The top strategies for digital marketing success in 2018

Charming today’s entitled consumers will be the key challenge for marketers next year.

To make inroads, they need to create truly tailor-made experiences and mobile-first engagement and leverage the value of owned channels.

Mega Trend – Artificial Intelligence

2018 will see artificial intelligence (AI) advance from cutting edge technology to status quo. Built into audience engagement platforms, AI will bring new levels of relevance into automatically delivered content, help marketers to recognise the most engaging channel and present a contextually relevant message to match a consumer’s real-time situation.

AI will be used to rollout prediction-based shopping recommendations, location-specific offers, and AI-powered chat conversations – to site a but a few usages.

Currently, 13% of organisations have already adopted AI (Spiceworks) and the number is even higher in large organisations with over 1,000 employees, where 30 % are already on board with AI and 25% plan to join in 2018.

1.      “Hyper” personalisation

With permission from data-savvy consumers, brands are mining rich data footprints from online user behaviour and leveraging it into new and exciting ways to further adapt to specific user needs.

And, as new biometric technologies and access becomes the norm, spearheaded by facial recognition on the latest Apple iPhone, consumers can expect brands to rush to create tailor-made, customised brand experiences in 2018.

2.      Live and kicking

Video streaming accounts for 75% of online traffic (KPCB) and live videos offer the maximum value for marketers right now. The numbers are clear: consumers spend 300% more time watching live video over pre-recorded content (Facebook), and 82% of consumers prefer branded live video over other social media formats (LiveStream). Just be sure to trigger mobile alerts (see 4.) when a live event is about to happen.

3.      Crystal clear data collection

Consumers are willing to share personal data for better experiences but brands need to keep it under wraps. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union comes into effect on May 2018 and further raises the bar on data safety (read also our guide to Marketing Data Privacy).

GDPR affects brands even beyond EU borders, and instead of dreading GDPR, brands can use it to strengthen customer relationships. With its built-in Accountability Principle, GDPR presents an opportunity to win customers’ trust – and outperform the competition – by creating transparent data collection policies. Data breaches like the recent Equifax hack (Sept 2017) are today’s Exxon Valdez-style PR-disasters.

4.      Mobile-first engagement

Convenience and frictionless customer experiences are a must for engaging consumers today and marketers are responding by leveraging mobile message integration to deliver convenience at every step of the consumer journey.

Delivered via Whatsapp, Line, Wechat, GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and good old text messages, over 69% of digital media engagement occurs using mobile devices (ComScore), so it’s a no-brainer.

With that being the case, marketers need to design mobile-first journeys anchored by micro-moments in real-time. The main barrier? Earning opt-in for notifications and location sharing and using them wisely.

5.      Creating a niche

Shouting marketing messages from the rooftops is so 2008. In 2018, big brands are finding value in cornering niche audiences that may be small in size but high in engagement and loyalty.

Targeting these well-informed consumers with relevant content will be key in continuing these positive relationships.

6.      Paid social media

The days of boundless (and unpaid) audience engagement on social media are over. With Facebook clamping down on organic reach, marketers need to allocate budgets to pay for boosting posts or getting on Facebook’s News Feed.

Creativity will also pay off in 2018 – whether it’s attracting audiences with live video events or finessing Ads in Facebook Messenger.

2018 is all about blending in with native ads, including search advertisements, sponsored listings, advertorials, recommended content, or seamlessly integrated display ads. Premium native ads not only play nicely with publishers’ websites, but they also deliver 400% higher click-through-rates (CTRs) on mobile devices than regular display ads (Polar). The key to it all? Delivering relevant, hyper-personalized experiences across all channels, powered by real-time consumer intelligence.

7.      Returning to owned media

With social media and mobile notifications updating consumers on new content, it’s becoming less important where content is published. If content is searchable, relevant, and useable – users will find it. 2018 may actually see brands extract more value from publishing on their owned properties such as brand websites, e-commerce platforms, blogs, and mobile apps than on third-party sites.

There are three reasons powering this shift:

First, content on owned property will by nature “live” where conversion (online shopping portals, etc.) is just a click away.

Second, owned properties support consumer-specific personalization, for instance dynamic websites adjusted according to purchase history or path-to-site.

And third, all that behaviour and preference data will belong to the owners, not a third-party app or social platform.

– by Christopher Baldwin

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