10 Ways Marketing Will Change in 2018

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For the average business owner or marketer, trying to keep up with the latest marketing strategies and stay one step ahead of your competitors can be a challenge. The methods used to engage with their customers by those at the top of the marketing tree are changing at a breakneck speed, and the brands that fail to adapt and evolve can be quickly left behind.

AI (Artificial Intelligence), ABM (Account-Based Marketing) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) were amongst some of the biggest buzzwords in 2017’s B2B marketing landscape; so where is the industry heading in 2018?

The B2B Marketing Expo will bring all the answers to thousands of marketing professionals at London’s ExCeL on 21 & 22 March 2018, but first here are 8 marketing trends that we think will shape the industry next year:

1. Video Will Still be King

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a new trend, but if your brand hasn’t been producing video content up to now, then that needs to change in 2018. As expected, video was massive in B2B marketing in 2017, and there are absolutely no signs of that slowing down during the next 12 months.

In fact, research by HubSpot has revealed that 94% of marketers are looking to add video to their 2018 marketing plan in one form or another. And with YouTube now being the second most popular search engine behind Google, it’s no surprise that many marketers are putting video at the top of their to-do list.

2. Live Video Will be Queen!

That’s right - not only will video be huge in 2018, but many marketers are already adopting live video as one of their main marketing strategies moving forward. A Buffer survey back in 2016 showed that 42% of marketers wanted to create more live video content, and 2018 seems to be the year that many are choosing to fully embrace this exciting type of content.

Why? Because users on Facebook spend three times as long engaging with live video as they do with ‘standard’ video content. An incredible 82% of customers surveyed by Livestream also revealed that they were more likely to watch a live video put out by a business than read its posts on Twitter, Facebook etc. So, what are you waiting for?

3. Virtual Reality is Here to Stay

While virtual reality (VR) perhaps hasn’t taken the marketing industry by storm to the level that was initially predicted, it certainly looks like VR will be here to stay for the next few years at least. There’s no doubt that live video is engaging and interactive, but VR lets customers engage with their favourite brands in a whole new way.

As marketers continue to search for ways of giving their customers a more memorable and unique experience with their latest product or service than ever before, VR achieves all this by letting consumers interact with brands in a significantly more realistic and human way.

4. But What About Augmented Reality?

We suspect that most marketers have heard of virtual reality by now, but far fewer are probably aware of augmented reality (AR) and the possibilities this type of content opens up to brands. Not sure what AR is? Think back to the Pokemon Go craze that swept the globe back in the summer of 2016 - superimposing a computer-generated image onto a user’s view of the real world.

But while the Pokemon Go fad had faded before summer had even turned to autumn, AR looks set to be a big player in the future of B2B marketing. And with Apple’s recently released iPhone 8 and iPhone X having gone all in when it comes to AR, you can be sure that brands will soon be prioritising content that is AR-sponsored and branded.

5. Content is no Longer Confined to Screens

I know, I know, so this one slightly goes against the first four trends! But one of the biggest marketing developments in 2018 will be that, for the first time in the modern age, brands will start pouring a lot of time, money and resources into content that no longer appears on a screen. As we’ve already pointed out, visual content will still continue to shape the industry, but more and more content will now also be accessed using futuristic voice services.

With smart speakers likely to dominate the Christmas lists of adults and children alike this year, people will soon expect to be able to engage with content in a way that’s both hands and eyes free. And this is also true when it comes to B2B marketing - with businesses now able to pass on advice and guidance in a more engaging and personal way than ever before.

6. LinkedIn Overtaking Twitter

Yep, it may be time to devote less energy to your Twitter account and spend more time targeted LinkedIn. As a platform, Twitter had a fairly tough year in 2017, and with its focus having purely been on increasing user numbers, its ad platform has gone somewhat neglected.

On the other hand, LinkedIn has benefited from a comprehensive UI overhaul, and its ad platform has gone from strength to strength thanks to a whole host of recent improvements. As a result, you can expect an increasing number of B2B marketers to favour LinkedIn over Twitter during the next 12 months.

7. Newsletters as Brand Magazines

It’s fair to say that newsletter marketing hasn’t had a great reputation in recent times; widely criticised for the stale and sales-heavy content the newsletters are often filled with. However, 2018 will see the trusty newsletter transformed back into a piece of marketing content that is both engaging and effective.

That’s because today’s brands have stories to tell, and they’re going to be told inside all-new customer-facing brand magazines. Next year, more and more brands will make their email newsletters as readable and appealing to the eye as the latest edition of Vogue - but they’ll still be filled with tonnes of actionable industry data and tales of what makes you stand out from all the rest.

8. A Focus on the Carrot, not the Stick

With marketing budgets increasing universally and brands now competing for business in an increasingly competitive landscape, it will be those brands that are able to emotionally engage their audience that will thrive in 2018 and beyond. Customer loyalty is a rare commodity these days, but it is still achievable by delivering the right message.

So what does the ‘right’ message look like in 2018? One that crafts customer interactions, and not simply one-off transactions. This will be achieved by brands focusing their customer journey not on the sale, but instead on the emotional reason that will inspire it. This will be the year of using effective storytelling to translate a brand’s nuts and bolts into an experience that will forge meaningful emotional links with the audience.

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For more information on the industry-leading B2B Marketing Expo 2018 and to grab your FREE ticket here

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