The past 12 months have been incredibly exciting for marketers, especially those who operate online. Social media and data management have become arguably the most powerful tools for brands to leverage and connect with consumers online. What’s in store for 2018? Let’s check out some of this year’s likely marketing trends that consumers should be prepared for in order to make better informed decisions. According to an article from News Watch $25/£19 billion passes between our mobiles and the commercial world every year, we’re heading towards a revolution in mobile technology for consumers.
Progressive web apps
Almost a third of consumers depended on their mobile devices to use the internet and browse available products and services in 2017. As smartphones and tablets are built with faster, more reliable hardware, it’s almost certain that mobile use will continue to rise. This will result in cross-pollination across a variety of online platforms almost instantaneous. Keep your eyes peeled for the rise of progressive web apps (PWAs). These are designed to appear like a native mobile app but operate on traditional web pages, giving consumers an app-like user experience while utilizing state-of-the-art HTML5 capabilities.
Virtual assistants and chatbots
A lot has been made of the rise in the number of virtual assistants and chatbots used by brands online. In fact, most of us will have probably used a live chat and unwittingly spoken to an automated chatbot. Experts forecast that 85% of consumer interactions made online will be automated by virtual assistants by the turn of the next decade. According to this article from Ubisend, more than a third (34%) of business executives say they can think more creatively and effectively thanks to the use of chatbots. It’s therefore hoped that virtual assistants will continue to improve brand efficiencies without impacting on the quality of customer service online.
A cross-brand marketing strategy is one which sees two products or services from different brands come together, selling complementary goods that would appeal to the same demographic of consumers. For instance, Philips recently brought out a limited edition Star Wars version of its electric shaver, tapping into the demographic of Star Wars fanatics that will buy this kind of product, inspired by the fact that it is Star Wars-branded although, arguably, quite unrelated to the franchise. So how does this work? A recent online blog post by Betway Casino discusses how psychology affects players’ choice of games. Slot game themes often incorporate other brands to appeal to gamers that might like to affiliate themselves with film stars or TV shows such as James Bond, Jurassic Park or even Game of Thrones. The names of products and services are now being used to draw consumers in. Both GoPro and Red Bull have established themselves as lifestyle brands; more specifically a lifestyle that’s fast-paced and action-packed. That’s why they teamed up in 2016, with GoPro supplying their cameras to Red Bull athletes and stuntmen and women, including Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from a space pod 24 miles above the Earth’s ground.
As millennial consumers, we are becoming notoriously impulsive in our behaviour online. We’re time-poor shoppers that want something yesterday, rather than being happy to wait five days for free shipping. Recent Google research discovered that “same-day shipping” searches made on mobile devices had risen by 120% in the last two years. Google has coined these impulse actions as “micro-moments”. Businesses operating online are coming under increasing pressure to cater for these micro-moments and give their target audience exactly what they are looking for, fulfilling their need for immediacy.
User-generated content and brand advocacy
It’s no secret that consumers are more likely to trust recommendations of products and services from people they know. As a result, brands are turning to social media platforms to act. User-generated content by happy customers is extremely powerful, creating a positive impression of a brand on prospective customers and building trust. On Instagram, The UPS Store cleverly used its #TheUPSStoreCustomer campaign to showcase the usefulness of its services, regardless of how dull or boring packing tape and cardboard boxes can be. The knock-on effect is that these consumer messages then resonate with other like-minded businesses, becoming an effective B2B social media campaign. Keep your eyes peeled for brands increasingly sharing user-generated videos from customers in their social channels, as well as branded hashtags shared by high-profile brand advocates.
Social listening tools
Today, there’s so much more to social media than meets the eye. It’s become a whole new channel for customer service. The rise of social listening tools has enabled brands to track conversations among existing and prospective customers talking about topical phrases or words. Brands can then use these topical words or phrases to create highly targeted content specifically for these users. In theory, they’ll be more likely to convert by being served content that’s hyper-relevant to their needs at that micro-moment. Furthermore, it’s also a useful tool for brands looking to handle user complaints and queries with the utmost efficiency. Social channels are the way to go if you’re a consumer looking for answers fast.
The digital marketing landscape is ever-changing. Consumers, just as much as brands, need to stay abreast of current trends to ensure they get the best deal possible. 2018 promises to be an exciting year for e-commerce, as businesses find new and creative ways to reach out to new and existing customers shopping online.