By Dumisani Hlatshwayo Content marketer/blogger/avid reader. 

As 2017 is winding down to an end, it’s customary for companies to weigh up their marketing decisions. This includes asking questions like: How much are we going to allocate to budget in 2018? How can we increase our market share? Or, what type of a product should we add to our existing product line?

Inviting customers to try new products without talking their language doesn’t cut it anymore. Companies investing time and money in understanding consumer behavioural patterns stand a good chance of creating campaigns that can win customers attention.

Over the last five years we have seen a steady increase of companies promoting their brands online. In 2018 most of those companies will still allocate 25% towards online marketing. A trend echoed by the Forester Research which found out that:

The average firm is expected to allocate 30% of their marketing budget to online, this rate is expected to grow by 35% in 2019.

Search engine marketing has captured the largest share of online spend, with online display (banner ads, online video, etc.) taking the second largest share.

2018 promises that an amalgam of trends if utilised well, might increase companies’ opportunities to connect with customers online.

Let’s closely examine each trend:

Personalised Content

In 2018 personalised content will continue to play a big role of drawing potential customers to evaluate products. Companies should publish personalised content that delights people enough to share it on social media.

Expect dark social to increase

According to former deputy editor of The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal, dark social is when people share content on private social media platform like Whatsapp, Wechat, Facebook Messenger, etc.

A number of consumers sharing content on these platforms is expected to shoot up in 2018. Which means, companies should find efficient tools that can easily track conversions coming from those platforms.

As in now, more than 70% of information sharing is done through dark social, this can increase to 85%. There is an estimated 84% increase in outbound sharing mainly driven by mobile devices.  In 2018, companies should explore dark social data to connect with mobile audience easily. Furthermore, companies should come up with innovative ways that will let them create personalized messages that address customer core needs.

Chats bots will manage FAQs!

Chatbots are expected to continue to play a big role in customer service. We might see a rise in chatbots that can send you an FAQ link that contains a video answering your question.  The anticipated growth of services firms means companies should expect an unprecedented flood of requests and questions from existing customers. Chatbots will ease this burden by providing a 247 service to those customers.  Companies should also see if chatbots cannot be used internally too. For instance, for assisting the newly appointed staff with information.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) will continue to be a tool that powers company’s campaigns. The budget for AR is projected to reach $117.4 billion by 2022, as indicated by Markets and Markets research. Anyone owning a smartphone will be exposed to AR.

Live streaming

2017 has been a year of closing deals through conference meetings. Interestingly, live streaming has become the cheapest and fastest way to closing deals. Seemingly, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms have seen an increase of live stream users, a function companies can use to introduce new products.

What B2C and B2B marketers should know

Companies should expect nothing but a year jam-packed with innovations, unlimited possibilities and a lot of trends! B2C marketers across the globe should stick to engaging consumers on a more personal level as it has proven to work for them. Meanwhile, B2B marketers, particularly SaaS marketers from developed countries should up their game as developing countries like Kenya, Brazil and India are catching up.

Dumisani Hlatshwayo is a South African writer. His fiction is predominantly written in isiZulu. In 2014 his debut novel, Inhlonipho, was approved by the Department of Basic Education for grade 9’s across South Africa. He currently writes for, prior to that, he wrote for The African Professional magazine. His second novel was shortlisted for the 2016/2017 Sanlam Literature for Youth Award. Hlatshwayo is a marketer by profession.

Twitter handle @dshlatshwayo

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