In the last one year, we have seen a sea of changes in Digital and Online Marketing trends. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to keep pace with new technological changes. A lot has happened in the year 2017, with ‘selfie’ becoming the word of the year to robots operating on artificial intelligence and inventing their own language. As the year draws to a close, in this article, I have tried to list some of my top observations regarding upcoming online marketing trends. Each and every marketer should watch out for these!
A macro view of a few online marketing trends that could dominate the year 2018:
Artificial intelligence to be replaced by smarter intelligence
The year 2017 was dominated, in a big way, by AI. From banks using robots to serve its customer to bots which predict stock market movements basis past and public data, the progress has been a remarkable one. In 2018, we will probably see this evolving further and Artificial Intelligence could be replaced with Smarter Intelligence technologies. If you remember, Google Assistant or Siri had a hard time recognising Indian accents earlier, but now they do a pretty neat job at it.
These technologies are becoming smarter to such an extent that they are being used right from home automation to writing articles in minutes, without any spelling errors. In the future, we will have more and more AI based services through which a user can make videos, images, apps or websites in minutes without any prior coding or technical knowledge. All they need to do is instruct these smarter intelligence apps and they will do the job for you in minutes.
The web will become more personalised for every user
The web has been continuously evolving since its inception. The entire web is divided into three generations. The first was Web 1.0 – known as the read-only web, where users could only read content but weren’t able to give any suggestion or feedback. The second was Web 2.0 – read-write web, where users can give feedback on any written piece of information, which is what is happening today. The future of the web is Web 3.0 – which is also known as the personalised web, where tailored and specific results will be shown to an individual as per his/her interest and behaviour.
This is already happening today in a small way. I feel, 2018 will be the year of the personalised web. Every user will consume content that matters to them the most, search results of every user will vary based on their interest and behaviour. As a marketer, you should compare email verification and validations services before choosing a method to reach out your audience.
Google will start reading images, it won’t need ALT tags anymore
Google today has the ability to read through images. The company has evolved to be the ultimate search giant where they don’t need to rely on user data to understand what’s inside an image. Google now has the technology where they read through each and every pixel and make sense by themselves about what the image is saying. You can watch the below video to understand this better. In 2018 web developers don’t need to put ALT tags to images anymore. Google will read through and do this task itself.
Virtual and augmented reality will become a household affair
There was a time where VR and AR seemed to be very expensive investments for any brand. With the growing popularity and application of VR and AR, businesses are provided with endless opportunities. Brands will be able to leverage and create a value proposition for their audiences. In 2018, I feel that there will be a rise in adoption of these technologies by small-medium enterprises and startups.
They will further become cost-effective. Anyone will be able to jump in and make products and service which will help to acquire new customers. We will also see, social networks adopting VR and AR extensively.
Targeting accuracy will improve
Platforms like Facebook and Google have mastered the art of targeting customers. Through various parameters such as location, age, gender, interest, behaviour, etc., a lot of data is available. For consumers flocking to online platforms, the available amount of data is priceless. In 2018, don’t be surprised if these platforms can precisely target when you are just about 200 meters away from the nearest Walmart store and a notification pops-up on your device suggesting to visit the nearby Walmart and get 10% off on your purchase.
We will continue to see a lot of improvement in the way social networks target users on the basis of data shared by them.
Data analytics will decide the fate of marketers
Data is the new oil by which companies can understand user behaviour and accordingly offer them a personalised service. In 2018, data will have the ability to predict which goods or service you will need before you actually buy them. Let’s take for instance a user usually purchases books frequently from Amazon. With the help of past data, Amazon understands that this user completes reading a book in approximately 40 days from the time of his last purchase.
By analysing such data, Amazon can send an automated email on the 38th day saying, “Hope you have enjoyed your last book, here are some suggestions basis your past reads, if you order any of these books in the next one week we will be happy to offer you a special 10% discount.”
Marketing automation will take over
Though marketing automation is being used by many brands, it still has scope to grow. Marketing automation tools are becoming smarter day by day. Many of them have revised their pricing model to suit the needs of SMEs and startups. In 2018, we will see many brands using Marketing automation tools to serve their customers. Many players will come up with specific solutions for specific sectors as well.
There won’t be B2B or B2C it will all converge into P2P
Towards the end, I would like to state that many people feel that online marketing is similar to traditional mediums in terms of messaging being divided into B2B and B2C. But, what we fail to realise is that Digital is not for the masses, it is for a specific niche of the audience. Be it B2B or B2C, the decision to purchase or use any product or service is ultimately taken by a human being and not any mechanical person. Hence, digital is no longer about B2B or B2C but about P2P (people to people).
To summarise, 2018 will be the year where data and the personal web will rule online marketing trends along with widespread adoption of VR, AR, and marketing automation tools. At the end, whatever we do, one must remember that to be successful in your online marketing efforts you shouldn’t just think like a marketer but like a human being.
Does data play a major role in marketing?
Yes! In today’s day and age, marketing is all about analysing customer data. Rolling out mass, untargeted campaigns will get your brand nowhere. Instead, focus on creating targeted campaigns that focus on customer data and metrics such as their past online purchase behaviour and browsing patterns. Artificial intelligence has a crucial role to play in helping you collect this data. Instead of manually collecting data, you can simply rely on machine learning techniques to discover new insights. Further, this data can be used to personalise campaigns, enhance customer experience, increase customer engagement and create informational content that your audiences will want to read. Data analytics also ensures your communication is consistent.
How is AR helping retailers reach customers during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Gone are the days when AR and VR seemed like an expensive investment for a brand. Today it is considered an invaluable investment. The COVID-19 pandemic not just ushered a new normal but also gave impetus to all things virtual. Online retailers accepted this shift by leveraging augmented reality (AR) applications to give customers an experience that would be as close to an in-store purchase. For example, brands like IKEA started a ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience for their customers which allowed them to preview furniture and other products in their home before making the final purchase. On the other hand, some brands even partnered with Snapchat to offer an in-store AR game. An excellent use case of AR is virtual try-on experiences. Whether it’s jewellery, makeup or apparel, it at least gives customers an idea of how it would look on them without stepping out.
In what way does marketing automation help in running a business more efficiently?
Today, marketers are under constant pressure. From increasing leads to driving conversions, they have a lot on their plate. With so much to do, they have little or absolutely no time to take up any kind of administrative work. That’s where marketing automation comes in. It helps them focus on their campaigns and customers while handling all the other operational tasks including client service and retention, coordination of multi-channel campaigns, and data management and analysis.