Nobody can dispute the importance of having a solid marketing plan in place. Equally crucial is adapting with the times. With technology constantly expanding, trends are fickle; what worked for you last year may be irrelevant this year.
The following marketing trends are expected to gain traction in 2018.
- Voice-optimized content. Apple’s Siri paved the way, and Amazon’s Alexa made everybody a believer in voice-optimized assistants. Voice searches accounted for 20 percent of online searches in 2017; by 2020, that number is expected to jump to 50 percent. Consumers enjoy the convenience of not having to type and, as voice recognition software has gotten better and better, it’s easier than ever to find what you’re looking for with just a single tap of a button.
- Stories and live video. Snapchat was the first to really embrace live video; Instagram and Facebook quickly followed suit with their respective “Stories” and the medium took off. Live video is a great way to engage more directly with your audience; it’s a more direct and immediate option than posting a photo or status update. (Not that you should shy away from those, either; despite criticism, social media is an important part of any marketing strategy and is here to stay.)
- Privacy protection and data security. Facebook, Equifax and others have been in the news lately following high-profile breaches of privacy. Skittish consumers leery of having their data hacked and being exploited by marketers are putting more value than ever on privacy protection. Marketers who prioritize cyber security are likely to win the trust of the public – and ultimately, their business.
- Integrated marketing campaigns. There’s an old axiom about never putting all your eggs in one basket; this holds true for marketing. Nowadays, the most successful marketing campaigns are those that take an integrated approach, relying on a combination of platforms to most effectively reach consumers. Savvy marketers might utilize email, social media, digital ads, live events and more in order to reach a larger potential audience.
- AI optimization. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are no longer the stuff of sci-fi movies; they are real, and making inroads in marketing. Businesses need only develop basic campaign parameters; the data is then fed into an AI platform, which “learns” to optimize ad spending, personalizes content and assists in customer service and sales through automated chat bots. In fact, between now and 2020, an estimated 85 percent of all online transactions are expected to involve non-human contact.
- Shifting from Millennials to Gen Z. For the past decade or so, marketing efforts have focused on Millennials. But, guess what? That audience is growing up, leading companies to begin thinking about the next generation of consumers, Gen Z. These teens and young adults – born in the late 1990s and 2000s – are beginning to make important buying decisions on their own. By 2020, there will be 84.7 million of them in the U.S. alone. Adopt your marketing strategy now to capture their attention and you’ll be well positioned to reach the next generation.