While virtual reality technology is set to explode into online marketing this year, it’s unsure if or when we can expect it to become part of the mainstream with regard to consumer preferences.
The world has changed a lot since the start of the year regarding digital trends that were dominating the online marketing scene. Now, influencers have definitely taken over, nobody cares whether a brand has gone green or not anymore, and brands are still trying to get as deep into the heads of their consumers as they can.
Here’s 5 online marketing trends to keep in mind for the coming year:
1. Influencer marketing will dominate traditional advertising.
It’s fair to say that television commercials are all but dead in the eyes of most consumers at this point. How long the television model will continue much longer is a mystery to all, but we see the end coming. Influencers on social media channels like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and more exclusive channels like Patreon are taking over.
Nielsen told us a couple of years ago that real recommendations from trusted sources had usurped commercial advertising by a landslide, but nobody knew the scale to which influencers would one day take over the world. Word-of-mouth in this space indicates that influencers and advertisers will become increasingly picky about who they endorse and work with this year, as consumers are becoming more savvy at seeing through shameless product placements that don’t fit the mould of a particular influencer and their following.
2. Cause marketing will take a backseat in building brand transparency.
Consumers have quite simply had it with all the fluff brands are pushing about all the charities they donate to, the “green” changes they’re making to their organisations, and the social justice movements they’re involved with. These consumers don’t have time to make you accountable for the claims you make, and so would rather assume you’re “lying like everyone else” than buy into whatever causes you’re trying to sway their purchase decisions with.
In a world where competition is relentless, adapting, and emerging in bigger and bigger numbers by the day; consumers see this type of marketing as a desperate attempt at attention and a potential smokescreen for what’s lacking. This isn’t new, according to Nielsen, but cause fatigue was a definite buzzword throughout 2017, and it’s apparent consumers won’t be changing their minds anytime soon.
3. Content will continue to evolve from purposeful, to impactful and nurturing.
Consumers don’t have time for content created with a salesperson’s agenda in an age where they can engage with real people and real brands on their favorite social media. The only way around this for brands moving into 2018 is to prepare content to impact and nurture buyer’s at all three steps of their journey.
In essence, the typical one-page lander, shameless John-Chow-style blogpost plug, or 5-minute high pressure video spot just won’t work on most modern buyers as they once did. Going along the entire buying process as identified by Hubspot, the modern Internet-hardened consumer won’t buy the first time they see or hear about a product — the process will need to be nurtured and aged like a fine wine.
Trying to get the sale without the necessary lead up will result in customers turning their backs on a brand forever. Expert are recommending brands need to focus on becoming a member of the 40-percent club who have a heavily researched, planned, and written content strategy, that includes all relevant media platforms, and which is meticulously reviewed for both accomplishment of goals and effectiveness on a constant basis.
4. Live video to take over vlogging in consumer preferences.
This has in fact already happened according to most sources, with several studies pointing to factors like consumer targeting and engagement to be far superior when brands and influencers embrace live video. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Patreon all offer live, interactive video for users to watch their favorite personalities.
Facebook states that viewers watch live videos for (minimum) 3x longer than prerecorded videos, and that over 10x the comments are received doing live video as well. Check out this survey which pooled consumer data about people’s preferences to live-streamed video content. Many telling truths were dispelled in the survey results including:
- 87% of people regard live content the same as they do behind the scenes content (Ie., how most influencers attract Patreon subs) and are far more likely to watch this type of video than traditional television.
- 80% of people would rather tune into a live video than read content.
- 81% of consumers watched more live video in 2016 than they did the previous year (trending much?)
Some other interesting facts to include in your live video streaming plan are:
- Only 14% of the approximately 60% of brands using video to market their brand are currently actively committed to using live video currently.
- Video quality is uber-important to live video consumers, with 67% of people saying viewing quality is the most important factor to them having a positive experience.
5. Podcast influence among buyers will continue to rise.
Back in 2005, the idea of a podcast was just a way for politicians like George W. Bush to communicate to the masses. Flash forward to 2011 and Adam Corolla shook a few heads with just shy of 60,000,000 downloads of a single podcast.
Now, there are tons of players operating in this space from comedian/UFC color commentor Joe Rogan’s world-crushing JRE podcast educating people on “life” via millions of downloads and views per podcast, and CrossFit king Rich Froning and his fit friends extolling the virtues of fitness (and gear) to the masses via their respective podcasts.
You’ll know the instant a podcast is popular too, as the biggest and best in established and emerging brands will be featured on these platforms. While you can take the internet almost anywhere, a podcast can be downloaded and taken places where cell towers still can’t reach. Not to mention most are offered in interactive live video formats which satisfies the growing need for “live”.
As more people embrace the take-anywhere flexibility of podcasts in 2018 and beyond, brands who don’t utilize them as an advertising medium can bet they’re leaving millions on the table.