Between wrapping up end-of-year campaigns and aiming to finish 2017 on a high note, it’s tempting to live in the moment and procrastinate on your 2018 strategy development. But the foundation for next year’s success is being laid right now, as marketing leaders examine how they can push their current strategies to the next level.
This growth can’t depend solely on beating 2017’s performance numbers and ROI. Marketing leaders need to step back and examine the big picture of what’s happening across their industry. As new marketing trends emerge, savvy leaders are on the hunt for new ways to reach their audience, increase engagement, and drive growth for the entire company.
In 2018, many of the leading trends in marketing will revolve around deeper investments into channels that continue to be underutilized, despite strong evidence of their promise and value to brands. Here’s a look at five such trends that marketers will want to consider in their 2018 marketing budget.
1. Video’s value will soar as brands refine their targeting strategy.
We already know that video is a high-value medium that offers great potential for engagement from audiences. But its role in reaching consumers continues to become more prominent: By the end of 2017, 74 percent of all Internet traffic will be video-based, predicted Mary Meeker in her 2015 Internet Trends Report.
Similarly, marketers have also probably heard that the cost of video production continues to drop. With today’s technology, some video producers are getting it done with solutions as simple as an iPhone 8 and a high-quality microphone. But in 2018, the biggest boost to video will be the improved audience targeting capabilities that YouTube and other platforms are able to provide. Marketing Land points out that the audience targeting options for video marketing content are better than ever before. These diverse tools can target a refined audience that makes your ad spending more efficient and profitable than ever before, while retargeting capabilities for video will make big strides in accuracy and contextual video placement.
If your company is still holding out on video due to the costs and concerns about generating strong ROI from this channel, these enhanced targeting tools should serve as encouragement to get in on the action.
Image attribution: Seth Doyle
2. Your consumer data needs an audit before GDPR goes into effect.
If your company does any business with European businesses or consumers, you’re about to get well-acquainted with GDPR. General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of regulatory rules that strengthen personal data protection for consumers in Europe. As the Content Standard’s Lauren McMenemy reports, GDPR will go into effect in May 2018, and it will affect all companies that do business with private individuals in Europe—including American companies with consumers overseas.
GDPR will require companies to implement a range of changes to how they gather and maintain consumer data. If this new regulatory act is going to affect your business, it’s wise to begin a data audit now to assess which aspects of your current data management routine are out of compliance with these new rules. McMenemy reports that many global brands are hiring data protection officers to serve as the leads for this transition to more consumer-friendly data protection practices.
Don’t wait until the new regulations go into effect. Be proactive now and allocate some of your 2018 budget to preparing for this transition.
3. Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere.
Were you hoping that influencer campaigns were one of those marketing trends that would quickly fall out of fashion? You’re out of luck. According to data from Marketing Profs, 84 percent of marketers believe influencer campaigns are effective at reaching their goals. In fact, 55 percent of marketers believe they acquire better customers through influencer campaigns.
According to MDG’s “The State of Influencer Marketing” report, 48 percent of marketers plan on increasing their influencer budgets in 2018. The costs of influencer campaigns can vary widely depending on the influencer’s relative fame and audience influence, but MDG notes that Instagram influencers alone are already generating around $500 million in revenue every year.
In 2018, marketers will be forced to conduct research that identifies top influencers among their target audiences, and they’ll need to make sure money is allocated to fund these influencer campaigns. If you don’t build relationships with your audience’s top influencers, it leaves the door open for your competitors to gain an advantage.
Image attribution: Koka Sexton
4. Brand storytelling will continue to evolve in complexity and depth.
Content creation continues to evolve on several fronts. Beyond an ongoing transition to story-centric, narrative-driven content marketing for brands, creators are also investing more time into creating fewer high-quality pieces. According to research from Orbit Media, bloggers in recent years have transitioned to longer-form content that takes six or more hours to create, instead of the one to two hours that was more common in years past. More importantly, they’re getting results: 49 percent of bloggers spending more than six hours on a single post reported “strong results” for that content.
Meanwhile, storytelling continues to expand across different channels, including mediums unfamiliar to most marketers. CMO reports that 53 percent of marketers are either actively deploying or testing AR content, while 43 percent are doing the same for VR. AI and IoT are also receiving active interest from more than 20 percent of marketers, showcasing how marketers are sinking resources into research and development for the next generation of brand storytelling.
5. Brands will continue to build their own audience, instead of renting ad space.
Purchasing space to publish ads and content on relevant websites remains a core component of digital marketing, but many brands are also looking for ways they can take control of their content and the platforms used for publishing. Social media is one example of this transition in action: While the social network company owns the platform, brands have control over the content they create and promote, and they’re able to build a custom audience over time, according to the Content Standard’s Michael Box.
For a large global company, this might mean producing their own industry publication or even producing a proprietary content app that consumers can access directly, like what Netflix and other content destinations have achieved. In most cases, success hinges on the quality of original content offered through that content channel. If you’re able to create compelling content and collect this content in a single destination, you have a decent shot at building an audience that will come back time and time again.
Success in 2018 starts today, and it starts with a marketing budget that allocates money to the right initiatives. As you plan out the next calendar year, make sure you’re leaving room in the budget to spur on new innovations that help your brand marketing strategy evolve.
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Featured image attribution: 85Fifteen