December is synonymous with the closing of projects and company banquets, but also time to take stock of the financial year and prepare for the start of the new year.
In the last two years, new and innovative technologies and intelligent devices have come to market: Virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence with its numerous applications, blockchain, the Internet of things, and all activities becoming increasingly automated.
No new technologies are expected in the new year. Instead, existing technologies, devices, and software will evolve and establish themselves. At the same time, consumer behavior and needs are changing rapidly in the face of these upcoming developments. Businesses should understand that change is everywhere, and should, while watching the impact of these changes, act accordingly.
Of course, this context affects the future of marketing too. We’ll give you a short guide to the four key marketing trends for the year 2018 that all marketers should keep in mind.
1. Contextual and omnichannel
Consumers no longer pay as much attention to traditional advertising as they use to, in fact they reject it – 600 million consumers use ad blockers. Instead, they value direct communication from brands, helpful and practical advice, customer proximity, and quality customer service, anytime, and anywhere.
To achieve this, it is important to recognise the reality of omnichannel and anchor this mindset in marketing activities. The largest portion of young and middle-aged users switch between mobile and stationary services and interact with different devices through voice, sound, and vision. The choice depends on convenience.
For example, it’s an advantageous to design content in various formats and to optimise communication channels accordingly.
2. Digital experiences
In times when shopping has become the norm through any touchpoint, customers want holistic and seamless shopping experiences. Therefore, online retailers have to create shopping experiences with value.
Almost 50 percent of Germans have a positive opinion of companies that are constantly introducing new technologies that improve the quality of customer experience.
Alibabas “New Retail” vision and Singles’ Day Festival show again, where the trends are going. But there are many other cases such as Ikea (with VR interior design experiences), Adidas (with personalized in-store services), Mister Spex (with physical branches to enhance the digital shopping experience), or H&M‘s and Geschenkidee chatbots.
The first two trends show the current situation of digital customers (both preferences and behaviour) and serve as a basis for future marketing efforts.
The next two trends are about implementing concrete strategies to effectively and successfully meet existing and previously mentioned customer requirements.
3. Automation reaching the next level
As touchpoints and communication channels have multiplied, a 360-degree view of customer behaviour and automation of data collection has become necessary to be more effective, faster, and excellent.
In our personal lives, automation has only just begun. Smart devices and systems have already taken over mechanical tasks for us. Spotify creates personal playlists, Taobao Cafe pays the bill via smartphone, and there are even apps that can create savings plans for you.
As a marketer you can apply this way of thinking to your daily work. CRM systems help companies build valuable relationships with their customers and effectively manage all of the key tasks in the process.
Automating these processes helps marketing, sales and service departments intelligently manage data, respond to changes and situations in real time, and deliver tailored customer engagement.
4. More engagement through Instagram, messaging apps, and videos
It’s not a new thing that we are living in the era of social media. The fact is, social media will remain the top priority for brands for another year.
Facebook is the undisputed queen, but her sister Instagram continues to grow rapidly – in 2017 about 800 million people use the platform monthly and their latest feature, Instagram Stories, has become more popular than Snapchat in a year.
With brands seeing more engagement on Instagram than on any other social media platform, Instagram will become the go-to channel for them in the new year.
Fashion brands like Zara, Asos, and Nike pull out the most from this channel. The recipe for success: a mix of powerful and professional images, highly motivated and inspiring content, and user generated content.
In addition, messaging apps are gaining momentum as a marketing channel.
While WhatsApp for Business is already in the pipeline, Facebook Messenger is driving the new era of conversational commerce with over 100,000 chatbots. In 2018, more brands will open new customer service channels to increase customer loyalty and customer engagement.
Additionally, Facebook and Co. have been promoting the use of video recently by integrating new features and tools. According to Cisco, in 2019, 80 percent of the world’s Internet traffic will be from video.
Other key trends for next year could be optimised voice content and in-car advertising.