• Anaïs

Sexiest marketing trends for 2018

Want to dive head first into 2018? Then make sure you're on top of the hottest trends.

#1 Chatbots

Chatbots provide opportunities for real-time, personalized communication that answer the needs of customers right on the spot. They allow you to easily showcase your message and products and reach out to customers in an accessible and useful way.

It's no surprise that Facebook is already a huge player with the Facebook messenger platform were thousands of developers already developed their personal chatbots. Cool extra to watch out for in 2018 is the rise of 'smart' bots. The so-called 'dumb' bots work with predefined answers (if X is Y then answer is Z) A bummer for your customer if his question is not in the script. Smart bots, on the other hand, are based on a self-learning technology and will - in my humble opinion - totally replace customer services in the long run. The future chatbot will combine artificial intelligence, image recognition, big data and more, and so become a smart virtual assistant. Don't be surprised if in a few years chatbots will predict your questions or send you suggestions for a problem you didn't even realize you had.

#2 Machine learning

The future of marketing will be clever human marketers working along with machine learning-based automation entities. Machine learning will offer predictive knowledge and data that you can use to your advantage. The artificial intelligence-based programme will have the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience. Marketers will no longer take on a trial-and-error approach. By using behavioural data marketers will instead improve their conversion rates, ROI and reduce costs. The possibilities of machine learning are legion: think about improving your content strategy using sentiment analysis, data-based forecasting, real-time marketing and more.

#3 Augmented reality

Augmented reality is nothing new but it is peaking thanks to the adoption of social mediums such as Snapchat and Instagram who use the technology to put a virtual layer on top of selfies. Facebook launched a virtual environment where users can hang out with friends as if they were in the same room. Be sure to check out Facebook spaces because it's something really cool happening in the social sphere! Brands like Quickstep and Bostoen already started using the technology powered by a Ghent based company Nanopixel. AR offers endless opportunities to provide your users with an awesome user experience and without any doubt, more brands will start jumping on the bandwagon soon. After all, by using AR, "What you see is what you get".

#4 Voice search

Perhaps you're one of those who tried to fool Siri by asking her really stupid questions and then laughed with her answers. But it seems that Siri isn't that stupid after all... Smartphone users are starting to embrace voice search and personal assistants (like Siri, Cortana, ok Google, ...) 60% of smartphone users who use voice search have begun using it within the past year, with 41% of survey respondents have only begun to use voice search in the past six months. According to Google, 1 out of 5 searches come from voice searches and by 2020 they estimate that 50% of searches will be voice searches. Voice search has some great advantages, it is much quicker than typing your query and it is handsfree, most handy when you are driving your car. If this trend keeps evolving we'll see a huge shift in the search market. Which means marketers will need to start focussing on long tail search keywords and the use of a natural language or conversational content. I don't think we should all start rewriting our website content and define a new SEO strategy right away but voice search is certainly something to keep an eye on in 2018.

#5 Video advertising

Video advertising was already hot in 2017 but it will become even hotter in 2018. 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. With a 49% faster growth in revenue in comparison with non-video users. Ghent has some really cool startups who understand the power of video such as Well Played and Story me, be sure to check them out if you want to take your video strategy to the next level. According to Google, almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store with 4 out of 5 consumers believing that demo videos are helpful. Needless to say that video should be an inherent part of your marketing strategy. Most consumers make a search on Youtube to check out product reviews before purchasing. The future of manuals is digital and that is something that -again- a Ghent based startup understands. Manual.to provides brands with the opportunity to create digital manuals simply by using a drag and drop interface.

Video advertising is here to stay so make sure you don't miss the train.

6# Influence marketing

Influence marketing has been extremely popular in 2017 and this trend is likely to stay. Think of it as worth-of-mouth 2.0. Research shows that 9 out of 10 consumers are influenced to make a purchase after seeing content on social media. 1 out of 3 even claims that social media influencers are their most trustworthy source of information before buying a product. The buyer's journey has shifted dramatically over the years. Google's Zero Moment of Truth explains it very clearly. Working with major influencers, like big brands can afford, is not always feasible but every company has its own ambassadors and that is a great starting point to start exploiting. You don't have to look far since there are already some cool tools on the market to get started. Quuu promote helps you share content by people with followers interested in your area of expertise. And startups like Ambassify and Social Seeder help you release the power of your ambassadors. The main challenge will be to keep the message your ambassadors spread authentic, less staged and natural. Provide subtle sponsor content and don't use it as yet another advertisement channel.

Marketing in 2018 will be more analytical, real-time, content and emotion based. I'm sure 2018 will hold some new marketing surprises who will or won't come to fruition. But the above list is a good starting point to keep you in the game.

Let the marketing force be with you!

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