Marketing Trends to Follow: Chatbots Integrating with Consumer-Brand Experiences.
With a new year comes a new wave of marketing trends ready to sweep through the industry and impact both brands and customers alike. Some you’ve likely seen coming—artificial intelligence is likely to be a hot topic of conversation for years to come—and others you may not have considered yet.
From the emergence of overarching technology trends like AI and chatbots to channel-specific best practices, our subject-matter experts discuss the trends that they expect to dominate in 2018.
The Brand-Customer Relationship
Building off of the idea that customers want to be treated like a person, not just an email address or ID number, consumers will start to expect the brands they interact with to develop unique personalities rather than just spitting coupons and offers at them. Having a strong brand voice and presence will help companies separate themselves from the big players like Amazon and Walmart.
But aside from having a strong brand voice, how can brands accomplish this?
Including “real” items like user-generated ratings and reviews in all marketing efforts can help customers connect with brands by better understanding how other customers interact with them. Additionally, smaller brands can use their ability to provide personalized service and other non-scalable “perks” as a positive differentiator from retail giants. —Laura Madden, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist
Including UGC in all marketing efforts can help customers connect with brands by better understanding how other customers interact with them. #2018Trends
There will be a greater focus on creating and delivering messages that are relevant to the customer based on the changing context of the situation and state the customer is in. This means marketers will need to invest time to identify what the key moments for their customers are, invest in the technology to be able to identify and message customers in those moments and develop content to effectively impact those moments.
While marketing to customers at the right time has long been a goal of marketers, we’re finally at a point to have data and technology to start really bringing this concept to life in meaningful ways. —Lisa Graves, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist
Chatbots and Social Integrations
2018 is going to be the year for technology and integrations in social media. We’ve seen this trend gaining traction since late 2016 with chatbots and social customer care, and it will be even more prevalent this year.
AI will continue to pierce the veil in how we market to consumers, and social will have an important role to play. Marketers will need to put multi-touch attribution models in place to track the actions and behaviors of customers from top to bottom of the funnel, and continue to nurture customers into brand advocates.
We’ll also see how smart gadgets and home devices integrate with IoT to take customers’ social actions, preferences, and behaviors as data to better market to them in other channels. Although some of this technology and targeting is available now, it still has a way to go from a cohesive integration standpoint to give marketers a 360-view of the customer.
As more attribution and integration are put into place, social media will begin to better prove out ROI, which will allow marketers to make more informed, data-driven decisions that represent the entire picture rather than last-touch. —Chelsea McDonald, Senior Social Media Strategist
Emails will have multiple versions of the creative, offers, layout, and cadence that varies depending on the explicit and implicit preferences provided to us by our customers. #2018Trends
The Email Subscriber Experience
2018 is primed for widespread adoption of real email journeys. For many brands, the concept of ‘journeys’ has been more theory than practice. True conditional, multi-touch, non-linear campaigns are often only touted by marquee brands, but we’re seeing significant adoption as the tools and practice become more accessible.
Furthermore, marketers are seeing the benefit. They understand that behaviorally driven campaigns are far more effective than the typical batch-and-blast approach. For that reason, I believe we’ll begin to see brands offset their shotgun blast approach and instead supplement with journeys—i.e. add one journey, remove one batch-and-blast send per week. —Tony Toubia, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist
Segmentation and Dynamic Content
I think we’re going to see a larger emphasis on the power of segmentation. Nearly all of the clients I’m working with are interested in or are developing advanced segmentation capabilities to their email programs. I think we’ll find that all emails have multiple versions of the creative, offers, layout, and cadence that varies depending on the explicit and implicit preferences provided to us by our customers. With the rise of AI, we’ll be able to better pull these data elements into our email databases to make smarter decisions around segmentation and targeting. —Jenn Horner, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist
The Subscriber Experience
I think going into 2018 we’re going to start seeing an emphasis on the subscriber experience after they click through their email. In addition to targeting the customer with the right message at the right time, marketers will start getting smarter about where they drive traffic. This might come to life in different links for subscribers who are at different points in a purchase funnel, based on location, or even based on the device they’re using to interact with a campaign. —Lisa Graves, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist
In 2018, more brands will start to find solid use-cases that provide value to customers by allowing more interaction to take place in the inbox. #2018Trends
There has been some initial trial of adding in-email interaction to messages in the past year with features like add-to-cart buttons and in-email reviews. In 2018, more brands will start to find solid use-cases that provide value to customers by allowing more interaction to take place in the inbox. —Lisa Graves, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist
I think mobile will continue to dominate our conversations around ecommerce in 2018. Traffic to sites from mobile devices continues to grow, but conversions on mobile still lag. How do we continue to reduce friction for users on mobile devices, and how do we increase the conversion rates for those mobile users? The use of Apple Pay and Android Pay will continue to grow and merchants will need to start accepting these alternative payment methods. —Jeanette Thomas, Senior Team Lead for Salesforce Commerce Cloud Implementation
While we’re certain that 2018 will bring a number of other interesting trends, our experts believe these are the ones that will be the most impactful. Implementing even just one of the strategies listed above can make a huge difference in the success of your marketing efforts this year and in the years to come.
Are there any marketing trends you have your eye on? Let us know in the comment section below.