Review of Marketing Trends for 2018

Every year I try to get a handle on the marketing trends for the coming year and beyond by reviewing the marketing and advertising media. This is the scenario for the coming year.

First, it is important to note that we are living in interesting times where anyone can now create, distribute and consume an infinite amount of media nonstop from anywhere in the world. That is a big change and it will have a long term impact on marketing

By 2020, Gartner is predicting that  we will have over 30 billion connected devices able to create media on their own and distribute it. This will make devices the largest creators of media, moving us from a centralized media (only those with the capital to publish) society to a completely distrusted one (anyone/anything can publish). This creates challenges for the reliability of the information people receive from these sources.

Also marketing experts believe that with this shift will come a shift in the type of media. We have moved from a static media environment to a dynamic one. In a static world, media was optimized for eyeballs. The more eyeballs (people) that saw the media content, the better our chances of conversions. In today’s dynamic world, the only media that surfaces is the content that receives the most engagement, meaning it is now optimized based on engagement. Media won’t surface unless the algorithms believe customers will engage with it.

In the static age of limited media, marketers optimized for attention. Marketers weren’t sure who, or even when, someone would see their marketing communications — but they knew that if they didn’t grab their attention, there was no chance of getting their message across. Now that the world is dynamic, attention-seeking media is filtered out because nobody wants it. Instead, contextual media is the preferred result consumers seek.

In the limited media era, marketers produced messages. However, the messages marketers want to push out are not the ones consumers find contextual, so they are filtered out. People want experiences, not messages. In a world where everything is dynamic, people can bypass marketer’s messages and find whatever experience they want instantly.

Matthew Sweezey of, predicts that we are in the next great Golden Era of Marketing and suggests there are five mega-trends marketers need to be aware of in  2018.

1. Context replaces advertising as a growth lever

Tesla sold three times as many cars as its closest competition, but spent just 1/190th of the advertising budget. Airbnb used native conversations within Craigslist to create its user base and expand its services.

Advertising is a one-way communication, and consumers don’t like it. In fact, the world’s largest boycott is currently in effect, with over 600 million consumers using ad-blocking technology.

The future of marketing is about context. Advertising is designed to distract people away from the task at hand, while context matches it. Advertising simply can’t stand up to consumer demands, and some of the fastest-growing brands have proven context to be the solution.

Airbnb messages were sent to users on Craigslist who were looking to rent or lease a room. Airbnb leveraged Craigslist’s own messaging capability to solve the consumer’s individual problem the moment it arose, in the way the consumer was asking for it to be solved. It was native, personal, authentic, and purposeful.

Airbnb does rely on some advertising, yet it still obtains drastically different results based on its context-based approach. Airbnb is on target to book over 100 million stays in 2017 while spending only $23.5 million on advertising, while Hilton Hotels is on target to book more than 140 million stays on an advertising spend of $188 million.

2.  Purpose becomes the heart of marketing

79% of consumers prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose. The role of purpose also goes far beyond just consumer preferences. Also, 83% of junior staff would prefer to work for a company that operates with a social purpose (data to be published by The Economist Group Insights Team in early 2018).

“Business profit” should be expanded to include the interests of stakeholders such as employees and communities. That change would help brands to relate to their audiences in new and powerful ways, allowing them to break through where other methods can’t.

3.  Public relations gets participatory

Traditional propaganda and PR work when publishers control the narratives. Now people—not the publishers—have greater control. And, in the future of marketing, the key to setting the narrative is participation, not publication.

Following the 2016 US presidential election, a fake news site held the top search result for “Election Results,” and the article stated (falsely) that Donald Trump had won the popular vote. That article had over 325 backlinks, hundreds of comments, and over 450,000 shares on Facebook; the CNN “Election Results” page, on the other hand, had only 300 backlinks, no comments, and 1/10th of the shares on Facebook. Proving that participation is more powerful than publication.

PR is about controlling the narrative, and collective engagement has proven to be a more powerful at narrative-setting than placement or coverage.

 4.  Automation 2.0 will be on the rise

We are now in the era of Automation 2.0, where the marketing automation platform is just a node in a connected network of automations—not the only place automations happen.

Experiences, not messages, are the future of marketing, and growth hacking is the discipline of using data and testing to create optimal experiences. Because of the variances in tools, data structure, and workflows, only an Automation 2.0 framework of a web of data and tools can support this future.

5. Chatbots take over

A 2017 study by Myclever, over 70% of consumers would prefer to engage via chat rather than use an app. 2018 is the year marketers catch up, because the same study showed consumers consider chatbots as the fastest way to access content, get help, and receive answers to their questions.

