2017 was a year of change for many marketers. New channels, new strategies, new technologies, and new opportunities. Choosing to make an investment has returns which are unpredictable and risky.
At SketchDeck, we speak with a lot of marketers and marketing executives who are leaders in their fields. In this article we’ll share three areas that we believe will be trends for 2018.
1. Hyper-personalization through AI
In 2017, there was a lot of hype around AI and machine learning. Every week there were news stories about how AI will beat humans, revolutionize industries, and even take over the world.
Well, it’s coming for marketing.
Change will mostly be seen in the area of content personalization. Personalized recommendations are already key for Spotify, Amazon, and Netflix. More businesses will strive to produce seemingly hand-tailored experiences to drive higher conversions.
It would be normal to be skeptical in the face of such claims, but experts seem to agree. In 2017, Elon Musk said that, “Robots will be able to do everything better than us… I mean all of us.”Personalization is just the start, and bigger changes are further out, but the coming year will be an inflection point. Marketers can look to AI to change how we create and personalize content in 2018.
2. The start of augmented reality
The success of Pokemon Go in 2016 put augmented reality (AR) into mainstream news. The buzz isn’t going away. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, remarked last year, “The smartphone is for everyone, we don't have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives.”
In the consumer space, AR is already here. On-brand and engaging experiences are being created by marketers for mobile and social platforms, like Snapchat. It’s still the early days for AR; focusing your efforts on developing an AR app could be a differentiated way to reach large audiences.
AR is further out for B2B. The platforms for AR at work are immature. In 2017 we saw Google Glass make a return, and Microsoft released an updated version of their Hololens device. Coming in 2018 are the Magic Leap goggles. Magic Leap may be portable and usable enough to bring many businesses to AR. We’ll soon find out if the platform is good enough for B2B marketers to start investing.
3. Chatbots and voice assistants mature
Our final trend is voice and messaging. This will see the widest adoption across consumer and enterprise-facing marketers this coming year.
The appeal lies in their scale. Slack has 6 million daily users. Facebook Messenger has 70 million. Alexa has sold more than 10 million devices, and Google Home has sold 7 million. Huge numbers of people have adopted these platforms and they are just starting to open the gates to marketers and advertisers.
Making the leap has brought success to many companies. Neil Patel suggests that a well-designed chatbot has an 88% open rate for the messages it sends. That’s staggering. Anecdotally, other conversations and statistics we’ve seen agree that chat and voice have high engagement across a large audience.
The key to make this channel work is moving early. As chat and voice is included in more marketing strategies, ROI will decline. According to Andrew Chen’s “Law of Shitty Clickthroughs,” the more participants in a channel, the more expensive it becomes as CPC goes up and the novelty declines.
Any marketer today can start to experiment with the trends on our list to see what helps growth. Early adopters may get a lot in return, if they are able to stomach the risks in new and unproven channels.