Double down on mobile videos (especially live streaming).
According to comScore’s 2017 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report, mobile now represents almost seven in 10 digital media minutes. For marketers, that means mobile campaigns will be vital to stay relevant in 2018.
Mobile video will be particularly important. Based on current trends, we can expect to see a decline in video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time in 2018. Video consumption on phones and tablets, on the other hand, is forecasted to grow 25 percent with the average viewer watching 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, and just about 19 percent (half as much) on a computer.
To tap into this trend, make sure all of your videos are created with the mobile-first mindset. An easy way to do this is to double down on your engagement on live-streaming platforms like Facebook. Studies find viewers watch live streams 3x longer than prerecorded video.
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Shift to “purpose marketing.”
Cause marketing — that is, initiatives tied to a sense of corporate responsibility or giving back — is great. But consumers are increasingly driven to brands that go a step further, infusing purpose into their overall ethos by identifying (and then trumpeting) an aspirational mission that’s tied to day-to-day offerings and operations.
In 2018, smart marketers will place brand purpose at the cornerstone of their business and brand strategy, creating experiences, products, and campaigns that all drive back to their unifying theme.
Foster emotional engagement.
On a similar note, brands that stand apart in the new year will do so by fostering an emotional engagement with their company rather than a transactional one with their products. This will require a shift in thinking around the customer journey. It’s not about leading with the sale, but rather the experiences or touchpoints that nurture customers along toward that point.
These could be storytelling initiatives (like videos), brand experiences (like events or workshops), purpose-driven campaigns, or anything that creates a lasting emotional connection with the brand beyond the sale. To do this well, a robust omnichannel marketing strategy will be crucial.
Chatbots (software programs that mimic human conversation) help customers get their questions answered quickly and drive engagement by offering suggestions. In a recent study by Oracle, 80 percent of businesses reported that they already use — or plan to use — chatbots by 2020. Chat apps have actually already surpassed the use of social media for answering customer service questions and audiences will soon expect them from most businesses.
Check out how companies like Sephora, 1-800-Flowers, and Casper Mattresses are using chatbots to drive business and brand goals.
Create content for “micro-moments.”
An astounding 96 percent of people reach for their smartphones the very instant they feel the need to inquire about something. Savvy marketers will anticipate these “micro-moments” and take advantage of them with content directly targeted at popular consumer questions within their industry.
To nail this, brands need thought leaders to produce rich, engaging, helpful, and relevant content, and SEO experts who can help ensure that content surfaces high in Google search results.
Use artificial intelligence (AI) to create customized experiences.
AI has been a hot topic for a while. Combined with big data and machine learning, it’s expected to make a huge impact on how companies market to customers in the coming year. We’ll start to see a lot more highly customized, automated content-delivery mechanisms based on customers’ persona and lifestyle.
AI can be a big investment for companies, but it does pay off. Salesforce’s State of the Marketing Report found that high-performing marketing teams are more than two times as likely to use AI in their campaigns than underperformers. And 57 percent of marketers using AI already say it’s absolutely or very essential in helping to increase touchpoints with consumers.
If a full AI strategy is something that’s not in the cards for your business right now, stay relevant by delivering customized, personalized content as much as possible. There’s a lot you can do by simply by slicing and dicing your email lists into different target segments.
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