Chatbots are also benefiting from the Automation 2.0 framework and can combine data from lots of different sources to figure out when to engage and how to personalize the engagement when it happens, thus allowing for the experience to be native, personal, authentic, and purposeful—and highly contextual.

Modern marketing execution will require a network of tools, creating contextual experiences across many different mediums. Brands that can create native, personal, authentic, and purposeful experiences will become the bastions of success.

Here are the top disruptive marketing trends for 2018 according to Billie Howard, Founder & Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie

1. Move from cause to brand purpose and place it at the heart of business strategy

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and cause marketing drove marketers of the past to think about corporate responsibility and giving back as key marketing activities and acts of corporate citizenship. Today these two ideas have migrated to the notion of brand purpose. This is where an organization identifies an aspirational mission, tied to its day to day offerings. This unifying theme serves to strategic blend business and brand in ways that create experiences centered around, in some way, making tomorrow better than today.

Successful marketers in 2018 will place brand purpose at the core of business and brand strategy and use it as a lever of growth with internal and external audiences.

Also check out my blog on branding activism.

2. Drive toward engagement of the heart

Emotional engagement is the sister to rational engagement. Rational engagement is based on the stimulation of the mind, whereas emotional engagement is based on the stimulation of the heart. In today’s age of brand experience, it seems that emotional engagement is proving to be more and more critical to achieving winning results and effective storytelling and digital marketing are at the heart of this movement.

Today marketers are being tasked with crafting interactions with customers instead of mere transactions. To do this, they must not lead the customer journey with the “sale” but rather the carrot that will drive to it. That carrot must be translated into the ability to transform storytelling into a vital business competency that takes the why and who of the brand and translates them into experiences that create lasting emotional connections. This type of thinking will without question help define distinction and competitive advantage in 2018.

3. Customers today don’t buy into things, they buy into stories brought to life through a strategic mix of creativity + technology

Stories have become one of the greatest currencies of business. This is because goods and services have become largely commodified by price point and customers are looking for brands they can believe in, be a part of, and make statements through, that echo their personal ethos.

In the year ahead, smart marketers will use a strategic mix of creativity and technology to generate and deliver stories that create lasting connections with customers. This will involve leveraging data-driven insights on both the science AND art side of the marketing function. Using the power of cognitive tech to unearth story-lines that convey authentic voice and emotionally engage, as well as personalize and best time interactions, will empower organizations to emerge as much as best-in-class content brands, as leaders of their given industries.

Deep Patel from forecasts 18 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media. In addition, new content formats like augmented reality and in-car ads will probably go mainstream.

As 2018 approaches, there are a number of new marketing trends poised to make a significant impact. Here according to Patel are 18 of the most important trends to look for in the coming year.

1. AI (Artificial Intelligence) takes over website messaging

Thanks to tools like Intercom and Drift, marketers can already use artificial-intelligence-powered live-chat tools to communicate with customers. As this technology gets ironed out, it is likely that more brands will embrace AI live chat to better service website visitors.

2. Personalization goes to the next level.

A key tenet of account-based marketing (ABM) is providing content tailored to specific accounts or account types. As ABM principles go mainstream, look for content personalization to proliferate. Platforms provided by Adobe and Optimizely make it possible for marketers to recommend specific pieces of content similar to the way Netflix suggests shows.

3. Quant marketing goes mainstream

The rise of quantitative-based marketing is upon us. Organizations like Unilever and Kraft, which previously relied on marketing “soft skills,” are now taking a playbook out of the tech world by building data-science teams to work hand-in-hand with marketers. Next year, quantitative-based marketing will continue to surge as organizations that focus on the data find it easier to grow.

4. Marketers begin developing augmented-reality content

With the release of the iPhone eight and iPhone X, Apple has made it clear that they are betting on augmented reality (AR). As these new devices go mainstream, brands will begin experimenting with AR-sponsored and -branded content.

5. In-car ads become a new marketing channel for some

Self-driving cars are on the horizon. The Waymo fleet of self-driving cars has driven three million autonomous miles and simulated over one billion miles. Uber recently ordered 24,000 Volvo SUVs to be outfitted with the latest self-driving tech. The Tesla Models S, X and 3, the Audi A8 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are all self-driving to some degree.

What will happen when drivers no longer need to pay attention to the road? They’ll consume content, of course, and with that content will come in-car ads. Watch for some brands to begin experimenting with this new marketing channel in the coming year.

