10 Marketing Predictions for 2018

This Year’s Marketing Predictions

It’s a new year which means we’ll start seeing new initiatives and changes introduced in the coming months from companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. So what does the future hold? To get some insight on what could be in store for us this year in the marketing world I reached out to my colleagues and we came up with ten marketing predictions for 2018.

1) Voice Search Increases Share

Voice search will continue to grow and marketers will need to adjust their approach because according to Google and Bing, one in four searches is conducted by voice, and according to Comscore, 50% of all searches will be done via voice by 2020. Voice search is mobile, it’s everyday life. It’s in your smart home and your apps.

So how do you make your content more discoverable in search? Google Home and Assistant get their information primarily from ‘featured snippets’ so we suggest focusing on quality and providing consumers with helpful information written in a conversational style. Imagine how a customer may use voice search, more often than not it will be in a question format, for example: “When does the next season of Game of Thrones Begin?” or “How many pounds are in a kilogram?”. As you can see, voice search queries are quite a bit longer than your traditional keywords and can be up to 8 words long.

Preemptively answer the questions your customers may ask by considering those leading with “who, what, where, why, when, how”. They are looking for immediacy and convenience to their queries. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key part in the growth and refinement of voice search and as it learns and adapts to our speech patterns and queries, the results will become more efficient and personalized.

Goldman Sachs believes that voice technology is accelerating the migration from physical stores to e-commerce, plus they predict a voice-first word in the next 5 years.

2) Virtual Reality Explores its Options

There will be further experimentation by brands in the virtual reality (VR) space but consumers will remain slow to adopt. The concept of VR has been around for decades and it seems there’s a cycle where it’s suddenly a hot topic again and then interest disappears. Could 2018 be its year? And, is there really a genuine need at the moment for VR headset?

Pricing is slowly becoming more accessible, but how can it become attractive to the average person? We predict that brands will pursue everyday consumers in 2018 with marketing campaigns and public relations initiatives around the benefits of VR. The technology has been embraced by early adopters of course but VR has remained very niche. 2018 will also see continued growth in this space, particularly when it comes to training, simulation and immersive experiences (think concerts). We may even see VR more in e-commerce when it comes to product tours for high price tag items like vehicles or adventure experiences.

3) YouTube Does Damage Control

The video streaming and publishing network has been under scrutiny for lots of things this past year. From removing monetization due to over sensitive algorithms to its inability to remove inappropriate comments on videos targeted to children.

This will be the year that YouTube has to change so advertisers feel comfortable advertising and YouTube can retain its creator community. Just as I was writing this post YouTube announced tightened rules around creator monetization. Were Logan Paul’s insensitive and highly controversial Japan videos the last straw for YouTube?

YouTube must now work to preserve relationships with their best and most reputable content creators to avoid a mass platform exodus. We predict they will focus more on quality than quantity and work more closely with creators than ever before. We also predict that YouTube will continue to face harsh criticism due to inappropriate video comments and ultimately come up with a solution to clean up its system.

4) All Hail the Chatbot!

Chatbots will become more prominently used by e-commerce retailers. With the growth of e-commerce, customer support and personalized experiences are becoming more and more important.

We all know that customers turn to digital channels for support when they can’t get an answer on the phone or they are frustrated by the experience in general. In 2017 companies slowly started adding chatbots to their sites and we expect it to become more prevalent in 2018. Chatbots though are software applications mimicking a human, there are many customers who still prefer the human touch so it will be interesting to see how it pans out over the next year and reception with consumers as it becomes more mainstream. This AI technology is of course controversial and still in its beginnings, but with the right information and scenarios explored it can only be helpful to consumers, and will also help companies reduce costs and time spent on customer service.

5) Influencer Marketing Keeps Growing

Influencer marketing will reach a high point this year with brands carving out even more of a share for this channel in their marketing budgets. Influencers will continue to develop themselves as lifestyle brands, they will write books, develop beauty lines, create homeware collections, develop merchandise and more. Brands and influencers will create content together with influencers attending exclusive retreats and events with the goal of recording and distributing the branded experience to their audience.

We predict that relationships between brands and influencers will be properly disclosed more often as they become savvy to the the legal ramifications of not doing so. Social networks are already taking steps to make disclosure easier for influencers as we shared in a previous blog post. Influencers will also continue to warm to affiliate marketing to supplement their income, particularly those who rely upon YouTube advertising income with its increasing uncertainty.

