Some people send Christmas cards over the festive season, but we are a marketing agency so we find making blog posts  much more fun and hopefully more interesting for you too. This year is no exception, so welcome to our 2017 year-end blog post and our marketing trends and forecasts for 2018.

If you have already read our Digital Marketing Predictions for 2017 you will have realised that a lot of what we addressed  did actually come true this year:

  • Mobile First is now key, and Google is now de-ranking sites with bad mobile experiences.
  • Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others are now all into the Live Streaming game. In fact, the latest predications are that the live streaming industry could be worth as much as $70.05 billion by 2021.
  • Augmented Reality finally hit the main stream. With the launch of iOS 11, in one step Apple pushed its new ARKit AR  platform into the hands of over 1 billion iPhone and iPad users worldwide.

Yes, we shocked ourselves with our accuracy. So let's glance in our special marketing crystal ball (aka cold, hard, raw statistics) and make our predictions for 2018. Here goes...

Purchased email lists will finally wither and die

In 2018 the biggest challenge that companies worldwide will face with marketing will be GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation. This comes into effect on the 25th May, 2018 and will be the biggest shake up in the marketing world since the digital revolution itself!.

So, what is so special about this that it deserves a spot on our 2018 predictions blog post? Well - EVERYBODY who handles personal data relating to people located within the EU will need to comply with this law. If not, there are fines of up to €20m or 4% of annual turnover sitting waiting. That means ALL of us - yes, even those of us in Switzerland, the US, Australia - everywhere - need to adjust our marketing practices, look at prospect engagement, and manage our contact opt-in processes. No more purchasing email addresses without big risks.

Artificial intelligence will drive our marketing efforts

Last year we talked about the way Big Data will influence marketing, but without clever ways to delve into it and interpret findings, that data is useless. Step in AI. Any part of the marketing world where a marketer has to read data and make decisions based on that data will be affected by AI in one way or another. 2018 will be the year in which we start to see those technologies reaching the masses. AI will help to optimise customer experiences, build personalised buyer journeys on-the-fly, and revolutionise our marketing expenditure by finally removing the subjective nature around the question of what worked and what didn't.

ChatBots to guide every step of our journey

ChatBots are becoming well established in many parts of our daily life. Over recent years more and more simple transactions have been managed through bots programed with simple sets of rules. However, in 2018 we will see ChatBots move into more complex conversations and a broader set of industries. With the recent acquisition of Motion AI by Hubspot, the game is on and other marketing automation vendors will need to step-up and follow-suit.

Search goes conversational

The last few years have seen Google and other search engines move away from keyword based searches and into more natural language queries. In 2018 will see this trend reach is ultimate goal - true conversational search. The rise of voice driven search within personal assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple's forthcoming HomePod will finally see spoken search-terms becoming the norm.

The challenge will be partly on the big search vendors, but as marketers we will need to look at our SEO with a completely different set of eyes. Keywords will still have value, but in 2018 long-tail terms including conversation elements will be the place that successful websites will be made or broken.

Marketing automation becomes mainstream in SMBs

There is a stigma about Marketing Automation only being a viable solution for Enterprise companies. We're not sure how this information came about, but as we head into 2018 we see a future where there is a marketing automation platform for everyone. 

Marketers will evolve

In the past, marketers were able to get-by just knowing how to write or publish simple content into a WordPress website. However, with the revolution in digital marketing processes and technologies over recent years, marketers themselves must  evolve. 

Marketers in 2018 will need to be a master of many diverse skills. A mix of skills such as HTML, journey planning, social media, SEO and programmatic marketing use of automation platforms will be essential for every marketer. Like the great Darwin suggested, species need to adapt to survive and classically trained marketers are no exception. Without a rounded set of digital skills, we hope that 2018 will see these marketers becoming an endangered species.

So that's it for this year - the recipe to marketing success in 2018 is now your's. If you need help to bring these changes into your marketing mix, then reach out to us and together we will make your marketing unstoppable.

Happy New Year!

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