10 Trends That Will Reshape Digital Marketing in 2018 and Beyond
AI will play a critical and ever increasing role in 2018 and beyond and marketers must invest and ride these trends effectively
Today, digital trends seem to be fashionably altering too rapidly to keep pace with. What's not keeping up is an organization's agility to adapt. Social platforms have made it imperative for marketers to be the first or be scrolled out and in the fusillade of messaging, a consumer trolls down any that is not unique or irrelevant.
10 important trends will define the marketing framework of organizations. Five of which are in the organization process framework and five are emerging trends driven by consumer preferences. To be able to ride this hyper-wave, we need to ask ourselves a few questions... everyday!
Transforming a legacy organization to a dynamic one requires a fundamental change in thinking, structure and process evolutions. The more visionary ones that lead the way will be the change makers, large or small in size irrespective.
Five Organizational Trends That Will Impact Digital Marketing Frameworks
Structure on Demand - Legacy organization structures are a bane to its agility. Unless the entire internal eco-system is networked to remove all hurdles and expedite the process from idea to end delivery and service management, the threat of getting disrupted hangs sword on its head. Organizations will be forced to create "structure on demand" teams that emerge and dissolve to needs without the baggage of the old-fashioned matrix reporting hierarchies. Marketing will no longer be the sole ownership of the marketers but will be split into specialized parts being led by experts.
Leader on Demand - A 'Structure on Demand' will also require 'Leaders on Demand'. Leadership too will become more project based than a fixed organization structure based since solutions at any point in time will require a very different set of leadership skills suited to a particular project. The concept of a universal leadership will loose its appeal in the coming years and we are beginning to see this trend in the more progressive marketing organizations.
New Marketing Roles - With the core of marketing shifting from brand-centricity to unique Customer Experience (CX) creation, traditional designations of digital marketing and channel marketing etc will start to disappear. Marketing teams will be led by CX Managers, Omnichannel Managers, Content Marketers & Design Managers. Digital by itself will no longer be a role as it become ubiquitous in the organisation.
The Marketing FlexiForce: The future will be run by young professionals, especially in fast changing markets like India. And these young bees choose flexibility and freedom over fixed pay and formula. Ubiquitous digital makes remote talent leverage possible and allows for speed of innovation and delivery making marketing super agile. Transcending time zones keeps the engine running 24x7, a new expectation that customers are demanding.
Automated Marketing - Automation in marketing platforms and programmatic deliveries will also be complemented with automated CRM processes relieving organizations of its dependence on human timelines and errors. Visionary organizations are building strong capabilities in automating the infrastructure for production and logistics to support this speed-need of marketing teams. Stronger inter-dependencies will be established between departments forcing co-marketing KPIs across functions.
Five Trends That Will Reshape Digital Marketing and the Brand-Customer Equation
No two global markets are in the same level of digital maturity and so reflect trends unique to each. However, they do converge at some level on customer choices of the 3 Vs - video, voice and visual. This is of particular significance in lower literacy geographies and multi-lingual needs that drive new trends in search and social platforms.
Mobile Video on Demand (VoD)
VoD is now a no-brainer. Over a billion hours of video consumption daily by Youtube viewers, over 8 billion videos by Facebookers and with equally staggering numbers on Twitter and Snapchat, it is no surprise that over 87% of online marketers use video content. But the next wave of VoD will be the increase of what I call "RFC Content" I.e. Relevant, Forwardable & Commercializable Content. Much of what we see is a churn out of the old advertising style with tear-shedding emotional messages. The rise of this medium will be in geometric proportions. Especially in the inner markets, over-riding language and literacy barriers propelled by increase in mobile connections will see a rise in Product and Conversational Content; and Commerce embedded social content taking over.
Voice as the Primary Tool for Search and Social Media
Perhaps not fully leveraged all through 2018, but this will clearly become a growing trend in the near future. Human lethargy to type as well as lower literacy levels in inner markets will catalyze this shift. Marketers will be wiser to create voice based interactive modules that can engage users better than verbose text to provide information. So better fine tune that voice of yours as you begin to leave voice-prints all over the net!
Visual Search Over Text
Image search, together with voice search, will ease the tedious task and errors of type search. The Power of Google Lens and its immense application potential will open up great possibilities in sectors such as Travel, Healthcare, Education, Fashion to name a few. Marketers must collaborate with leaders in visual search tools to leverage this for their brands early and even participate in its Beta stage.
Augmented and Interactive Video Group Chats
Still in its nascent stage, this trend will be a definite enhancement of chat platforms that are currently very text restrictive. And as voice and video grow in search and social use, this natural extension will bring like-minded social groups closer together and creating stronger but closed peer to peer influence groups. Marketers will need to create data access points to weave into these micro group chats and use extensive AI to leverage conversations to their advantage.
Customer Becomes the New Big Influencer
Already a trend in the West, the trend of customer-certified products will rise and brand claims will lose relevance on hard sell promotions. Social influencers are already impacting purchase decision amongst the netizens and the credibility they bring steadily peels off the delusive claims of celebrity endorsers. And now, customer influencers are beginning to add a whole new dimension of post purchase review authenticity. Organizations must work on managing long term customer relations to ensure these brand ambassadors are active throughout their product use journey.
AI will play a critical and ever increasing role in 2018 and beyond and marketers must invest and ride these trends effectively. Simply embedding the features to their digital assets will yield little result and ROIs will be under the scanner. Marketers are getting overly swayed by content storytelling. That's great for a few awards if it tugs at the heart but smart digital presence has to bear concrete business results and marketers who seamlessly integrate the organizational fluidity with agile innovative customer solutions will wear the crown and hold the shield with pride.
Charulata Ravi Kumar is currently the Director, Digital Marketing and Metrics at SP Jain School of Global Management.
In his responsibility as CEO and as an advisor to changemakers in global organizations in marketing, technology and transformation strategies, he has had the privilege to lead the most talented teams, creating amazing customer experiences by brands, to make life more exciting.Simplifying integrated experiences in a complex new world, by seamlessly converging the forces of creative, technology and media to bring customers at the heart of the journey for clients, has been at the core.