It’s that time of the year again when our ‘inbox’ will be inundated with articles, emails, and infographics telling us what will happen and what we need to do. And as marketers, we should be ready to embrace these.
If I have to pick one dominant theme of 2017, it would be unexpected changes (READ The demonetization impact, GST, among others) that forced brands to alter their marketing strategies several times. But did that make 2017 less a year in terms of technology and innovation? Of course not. The brands continued to create engaging content, move out of their comfort zone and give their audience what they wanted.
So as the year draws to a close, let’s pay attention to what has worked (or hasn’t worked) over the past 12 months and be lucid to adjust in the months to come.
Here are four marketing trends that I’m going to keep my eyes on in 2018:
2016 was the year of fresh methods to showcase content, and videos, undoubtedly, became the clear winner across various categories. Unfortunately, 2017 turned out to be a little disappointing (thanks to GST, demonetization that resulted in economy gloom) for video marketing as brands tightened their purse strings. But all seen and done, 2018 will bring video marketing to the fore with even more evolved content.
It’s going to be the year where videos on the over-the-top (OTT) platform will become the talk of the town. With consumers’ binge-watching their favorite shows on ad-free platforms like Hotstar, Voot, Sony Liv, Ozee, Netflix and Amazon Prime, brands will be going all over-the-top to reach the engaged audiences by leveraging advertising to its full extent.
Not only consumers, marketers will benefit too as results in OTT platforms are not measured strictly by how many viewers are reached as with broadcast television, but how engaged the audience is with the ad. This can ultimately lead to more effective advertising monetization that can be more valuable than broadcast TV.
Other than this, 2018 will also be a gestation period for two types of marketers: those who’ll sell what’s popular and those who’ll sell what WORKS, regardless of its popularity. How?
Data! Marketers will rely heavily on analytics to see what’s really moving the needle. After all, if you aren’t fluent in Facebook ads and conversion ratios, you’re missing a crucial part of every marketer’s essential toolbox.
Digital marketing will be all about CONTEXT:
Yes, you read that right. I have written context and not content because that’s where I see India’s digital marketing heading to. For far too long, content has been the buzzword for all the good reasons; consumers, business and engagement and this romanticism will continue in 2018, but with a twist.
It will be more about context rather than content alone. Now since everyone has been focussing on content, I know that shifting focus to context can be a little confusing. But in reality, context and content work inseparably to provide an ultimate value to your audience.
To put it simply, context marketing is the practice of knowing your audience so well that you know what knowledge, product or services will be valuable to them. Its deeper targeting and more on-point messaging.
The most crucial example of context winning over content could be drawn from this year’s face off between Tesla and advertising powerhouse Mercedes Benz.
The advertising world actually got upside down when Tesla spent 1/190th of the advertising budget of their closest competitor and outsold them by 3X. How did they do it?
Where Mercedes was telling the world to buy their cars, Tesla was having a conversation about living fossil fuel free.
That allowed them to break through, and drive sales without the need for advertising.
Context is going to be the future of marketing, simply, because consumers command it, the new media environment supports it, and it is proving to be a much greater driver of consumer action than advertising.
Influencer marketing will give way to social media marketplace
The year started with a saying that 84% of marketers plan on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign during the next 12 months. And guess what, they did.
The year 2017, became the year where brands choose subtle sponsored content promoted by influencers or micro-influencers over in-the-face advertisement or fudge testimonials.
For the uninitiated, influencers are individuals who have a significant impact or influence on a social media platform or otherwise. Brands partner with these influencers to promote their product or service.
This year, brands were seen creating compelling content that appeared to be organic in many cases. And nearly 95 percent of marketers who used an influencer marketing strategy believed that it was effective.
For instances, this year, brands like Tata Steel, American Express, Nykaa, among others joined hands with travel and beauty influencers respectively to reach the young audience via social media platforms and received huge returns.
These sorts of collaborations between brands and influencers are only going to increase in 2018. So much so, that if influencer marketing is the beginning, then what’s next is the shift from social media to social marketplaces.
Startups will bounce back in the marketing game
There’s no secret that the year 2017 proved to be a dampener for most of the fledgling Indian start-ups who were ripe for rationalization. As investors closed their purse strings and new funds became hard to come by, start-ups had to cut down on spending mullahs on creating interesting campaigns.
As a marketer and start-up founder myself, I feel the rationalization was much needed as it allowed these start-ups to become razor sharp on return on marketing investments.
These start-ups have been spending money in the places where it just doesn’t make sense, however the course-correction allowed them to spend money creatively on niche audiences’ as well popular communities where their message can spread organically.
Case in point, an enterprise payments solutions firm Ezetap, who this year ditched vanilla press release for a video release. Rather than preparing a funding announcement press release first, the company initiated a creative Facebook video, featuring Ezetap’s co-founder making an announcement (READ broadcast) about the fundraising.
The approach didn’t even make funding news, but definitely got people talking about the route they adopted. Within a few hours of the video release, the announcement got multiple coverage and more than 132,000 Facebook views.
I feel 2018 will be the year where brands will be more creative and go all out to reach the right audiences, without burning a big hole in their pocket.
All in all, in the year ahead, smart marketers will adopt a strategic mix of creativity and, of course, technology to generate stories that create lasting impacts and connections with customers.
This will involve leveraging data-driven insights along with the sheer guts and beliefs. Just be sure you know your brand well and launch campaigns that reach the consumers mind and heart!