Interactions, not transactions

Fiona Lund, MD of industry specialists Brouha Marketing argues that regardless of 2018 marketing trends like ABM, AI and AR, stories will remain one of the greatest currencies in business

Marketing isn’t a fixed discipline; it’s constantly evolving. And it needs to – new techniques, markets and challenges means that marketing has to change and adapt. Driven by legislation, technology and personalisation, 2018 will be a year of significant change in the marketing arena.

One of the most onerous, big impact developments we’ll undergo this year relates to protecting customers’ personal information. In the wake of several high-profile data breaches in 2017, the May introduction of GDPR means privacy protection will take centre stage, and woe betide any organisation who falls foul of the legalisation.

More attractive, potentially, for us marketers to get stuck into, will be the rise of augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Although this may sound way too futuristic, these technologies are really making headway – driven by resources like Intercom, Drift and iPhones X and eight – their big use this year has been in live chat tools on websites.

On the subject of technology, last year 20% of online searches were conducted through voice search with the number expected to hit 50% by 2020. We won’t just be optimising content for web 2.0 and mobile anymore. We’ll need to start optimising for voice too.

And talking about cutting edge technology, self-driving cars are on the horizon. What will happen when drivers no longer need to pay attention to the road? They’ll consume content, of course, and with that content will come in-car ads. Watch for some big consumer brands to begin experimenting with this new marketing channel in the coming year.

Closer to home, and more relevant to the marketing maturity of our industry, personalisation is set to get even more personal. The average cold email response rate is low, and it will continue to decline. Welcome to the world of big data and quant marketing, which focuses on totally personalised messaging, combined with customised content seeing off blanket-bombing to generic, procured databases. Whether your personalised approach is using social media, print, PR or direct marketing (or ideally a combination of all these techniques) in a crowded market place, you need to know your audience.

It may seem strange in a feature on ‘new marketing trends’ to talk about something so rooted in tradition, but story-telling will remain one of the greatest business currencies.

Today’s marketers are being tasked with crafting interactions with customers instead of mere transactions. This is because goods and services have become largely commoditised by price point, and customers are looking for brands they can believe in, be a part of, and make statements through that echo their personal ethos.

Remember that customers today don’t buy into things, they buy into stories brought to life through a strategic mix of creativity and technology.

2018 marketers will need the ability to transform storytelling into a vital business competency that takes the why and who of the brand and translates them into experiences that create lasting emotional connections.

The sister of rational engagement (stimulation of the mind), emotional engagement is based on the stimulation of the heart. In today’s age of brand experience, emotional engagement is proving increasingly critical to winning results.

Effective storytelling and digital marketing are at the heart of this movement, and in the year ahead, smart marketers will use a strategic mix of creativity and technology, leveraging data-driven insights to generate and deliver stories that create lasting connections with individual customers.