Whether you’ve had a great or not-so-great year, you can’t deny that 2017 flew by. It feels like we were just carving pumpkins for Halloween, and now we’re about to ring in the new year!
And with every new year, comes new year predictions. Whether it’s the Color of the Year or the most anticipated movies of the year, everyone’s sharing their opinion on what 2018 will bring. In the spirit of the new year, we’ve decided to reflect back on the marketing trends of the past year and then make educated guesses on what’s to come in 2018.
This time last year, marketers predicted that AR, voice search, and IoT would affect the way businesses marketed to consumers. From what we’ve experienced in 2017, it’s safe to say they were right. One of the biggest changes in marketing this past year has to be the focus of customer-centric marketing. Thanks in part to voice search and IoT — like smartwatches connecting to users’ phones, laptops, etc. — there are new ways to collect significant data on how consumers use their devices when shopping or searching for information.
With access to all this data, businesses are able to listen to and understand what their customers want and need. Essentially, throughout 2017 we’ve changed how businesses and consumers interact with each other — and we’ll be seeing it evolve even more in the upcoming year.
Below is our collection of rising trends we think will take precedence in the digital marketing world throughout 2018. Have you thought about any trends we missed? Please share them in the comments – we’d love to hear ‘em!
1. Voice Search will continue to rise
Smartphones have been using voice search since 2011, with the introduction of iPhone’s Siri. Now, voice is available practically everywhere — from phones to smartwatches to digital assistants. Along with the popular Amazon Echo, Google now has multiple versions of the Google Home out, Amazon added the Echo Plus and Echo Dot, and Sony and other businesses have their own off-brand versions of digital assistants.
According to Entrepreneur, 20% of online searches were conducted by voice search in 2016, and is expected to rise to 50% by 2020. This change from text-based to voice-enabled search has affected SEO and other aspects of marketing. As consumers change the way they shop, search, and seek out information, the more businesses will have to alter the way they market and provide that information.
Although there’s already been many tweaks to SEO, content, and social media marketing for voice search up until now, we’ll likely see more as we enter 2018.
2. Mobile-first mentality
We know mobile — like voice search — has been on the list of marketing predictions for the past few years. However, with each year there are significant changes to mobile marketing worth mentioning.
Originally, there were desktop sites with separate mobile sites and apps, then there were responsive sites that automatically adjusted to fit the screen of whatever device you were using. Now, in addition to responsive design, we have to consider the continuously widening range of devices. Not only are there various brands of smartphones and tablets, consumers are using smartwatches, FitBits, and other wearable technology that will make mobile even more of a priority.
Google has been penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly for a few years already. “Mobilegedon” in 2015 was the release of mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, and a few more mobile-centric updates in 2016 and 2017. Now, with its mobile-first index, mobile versions of each page of your site will be seen as the primary page to index, with desktop versions being secondary.
Well we still argue desktops are essential tools for working (e.g. developers, artists, animators, and many more); they’re also still a big hit with gamers, who use two, three, and sometimes even more screens to immerse themselves in their games. However, for shopping, searching, social media browsing, and other daily activities the average consumer partakes in, it’s definitely a mobile-first mentality.
3. Live video is King
According to Business2Community, videos now appear on over 70% of search results — and studies show 46% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching video content. More and more businesses are not only adding video content to their websites, but they’re incorporating live video in their social media and content marketing strategies.
Why? Some say live video encourages engagement and makes your business more personable, approachable, and transparent. Live video (or any video) creates backlink opportunities, increases “average time on page,” and can generate 1200% more shares than text and image posts combined.
Whether you’re a musician, small business, or a big brand like Target, there’s umpteen ways you can utilize live video. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all have live video options. And while desktop video viewing may decline in the foreseeable future, mobile video consumption is expected to grow by 25% in 2018.
