Digital Marketing Trends for 2018 – Customer is the King


The Digital Marketing world is constantly changing and the main trend of 2018 is providing outstanding customer experience using artificial intelligence, Internet-connected devices, content marketing, influencer marketing, live streaming, video marketing and augmented reality. The Digital Marketing Trends for 2018 are focused on the Customer – He is the King!

For this article, I interviewed some of the best social media and digital marketing experts and influencers from the UK, California, Puerto Rico and Australia. They are amazing people, always willing to share their expertise with other people.

In this article, Sam Hurley, the founder of the Digital Marketing Hub OPTIM-EYEZ, shares three key Digital Marketing trends that fall under the umbrella of Customer Experience — a leading, fundamental shift as we head into 2018 and beyond. He is talking about making their experience as joyful as possible so they simply can’t resist coming back for more. Sam is “the guy who went from ‘Nobody’ to #1 Marketing Influencer in 15 Months” as he describes himself.

Neal Schaffer, a recognized leader in helping businesses generate ROI from social media, a global keynote speaker, university educator, social media agency owner, author, and social media strategy consultant, sees 2018 “less of a revolution and more of an evolution of the trends we have seen in the past. That being said, some of these trends will become more prevalent than others in the coming year”. His digital marketing trends are also focusing on reaching customers with content marketing, infleuncer marketing and employee advocacy.

Asked what will happen in the digital marketing world in 2018, Jan BarbosaBrand Ambassador at beBee, and 2016 Onalytica Top 100 Augmented Reality Influencer, said – “For the next year, I’m feeling strong for the growth, relevance and evolution of augmented and video marketing which I believe will dominate by taking full advantage of one of the highest tech and mainstream tools available in the hands of consumers: The Smartphone. I also feel very strong about Social Proofing and Podcasts, but want to mention the trends that could be the most dominant for 2018”.

Keith Keller, a well known Twitter Video Marketing Specialist from Australia, featured in Brand Quarterly’s “50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50“, who is constantly researching and creating material to help businesses get out the most results using videos, believes that video marketing will be the main trend in 2018.

Let’s start with the first three trends forecasted by Sam Hurley – customer experience above all, real-time personalisation, and connectivity and integration.

1. Customer Experience Above All

Customer experience is not a new idea — however, the proliferation of ‘digital’ and rising abundance of choice has empowered customers more than ever before. Selecting (and dismissing) brands is effortless; these decisions are often made without even a glimmer of a second thought.

For this reason, it’s no longer viable to simply win on price or product alone.

In today’s age of the customer, collective experiences (spanning the entire customer journey) count — and your focus is to make this experience as joyful as possible so they simply can’t resist coming back for more!

Customer experience needs to be fully embraced and baked into every area of operation.

2. Real-Time Personalization

This AI-enabled strategy places immense power in the hands of any brand that recognizes its potential.Artificial Intelligence has paved the way to scaled marketing and sales on a personal level.

What does this mean? It’s now possible to enhance the customer experience by making customers feel special as individuals — catering for their specific needs like you know them as friends.

No matter if you have 100 customers or many thousands!

 “74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.” (Source: Infosys)

Highly-tailored product/content recommendations, proactive alerts, intelligent digital shopping assistants and even dynamic websites that change on the fly to suit the individual visitor… all now achievable and automated with the constant progression of AI tech.

3. Connectivity & Integration

Internet-connected devices (Internet of Things / IoT) and integrated tech provides outstanding customer experience by forming a constant bridge between brand and user.

Simply: When a customer is due to needing something, such brands know before it is even required.

This means customers are alerted when they need to service their washing machine, stock up on their groceries, test the head office alarm… or change their tires.

“70% of retail decision makers globally are ready to adopt IoT to improve customer experiences.” (Data Source: Zebra)

Syncing digital into every part of the customer’s life provides massive amounts of data to utilize while keeping them delighted with a level of service that is exemplary. (And right now, likely ahead of many competitors).

4. Influencer Marketing

The first trend Neal Schaffer anticipates is, by far, the explosion of Influencer Marketing to both B2B as well as to micro-influencers on the B2C side. Influencers allow marketers to tell their story through the eyes of the most trusted people in social media: People that we know and trust. Neal, who is now writing his 4th book called ‘The Business of Influence‘, thinks that we will see more and more shift from Paid Social budgets to influencer marketing budgets as a result.

If Influencer Marketing is new to you, let me explain what it means. It’s a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers and orients marketing activities around these influencers. To get the best results you need to make sure you work with the people of influence in your field. I have recently written an article that explains what is Influencer Marketing and how to find the best influencers.

5. Content Marketing

Another trend mentioned by Neal Schaffer will be the continued explosion in content marketing, but with more B2C companies realizing the value that content plays in digital and social media marketing and making more investments in a more robust content infrastructure to help consumers at every stage of their buyer’s journey.

