We’re Checking It Twice: 2018 Checklist for Marketers

In today’s modern enterprise, it’s not just the sales organization under great pressure to generate leads for the business. The marketing team is being held accountable to develop targeted programs that can be proven to have a direct line to an increase in revenue. The good news is that marketers now have a plethora of resources available to them that are effective tools for reaching their audience and increasing sales. Unfortunately, we find that most marketers don’t understand the whole toolbox available to them. They might focus on email campaigns and PPC or SEO. But combining those core components with modern, more engaging strategies is when we can tie the bow around the marketing toolbox.

In our opinion, here are some key areas we see in the top of that toolbox over the next 12 months.

Micro Content Targeting
Content marketers are really good at telling us that content will always be King. And while we agree, we are seeing a growing need to deliver content to a very specific audience, on a micro level. We no longer have the luxury of broad messages to a larger audience. People are bombarded with messages in today’s social media world. Audiences going forward will be very focused. Marketers will need to use research, data and experts in micro-subjects going forward to understand on a deeper level what appeals to the buyer and make that content provable, trustworthy and credible.

Utilizing Micro Influencers
Micro-targeted content needs micro-level influencers to spread the word. Influencer marketing, especially in the age of celebrities on social media, has been a core component of marketing campaigns for several years now and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, 48 percent of marketers decided to increase their budget for influencer marketing in 2017.1

As helpful as the Kim Kardashians of the world might be to certain brands, we’ll see so-called “micro influencers” becoming more important in 2018. Micro-influencers are digital influencers with a total audience size of between only 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Marketers can partner with these smaller-level influencers on social media to promote products with authentic, visual posts.

In fact, research shows that these micro influencers may be MORE influential to product sales than the major celebrities. These folks are four times more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers — who usually have around 10 million followers! A recent study found that likes and comments on Instagram posts actually declined as follower numbers increased.2

  • Instagram users with fewer than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time
  • Users with 1,000-10,000 followers earned likes at a 4% rate
  • Users with 10,000-100,000 followers achieved a 2.4% like rate
  • Users with 1-10 million followers earned likes only 1.7% of the time.

The takeaway: reaching more eyeballs doesn’t mean they are interested, engaged eyeballs.

And working with micro-influencers is much more affordable. As cited in a recent Forbes article, micro-influencers with 2,000 to 100,000 followers charge, on average, between $137 and $258 per Instagram post. But, by the time an influencer has more than 100,000 followers, their rates will start increasing to nearly $400 per post. Those with more than a million followers may even charge upwards of $1,400 for a single Instagram post.

Big Data Gets Demoted to Supporting Marketing Player
2017 made “big data” a household phrase. It’s the holy grail for almost all areas of the business world. “Numbers will save us!” seems to be the battle cry. And while we agree that it’s important to dive into data to find out what’s working – giving us “actionable insight” as we like to say — as marketers we need to remember we deal with people too, not just math. Whether your marketing audience target is consumer or B2B, content today is being driven by a hungry math machine. As a result, people are turning off, not reading emails, and ignoring promotions. We’ve been romanced by data and, in our opinion, it’s resulted in a bored public.

We need to recognize that in 2018, the pendulum will swing away from a total reliance on numbers and back to a world where people can interact with valuable information and ask questions. Data is a key supporting player, but not the star it has been.

Automated Marketing Mistakes Help Targeted Mobile Video Take Off
It’s predicted that in 2018 mobile video ad spending will grow 49 percent to nearly $18 billion, while fixed online video ad spending is expected to decline 1.5 percent to $15 billion.3 Video streaming was 75 percent of all Internet traffic in 2017 and there are no signs showing things will slow down. Also, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat plan to double down on live videos by improving feed quality and adding more interactive features.

Why? We believe this shift is happening at least partially because of some of the mistakes that advertisers made in 2017 with online static and fixed video ads. As example, many brands are feeling burned by misplaced automated ad placement online, next to disturbing or extremist content. Rightly so, companies feel their brand safety is under threat and they don’t feel their money is being spent in the right way.

Read our recent blog post How PR Builds Trust here

With this in mind, marketers in 2018 will create more targeted mobile videos – both “produced” and live streaming events – to reach micro audiences (these videos can pop up with geotargeted technology, too). We’ll find that the public will become more engaged in this type of advertising and the advertisers’ brand reputation will be safe, building trust instead of skepticism.

The Rise of the Machines: AI
Artificial Intelligence is expected to make a huge impact on how we market in both the B2C and B2B worlds, and 2018 will see a big leap in the integration of this technology into marketing plans. The recent Salesforce State of the Marketing Report4 states that high-performing marketing teams are more than twice as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers. Because AI technology can give the target audience highly-customized content delivery, automated based on persona and lifestyle, marketers anticipate AI use will grow by 53 percent over the next two years.5

TeleDrip is a solid example of how AI will transform targeted marketing. When a prospect fills out an online form to gather information or get customer service help, Teledrip’s software kicks that lead to an AI platform that starts interacting with the consumer immediately via text messaging. The system is smart enough on its own to carry on a conversation with the consumer to set up a call, appointment or demo. This application of AI significantly reduces costly customer service calls and helps qualify a lead before salespeople get involved.

Geotargeting and AI Puts Marketing on Steroids
We expect to see a rise in marketing spend in 2018 on the growth of geotargeted ads. As Fortune magazine noted earlier this year, “While location-based offers are nothing new, artificial intelligence and predictive analysis will take offer personalization to another level.”

Geotargeted advertisements use location data such as IP addresses, cellular data, Wi-Fi, global positioning (GPS), satellite or radio frequency identification (RFID). Once a “location boundary” is set, when a mobile device, transmitter, or RFID tag enters or leaves location parameters commonly known as a geofence, it triggers a programmed action such as push notifications, SMS message, alerts or targeted advertising. Studies show that this locally optimized approach to reaching customers provides double the click-through rate of regular mobile market advertising.6

One of our clients, Digital Element, is a pioneer of privacy-sensitive geolocation technology and services that allows brands, websites, ad platforms, and mobile networks to target advertising and online content based on location. Over and over, customers report increased engagement, mobile ad attribution, click-through rates and ROI when marketers use geolocation data to deliver targeted and personalized content.

In conclusion, ultimately there are programs that should always be in your marketing toolbox such as a strong website, SEO, solid content with a PR and social media strategy. Those are core elements that are critical components of marketing strategy now and in the future. But the best marketers always make room for more tools so they can boost what they are doing and take advantage of the newer technologies popping up. Doing so will increase a brand’s credibility, and show the value of your marketing organization when it comes to directly influencing sales.


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