The marketing world is constantly on the move. Artificial intelligence, for example, is an increasingly significant force. Machine learning - the ability for AI to learn and improve itself - has seen the functional scope of what is possible expand rapidly in recent years - and marketing is one of the major driving forces behind this.
Here are four trends that will be key to digital marketing in 2018.
Voice search and digital assistants
Digital assistants like Amazon Echo’s Alexa, Google Home’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri are now in common use. There are an estimated 50 billion searches per month now activated by voice.
Voice search will have some major impacts on digital marketing. For example, only the first search result is read out, so being number two in the results will have little benefit.
Voice searches also tend to be longer and more sentence-based than typed search queries, and the results will depend on the context of previous searches as the AI personalises the search experience.
A large majority of voice searches take place on mobile devices. Searches like ‘find a coffee shop near me’ take into account the user’s geolocation data to provide results.
Finally, if a consumer asks Alexa to order 'a large pepperoni pizza', one will arrive from Domino’s. You do not get the choice. Being the chosen supplier or being number one in results therefore gives massive market power when voice search is going directly to transaction.
Helpful chat boxes in the corners of websites have become increasingly popular in recent years. This year we’ll see better chatbots as the technology becomes more mainstream and previous mistakes are learnt from and improvements made.
Bots can now integrate with existing messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This will make the use of bots much more prevalent in 2018, and - just like voice search - they will become not the exception, but the rule.
Smarketing - ?
Yes, 'smarketing'. It's not a typo! The idea here is that businesses need to stop thinking about sales and marketing as two separate functions.
A customer views a potential supplier in singular terms. To them, the experience they have with that business should be consistent throughout their buying journey. So, they should not experience a dramatic change in tone, approach, content or offer when they move from browsing a website to being contacted by a salesperson.
The rise of inbound
Digital inbound marketing continues to gain ground and is set to become as mainstream as having a mobile-friendly website is for B2B companies.
Inbound feeds into the increasing emphasis that search engines put on content. Building great content is great for your visitors, the search engines know this, but inbound marketing and content marketing shifts the focus onto getting this content to achieve business goals.
If you follow inbound marketing techniques, you create your content in a much more structured way. Content is focused on specific audience groups, personas, and their needs. Their need for information changes through their buying journey, and good inbound marketing addresses not only the differing content needs at different stages, but crucially also moves the prospect along the buying journey.
Sponsored post. Copyright © 2018 Tim Butler, founder of Innovation Visual