It’s the start of a brand new year and is the perfect time to indulge in some crystal ball gazing! And while it may be impossible to accurately predict what’s in store for us in 2018, it is possible to identify some key trends that are likely to feature in the world of marketing. So, let’s have a look at some of the issues that are on the horizon for marketing.

AI live chat comes into its own.

In 2018 marketers will increasingly use artificial intelligence or AI to provide a better service to website visitors. Many companies are already using AI-powered live chat tools to communicate directly with customers and as the technology continues to improve, it’s likely that we’ll see more of this in 2018.

Account-based marketing goes mainstream.

Account-based marketing with its emphasis on personalised content is another key trend on the horizon for 2018. It’s likely that we’ll see companies recommending specific customised pieces of content for particular individuals in much the same way as Amazon and Netflix do every time we log on.

Voice-optimised content will become commonplace.

In 2017 about 20 percent of online searches were conducted through voice search via platforms such as Siri and Alexa. It’s anticipated that by 2020 that number will have increased to 50 percent. And so just as marketers previously made great efforts to ensure that content was optimised for mobile platforms, in 2018 they will start to optimise content for voice search as well.

Instagram will become the go-to social media platform.

In 2018 it’s likely that Instagram will eclipse Facebook as being the most effective social media marketing channel. Instagram has been growing at an incredible rate so that by the end of 2017 up to 800 million people were using it on a monthly basis. The fact is that brands tend to see better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform and this factor combined with the popularity of live streaming and Instagram’s stories feature will make it the most powerful social media platform going forward.

Customers’ service expectations are set to increase.

The mainstream introduction of voice assistants, same-day delivery and on-demand content has resulted in a significant increase in consumers’ customer service expectations. In 2018 marketers will need to find new and innovative ways to engage customers and provide a near-instant service.

Influencer marketing continues to be a useful tool.

In today’s digital, social media-dominated marketplace, influencer marketing will continue to be an important weapon in the marketer’s arsenal.  Younger consumers, in particular, prefer content marketing that feels more natural or real rather than staged. In 2018 we’re likely to see more subtly sponsored marketing being promoted by influencers and micro influencers on social media than traditional forms of advertising.

While it’s true that predicting the future is a notoriously difficult thing to do, one thing is certain: the world of marketing is likely to become more focused on digital platforms through live streaming, voice search and an increasing use of social media. There are certainly exciting times ahead for marketers and so watch this space!