6. Brands start to develop voice-optimized content

Last year 20 percent of online searches were conducted through voice search. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 50 percent. Just as marketers have optimized content for web 2.0 and mobile, they will start optimizing content for voice search as well. For example, because voice search is easier than typing, searches tend to surface more long-tail content. By comparison, text search tends to surface sorter phrases.

7. Privacy protection becomes a major selling point.

There have been a number of high-profile data breaches in 2017. From the DNC email hack to the Equifax breach, cyber security has had a considerable impact on many aspects of our world. Moving forward, consumers will begin to favour products that protect their privacy.

If consumers don’t prioritize privacy, some government associations will, and many are already doing so. For example, a new law passed by the European Union called GDPR will have a major impact on what businesses must do to protect user data. Because of a confluence of factors, marketers will begin using privacy protection and data security as a value proposition across industries.

8. Instagram becomes a more valuable channel than Facebook

Instagram is growing at an incredible clip. In 2017, Instagram announced that approximately 800 million people use the platform each month. Their latest tool, Instagram Stories, became more popular than Snapchat just one year after going live.
Since brands tend to see better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform, and because of great advertising controls, Instagram is poised to become the go-to channel for brands interested in social media marketing.

9. Leading brands invest in live events.

Approximately two-thirds of marketers say that they will increase the number of live events they host in 2018. This is because marketers recognize that live events are one of the most effective marketing channels.

There is a reason that some of the world’s most successful organizations, including Salesforce, Airbnb and Google, host an annual event designed to bring existing customers, prospective customers and the press together under one roof.

10. B2B marketers create multi-channel cold-outreach campaigns

The average cold email response rate is low, and it will continue to decline as email clients get better at filtering out junk mail. The best marketers develop integrated marketing campaigns that use a combination of email, digital ads and other channels to engage prospects in new and exciting ways.

For example, by using Twilio marketers can send text messages in addition to email. They can then re-target highly qualified prospects with custom audience ads offered by platforms like Facebook and Google AdWords.

11. Twitter dies a quiet death

Twitter has been unable to grow users in 2017. The platform has focused on user acquisition rather than on making improvements to their ad platform. As a result, marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects. This trend will continue in 2018 as Twitter continues to struggle.

12. LinkedIn sees new life among B2B marketers

While Twitter struggles, LinkedIn has made a number of great improvements to their platform. A site-wide revamp refreshed the LinkedIn user interface in 2017. The platform also saw good improvements to the LinkedIn ad platform. Thanks to these and other changes, B2B marketers will utilize LinkedIn more in the coming year.

13. Machine learning changes how marketers manage ads

Why pay digital marketing agency thousands to manage ads when a machine-learning platform can do it better? New platforms like Acquisio and Trapica promise to optimize ad spend through advanced machine-learning algorithms. Marketers simply need to set basic campaign parameters, and the platforms then do the work of identifying ideal audiences and effective creatives.

14. Predictive lead scoring makes marketers rethink lead routing

Using predictive lead scoring, marketers can identify the prospects that are most likely to convert to customers. All that’s needed is an email address, and tools like Infer crawl the web looking for buying signals. Leads are then scored and sorted, so that only the most qualified people are passed to sales.

15. Virtual reality is called into question

A few years ago, virtual reality was predicted to be the next big thing in content. While VR is popular in the video-game community, it has not gone mainstream. This is probably for the best, as it can be difficult for brands to produce content with a controlled point of view. Instead of virtual reality, augmented reality is slated to make waves next year. Look no further than Apple’s rumored AR glasses.

16. Consumers expect more from brands

Thanks to a confluence of services, consumers will have increased expectations from brands of all kinds. Voice assistants, same-day delivery and on-demand content will mean that both B2C and B2B marketers must find innovative new ways to delight prospects and customers with nearly instant service.

17. Influencer marketing remains a useful strategy

Nearly 95 percent of marketers who use an influencer marketing strategy believe it is effective. Brands interested in connecting with prospects via social media will continue to turn to influencer marketing. Influencers create compelling content that appears to be organic in many cases.

Consumers, especially younger ones, prefer content that feels less “staged” and more natural. The world of advertising is changing. It is moving toward subtle sponsored content promoted by influencers or micro-influencers.

18. Gated content falls out of vogue

In the B2B world, gated content is how many marketers generate leads. But, some of the best brands, including Hubspot and Zendesk, are un-gating content in order to develop a stronger organic search presence in an increasingly crowded content landscape.


Unknown marketing surprises await in 2018, and some of these predictions will probably fail to come to fruition as technology and the expectations of consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.

Your Shopping cart