By: Forbes Communicating Council
Marketing is always changing, especially in today’s society of social media, automated ad tech and audience analytics. Brands need to keep up the changes and trends to successfully reach their audiences, especially when customers have become more skeptical of advertising.
Members of Forbes Communications Council deal with marketing every day, we asked them what to expect to see this year. From technology such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence to strategies like influencer and account-based marketing, here’s how you can take advantage of the latest trends.
- Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality is increasingly becoming a normal marketing tool for big and small brands. The challenge is using VR in a way that makes sense for your overall brand messaging and target audience. VR marketing is still emerging, so now is a great time to explore your options and get ahead of others.
- Interactive Content
Brands have relied on blog content or PDF content to generate leads as parts of their content marketing strategy. This year, you can expect to lead engaging visitors with interactive web experiences; experiences that display thought leadership content in more compelling, animated and visual ways.
Pinterest is often referred to as a niche social media platform, but I predict that it will be the next big thing. Using Pinterest Lens and its functionality to engage with customers, sell products, services and style to customers will be an irrefutable way to capture additional marketing attention in 2018.
- Artificial Intelligence
AI has already been found to increase engagement by early adopters. However, integrating AI with a site’s chat box or Facebook messenger will require more creativity and understanding of the brand’s target market. AI still has to address customer needs and problems just as aptly as a human agent, and it helps if the AI experience is done in fun and lighthearted manner.
- User-Generated Content
Within the next year, consumers will crave authenticity from brands. Our recent survey shows that 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they support, and 60% say user-generated content (UGC) is the most authentic form of content. Integrating trusted and engaging UGC throughout multichannel marketing efforts, brands will win consumers’ hearts and their wallets.
- Voice Search
Voice Search is one of the most rapidly technologies in recent history and its changing the way consumers interact with the world around them. When asking a question, you do not get 10 links back, you get one direct answer. Marketers should ensure the main voice providers (Google, Apple, Microsoft) have the correct information about their businesses so they can provide the correct answers.
Brutal honesty is a current trend that has been gaining steam, and we should all expect it to continue. Marketers can use this trend by clearly stating what their products and services are good at and where improvement is needed. These statements can be backed up by objective customer reviews. The honesty will translate to brand integrity, which leads to trust and sales.
Chatbots are popping up everywhere, in Facebook and other live chat solutions. As chat-based AI takes off, I expect to see more chatbots being used in everything – answering FAQs, placing orders and getting in touch with customer service. Marketers should be on top of this trend, and be embedding sales materials and messaging as their company rolls them out to ensure they drive real value.
- Account-Based Content Marketing
ABCM will help B2B companies target unique personas as individuals within a company. Marketers now have the opportunity to steer away from the one-size-fits-all advertising approach to a highly-targeted approach. This will create a unique user experience, leveraging a customized content journey with micro-sites, landing pages, images and/or calls-to-action.
- Educating Consumers
As decision makers are being inundated with data – and we all know that data is different from knowledge – we must, as marketers, strive to be educators. Buyers are creating their own paths to purchase and we have the opportunity to highlight key objectives and knowledge base points for the end consumer. Making content easy to understand and locate, we can capture mindshare.
- Experiential/Event Marketing
A big resurgence is happening in experiential and event marketing, and brands will lean more into those types of marketing activations. I think that music tour sponsorships will have new life because of this. Brands can now do new, cooler venue activations that audiences interact with. They will be able to broadcast out to a much larger digital audience.
- Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been trending and was the marketing buzzword and hot topic in 2017. In 2018, I expect job openings to surface, specifically for in-house influencer marketing and for influencers. This will act as the new media buy at a more efficient cost. It will take some time to nail it, but you might as well start now.