As it gets closer to the end of the year, people often start thinking about what they want to change over the next 12 months. You know the drill: exercise more, eat fewer cookies, limit Netflix binges to a couple of hours, rather than entire weekends.
But what are you planning to change in your marketing next year? Technology, trends, and consumers are evolving quickly — so what worked in 2017 isn’t necessarily going to work in 2018. To plan effectively (you do have a plan, don’t you?), you need to be ready for what’s coming in the new year.
Here at Right Source, we spend a lot of time entrenched in marketing strategy and execution — so while we may not be able to see into the future, we do have a few ideas of what might be on the horizon in 2018. Here are our marketing predictions for the new year.
Content development will get scrappier
As more and more content is being produced, consumers are becoming increasingly discerning — and sometimes cynical. They know they’re being marketed to, even when companies try to disguise their marketing messages (as sponsored content, for example). In 2018, catching consumers’ attention will demand a less traditional approach.
“To break through, the brand storytelling has to get more authentic, faster, grittier, and frankly, smarter,” says Right Source CEO Mike Sweeney. “Certain formats, like email, are going to lose steam because the average marketer uses them poorly, and others, like video, will become more prominent because unscripted, unrefined, visual formats are perceived as more authentic.”
Specifically, Business Development Manager Mena Youself suggests that B2B companies will begin taking advantage of live video through social media platforms.
“Companies will jockey to be more transparent and open with their customers. Live video is the perfect medium to do that,” he says. “Executives will realize that they can no longer be behind the camera. They will come out from the behind the scenes to speak directly to their customers in real time.”
Overall, we expect to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram build out more live video capabilities — and predict that companies will develop new strategies to take advantage of this evolving storytelling format.
Data will help companies get even more personal
In new year, marketers will also leverage data to break through the clutter of content and deliver personalized experiences.
“2018 will bring more mathematical and methodological approaches to content delivery,” says Shannon Walsh, director of marketing technology. “Companies will combine predictive technology with marketing technology to offer highly personalized experiences for the end user, and we’ll use algorithms to deliver the most relevant content at the best times.”
That data will be key in engaging prospects and customers, as well as retaining them.
“With the help of machine learning, B2B and B2C companies will be able to serve up products, services, and content that are relevant to their users’ interests across marketing channels including email, social media, and their own websites,” says Marketing Manager Nadia Dawood. “This will help them go beyond one-time conversions and create better brand loyalty and long-term customers.”
Users, rather than the company itself, will tell the brand story
Once upon a time, marketers engaged in “one-to-many” storytelling. Companies blasted their message to the market, without regard for who they were talking to or what their audience cared about. Eventually, it evolved into “one-to-one” storytelling. Social media and content personalization allowed companies to tell relevant stories to the users who were most interested in that particular topic.
“In 2018, I predict that we will take the next step in this evolution,” says Katie Barrett, senior account director. “Customers will tell the story themselves. They won’t care what story the company wants to tell; they’ll create and share their own story based on their personal experiences — through user-generated content, word of mouth, social media peer groups, and customer reviews.”
According to Katie, the most successful companies will be the ones that focus on creating incredible customer experiences and brand ambassadors. Consider Chick-Fil-A. In the last few years, it’s gone above and beyond to create experiences for its customers — like offering a “mom valet” service, where parents can order at the drive-through, then go inside, where an employee will have a table ready for them. You don’t see Chick-Fil-A ads promoting the service — but you probably have heard about it from friends or seen a customer-created video promoting the parent-friendly culture.
In 2018, more companies will figure out how to create brand loyalists who will tell their stories and develop content for them.
Marketers will take interactive content to the next level
Most savvy marketers already know the benefits of interactive content. It’s engaging, it stands out from the millions of other pieces of content being published, and it’s an effective way to gather data about your audience.
But in 2018, marketers should be ready to take interactive content to the next level.
“Companies that have started using interactive content as part of their marketing strategy will refine and enhance their ability to get information out of those interactive experiences,” says Yvonne Lyons, managing director and VP of creative services. “I think (hope) we will see more strategic thinking in the planning stages, including more collaboration with sales to understand what feedback and data would be most helpful in moving prospects through the funnel.”
We’ll also see interactive content beyond the confines of a company website. Lindsay Vormack, content strategist, predicts that we’ll begin seeing more interactive elements within email campaigns, such as sliders, games, reveals, and GIFs, “so consumers can engage in their inbox without having to go to a landing page.”
Ready or not, 2018 is coming — and marketing is evolving faster than ever. If you need help developing a data- and content-driven marketing plan that brings your company success in the new year, download our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.”