Adaptability and constant curiosity will be the hallmarks of successful communicators and marketers in 2018. So how do we make sure we’re creating the appropriate strategies?
For a start, customer demand for best in class experience and personal appreciation will only come to the fore in the context of increasingly fierce competition. Marketers will need data (lots of it), automated processes, and analytical intelligence. High time-to-market pressures will only get more intense as digitalization lowers market entry barriers, enables new business models, and shifts the value chain.
Companies will be under growing pressure to deliver profitability by meeting the increasing demands of customers who are mobile, always on, linked, social, prepared to switch, and accustomed to a best in class user experience. So, they’ll be expecting you to achieve results fast in a high-speed, complex digital environment– and that’s a challenge every marketer will face sooner than later.
The successful digital marketer in 2018 must be ready to experiment, pivot, break the rules, even step so far out of their organization’s comfort zone that they stand alone. Social and video marketing, analytics, native ads, programmatic, instore mobile offers, content marketing, and other digital techniques are changing the ways we reach our customers, and we can only do this if we are fearless in the face of this new world.
Based on my own experience in MENA markets, I believe there are six key trends the region’s communicators and marketers need to wrap their heads around now in order to succeed in 2018.
1. SPEED OF FEED: PERSONALIZED CONTENT AT THE SPEED OF SOCIAL
Consumer-centric content is not new, but it needs to get a lot more personal. Smart Insights tells us that 61% of customers place more trust in, and are more likely to make repeat purchases from, companies that deliver personalized content. Recode reports that mobile video ad spend will grow 49% to roughly US$18 billion in 2018, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to fall 1.5% to $15 billion.
Facebook and Instagram Creative Strategist Kat Hahn has calculated that we scroll through 300 feet of content every day. Here’s how she believes brands should craft their communications to stand out from the crowd:
> 70% “on-the-go” Short and snappy content that consumers will view and like immediately, but not be too invested in.
> 20% “lean forward” Interactive content that catches the attention of consumers looking for something to watch.
> 10% “lean back” Immersive content that goes into more detail for consumers willing to watch something for a sustained period of time.
2. FACEBOOK IS SOCIAL MEDIA
The Facebook ecosystem will dominate the social media -and social commerce- landscape for the foreseeable future. In June 2017, Facebook had over 2.01 billion monthly active users worldwide, up 17% over June 2016- and more than half were mobile. This is hugely significantmobile advertising revenue represented around 87% of all Facebook’s advertising revenue in Q2 2017.
The company is even more dominant as a driver of traffic to news websites- a direction that cannot be ignored given the ongoing debates about fake news. Traffic from Facebook can make or break news publishers’ social media success, accounting for over 85% of the traffic from social networks. Twitter’s contribution as a primary driver is surprisingly low, given the platform’s emphasis on news, and all other social media channels combined play a marginal role at best. Between them, Facebook and Twitter account for 98% of social media-generated traffic to news websites.
3. VOICE-POWERED SEARCH
The voice interface has really come into its own this year, with voice search traffic now exceeding 10% of all search traffic, according to Mind Source. Virtual assistants respond to 50 billion voice searches every month, and Amazon Echo is currently the fastest-selling Bluetooth technology of all time. By 2020, over 200 billion searches will be voice-driven.
The technology is only just beginning to impact the Middle East market, but the rapid growth of social marketing and commerce here will soon change that. For some really interesting uses of Amazon Echo in marketing communication, look no further than Just Eat. When Alexa first appeared, users were limited to ordering a Domino’s pizza, and that was about it. But through a partnership with Just Eat, more than 27,000 food sellers are right in their living rooms- just tell Alexa what you want, and she does the legwork, finding the outlets with the best customer feedback, and placing your order.
4. CHATBOTS AND SOCIAL MESSAGING
With an estimated two billion users receiving messages through over-the-top (OTT) apps by 2018, social messaging is likely to be embedded in every online interaction. Couple that with the prediction that 75% of developer teams will include AI and other self-learning functionality in at least one app or service, and it’s no wonder chatbots top many companies’ wishlists.
62% of millennials are more loyal to brands that engage with them via messaging applications that deliver that personal touch, transparency, and collaboration of one-onone communication. Facebook’s making those people’s lives even easier by enabling them to click on ads that will take them directly into a chat with the brand. It’s a fast, personalized response that ensures a better experience every time.
The average mobile user owns six devices, uses them three times a day, and opens their phone 200 times a day to read emails, go shopping online, or check social media feeds. In doing so, they are bombarded with push marketing that is, quite frankly, ignored. This is exactly where the strength of “micro-moments” comes in– that snapshot in time when a user turns to a device to answer a question, or decide where to go, what to do, or what to buy.
96% of users reach for their smartphones to conduct research on the spot. The most successful brands will be those that have the ability to anticipate and address those impulses with micro-moments that deliver the right information at the right time to that user.
For this kind of just-in-time communication to work, marketers must study the insights and micro-moments of their target audience, and then experiment with them by providing targeted advertising based on user information, like the search terms they’re using or their recent browsing activities. Armed with that data, marketers can deliver an interactive experience that offers truly personalized value- deals, discounts, insight, experiences, and more. Micro-moments are set to be the 2018 sweet spot for mobile-first websites.
For many, mobile devices are becoming extensions of their bodies. Wherever they go, their devices go. Users trigger on average 75 separate mobile sessions every day, so they’re engaging with the devices throughout their day across multiple locations.
Marketers can collect information about and target their customers as they enter, leave or stay in specific areas, known as geofences, which prompt mobile notifications when a customer is active in those areas. During those key moments, marketers have the opportunity to engage with users by sending contextually relevant promotional messages. Bear in mind, however, that customers have to “allow” your app to track their location, so you’ll need to highlight how location sharing will improve their experience.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
The future of digital marketing is approaching at blinding speed. This is no time to rely on what’s worked in the past– you need to engage with the future today.