More and more people are now looking for information so instead on pitching and promoting your products and services you should shift toward providing useful content. Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

To learn more about the benefits of content marketing for your business, how to build your content marketing foundation, how to plan, create and promote your content and how to track your results, get my Content Marketing online course.

6. Social Selling & Employee Advocacy

Neal Schaffer anticipates that there will be a combination of social selling and employee advocacy in an attempt to harness the power of our employees in social media, beginning with those in outward-facing sales and business development role and expanding to those employees who are already socially active.

This is especially critical as millennials are now said to comprise a majority of the workforce, so being able to tap into millennial employees to help fuel your company’s social media marketing program will become an enticing one for many brands going forward. How successful they will be, however, will depend on sales and marketing alignment in the case of social selling, and employee engagement in the case of employee advocacy.

7. Professional Live Streaming

Live Video Streaming has been a hit during 2017, and looking at your Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook page is enough confirmation of the vast explosion of the medium. Already tons of video content fill every nook and cranny of the online experience. “For 2018 I expect Video Marketing to become much more polished with better quality and content, said Jan Barbosa.

The reach of online video is amazing, if we talk about YouTube numbers alone, the platform got over a billion users in 2016, its users consuming up to 100 million hours of daily video watch time, and let’s not forget that YouTube is the second largest search engine (following Google), and its usage surpasses Bing, Yahoo & Ask Combined.

“For 2018, the video experience will continue to shift from simple ads into storytelling. Clearly a winning strategy for digital marketing and personal branding”, highlighted Jan Barbosa.

8. Video Marketing on Any Budget

Keith Keller, a well known Twitter Video Marketing Specialist from Australia, featured in Brand Quarterly’s “50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50“, is constantly researching and creating material to help businesses get out the most results using videos. He believes that Twitter will remain in the books for 2018 and will get stronger as they started to give videos an important role – “The ‘Twitter 280’ idea offers enormous opportunities and I predict that more and more people will embrace it and start to get very creative with ways to use the new limit. The use of ‘Twitter Video’ will only grow in 2018 and I predict that the limit will be increased to 280 seconds. Either way, 140 seconds offers marketers ample time right now to share their message on Twitter”.

Keith interviewed Miri Rodriguez from Microsoft about the importance of storytelling and how anyone can now create compelling videos on a smartphone or tablet. I love Miri’s enthusiasm and desire to see other businesses being more creative. “Consumers don’t really care about HD quality. They prefer authenticity”.

9. Mobile – The Main Platform

Mobile will undeniably solidify its rule as the main platform for digital marketing, thinks Jan Barbosa, who said that “your video, homepage, blog and business strategy must by now be already a hundred percent mobile optimized. Just think that there are close to 1.15 billion daily mobile users and the number is increasing by no less than 15% a year!”

In regards to sales and marketing efforts, just imagine the fact that almost half of mobile searches eventually lead to an online or brick and mortar store visit, more than a good reason to concentrate on the task of prepping your mobile presence as soon as possible.

It’s not by chance that Wendy Clark, President of Coca-Cola From 2014 to 2016 said: “If your plans don’t include mobile, your plans are not finished”.

10. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality almost missed the mark as a very important trend in 2017, but the technology was brought back into the spotlight by early September Apple news that iPhone 6S to iPhone X would become fully compatible with AR, said the AR Influencer Jan Barbosa. This sparked other manufacturers to jump in with coming integrated augmented tools and support for a variety of genres as games, fashion, education and retail with more are on the way.

The compromise to develop augmented reality by trendsetters like Apple is so strong, that it acquired the startup Vvrana, which is working on a headset that could do both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Some experts believe that this kind of devices could even make a future dent in the smartphone market.

Referring to apps, one of the firsts to take advantage of augmented reality was Snapchat which won millennial over with its AR filters, followed by Facebook and Instagram. Now even when Snapchat dominance is being challenged, it still managed some 161 million daily active users by February 2017, no small feat.

Also, fashion & beauty products brands like L’Oreal and Shiseido are using augmented reality to help users find out how cosmetics will look on their faces before they buy.

As Augmented Reality keeps its way into mainstream use, there is no doubt that video juggernauts like Snapchat, Facebook Video and Instagram will embrace augmented reality too, says Jan Barbosa, making the niche a fast-paced, competitive and always evolving one, giving those who exploit augmented reality technology in their marketing efforts a clear advantage over those who don’t.

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It looks like 2018 will the be the year when the main focus will be on the CUSTOMER. He is the king and your entire marketing strategy should focus on him.

My top 3 digital marketing trends for 2018 are focusing on the customer too:

1. Outstanding customer experience through personalised content, using new technologies that will enhance their experience.

2. Live streaming and video marketing will become the main content on social media. Today videos are better received than the normal posts with a link. Check your analytics.

3. Small businesses will realise that having just a website is not enough. They need to blog, be active on social media, engage with their audience, send newsletters, and share their story with images, infographics and videos.

What do you think?

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