There’s always an abundance of articles forecasting trends and developments before the new year. Experts in the field agree that personalized marketing and the dominance of video will accelerate in 2018.
There’s also a consensus that relatively new technologies, like voice search—will create new challenges for SEO and overall online marketing dynamics. Most importantly, all these changes will demand that marketing be centralized and streamlined, if not already in place—one that consistently puts customer satisfaction first.
The CMO role is expanding
If you’re a Chief Marketing Officer, you’re facing increasing pressure to improve your digital literacy, to integrate your marketing functions, and to create stronger ties with your CEO and CFO. You need to be a leader who can inspire unity across different teams and divisions to achieve stronger, more effective and efficient customer support.
As described in previous Insights articles, digital’s share of total advertising is growing rapidly–though getting consumers to complete purchases on their mobile devices remains a challenge. Regardless, people in most cases use their smartphones to research their product options before finishing the process on their desktop or laptop. More importantly, most purchases, whether completed online or at a brick and mortar outlet—are first researched online. E-Marketer predicts that by 2019, mobile will account for 72% of all US digital ad spending, making digital marketing vital for any brand looking to remain competitive.
Leading organizational change
Due to the accelerating tech advancements require a high level of cross-silo collaboration – this has resulted in a growing migration to flatter, less hierarchical organizational structures. For marketers, this often translates to putting brand, performance and e-commerce capabilities under one roof—with centralized planning and careful monitoring of the customer experience from first contact through payment for goods and services. Digital marketing determines how and where consumers look to interact with brands, research products, and make their purchases.
With better internal direction, there is a decrease in reliance on consultant specialists. At the same time, resource allocation becomes more efficient because there’s less internal competition. It’s also quicker and easier to evaluate which marketing platforms and technologies work best meet your needs. Finally, an in-depth assessment of specifically what’s working and not working in your process is easier to assess with centralized authority. It allows you to zero in on process improvements that contribute directly to your bottom line.
Marketing partners strategy
You need to make sure that the three biggest media giants—Google, Facebook, and Amazon understand and align with your priorities. They’re unavoidable. The same applies to other partnerships with smaller organizations that synch with your needs. Throughout this process, it’s important to closely monitor where your ads appear. An ad in the wrong context can damage your brand.
In 2017, Google and Facebook captured 84% of global digital advertising expenditures. They are, respectively the 2nd and 5th largest corporations in the world, worth a combined $1.2trn.
Amazon is now a $1bn global advertising business, with all the advantages that go with being at the largest intersection of communications and commerce. To Jeff Bezos’ credit, Amazon has experienced continued rapid growth because his company has had the vision and resources to invest in long-term market share/profits.
Amazon announced Tuesday that it shipped upwards of 5 billion items in 2017 to Prime subscribers alone. It is disrupting almost everybody—with companies like Walmart, etc., trying desperately to catch up. But Amazon is now upping its game by creating its own label brands for everything from Echo to baby wipes. –This has created a new challenge for Amazon—needing to convince independent manufacturers and regulators that it won’t prioritize Amazon products.
Short-term ROI marketing
Unlike Amazon, U.S. companies usually err in placing priority on short-term sales over long-term market share and brand credibility. Pressured by boards, shareholders and internal stakeholders to deliver immediate results, marketers have long been overly focused on immediate results/profits. To maximize ROI, companies need to strike an ideal balance between these two objectives. This includes meeting the interests of all stakeholders and, in many cases, pitching the advantages of long-term growth to those who don’t understand its importance.
Video dominates content
Cisco VNI recently predicted that “internet video will account for 82% of consumer Internet traffic by 2021—up from 73% in 2016.” This means optimizing all videos so that they are easily accessed, of premium quality, and mobile-friendly–the latter to accommodate customers researching products on their smartphones.
Facebook is now streaming live videos because users spend 300% more time watching live stream compared with pre-recorded video. So, in 2018 expect to see more brands use live streaming to leverage this advantage. At the same time, begin to explore other revolutionary modalities—e.g., 360 video, augmented reality, and artificial reality. The media giant, Instagram, a platform built for photography, is seeing a big increase in video. There’s no reversing these trends, so be sure to take advantage of them.
Voice-activated internet search
With voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana now part of daily life, Comscore analysts forecast that voice search will reach 50% of all searches by 2020.
The most competitive brands will optimize their content both for traditional SEO and voice-based searches.
What can you do to set up voice-activated search? First, make sure your site is mobile-friendly—in part because Google is introducing mobile-first indexing that uses mobile versions of websites to rank pages instead of the desktop version. Prepare for conversational style inquiries with embedded questions. Ensure that your site is content rich, with answers to standard questions included. Finally, be prepared for voice-activated and other search modalities by setting up your site for location-focused queries. This process normally begins by registering with ‘Google My Business.’
Voice-activated search is further complicated by the recent launch of Google Lens—allowing users to combine voice search with images to identify different products–even buying event tickets directly from a venue marquee. It will take two or more years for us to begin to understand how this new consumer capability will play out.
Marketing strategies need to accommodate these search engine advancements by ensuring premium material, curating it to create natural conversion paths, and making content freely available. Adopting new strategies to take advantage of these new online capabilities will become increasingly important for organizations that want to thrive in the new digital landscape.
Deeper personalized marketing
About 75% of online consumers report being impatient, even angry, with websites when ads and promotions don’t align with their interests. More effective targeting based on ever-improving Big Data algorithms is an urgent priority if companies want to attract the attention of consumers.
Improved customer targeting makes it possible for marketers to more accurately differentiate buyer personas and, for the first time, to track the different stages in the buyer journey. These and other advancements can be tweaked over time to increase conversions. Tech-driven consumer personalization becomes a cornerstone of marketing when customers’ personality traits (psychographics) get as much attention as social demographics.
Influencer marketing is testimonial advertising where value-add influencers are used to build brand and product credibility. This may include actors, industry analysts, journalists, etc. Marketers recruit celebrities/experts who align with the cultural tastes of potential buyers.
The rapidly growing social media giant Instagram (Facebook’s biggest rival) has a strong celebrity focus. A massive rise in influencer marketing has been predicted for 2018 because this strategy, when carefully executed, works. –Influencer marketing is one of the most compelling and effective tactics to drive sales and brand loyalty. Both macro- and micro-influencers can add considerable value to brands in terms of advertisements that feel more natural and nuanced compared to traditional media. However, as the market becomes saturated with influencers, only high-quality messaging will work to attract buyers.
Rising consumer expectations
All the advancements in this article are complicated by an increasingly demanding distracted consumer. Consumers have greater control over brands than ever before (the reason brand value has diminished in importance) and, so they routinely skip ads.
One new strategy that seems to work to get at least the superficial attention of users is interrupting the video a minute or two after starting the feed with advertisements rather than placing them before the video.