Which trends should marketers be thinking about as they prepare for the year ahead?
There so many fresh tactics to choose from—from hot platforms to new strategic approaches—that figuring out what to focus on can feel overwhelming.
To help, we recently dug through host of recent research reports to see which tools and ideas marketers are most excited about. To see what emerged, take a look at the overview below as well as MDG’s new infographic, Five Big Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018.
1. Micro-Influencer Campaigns
When the idea of social media influencers first became popular, marketers concentrated on macro-influencers with huge followings. That focus is quickly moving to micro-influencers.
Why the shift? Because content from micro-influencers (under 100,000 followers) works:
Micro-Influencers vs. Macro-Influencers
- Engagement: Micro-influencer posts have a higher engagement rate (likes, etc., per follower) compared with macro-influencers: 2.75% vs. 2.65%
- Cost: Micro-influencers charge $271, on average, to share a sponsored post, compared with $800, on average, for macro-influencers
Moreover, micro-influencers are generally trusted more than macro-influencers:
- 70% of YouTube subscribers say they relate more to channel creators than to celebrities
So why haven’t micro-influencers been embraced more widely? Because of management and metrics. Up until recently, campaigns were difficult to set up, run, and track.
That’s changed. A host of new platforms have made it much easier to find micro-influencers, deploy campaigns, and analyze performance. That makes the tactic very enticing for 2018.
2. Data-Driven Personalization
Personalization has been a popular buzzword for the past few years, and with good reason. It has been proven to work again and again when executed properly.
- 86% of marketers believe personalization is not an overhyped idea
Audiences have come to expect surface-level personalization (addressing by name, etc.):
- 65% of B2B buyers would switch brands if a vendor didn’t personalize communications
While this basic tailoring is nice, many marketers haven’t adopted deeper personalization—the hyper-targeting of messaging based on rich data (interests, past and predicted actions, etc.).
The marketing programs of businesses that have adopted data-driven personalization tend to outperform those of their peers. These vanguard firms say that targeting comes down to technology.
High-Performing Businesses Say Successful Personalization Requires
- Skillful data management
- Powerful CRM systems
- Marketing analytics tools
Implementing data-driven personalization is rooted in the right platforms. These are quickly becoming more accessible, setting the stage for a jump in adoption in 2018.
3. Augmented Reality Experiences
Which emerging audience engagement tactics are marketers most enthusiastic about? The answer is clear: virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
- Marketers rank VR and AR as as the most exciting developments in the next three years
Investment in both VR and AR by consumers and companies is expected to rapidly increase:
- The combined VR and AR market is forecasted to be worth $692 billion by 2025
While VR gets much of the media attention, AR—the layering of data and visuals on the real world—is set to have a bigger impact in 2018. Why? Because the technology is ready.
Why the Stage Is Set for the Rise of Augmented Reality in 2018
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- Technology: The new generation of smartphones has been designed with AR in mind
- Platforms: Tools from companies like Google and Apple make AR development simpler
- Behavior: People are acclimating to AR via formats like Snapchat filters and animojis
AR experiences aren’t just silly fun; they can help marketers across verticals effectively showcase products/services, engage audiences, and present relevant information.
4. AI-Powered Efficiency
Artificial intelligence (AI) may initially have sounded like a fantastical idea out of science fiction, but it has steadily evolved into an approach with practical applications for marketers.
- AI is forecasted to have the highest growth rate among marketers of any tactic in the next two years
This expected spike in adoption is driven by the belief that AI will help marketers accomplish tasks more effectively and at a wider scale.
Top Areas Where Marketers Believe AI Will Help Their Efforts
- Better personalization of content/recommendations
- Improved dynamic delivery of web pages and ads
- Increased productivity of marketing staff members
- Enriched analytics and suggested optimizations
These benefits are not abstract hopes, they are already being realized by early adopters:
- 64% of firms using AI say it has substantially increased their marketing efficiency
In many ways, AI is the Holy Grail for marketers. It makes offerings more effective, boosts productivity, and delivers richer insights. That combination should prove irresistible in 2018.
5. Customer Journey Mapping
Understandably, many marketers get caught up in a flood of day-to-day work. They often are unable to find time to step back and map the ever-changing customer journey.
- Only 41% of marketers craft content based on specific points in the buying cycle
This is a huge missed opportunity. Delivering the right messaging at the right point in the customer journey—and tying marketers’ roles to this—has major payoffs for brands.
- 89% of high-performing firms align marketing roles to a customer journey strategy
- High-performing businesses are 2.4X more likely than underperforming firms to align marketing roles to a customer journey strategy
The importance of customer journey mapping is directly linked to evolving behavior. As people embrace more channels—and different channels—messaging via the optimal formats and at the right times becomes even more important.
- 71% of marketers say understanding the role multiple touchpoints play in the customer journey will be very important in the coming years
Ultimately, this highlights a wider trend: technology is driving change at an ever-faster rate.
Marketers who embrace nuanced strategies and new approaches—such as AR, data-driven personalization, AI, and micro-influencers—will thrive not just in 2018 but also long beyond.
To find out more, check out MDG’s full infographic, Five Big Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018.
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