Marketing and MRX Predictions for 2018

By the Editors

What will this new year bring for marketers and market researchers? What resolutions can you make so you can stay on top–or ahead–of trends? We’ve compiled some predictions from around the web:

Content Marketing

Content has been king for years, but marketing processes have been evolving at the same time. Now, branded content is often entertainment in its own right. In 2018, expect to see more immersive, engaging content coming from brands–and a greater diversification of formats.  A number of experts predict that brands will invest more in technologies like chatbots (Siri, Cortana, Google Home and Alexa). Paid voice search will become more important as more and more companies compete to get a foothold.

The Content Marketing Institute recently published 60 Predictions on Content Marketing in 2018. Here are a few notable observations from their report:

“In 2018, content marketers–especially in B2B–will start to figure out how to integrate content marketing into a wider performance marketing model. We’ll get dramatically better at showing how and where content drives success.” – Doug Kessler, Creative Director, Velocity

“Brands will continue to invest in content, as they have been over the last few years; but that investment will shift from mostly writing services and paid distribution/promotion to a whole host of services–production, more animation and video-related graphics, voice talent, etc. It’s no longer just about words–content is about creating experiences.”  – Amanda Todorovich, Content Marketing Director, Cleveland Clinic

“Content must be connected! Brands will be doing more with voice, the Internet of Things, and skills for Alexa and Google Home. 2018 will reward predictive, personalized, frictionless content.” – Julie Fleischer, VP, Product Marketing, Neustar

“With the Facebook algorithm continuing to change–and rumors swirling that you will no longer be able to link to external content–paid social media is going to be even bigger for distribution in 2018. . . Paid search will have to be part of a content marketer’s toolbox next year.” – Gini Dietrich, CEO, Spin Sucks

Experts quoted in the report also talk about geo-fence marketing, SMS texting, personalization, micro-segmentation, “bottom up” content creation, empowering employees to create and distribute brand content, and the importance of providing value and building relationships and loyalty with audiences.

Email Marketing

In 2018, changes are in store for email marketing, too. Marketing strategist Gretchen Scheiman, founder of L5 Direct LLC and contributor to Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily, recently shared her resolutions to help marketers create their strategies for the coming year.

Scheiman listed four main areas to focus on:

  1.      Artificial Intelligence. A surge in global mergers and acquisitions means enormous companies like Google and Netflix are snapping up AI talent, leaving smaller marketing companies in the dust. Scheiman advises that starting now, “You’ll need to find key vendors to align with so you can apply their AI expertise to your email marketing efforts.”
  2.      Data. “All our testing and future AI needs rely on having the best data possible in our systems,” Scheiman points out. “Now is the time to “invest in data cleansing and new systems.”
  3.      Content marketing strategy. Modular chunks of content–reusable, small pieces of content that can be used in different contexts–will be useful to email marketers under pressure to produce a high volume of material. “Going forward, a strong content marketing strategy will take advantage of modular chunks of content to build marketing stories for individuals at scale. Think about a strategy that fulfills goals by using these tiny building blocks. You’ll get more value for your investment, and set yourself up for testing in the channel,” Scheiman says.
  4.      Testing. Scheiman suggests email marketers “start from the perspective of what you want to invest in and build a test plan to generate results that can drive business rationale for these investments.” She points out that an advantage of email marketing is it’s “the most efficient testing channel to prove theories and create business cases based on real results.”

Data-driven Advertising

In 2018, brands and advertising agencies don’t just want to quantify the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing–they expect accurate data to measure their success. However, with all the data providers available to advertisers today, advertisers may have trouble determining the best partners.  

According to an AdAge blog post by Toby McKenna, Senior VP of Global Advertising at Bazaarvoice, there’s a gap between expectations and reality. “The use of data sources and providers is on the rise, with 95 percent of respondents in a recent Ad Age study indicating that they are employing first and third party data in their media plans. But here’s the rub: 64 percent said they are not fully clear on the origins of their data sources and three-in-four marketers are not fully confident their data is allowing them to reach in-market consumers.”

McKenna has three pieces of advice for advertisers looking to partner with data companies:

  1.      Demand data that refreshes at least every 30 days. The farther you are from real-time data, the less likely you are to be reaching audiences who are ready to buy. Working with stale data may mean you’re wasting an advertising spend on people who’ve already purchased your product.
  2.      Define what “in-market” means to you. As McKenna points out, “It’s up to you to determine where the threshold of in-market lies for you. Is it a single visit to your product page, or is it an algorithmically informed portrait comprised of multiple data points?” As an example, she talks about seasonality and how online shopping has changed the way consumers buy throughout the year. “Partnering with a data provider than can provide vertical-specific insights into shopping behavior will allow you to not only target the right people, but also time those messages so they are surfacing at the best possible moments,” she says.
  3.      Play the “long game.” Today’s marketers can use data and customer insights together to gain a holistic understanding of consumers and B2B buyers. McKenna advises that brands “select longer-term data providers that can provide ongoing insights into not only your own customers, but also consumers across other brands within your industry. To surface the partners that fit this profile, ask providers about their ability to deliver higher order insights that can help you put campaigns in market at the right time, with the right messaging, and yes, the right targeting against in-market consumers.”

By using both in-market targeting and a broad view of consumer behavior, McKenna says, marketers can get a better return on investment for their budgets in 2018.

To read the full list of predictions from the Content Marketing Institute, click here. To read more from Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily, click here. For the full AdAge post about data-driven marketing resolutions, click here.