2018 will focus on the evolution of marketing, where new developments will slow down print advertising and more companies will realise the benefit of online campaigns through social media, Adwords and email marketing.

Digital marketing should be tailored to consumer behaviour, not what a company thinks will work best for them. A strategy that worked flawlessly for your business 3 years ago, may not work today.

When a user wants to compare products, let’s say several hotel rooms in the vicinity of where they are looking to stay, they will want to rely on other customer’s reviews and social media influencers. Typing in the hotel hashtag in Instagram or reading reviews on booking.com will show them authenticity in its truest form.

Many brands, restaurant food chains and hotels have caught on with this trend and are now hiring social media influencers to promote and market their products through Instagram. What better incentive than a free nights stay at a hotel? Social media influencers don't just post on Instagram either, they post to their blog regularly, reviewing products they have been paid to advertise. Vlogging using the hashtag #vlog, is the new way to blog via videos. It is, without doubt, the most realistic form of marketing or user-generated content from the end user’s perspective.

Virtual Reality

Facebook Spaces has taken a leading role in being the first social media platform to offer users a full-on, immersive way to enter a new virtual reality world. VR still has immense potential to grow and has not even made it halfway to its initial peak.

In a world of fashion, food and travel, we’re all still waiting to enter a holographic world where we can experience virtual reality from our own homes. Imagine entering a digital world. Well, this is a new marketing avenue that many companies and brands are also hoping to tap into, to sell their products to customers.

In the way YouTube owns video content and Instagram, images; we await to see which Silicon Valley platform will own this technology.

Private Network Marketing Via Chatbots

There are some apps that contain content which is not openly available to all of your social media friends. Apps which allow you to be more selective in who you let in, namely WhatsApp, SnapChat and Facebook Messenger.

For companies to tap into private networks, it needs to be clever and fun, without being annoying and pushy. Chatbots have great potential to enter into private network marketing. Unless a user wants to subscribe to a company’s chatbot, it would be considered spam instead. Businesses that have a high call volume, such as airlines, hotels and consumers ‘favourite’ brands could become more personal through conversation marketing, if they talk to customers via Whatsapp making the experience of buying even more intimate. Receiving that one-to-one attention on whether an item is in stock, saves us having to chat online at the website.

Personalised Marketing

Apart from the ‘free Subway cookie email’ on your birthday, email marketing is always mass marketed and directed to everyone that has subscribed to the brand’s newsletter. The future dictates that newsletters will become more personalised towards the consumer. Companies will understand each individual customer’s needs more and tailor the content of the email specifically to what they're interested in.

Wouldn't you be far more interested in what your favourite brand wants to say to you or show you, than the same generic email they send to everyone. Of course you would! It’s just a question of how the brand would manage to make it a success in tailoring over a million emails to each customer! Segmenting the customer population into groups based on similar interests and purchases, you can begin to start personalisation in a way that is more manageable and scalable.

Having personalisation built into your company’s CMS or analytics will enable you to understand your users’ journeys and respond through personalised marketing to enhance the customers experience even further.

Google Optimize did an excellent job at offering this experimentive, testing tool to allow companies to trial variations of their website to be optimised for different customers. The whole approach is based on how you configure your Google Analytics. Better optimisation can result in more conversions. It’s no benefit to leave it to chance and not employ any marketing strategy. The more you optimise and personalise, the great the chances of increasing your sales. Simple.