We've swapped our pumpkins, turkeys and cornucopias for Christmas trees, tinsel and blinking lights. Cold air is moving in as 2017 moves out and it's time to make plans for the New Year.

As you tie up loose ends, put a bow on your last project of 2017 and look to all 2018 may hold, we highlight some marketing trends that will be big in the year to come. Budgets are due and plans are being drawn for companies' 2018 goals, and these marketing trends should be considered in order to keep your company's marketing goals moving forward:

Context and Personalization

Creating a marketing plan around your product or service is a no-brainer, but if the audience can't connect to the context of your plan they won't remember it or care for it. Marketers need to be on the same page as their audience, and it's all about context. Who are you targeting and what matters to them?

Context and personalization for audience, location, goals and messaging will push marketers to be aware and involved in all customer moments. According to Peter George, from Gemstone Data, (a leading provider of marketing data lists), "Customization is everything, and pushing the right message at the right time can be the make or break moment for a new customer. Take the time to understand your target audience's wants and needs and meet them there."

To do this, follow the experience personalization pyramid.

  1. Optimization or A/B Testing: Experiment with your marketing through testing different attributes of your email campaign, ad campaign, etc. Use different photos, different headings, and different calls to action to understand what works and what doesn't for each of your dynamic groups.
  2. Segmentation: Target site visitors by groups with specialized content depending on what portions of your website they visited. Most will make this happen with dynamic content through marketing software like Pardot or HubSpot.
  3. 1-to-1 Personalization: Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deliver an individualized experience to each customer. This uses some of the same techniques as the prior two, but offers greater solutions to limitations such as delayed results and inability to scale.

In short, personalization really revolves around using less manual rules and optimizing AI.

Purpose-Driven Companies

Consumers want to spend their money with companies who are turning around and giving a portion of their profits back to the community for the greater good. For many small companies, their entire image relies on their local, community-driven mission and the best way to prove that is to put your money where your mouth is - back into the community where you do business.

Philanthropy is an amazing way to grow your business by supporting your community. It's also an easy bragging point in which you can bring in new consumers. Consumers trust companies that are not 100% greedy by keeping all profits to themselves. Investing in the community is a sure way to get positive interactions, press coverage and easy-to-write social media posts. It's a win-win-win for all companies.

Chatbots

Live chats continue to grow in popularity on all sorts of websites. People enjoy the ease of chatting online in an Instant Messaging-type service to get quick answers instead of calling a help line or sending an email to a giant inbox - who knows what you'll get an answer. Chatbots promise immediate responses for consumers in a world where we have grown used to instant gratification and instant access. Growing companies can easily ingrate a chatbot into their website in order to communicate more quickly, easily and seamlessly with current and prospective customers.

PR and Content are Aligning (Finally)

Your PR and media needs used to be completely separate from your website, social media and email content, but now we are seeing that these two paths are aligning for many smaller companies as larger ones have paved the way. Public relations don't get you as much attention as it once did. With so many channels available with constant updates and conversation, the PR world is morphing into not just press releases, but also website content, social media updates and videos. Being fluent in all of the above while getting the media attention you want or deserve may be as easy as a tweet or as difficult as an entire landing page dedicated to your topic.

Optimizing for Voice

Echos, Cortana and Google Voice, oh my! The culture of speaking to a device in full sentences or questions is growing and growing with no endgame in sight. Taking advantage of this is as easy as ensuring your SEO and keyword data is set up for full sentences and qualifying words such as "near me," "what, where, when" and so on. How do you speak to your phone or Amazon Echo? Take those notes and use them to ensure your company's website is set up to be found via voice and able to answer user's questions to the products/services you offer.

Video Will Continue to Grow

Video content has been on the rise for some time. If your newsfeed is anything like mine, it's almost impossible to not stop on a video while scrolling - it's everywhere. The figure below actual shows that YouTube is more popular than Google for search engines.

Crazy, right? Videos offer so many quick and creative ways to get your message to the masses through full videos or pre-roll ads on YouTube. There are so many ways video can be used for a company. Those not using it are missing such a vast array of opportunities from brand awareness, company highlights, advertisements, philanthropic goals and much more. Videos are easily shareable as well, which means your customers and fans will be more inclined to share your news if it's in video format.

The Takeaway

Plain and simple, 2018 will see a lot of the same marketing trends we saw in 2017, but the usage and experience will grow and morph. Don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone in order to reach those customers you may have lost in the past or reignite a relationship with a past customer. Test your hypotheses and implement what the data is telling you. Good luck in the coming year, marketers!

Published on: Dec 8, 2017