Content marketing will continue to occupy an huge share of marketing efforts in 2018. However, since content marketing is the dominant strategy for companies to produce value for customers, it’s become increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. In response, smart marketing departments are putting quality over quantity, investing in high-production video content. They’re also turning their attention to distribution. Instead of using a “spray-and-pray” method in which content is unceremoniously distributed across popular platforms, they’re developing holistic content distribution strategies, zeroing in on their target audience and increasing meaningful engagement.
PR has become effectively absorbed into content marketing. After all, your brand is synonymous with what you put out there. As young consumers are less interested in brands that simply promote themselves and more interested in ones that demonstrate value in their own lives, content marketing has essentially become the best form of PR.
The traditional vs. digital marketing dichotomy will be all but rendered obsolete in 2018. Integrated marketing communications considers all distribution part of the same system. As marketers seek to produce value for their consumers, 2018 will see increased investment in real-world sponsored events supplemented by integrated digital campaigns.
Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence
New developments in big data analytics and artificial intelligence have led to tons of new opportunities. ChatBots are now so sophisticated that they are indistinguishable from talking to a real company representative. ChatBots cost pennies compared to live customer service and they can work around the clock, responding to customer’s concerns instantaneously.
2018 will see an increased use of voice search as smartphones continue to center voice control through platforms like Siri on iPhone and the “OK Google” command on Android. Spoken search queries tend to be longer and more colloquial compared to typed queries: Marketing departments should reassess their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing and make sure that they are adjusting their titles and keywords accordingly.
The advent of big data has also lead to new paradigms for ad distribution. Digital marketing departments are using analytics to better understand and define their target audience. As machine learning algorithms become more sophisticated, marketing departments will begin to trust them with the bulk of distribution efforts. Software such as Acquisio is able to test what works and what doesn’t in terms of ad placement at a lighting-fast rate with surgical precision.
Authenticity is the most important quality for marketing departments to pursue in 2018. As digital natives are quick to sniff out and dismiss disingenuous campaigns, marketing departments will have to get creative in order to be authentic to their target audience. Look for a rise in integrated marketing campaigns that forefront personalization—curated playlists, movie recommendations, customizable interfaces—in order to make customers feel that they’re being spoken to on a highly personal, one-to-one level.
While personalization is a great start, it pales in comparison to perhaps the single most important trend in the upcoming year: influencer marketing. In recent years, influencer marketing proved its success. In 2018, major companies are anticipated to engage in large-scale influencer campaigns. It’s crucial to put quality over quantity. Instead of chasing likes and follows, focus on micro-influencers within your target demographic to increase long-term, meaningful engagement. These micro-influencers have a lower price point and read as more authentic than full-scale celebrities.
As influencer marketing becomes a dominant strategy in 2018, instead of simple product placement and paid postings, companies will build long-term relationships with brand ambassadors. Companies looking to get the most out of influencer marketing should invest in genuine, mutualistic relationships with influencers.
While major influencers have a platform that spans multiple forms of social media, smaller-scale influencers are more prominent on one or two. In 2018, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat will see declines in growth, while Instagram and YouTube will continue their rise to prominence.