At the end of 2017, we were not merely discussing what the future of marketing will be like. We were living it. No longer are artificial intelligence, VR, voice activation and other tech next-generation concepts reserved for big budget brands to play around with.
Nor are marketers trapped by the traditional tame, safe, and well-defined brand-consumer relationship. CMOs and marketing leaders across the board are using the future in today’s marketing strategies, turning what was once viewed as ‘radical’ into the riveting, ever-changing new version of ‘conventional.’
As a nod to a year that jet-propelled digital marketing into new frontiers, here’s a look back at the best moments, ideas, and breakthroughs of 2017 with the year’s top articles on future marketing trends.
It’s a metaphorical fact. It’s much easier to get a clear view of what’s ahead from the top of the mountain. This article is a round-up of the predictions by the industry’s most visionary marketing directors, CEOs and chief content strategists. So, what are we looking at?
More organizational shifts, greater time and resource investment in building brand communities, hyper-relevancy, more sophisticated analysis of vast stockpiles of data – and lots more video.
At the end of 2017, marketing automation is nothing new. With 2018 a stone’s throw away, automation is everywhere. From seemingly psychic buying recommendations to SMS app notifications that land at just the right time, modern marketers are becoming best friends with their automation software providers.
This article examines the fundamentals of automation and how it has changed the way marketers track and respond to customer behavior. If you think you know what marketing automation entails and where its limits are, this is a must-read before the next year starts.
The work of managing customer relationships has become so complex, so data-infused, that having a ‘single Master Customer record’ is no longer practical. Moving forward, no longer can the distinct advantages and applications of CRM, automation, and data management platforms be superimposed. Here’s a post that explains the nuances of each to ensure your team is getting the most out of your customer data.
It’s time to talk virtual. Virtual assistants that is. While not everyone is asking Alexa for a quick dinner recipe and a rundown of stock price movements when they get home from work, usage of virtual assistants and other AI-interfaces is heating up, fast. Once smartwatches catch up with mobile phone usage, people are going to start thinking of Siri and other virtual assistants as old friends.
This technology is changing the way consumers interact with their tech devices. Marketers need to pay attention to how this AI movement unfolds.
Machine learning and neural networks are often thought of as tools for digital marketing. But new technologies are being used to enhance the in-store experience as well. What’s interesting is that the store experience will become more personalized – in a small town nostalgia, the-store-clerk-knows-what-you-like-better-than-you-do type of way. However, it’s not the shop owner who understands and meets his or her customers need. It’s AI.
Says global digital consultant, Jeff Barrett, “…physical retail can do a million things. Through alerts, AR, lighting and music, physical retailers can take shoppers anywhere they want them to go and make it an experience.”
One of the most noteworthy rifts, separating where the industry is going from where it has been, is the emergence of meaningful brands on a wide scale. Socially conscious companies are no longer on the fringe. In today’s zeitgeist, with a rainbow of high-contrast views and a never-ending carousel of extremes, from extreme violence to extreme solidarity, brands have to lay their values on the table and draw out their red lines.
In 2017, for the first time, brand activism has morphed from trendy to normal. This article is a fascinating look at the new role brands have to take on from a designer’s perspective. The ethics of AI, an obsession with transparency, and the end of brand neutrality will put pressure on marketers going forward to live a more examined life.
There have been a few ground-shaking trends in video marketing in 2017 – 360 videos, projection mapping, interactive animation, virtual reality. But the one that has really taken hold this year is live video. In this post, you’ll find a handful of examples of live video that made a huge impact this year.
Just like the trend towards more in-person events, live streaming has become an engaging medium as consumers are starving for more authentic interaction. Live videos provide a sense of being there, in the moment. They are more captivating, less scripted. If there’s one thing we’ve learned recently, this is the quality consumers are craving more of.
AI and machine learning – what are we going to see from ‘robot intelligence’ in the future? Where marketing automation and data predictions have permeated every facet of digital marketing, AI and machine learning are just starting to dig their claws into mainstream modern marketing. So far, we have machines handling a chunk of our customer interactions, image recognition software that can identify how consumers are engaging with products by sifting through social media images, and text content, authored by AI. We’re watching tools like multi-sensory communication and ‘mind-reading’ voice search capabilities up the ante even more. Considering there are more than 10,000 martech companies out there coming up with new ideas and AI becoming more sophisticated, we may be in for a stellar ride in 2018.
Here’s a great outline of all the more common applications of AI in marketing today. A lot of these may seem like simple functions to the consumer, like chatbots and ad targeting, but from a marketer’s perspective, we know how transformative they are – and that they are only the beginning.
It’s true. These profound shifts in marketing technology, being applied across platforms from mobile to social media and email marketing, are going to impact the very consumers we’re trying to keep pace with. In our attempt to be one step ahead of the customer, we’re also driving consumer expectations forward even more. And so, the chase will forever continue.
This article is a fascinating exploration of how consumer attention is evolving and what tools and insights content marketers can use in the future to keep pace. It’s a thought provoker you definitely should read.