97% of business leaders see 2018 as the year of intricate human-A.I. collaborations.

Will other marketing trends be the driving force in 2018? Which trends will fill our feeds? Which ones will dominate our conversations with business leaders and marketing associates?

While content and customer experience rules the day, it’s the technologies behind them that make them more relevant, timely, actionable and targeted.

These technologies push businesses small and large to improve their game and compete.

Let’s explore these 12 marketing trends that you need to know for 2018.

1) Machine Learning Will Get Even Bigger

It seems like it’s all we’ve been able to talk about for the past year. But machine learning isn’t done. It’s leading the marketing trends of 2018.

People are finding new ways to utilize it to target, engage, and delight their customers.

Meeting Customer Needs Immediately

Businesses will be looking for new ways to anticipate and immediately respond to customer needs. Machine learning will become the tool with which we guide customers through the buyer’s journey.

Humans will complement machine learning technology with their:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Critical thinking
  • Ability to innovate.

Machine learning will take over repetitive tasks, automating everything and getting better at it as it goes.

Everything from healthcare, to fraud alerts to travel to 3rd party payment systems will be strongly impacted by machine learning marketing trends.

2) Dark Social Gets Darker

With increased integrative capabilities, social has taken on a whole new face. In 2018, it will look very different from what we’re accustomed to with social feeds and likes.

The years of over-sharing and complete transparency about everything may have worn out their welcome as Gen Z and much of Gen Y / Millennials look for more discreet and personable ways to be social online.

WhatsApp, WeChat, FacebookMessenger will lead the way, offering a more intimate approach to sharing.

Emails will resurge as a way to share more privately.

We’ll see more sharing through native mobile apps like the latest from Instagram.

We’ll also see increased privacy when browsing as people leaving secure sites to enter other sites will find their referral information kept private.

New Challenges for Data-Driven Businesses

Largely driven by the mobile revolution, in 2018, businesses may suddenly find their analytics programs dramatically under-reporting volume and behavior.

Hootesuite predicts that dark social may become responsible for as much as 84% of sharing, leaving some marketers in the dark.

Dark social will pose new challenges to marketers but also great opportunities to stand out and show that we embrace new technologies. Optimizing social media marketing will become more important than ever before.

This will allow dark social savvy marketers to differentiate brands. They’ll leave the competition still trying to squeeze leads out of traditional sharing methods.

Isn’t that what marketing trends are all about?

3) Better Mapping & Integrating Into the Buyer’s Journey

Anyone who keeps up with marketing trends knows that marketing has become increasingly complex. Without the tools and technology, it’s nearly impossible for businesses to compete.

Improved predictive analytics and mapping tools will give us better insight into how people interact with our brands.

One of the top marketing trends in 2018 will be in using this data to provide more relevant content to further their journey with a certain brand.

It will be all about sending the right message at the right time through the right channel. And there will be little to no guesswork involved, allowing us to improve our digital marketing ROI.

Finally Putting All That Data to Work

We’ve been collecting tons of data for years now. But we haven’t had the tools to make proper use of that data. That’s changing in 2018.

The technology is catching up.

You’ll have so much historical data, aggregated and analyzed, that you’ll know the customer’s next action before they do.

This will further optimize your marketing efforts. Today a lot of businesses are wasting a lot of time on content that’s not focused and purpose-driven. They’re guessing and then seeing how it worked out for them.

They have to do a lot of optimization on the backend. That’s not optimization of anything.

4) Real Personalization

The days of adding someone’s name to an email and calling it personalized are over. Marketing trends are catching up with what customers actually want.

They’re not a demographic. They’re unique individuals.

Software as a service (SaaS) option is getting more affordable for the average business.

They’re able to do this in 3 primary ways.

Streamlined AB Testing

First, they’re streamlining AB testing to get nearly instant feedback regarding:

  • What works and what doesn’t
  • Who it works for (and doesn’t)
  • When, where, and how that allows for full optimization

Google, who’s long been a proponent of the customer experience just released a free optimization tool that does this.

Better Segmentation

Through these services, businesses can automatically segment visitors based upon buyer behavior — not just age and gender. They can increase relevance and conversion rates.

Creating the relevant content for each segment continues to be the top challenge for businesses. This means creating more content, but better content.

Among marketing trends, we can expect to see an increased push for technologies that streamline the content creation process.

Personalization on a 1:1 Level

Utilizing A.I. technologies, we’ll be able to completely individualize and customize the customer experience with our brand.

Through automation, we’ll be able to collect, aggregate, and analyze in real time. We’ll provide this kind of experience, more or less, from the time the customer enters the site.

5) More Automation Means Better Results with Less Effort

Speaking of automation, that’s another of our big 2018 marketing trends. A lot of businesses know what they need to do. But they just can’t find the time or human resources to get it all done.

Marketers know about segmentation and personalization. They aspire to do it better. But it’s not humanly possible.

