As technology marches forward and more and more of Generation Z and millennials come of age, establishing a greater foothold in the marketplace, brands will need to ditch much of marketing’s conventional wisdom and adapt to marketing trends that will dominate 2018. Brands who disregard recent innovations in social media, the internet, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality as well as rapidly changing consumer behaviors will surely fall behind.
The Top 10 Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2018:
Trend #1: Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing became one of the most effective and popular marketing tools in 2017 and looks primed to stay that way in 2018, thanks to growing numbers of Gen Z and millennial consumers who are more skeptical of traditional marketing tactics than the older generations.
These young consumers, who number over 120 million in the US, look to and trust their favorite internet personalities and often buy the same things. Brands can see this and are leveraging these popular social media influencers on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook to push their products or services to the newer generations in an authentic way.
While traditional marketing methods can often feel contrived, influencer marketing achieves success by capitalizing on the consumer’s trust and influencer’s transparency. These two pillars are what makes influencer marketing the fastest growing customer acquisition method, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub Study 2017. On top of this, the same study found that influencer marketing has a staggering $7.65 average earned media value per $1 spent.
And social media influencers realize the symbiotic relationships they share with brands and they highly value their credibility that their fans appreciate. For this reason, many bloggers turn down pitches from brands and over 80 percent believe they should disclose any paid post or sponsorship.
Influencer marketing will continue to trend in 2018 and be a go-to for many brands and digital marketers due to the ubiquity of social media, the rise of social media celebrities, and an ever-leery consumer base.
Trend #2: Chatbots
In the past few years, chatbots have become considerably smarter and are now a viable and trending marketing strategy for brands. According to a study by Oracle, 80 percent of businesses will use chatbots by 2020. The Chatbot Market Research Report found that 67 percent of businesses believe that chatbots will be more effective than mobile apps in the next five years and that retention rate for chatbots after one month of usage is 40-60 percent compared to a retention rate of 20-40 percent for apps.
Companies like Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and Bank of America are already using chatbots to give consumers an easier way to connect with their favorite brands. Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon have all made huge, long-term investments in chatbots.
The main thing driving the growth and success of chatbots are the increasing popularity of messaging apps that many brands think will eventually surpass social media and email in the coming years — Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp have over 2.5 billion active users and Messenger has over 100,000 active bots alone. According to a survey by CONVRG, a user response to chatbots is three times as likely than a response to an email.
Trend #3: Artificial Intelligence
AI and machine learning is without a doubt a huge game-changer in every sense of the word — and this applies to marketing as well. Although the barrier to entry to using AI for digital marketing is quite high due to costs, the results speak for themselves.
According to the Salesforce State of the Marketing Report, highly successful marketing teams are twice as likely to use AI than low-earning teams. Even more, the study found that 57 percent of marketers said that AI was essential to their success and found that 53 percent think AI use will grow in the next two years.
Brands can use AI to improve data and, in turn, help predict consumer behavior, target ads more effectively, and determine when to reach out to customers. Just recently, Amazon developed an AI that can help predict the latest fashion trends.
Trend #4: Augmented and Virtual Reality
As AR and VR become more mainstream every year, with over 171 million users expected in 2018, major brands are salivating at the marketing possibilities the technologies offer.
VR devices like Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive, while not widely owned, can engage consumers in wholly unique ways and provide consumer experiences like almost nothing else. In 2014, Game of Thrones launched a VR experience at SXSW in anticipation of the new season that transported users to the show’s iconic Ice Wall.
As for AR, there are limitless possibilities to provide consumers with new and exciting ways of engagement in 2018 and beyond. AR relies on projecting images and graphics on top of the real world without needing a bulky headset like VR. In the future, Amazon and other major online retailers could use AR to allow customers to try on clothes from home or see what a piece of furniture might look like in their home. Applications like Pokemon Go and the new iPhone X prove that AR in everyday life is right around the corner.
AR and VR may still have a long way to go, but all signs are promising as to its marketing effectiveness.
Trend #5: Personalization
Personalization is a huge deal for brands that don’t want their content to quickly be overlooked by consumers — a very common thing in a world of advertising overload.
For this reason, more and more brands will strive in 2018 to produce marketing content that speaks directly to and is tailored for specific consumers, not just generic ads. The main way marketers do this is by targeting consumers based on things like their gender, age, and likes.
In a digital marketing sense, this means paying attention to a consumer’s internet behaviors, including social media activity, buying habits, and web surfing. There is ample evidence that contextually relevant ads that target consumers on an emotional level find much more success.
Trend #6: Native Advertising
Already a hugely popular marketing trend this year, in 2018 native advertising will continue to be a top tool for brands looking to advertise their products in an organic and noninvasive way. Native advertising works by seamlessly integrating your marketing into content that the consumer was already going to read or watch anyways.
Rather than overwhelming the consumer with intrusive ads, good native advertising doesn’t disrupt user experience and feels like a natural part of the content. Examples of native advertising include advertorials, sponsored content, branded content, and product placement. Spending on native advertising is expecting to exceed $21 billion in 2018.
Trend #7: Mobile Video
As more and more people shift to using their mobile phones instead of their computer or television to consume content, mobile video will continue to play a massive role in marketing, especially among the younger generations.
In 2015, mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views. And mobile video is incredibly popular with Gen Z consumers. Around 71 percent say they use their mobile phone to watch video daily compared to just 51 percent on their television and 45 percent on their computer, according to a report from the ad firm Sharethrough.
In 2018, mobile video ad spending will increase 49 percent to $18 billion, while non- mobile video ad spending will be $15 billion, a 1.5 percent decrease.
With so many consumers switching to mobile to view video content, brands are scrambling to create quality mobile advertising.
Trend #8: Live Video
Much like what was mentioned above, video — especially mobile — is becoming a major part of our daily life and live video is no exception.
Video streaming accounted for nearly 75 percent of all the internet traffic this year and viewers typically watch live video three times longer than normal video. According to a survey by Livestream, 80 percent of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a social post.
In 2018, live video will continue to trend with social media platforms. Facebook and Youtube lead the way in live video usage, but Instagram recently made a big play by launching a feature that allows users to stream live video in their Instagram story.
Trend #9: Disappearing Content
There is no doubt that Snapchat struck gold when it introduced its short-lived videos and Facebook and Instagram quickly followed suit and jumped on the bandwagon.
The reason short-lived videos work so well is twofold. First, the fact that the video will disappear lends a weight and urgency to the content. Secondly, and more obviously, short content is more consumable inherently and a highly valued characteristic among millennials and Gen Z due to their ever-shortening attention spans.
Short-lived video content is also another great tool for brands and influencers to work together to produce easy-to-consume marketing content.
Trend #10: Interactive Content
There’s a simple truth about interactive content: it’s more effective than traditionally content. The reason for this is that interactive content makes the consumer participate and therefore creates engagement, which is the ultimate goal of any brand or advertisement.
Almost half of marketers (46%) are using interactive content with 79 percent saying they will use it in the future. Interactive ads are typically content that includes an interactive element like quizzes, games, surveys, contests, or infographics.