Trends that might not be sexy (anymore), but are here to stay in 2018

With the new year on the horizons, there is much buzz on what 2018 holds along with its many predictions. One megatrend for the year we are already hearing of is the voice controlled search assistants and voice controlled connected devices.

According to research by Smart Insights, voice controlled search is on the rise, especially with the proliferation of major technology companies voice search offerings such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistants, which can be used on smartphones. While it's easy to be carried away by all the hype, here are some trends by Smart Insights' "Digital marketing Megatrends 2018" report that are here to stay.

Mobile will continue to dominate

The report said that mobile will continue to grow in importance, along with mobile marketing and apps. Currently, more than half of searches are conducted on mobile, while 91% of Facebook usage in terms of daily active users is also on mobile. 80% of advertising done on Facebook is also on mobile while 90% of mobile media time is spent within apps.

Mobile marketing and cross-device optimisation will also continue to be a trend moving more as most businesses continue getting the basics of mobile marketing down.

2018 will see brands looking to optimise mobile experiences.

This may result in better tailored experiences for different devices through adaptive design, the report added.

As such, Smart Insights said that instead of simply adopting a mobile first mantra, businesses need to look at developing a multichannel or multiplatform strategy. This is to connect with consumers across both mobile and desktop. The report also added that emerging technologies such as conversational UIs and AI continue to make its presence felt.

Increased use of conversational UIs (user interfaces)

Conversation UIs will also be on the rise when it comes to emerging technologies. This includes chatbots, software and human-assisted support, voice controlled search assistants and voice controlled connected devices. The Smart Insights report added that chatbots as well as software and human-assisted support would be the most practical application for most businesses.

When working with chatbots, marketers should consider incorporating standard platforms for customer service, including pre-sales support. For human-assisted live chat, functions such as segmentation and automation rules should also be noticed. This will help trigger messages on site, in-app or through email via technologies such as Intercom, Helpcrunch and Drift, the report added. On top of offering service, human-assisted live chat can also support sales and audience engagement. It also has a good fit with smartphones.

Reaching and influencing consumers will also remain a challenge as they move from public social media to messaging.

Rise of the marketing clouds and predictive analytics

Another highlighted trend would be the growth of marketing clouds which include automation and programmatic. According to the report, marketing clouds and digital marketing hub services will allow brands to better manage all points of contact between them and customers. This will apply throughout the customer life cycle, from lead to customer communications. This is in a bid to create loyalty and repeat purchase behaviour.

Another trend is the rise of predictive analytics in marketing automotive services, which will move to more use of automated lead scoring and grading.

This is based on algorithms rather than human-defined rules.

Content is once again king

Smart Insights explained that content marketing was once again top of its members poll of techniques which would garner the greatest impact in the year ahead. According to its research, more businesses are now using a strategic approach to content marketing. As such, there is also expectation that there would be more focus on measuring content marketing ROI as the cost and competition within content marketing rises.

Digital transformation is still on the cards

The study added that digital transformation will also continue and would impact both a long and short term planning basis. As such, businesses should look to create longer term roadmaps for the introduction of digital technologies, analytics and processes techniques. For short term strategies, marketers should look at 90-day optimisation plans with the focus to make changes to marketing across the customer lifecycle to improve results. This is to encourage optimisation and agility in planning.

This will allow brands to focus on “always-on” marketing activities as opposed to campaigns which may not make major improvements to inbound marketing, marketing automation or improving the customer experience, the report said.