2018 – Trends and Predictions for a Turbulent Year in Marketing

A new year begins, and we all can have a fresh start. Now is the time to revise what we achieved last year. It is also the perfect time to take a look ahead and see what is on the horizon of marketing. There are many trends in online marketing right now. Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Automation, Organic Reach, Social Media, and Influencers are only some of those big lines coming up.

As digital marketers, we know that our industry is fast-paced and always changing. What is true today will already be old and wrong tomorrow. Effective marketing tactics underlie an increasingly short life cycle. That is the reason why we are reading all these blogs. We have to keep up with the latest trends to leverage the fantastic features of the digital technologies built by the startups and tech leaders.

2018 will be a turbulent year for online marketers. AI will challenge our jobs, new distribution platforms will arise, and with the GDPR, legislation will be causing a headache for all of us. Let’s take a look at what is coming up on the horizon for this year. Here are ten trends and predictions for a turbulent year in marketing.

Trend #1: Funnel Marketing

Prediction: Specialized automated tools will make the customer journey accessible

Marketing funnels have always been a thing. 2018 will be the year when funnel marketing will actually become a discipline. It has never been easier to measure marketing performance throughout the whole funnel—the awareness and retention stages will have a particularly significant impact on this trend. There will be specialized tools and startups entering the market to address this need. By the end of the year, every marketer will have a funnel visualization on the daily dashboard.

The one link you should visit: Search requests on Google.com for the term “Marketing Funnel”

Trend #2: Attribution 2.0

Prediction: Machine learning applications will disrupt our understanding of marketing efficiency

Attribution will make significant improvements thanks to machine learning applications. Finally, we will see promising approaches to in-depth analyses of mass media campaigns. We will not be ready to measure the impact of branding broken down to the single Dollar spent yet. But we will see this ultimate goal on the horizon of upcoming AI-powered reporting tools. Measuring and scoring marketing tactics will continue to grow in importance. Unmeasurable marketing tactics will face turbulent times.

The one link you should visit: Google keynote on Attribution innovations powered by machine learning

Trend #3: Data Nerds

Prediction: The market for marketing reporting specialists will skyrocket

Data-centricity has been elementary for the success of digital companies for quite some time. In 2018, marketing reporting will grow up. With whole new levels of insights offered on the predominant analytics platforms, there will be a growing need for specialists to implement proper tracking. Creating insightful reports and dashboards for a wide range of employees will be one of the most significant challenges in many companies. If you are a specialist in tracking and reporting solutions, you are facing a successful year this 2018.

The one link you should visit: Search for the term “Analytics Consultant” and check the CPCs

Trend #4: Online Education Platforms

Prediction: One player will become an authority for online marketing education and certification

Online marketing always suffered from a lack of proper education. The fast-paced environment makes it almost impossible for universities to offer meaningful degrees in this field. What is good practice in online marketing today may already be outdated by next year. The ever-changing field of online marketing is hard to seize in a traditional educational context. With digital education on the rise, in 2018, there will be one digital education player filling this gap. Someone will be taking over the status of a widely accepted authority in certification and education for online marketing. This player may be a startup or one of the existing companies on the market.

The one link you should visit: Check out the metrics of the search term “Online Marketing Certificate”

Trend #5: YouTube Renaissance

Prediction: YouTube will enter the battlefield of interactive social media and challenge Instagram

2018 will be the year when YouTube enters the battleground of social media. Although YouTube has always been a social network, its perception in the market was different. People recognized it more as a media distribution platform. At most end users, it was less known for its social features as commenting or liking. With significant changes to the mobile app, YouTube will enter into direct competition with Instagram. Short-form video sharing will become even more a thing in 2018, and YouTube will demonstrate its dominance in video as a media format.

The one link you should visit: Follow the YouTube blog and keep up with the news

Trend #6: Facebook Groups

Prediction: Facebook Groups will explode and become the most important source of organic reach

Last year, Facebook showed in some experiments that it would pursue a path of killing organic reach for businesses completely. We have seen a decrease in organic reach for years; now we have to face the challenge of finding alternative ways to distribute our content organically. The massive acceptance of Facebook Groups on the user side is offering excellent opportunities for marketers. This channel has been underrated for too long. In 2018, social media marketing will focus a lot on it.

The one link you should visit: TNW on the experiments of Facebook in Slovakia

Trend #7: Data Privacy

Prediction: The European Union’s GDPR will reward the best marketers above average

This year, the much-discussed GDPR will enter into force. Every digital marketer will feel its impact on her daily work. Customer data based marketing activities like remarketing, marketing automation, or newsletters will be affected widely. This is the chance for top-performing marketers to stand out. The ones who are the most creative and knowledgeable about their marketing channels will be rewarded above average. Poorly set up campaigns will start to fail and be blocked by data privacy mechanisms coming into effect.

The one link you should visit: HubSpot on the GDPR and the implications for the marketing industry

Trend #8: Marketing Automation

Prediction: Marketing Automation will take over the lower end of the industry

Marketing Automation will be directly competing with smaller agencies and freelancers on the lower end of the industry. Specialized automation tools are growing in the market. They are taking over smaller tasks in performance marketing, CRM, and social media. Already today, the owner of an online shop does not need marketing consultation anymore to do okayish marketing. In 2018, this trend will grow steadily. If you are a consultant in online marketing, it may be smart to ask yourself if your job – theoretically – could be done by a bot. If the answer is yes, do not lose time! Specialize further and identify something that you can be an expert in!

The one link you should visit: See how Kit is automating marketing for Shopify store owners

Trend #9: Chatbots

Prediction: Facebook Messenger will become the prevalent channel for interaction-based sales

The Facebook Messenger had already seen significant growth as a customer support channel last year. Many online shops are using it to communicate with their existing customers. Although Facebook Messenger chatbots are nothing new anymore, 2018 will be the year of heavy investing in interaction-based sales. More and more online shops will adopt this trend and implement Facebook Messenger chatbots in top-of-the-funnel activities.

The one link you should visit: Explore Facebook Messenger sales bot templates

Trend #10: Smart Assistants

Prediction: The platform battle of smart assistants will take off

The battle for platform dominance in smart assistants has already heated up in 2017. It is no secret that those assistants will evolve as the probably most important marketing channel in the upcoming years. Amazon’s Alexa seemed to lead the pack, although other players like Apple’s Siri were out there earlier. In 2018, Google’s Assistant platform will grow massively as result of smart hardware partnerships and multi-device integrations. All signs show that Google is lined up to replicate the success and platform dominance of Android. The platform battle between Amazon and Google will be one of the most heated discussions in 2018 to follow.

The one thing you should do about this trend: take your smartphone, open your Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa and become an expert in this field! As a marketer, you will be required to master this technology very soon.

Trend #11: B2B Marketing Revolution

Prediction: LinkedIn will become the buzz topic in B2B Marketing 2018

Influencer Marketing and Content Marketing have been there for quite some time, especially in a B2C context. In 2018, there will be a new form of B2B marketing taking off. Influencer Marketing agencies are entering the B2B market and will demonstrate how successful their marketing tactics can be in this field. LinkedIn will be the most important platform for this new format of B2B marketing. As marketers, we will read many articles on how to maximize reach on LinkedIn. Video as a post format on LinkedIn will also get more attention.

The one link you should visit: Go to Google Scholar and read a scientific article on B2B influencer marketing

Before you go…

Thanks for reading the ten trends and predictions for 2018. We do not know what is coming up or what will challenge us this year. But we do know that some obvious trends are heading our way. Let us face those challenges and plan for success in 2018. Make it a memorable year in marketing!