New automation tools in the realm of email marketing and other channels will make it easier for businesses to do what they need to do and get it all done.

The result? ROI’s that are unheard of today.

6) More Integrated Videos

Videos will become over 80% of all Internet traffic within 4 years. 10 billion videos get watched on SnapChat every single day. 73% of marketers plan to up their video production game.

Customers watch branded content if you create content that adds value to their lives. Businesses are looking for cost-effective ways to deliver more video content.

This will mean finding clever ways to create video out of everything:

  • Blogs
  • Employee Interactions
  • Manufacturing
  • Events
  • Distribution

And we know that much of it will be live video.

7) Exploding Smartphones

No, we’re not talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. We’re talking about exploding usage.

Some marketing trends like this one will come as no surprise if you’re paying attention. But it’s important to note that the skyrocketing usage is showing no signs of stopping and will continue into 2018.

With the expansion of free wifi, auto-based wifi, more limitless plans and greater access in rural areas, more people than ever before are connected and doing every day things on mobile.

Today over half of your traffic likely comes in through mobile devices.

In 2018, you can take this to nearly 100%. User experience advocates and Google alike have been saying it for the past several years. And we’ll repeat it — in so many words.

If you’re not focusing on creating a stellar mobile-experience through your site, apps, and everywhere in between, you’ll be seriously losing any bit of market share you may still hold.

SEO, which is largely dedicated to optimizing mobile experience, will become more important than ever before.

Go big with a seamless mobile experience or go home in 2018. These marketing trends you can take to the bank.

8) Chatbots Go Natural

Bot engines continue to develop as businesses invest in chatbot technology as part of the overall A.I. trend. Many of these run on proprietary platforms, and they learn on the job.

Through this on the job training, they’re learning how to more naturally interact with people. At some point soon, we’ll not be able to distinguish between them and a human chatting.

During this time of marketing trends like this innovation, it will be important that we not lose sight of the customer.

67% of customers admit that poor service has led to churn. And services like this will be a large part of that experience.

When used correctly, chatbots can improve the experience. But they can also be overused and misused. This creates the business equivalent of a “bureaucratic nightmare”.

On a more positive note, they could solve the frustration of 84% of consumers. That is the frustration encountered when an agent doesn’t know the answer.

Fully integrated chatbots should always know the answer.

9) Voice Controlled Search Assistant Go Mainstream

SEO, get ready for another big shakeup. We’ve seen this one coming for some time. More people are using voice assistants.

This will drastically change how people “choose” the best sources to meet their needs.

Currently, you could think of Google as the one choosing which site a person clicks. Their algorithm determines perceived authority and ranking.

It makes at least 90% of the decision for searchers.

Voice assistants simply add a “new” level to machine-assisted searches. Savvy marketers will continue to adapt and stay ahead of the technology.

10) IoT Everything

Just 5-10 years ago, it seemed the distant future. But today Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly taking over. More and more items are connected and interconnected.

This provides new challenges for security experts and new opportunities for influencing the buyer’s decisions.

If your refrigerator tells you when you’re low on milk, you’ll buy more milk, right?

We’ll find new and interesting ways to harness this power to both influence and delight customers.

11) Marketing Clouds Signal Clearer Skies for CRM

Marketing trends don’t get much hotter than this.

Marketing clouds provide new ways to manage the customer relationship through customer relationship management software (CRM).

Historically, customer data has been largely siloed in departments, leading to inconsistencies, miscommunication and bewildered customers.

But modern marketing cloud-based CRM systems give a full 360 view of the customer’s interactions with the company. Those interacting with the customer or segment can quickly access for decision-making and initiatives.

This includes access to A.I. technologies like Chatbots.

12) Cross-Device Optimization

Despite the amazing power of analytics, we’ve historically had a huge blind spot. One of the top marketing trends in 2018 will be correcting it.

A customer hops on your site on their phone. You see referring data, time on the site, path through your site, etc. They even watch a couple videos and put an item in a cart.

And then the trail goes cold as they leave the site. The visitor never signed up or bought anything.

A few days later, you make one of many sales from customers on desktops, according to your analytics program,

One of these was a direct search who has no history on the website.

Up to this point, it has been difficult to clearly see that these two interactions were, in fact, the same person who started on one device and finished on another.

In 2018, we’ll continue to develop technologies that allow us to track behavior across devices. Through it, we can better able to optimize and personalize the customer experience regardless of what device they’re on.

Marketing Trends for 2018

Marketing is ever-evolving. With this 2018 marketing trends forecast, you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead. You’ll be ready to learn more and adapt to meet company goals.

We’ll help you stay current with the most relevant and actionable information. With it, you can continue to adapt your strategies to more effectively connect with customers.

If you’re ready to get more out of your SEO budget by working with a company that stays on the cutting edge of marketing trends, start with our free website audit tool.