4. VR, AR, and AI will be widely seen
VR, or virtuality reality, is said to become our new reality. Some brands have already dipped their toes into the immersive world of VR. Right now, VR is experienced through the use of headsets and not so much utilized for digital marketing. However, some brands like The New York Times are using VR to enhance storytelling. We can see this immersive way to share stories and news become a new trend brands use to freshen up their content.
Augmented Reality (AR), however, is already being used by brands. With the ability to merge real world imagery with digital objects, it’s a great way for consumers to be able to virtually test out products before purchasing them. In fact, Forbes already has a list of creative AR campaigns from 2017 — and the technology is just beginning.
According to Salesforce, “AI is the leading technology where marketers expect the most growth over the next two years…” Artificial intelligence has already impacted consumers’ everyday lives. AI enhances machines ability to think, allowing robots and technology to help humans do tasks, or completely do them for us. Whether it’s predicting the weather, vacuuming your floors, or fighting pollution, it seems there is no end in sight as to what AI will capable of doing in 2018 and beyond.
And based on a marketing survey by Salesforce, more than half of marketing leaders are already using AI to analyze data and advance personalization. If they’re not using it now, at least a quarter of marketers plan to start in the next two years.
5. Brands need to be transparent…and maybe even political
Today, consumers are loyal to brands whose values align with their own. Transparency has recently become a deciding factor in whether or not a consumer will do business with you. A survey by Label Insight found that “39% of consumers would switch from their current preferred brand to one that offered more product transparency,” and 73% would even pay more for products with complete transparency.
Not only do consumers want brands to be transparent with their products, but they want complete honesty and visible proof that brands stand by their morals and values. Hitherto, it’s been more conventional to remain neutral as a business when it comes to controversial topics such as political debates. However, as individuals begin to use social media to share their ideas, values, and opinions, they’re looking for big influencers to do the same.
In 2018, we predict that more companies will emphasize their purpose, and be transparent about their products and their company as a whole.
6. Customer experience and micro-influencers will thrive
As wearable technology continues to rise in popularity, products and services are created with the individual user in mind. As we mentioned earlier, businesses are able to collect and analyze significant amounts of data about their consumers and target markets. They can — and should — use that data to create personalized customer experience.
It’s never been a secret that consumers like to be treated as VIP members to an exclusive club. And we agree with Business2Community when they say “tech-driven consumer personalization will become a cornerstone of marketing, and marketers need to take into account customers’ personality traits and make their marketing strategies all-gender inclusive.”
Micro-influencers, or everyday consumers who have built up an audience of 500 to 5,000 highly engaged followers, are the perfect way to create and share more relatable and targeted content to your audience. While your brand alone can use data-backed content to reach your overall audience, micro-influencers can hone in on specific niches of your audience to create a more personalized experience for your customers.
7. LinkedIn is rising, while Twitter may fall
We can’t make a list of 2018 marketing predictions without mentioning the changes we anticipate to see in the new year. While Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have been and continue to remain the top social platforms, Twitter and LinkedIn are a different story.
Twitter, unfortunately, hasn’t grown its user base this past year. While it’s expanded its 140 character count to 280, it wasn’t as effective as anticipated. If Twitter continues to focus on acquiring users versus making actual improvements to its platform, we can’t foresee 2018 going all that well either.
Contrastly, LinkedIn is taking center stage and making various changes to improve and expand its features, improve user experience, and widen its overall purpose. In the past, users would log in to LinkedIn to look for job postings or update their resume every so often. Today, it’s catching up to other top-performing social platforms by getting a makeover and adding new features like LinkedIn Video. And if you pay for LinkedIn Premium you have access to more connections, custom search abilities, and LinkedIn Learning.
With these added tools, LinkedIn is evolving from a job hunting site to becoming extensively used for networking and personal branding — and we can’t wait to see it develop even more in the foreseeable future.
Whether each of these predictions come to pass in 2018 or not, we’ll definitely be seeing them within the next few years. We’ve already witnessed radical changes in digital marketing just within the last three to four years. As technology continues to rapidly develop, we can’t fathom what other new changes and developments 2018 will bring to marketing.