Getting More Personal, Conversational and Political: Digital Strategy Predictions for 2018

2017 has been quite a year in digital marketing. From the rise of artificial intelligence to the decline of brick-and-mortar retail, this year was proof that, in the digital landscape, the only thing that ever stays the same is change.

So what will 2018 bring? Here are this year’s top five answers from DAC’s team of Strategy Ninjas:

1. Micro-targeting will take over

Who’s sick of hearing about Millennials? Well, we think everyone is. But, more importantly, as digital marketing continues to transform and digital maturity hits its stride, we believe that transcending the typical targeting against an audience is next. Just look at how we got here: Consumer behaviour has gone from offline to online transactions since the mid-1990s, from the first brand to market (Pizza Hut – yes, really!), to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth to the year of mobile with its focus on consumer micro-moments. We believe that traditional audience targeting is next: 2018 will be the year when we prioritize understanding the behaviors and motivations behind a purchase ahead of the traditional age bucketing of Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers and so on. We’re moving beyond the traditional way of thinking about the consumer to align with consumer behavior.
– Lynn Duffy, Senior Manager, Strategic Insights

2. Personalized experiences will become table stakes

My prediction: 2018 is going to be the year that personalized brand experiences will become a minimum requirement to drive business success.
Consumers’ expectations keep increasing, resulting in today’s standard demand: Provide me with an experience I appreciate and one that is specific to my personal needs! 
Fortunately, today’s technology has caught up with these expectations: Artificial intelligence is becoming better able to understand individual human needs and suggest solutions that they actually want. 
In 2018, more brands will put all the pieces of the data and technology puzzle together and start creating genuine, personalized and highly relevant consumer experiences, which will generate transformative business results. Happy customers remain loyal to brands. And the more loyal customers become, the more brands will have the opportunity to learn about these customers and tailor solutions to meet their individual preferences. Customers of brands that are failing to deliver personalized experiences will look for brands that do this — and those brands stand to receive positive reviews and ratings from these happy new customers.  
– Koen Smeets, Strategy Director, Europe 

3. Storytelling will become more important than ever

There has been a lot of hype around storytelling in recent years, and the hype is here to stay. With consumers in the driver’s seat, and with the increasingly intense competition faced by businesses in all sectors, pressure is mounting on marketing professionals to come up with marketing strategies that tell a story. Customers feel connected to brands that craft stories that illustrate what they stand for, how they fit in and how relevant they are to the lives of their consumers. Creating this emotional and personal attachment is crucial for brands that wish to engage and attract consumers. Personalization is no longer a nice-to-have; customers demand and expect it, and, with the abundance of data that marketers have access to, it has become easier than ever for brands to get personal. Together, storytelling and personalization are powerful tactics that allow brands to craft winning marketing strategies. Brands need to hop on the bandwagon if they want to continue to be relevant.
 Marina Azmy, Strategic Insights Analyst

4. We’ll optimize for voice, not text

My prediction is that there will be a large increase in the adoption of conversational platforms, voice and AI by consumers with products like Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomePod and so on. This will lead to a major disruption in the way in which marketers are currently measuring effectiveness within the space. The current pay-per-click or impression measurements will be replaced with pay-per-transaction, which to some is controversial, but also solves for current issues like ad-blocking. Pay-per-transaction would work with the consumer asking the connected assistant, “Where can I find a babysitter nearby?” and the assistant providing this information along with deals on restaurants and movie tickets — with Google or similar companies getting a commission. Google and others within this space have not made their intentions known in regards to re-configuring a model which has been the standard for so long. If they do make this shift it will be monumental within advertising.
 Andrew Tully, Strategy Director, USA

5. Marketing and politics will fully converge

Ever since we went from a 24-hour news cycle to a 24-second tweet cycle, brands have been learning how to navigate this evolving landscape. Early on, brands learned the necessity of having a crisis management plan in place, in case of a social media firestorm. These past few years, they’ve been working to craft content policies to actively wade into conversations rather than simply responding to crises. But 2017 was the tipping point: Thanks to a polarized political landscape and a culture of calling out brands on social media, it officially became impossible for any brand to remain neutral. Many companies who believed that they could stay out of it and keep everyone happy were forced to jump in with both feet. I think in 2018, we’ll see a convergence of marketing and politics. Consumers, especially younger ones, want to spend their money on products and brands that reflect their values. There are opportunities here for savvy brands who know how to appeal to their targets in an authentic way. I think we’re going to see brands go through the exercise of defining who they are, what they stand for and how to use content and media channels to communicate those messages. And the ones who do this best will be the last brands standing.
– Sari Stein, Strategic Insights Director

 DAC Group’s strategic insights team effectively develops performance-focused, actionable strategies from the brand down to the local level. If you’re curious about how these trends can impact your business in 2018, please get in touch

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