Influencer marketing is cost effective and with the right influencers for your target audience it can produce extremely successful results and paint your brand in a new light. Often thought of as a classic and mature brand, Estée Lauder realized they also needed to appeal to a younger audience. At first, it pursued the Estée Edit sub-brand for a time fronted by Kendall Jenner (now discontinued) and last year the company hired French makeup artist Violette as their Global Beauty Director. Violette is an influencer herself and rose to prominence via beauty blogging and vlogging.

6) International Shoppers Want & Expect More

Due to demand, advancements in technology and improvements in shipping and logistics, international shopping will experience huge growth in 2018. This is particularly true in the entertainment and influencer space due to the international appeal of artists like Camila Cabello and vloggers like Zoella. These individuals have an international online presence, but the merchandise they sell or the products they showcase aren’t always available in the country of their audience.

We predict that companies and brands will strike better deals with shipping fulfillment partners to answer international demand, prior to physical international expansion. Partnerships will be also be formed with retailers worldwide to facilitate international product distribution. Fans will continue to raise their voices on social media when it comes to international availability and brands will have to respond.

7) The Ultimate Social Giants Emerge

Social channels will continue to work on cross-platform sharing capabilities as the gap widens between competitors and they fight for advertising audiences to generate revenue. Standalone social networks will become more reliant upon their more successful competitors and find ways to reinvent themselves and integrate their platform in an attempt to gain access to their millions of users, Pinterest has already begun!

2018 may also be the year we see a social network fail due to the dominance of platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Facebook will continue to grow its video offerings via ‘Watch” and more publishers and brands will leverage video on the platform to showcase their products and and use video advertising.

8) Grown Up Snap Chat

Snapchat relaunched the app late last year and we’ve slowly seen brands begin to warm-up to the changes with Dunkin’ Donuts becoming the first brand nationwide to run a Sponsored Animated Filter in a campaign. We believe there will be lots of unique campaigns launched on the app in 2018 as brands experiment more with its viability. We also predict that the company will continue to refine the app by offering similar features to Instagram, which has been more successful with brand advertisers. We’re not sure if the changes will be enough for Snapchat to attract an audience with spending power due to the sheer dominance of Facebook and Instagram combined. Snapchat has about 170 million daily  users whereas Facebook is quickly closing in on 1.5 billion daily users and Instagram has 500 million daily active users.

9) Brace Yourselves, GDPR is Coming.

The European Union’s new privacy law comes into effect on May 25, 2018. So what does this law mean for online marketing? Regulations across the EU currently vary from country to country, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to bring consistency across all member states regarding consumer data collection and consent laws. Although it seems daunting and only to benefit the consumer, we predict it will be extremely beneficial to companies by helping improve marketing efficiency across EU member countries and forcing organizations to take proper steps to secure customer information and improve data warehousing to comply with GDPR. Failure to comply can lead to fines of up to €20 million (or 4% of total global annual earnings).

GDPR does not just apply to organizations within the EU. If your company collects information from EU citizens you must also comply with GDPR. As a U.S. company with an international reach, we often have to sift through differing rules and regulations when it comes to our marketing efforts in various countries. Having a unified approach will make marketing easier and regulations clearer, so we predict that GDPR will open us up to more opportunity in the EU.

Organizations have already been preparing over the last year and will be busy over the  next few months ensuring they are compliant by the end of May and getting teams up to speed.

10) Want to Reach the Right Audience? It’ll cost you!

We predict that organic social posts across platforms will only be effective when posted by pages with highly engaged communities. This means brands will have to work harder to develop meaningful two-way conversations with their followers for organic posts to produce results. With Facebook’s recently announced news feed changes, brands can expect to pay more to reach their target market, this won’t be a problem for larger organizations but will certainly hurt small and medium-sized businesses. We predict this will be a trend across social networks as they are looking for brands to spend more on their platforms. Brands aren’t just about impressions any more (think traditional TV spend), they want measurable results and conversions, and we can track that now online. Quartz noted that this change is to force active engagement to drive interaction with ads (like clicks, subscriptions, purchase, installations) which in turn makes ads more valuable.


About the Author: Jasmine Van Schaick is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Musictoday. She manages projects across affiliate marketing, display remarketing, organic SEO, corporate content development and more.