2018 has been an extremely interesting year for us marketers. Alexa lost her voice. And a whole lot of woman found theirs. Trust in social media has plummeted, but consumption of media has increased. From Martech to MarComm, every aspect of the marketing value chain has seen significant changes.
But that makes me more excited about what I foresee this year.
- Thought Leadership will become even more significant
According to a Nielson Study, 30% of all internet users worldwide are expected to be using some form of ad blockers by the end of the year, meaning traditional digital advertisement will now have the potential to reach a maximum of 70% of the intended internet audience.. That’s a huge field and almost a critical one for B2B marketers. The study also notes that familiarity breeds trust and content backed, jargon free thought leadership is gaining trust. This will be even more significant going ahead.
The Nielson study also showed that the top four most-trusted sources of information were: people you know, branded sites, editorial sites, and reviews. Ads are near the bottom of that list. Marketers have to invest more in generating quality customized content. We will be seeing increased spends in content marketing, influencer marketing, referral partnerships, and other methods that are designed to deliver actual value to audiences.
- Creativity, not conformity, will set successful marketers apart
I recently came across this company who pulled off an interesting, old-school marketing stunt. It used software to obtain physical addresses for clients and started sending them print newsletters. In an age, where print was given up for dead, in times of MailChimp and HubSpot, this company went against the grain and spent the extra money to market the old-fashioned way. The campaign, as you may have guessed, was a roaring success.
Differentiation, based on creative strategizing, is going to be the key. In an age of digital communication and standardization, marketers need to think outside-the-box in the way they package and distribute their communication. They should look at integrated campaigns and creative distribution strategies that focus on ways to engage their customers in a manner that has been successfully demonstrated by competitors.
- Voice is changing the way people search
This recent video is almost predictive of how so many people communicate these days. The voice revolution is here to stay and marketers will need to factor this, when designing the way people discover them. The issue will be even more critical to B2B marketers who cater to a much more niche, technologically savvy audience.
Today’s consumers expect that companies will connect with them in the manner they like. That’s why it’s so important for us, marketers, to be aware of our customers’ communication preferences. The verdict is ongoing as to what the long-term impact of voice technology will be, but what we can say is that it is definitely going to change the way customers will operate in the future. Some analysts believe that close to 50% of all searches will be made through voice search by 2020. And while that may be a stretch for general audiences, there may be warning signs already for niche ones, and marketers need to take that into account.
- MarTech will boom like never before
It seems almost a truism these days, MarTech has been hyped about for almost half a decade now. But never has it seen such wide-spread adoption and investment. From giants like Google and Microsoft to niche boutique startups, we are seeing an explosion of products and services that help a marketer navigate this changing digital world.
In fact, this boom has been tremendous. There’s no reversing the trend towards marketing automation and technology. These advances in technology are helping marketers scale more effectively, make better business decisions, and finally, save money. However, these advances sometimes come at the expense of the relationships those same marketers have typically built with members of their audience. And this needs careful investment. A one-size-fits-all policy is likely to see lower returns.
- Marketers will feel the bite of Compliance
Privacy-oriented laws and regulations in Europe and the U.S. — such as GDPR, Privacy Act and more — will start affecting the way marketers are going to collect and use data. Companies such as Uber, Facebook and Google had to address high-profile data privacy concerns in the past year. And this means that lawmakers and policy bodies are almost certainly going to start cracking down on digital marketers and what they do with people’s personal information.
GDPR seems like the future across geographies. And it is a good standard to implement across. We will need to take a hard look and consider the type of data that we are keeping, for how long, and why. AI and machine learning will generate a great deal of data that marketers may not use immediately but want to hold onto for future use, and these are concerns that need to be addressed. Technology will likely play a huge role in assuaging genuine privacy concerns that customers have.
The pace at which the world is changing sometimes makes predictions look premature. But as we head into the new year, there are certain things that CMOs need to keep in mind. Off course, there’s not a single “right way” to build a marketing strategy but as we end another eventful year, it makes sense to remember our learnings and look ahead.