themselves spearheaded the exploitation of artificial intelligence and machine learning for customer studies.
- Pinterest uses artificial intelligence to help its Taste Graph provide better ad targeting for marketers.
- LinkedIn’s Career Advice utilizes AI to sift through member data and match them with the most relevant mentors for their needs.
These features have been made available to the public, giving brands the opportunity to use them for marketing.
Image recognition is a particular section of artificial intelligence that is expected to be used more in 2018. Better image recognition software can help marketers search for and pin down the kind of images that people commonly share on social media. The information will help brands come up with visual content that will capture the interest of customers more effectively.
Pinterest is already relying on image recognition technology to power its Lens and Pincodes features.
PINCODES ARE HERE! And I'm the only thing that can read 'em! When you come across one (in magazines, on product packaging), just pull me out and give it a scan to instantly discover hand-curated ideas on @Pinterest. pic.twitter.com/tX4ACBRUv0
— Pinterest Lens (@PinterestLens) November 15, 2017
Changing content trends
The digital marketing trends of 2018 will see the changing of the content landscape. Video, which is already an important content format, is expected to grow more next year. Ultimately, video content is projected to make up around 80% of online consumer traffic by 2020.
An important development in the further growth of video is the increasing popularity of live streaming. Marketers have adopted the format to create real-time engagements for their audiences.
The development of new content types
Along with the growth of already established content forms, new forms are expected to become popular in 2018. Pokémon Go led the way:
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) November 25, 2017
Augmented reality-based content will become more significant. Mobile device manufacturers like Apple are already anticipating the rise and incorporating AR support features into their devices. Snapchat is even rolling out augmented reality-based features.
Major brands are also starting to include AR content in their promotions. IKEA has their Place mobile app.
AR-based content adds a new level of engagement for users which can help hasten purchases.
Voice optimized content
Another area that brands are looking more into are voice-optimized content. In 2015, voice-based searches made up 20% of all online searches made. That number is expected to rise to 50% by 2020.
Owing to the use of natural language, voice search queries will shift towards asking full questions rather than just inputting keywords. There will also be greater emphasis on long-tailed search terms. By optimizing their content to respond to these developments, brands can position themselves better in voice search results.
Growth of personalized content
The application of artificial intelligence and big data to the analysis of customer behavior is expected to lead to more personalized content. As brands gain more detailed insights on consumer trends, they will be able to better see individual preferences. Consumers themselves are increasing demands for more personalized advertisements that deliver the exact products that they want to see and purchase.
Companies are responding positively to this digital marketing trend, with two-thirds expecting to see at least a 6% increase in revenues from personalization. Many of these brands already have had success with using personalized content for their email marketing.
The growth of ephemeral content for marketing
Ephemeral content is designed to be visible for a short period, typically just 24 hours. It then disappears completely afterward. Snapchat was first at this, and it has helped in generating continued engagements from users. Now Facebook has Stories, and even YouTube is getting in on it with Reels.
Building an ephemeral content strategy
The short-lived nature of ephemeral content creates a sense of urgency for the audience to take action. This also creates an exclusive component, as people know that it won’t be available for long. Both aspects have made ephemeral content popular with brands promoting time-sensitive campaigns.
Carefully consider your strategy for this type of content. The goal is to completely engage the audience during the lifespan of the content. Finding the best time to post will ensure that it will be seen. Your goal should be to lead people to longer lasting content, such as your website.
Be prepared for the digital marketing trends of 2018
These digital marketing trends are some of the exciting developments that are expected in 2018. While not all of the predictions may pan out, there could also be some unexpected developments that lead to new trends. Be prepared to take advantage of these upcoming trends and changes to enhance your marketing strategy for the coming year.