None of us can see the future, but as business owners, we try our best. When it comes to the future of marketing, we should all be thinking smarter, not harder. Like it or not, technology is racing ahead of us and we can either get on board or get left behind.
As a business owner, you know the importance of staying relevant in an increasingly digital world. Technology has improved our ability to share our brands with any audience, but it has also made it more difficult to stand out in a crowd. The good news is, we can predict tech and marketing trends. It’s time to take up the crystal ball and have a look at how you can market smarter in 2018, and beyond.
1. Behold the social future. The last two decades have witnessed the skyrocketing rise of social media. These days, if you’re not using some form of social media to promote your business, you might well be living under a rock. Every minute, Facebook gets an average of 900,000 logins and 46,200 picture uploads, according to weforum.org These numbers are only growing. With this increase in users, brands will spend more in social media advertising on a yearly basis. How will you compete? The trick with social media marketing is knowing where your audience is spending their time. Here’s where smart marketing comes into play. By specifically targeting your marketing efforts, you won’t have to spend as many advertising dollars to stay on the cutting edge. The very existence of social media reminds us that we have a need to be connected. Use this to your advantage. Find every opportunity to truly connect with your customers in new ways. Harness the power of social to drive your marketing forward in 2018.
2. User experience will be the epicenter of innovation. 2017 saw a rise in companies like Airbnb and a similar category of startups. Similarly, WordPress is constantly improving their templates based on the user experience and ergonomics. They understand that people have less time to spend on a website and are tailoring their products to deliver information instantly. These companies are fundamentally geared toward simplifying the process of buying and selling with the user in mind. The concept of user-centric business and marketing will continue to grow, delivering experiential innovation into the hands of consumers. This year, try to give your marketing efforts a similar focus. How can you improve the lives of your customers? Solve their problems in a new and creative way. Be the answer for the needs they didn’t know they had. As with Airbnb, sometimes even the simplest of solutions can change the way we look at and interact with the world.
3. We can’t see the future, but automation will. We’ve all had the experience of searching for a product online and then seeing it pop up in related ads across numerous platforms. Google and Amazon can’t quite read your mind, but they’re getting close. Remarketing is the process of recognizing search behaviors and delivering targeted ads based on those behaviors. The future of remarketing is in recognizing your search habits and recommending products before you even know you want them. If this teaches us one thing, it’s that advertising needs to be engaging. Even if we can’t rise to the level of Google’s remarketing, it’s always a good idea to follow analytics and consider the effectiveness of every marketing campaign. Consider how your customers interact with you and what that says about them, then market to these less obvious truths. Know your customers and give them a reason to know you.
4. We’ll all be thinking small. Tablets. Smart phones. Smart watches. Devices are becoming smaller and smaller. With reduced size comes portability. According to Gartner.com, by 2020, a quarter of a billion cars will be hooked up to the internet. With all this mobility comes the need for more equipped voice searching capabilities. We now have voice recognition devices in our homes, cars, and our pockets. According to zdnet.com, Siri and Alexa are just the first generation of voice recognition technologies in a much larger trend. What does this mean for how you advertise online? Consider that this will not only change the way we reach customers, but also the way that they shop. Thinking small means thinking interactively. In 2018, focus your marketing efforts on being accessible across multiple devices and platforms. Can your voice be heard?
5. Being easier to reach will mean harder to influence. YouTube will do away with its 30-second non-skippable ad format in 2018 because users have protested and aren’t connecting with the brands advertised. Millenials don’t watch regular TV programming, making commercial ads moot. So, how do you reach this audience if not in the conventional ways? Classic advertising tools no longer exist in the same way. People digest information more quickly than ever. They don’t want their consumption diluted by untimely and irrelevant ads. Cnbc.com reports that, in 2016, 615 million devices were blocking ads globally. This number is only increasing. Because of this, visual communication is the future. We need to find ways to deliver powerful, relevant information in a visually memorable way. If you’re not doing so already, make 2018 the year that you incorporate video and extended visual experiences into your marketing. Virtual reality and augmented reality tools like the LARA app will bring previously flat ads into the realm of experience for consumers. Get creative and get visual.
6.The future is intelligent. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator warned us he’d be back, but artificial intelligence has arrived sooner than we thought. According to NPR, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has touted AI as a “fundamental existential risk for human civilization,” but humans have always been loath to stand in the way of progress. So, the future is here and we will face it as we always have, with a mixture of fear, awe, and unabashed inventiveness. The technological advances we have already seen in our lifetime have been nothing short of astounding, and we will continue to be amazed at what the future holds. In the spirit of this, we must remember that it is our job to amaze our customers and to show them what they never knew they always needed. Be prepared. Infuse your marketing with creativity and innovation, and give your customers an experience they won’t forget. It will be brand building. You’ll see.