2018 was a revolutionary year for technology. Marketing, in particular, saw great advances in processes and results. Now, nearly a month into 2019, we’re looking back on the top trends of last year and the benefits each one provided to the marketing industry.
The demand for a rapid response from businesses reached an all-time high in 2018. With the easy accessibility of technology, consumers expect brands to meet their needs on a 24/7 basis. Chatbots were deployed to meet those demands, using their artificial intelligence to interface with customers on their own time and terms.
These bots provide efficient, simple solutions to customer service issues at any time and with a 1:1 service experience. By servicing hundreds of consumers at a time, offering recommendations, resolving problems or simply engaging site visitors, chatbots provide individuals the attention they desire while relieving human service representatives of heavy workloads. Moving forward, automated tools like chatbots will account for around 85 percent of companies’ customer interactions, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd.
Studies show 47 percent of shoppers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, and 70 percent of people would rather learn about new products through content marketing than through traditional advertising. For businesses, this is an undeniable signal to invest in more content marketing resources. In 2018 we saw a major jump in the number of brand blogs for businesses of all industries as well as increased use of video content. Effectively utilizing content marketing requires paying close attention to your the preferences of your target market and the type of content to which they’re most responsive.
Though not new to 2018, video marketing grew in effectiveness and popularity this past year. In fact, 81 percent of businesses used video as a marketing tool in 2018, up from 63 percent in 2017. As more social media platforms allow for low cost and easy-to-use video posting, sites like YouTube have become instrumental to brand marketing. Consumers constantly use social networks and prefer to learn about new products or services through video, making YouTube the second most popular social media platform behind Facebook. Fortunately for businesses with smaller budgets, meeting those demands no longer requires a production team but rather a simple smartphone.
Social media marketing
As important as social media is to the public, it’s doubly so to business marketing strategies. Social platforms enable brands to engage with audiences on their preferred channels through a more fun and authentic approach. In 2018, we saw brands take to social media in a variety of formats to best display their personality and successfully reach their targets.
Instagram took the lead as the most effective platform for social media marketing through the use of influencers. Influencers, who typically come with a large and loyal following, are primarily utilized by fashion, food and lifestyle brands to promote products and services on their personal profiles. This form of marketing has taken off and is likely to continue its upward trajectory as consumers view advertisements to be more credible coming from a relatable, real person as opposed to a marketing agency. Based on the fact that people are most likely to trust recommendations from their friends and family, social media users are more likely to trust recommendations from influencers who feel like friends.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
2018 may as well be called the year of AI. As Factual CEO Gil Elbaz said early on in the year, nearly every industry and aspect of the business will benefit from AI processes. True to his statement, we saw the impact AI can have on improving and streamlining processes across multiple industries, including marketing. AI enables marketers to expand their reach with more effective, personalized campaigns. Thanks to its ability to efficiently analyze enormous amounts of data, marketers can easily personalize messages based on individual behaviors, preferences, and locations to create the most relevant content for every shopper.
Virtual reality (VR) & augmented reality (AR)
VR and AR are expanding beyond the gaming world to create new experiences in marketing. This is still very much a work in progress, but 2018 saw some exciting new applications of technology as supplements to consumer events and online platforms. Providing consumers with lifelike simulations of products and services prior to purchasing, AR and VR technology are sure to grow in popularity among commerce brands.
2018 was a monumental year for technology, and it provided us with tools for more simplified and effective marketing. With the success of the aforementioned developments, we can only expect 2019 to be even greater!