At this time of year the blogosphere starts to overflow with predictions. Every expert has their own opinion about how to get the edge in the new year.
But separating the good from the bad can be difficult. If there’s one thing that “experts” are good at, it’s getting things wrong.
I’m going to take a slightly different approach. Rather than just focus on my own thoughts, I’ve chosen five of my favourite predictions from around the web. I think these are the key insights that will put you above the competition in 2018.
Plus, I won’t have to admit I got it all wrong in twelve months time!
- “The Internet of Things is taking content off the screen” (Neil Patel)
If you had told me a few years ago that I would consume content through devices other than my desktop and my phone, I would have wondered how on earth that would be possible.
But now it seems obvious. I have a smartwatch on my wrist, an Amazon Echo by my bedside and a VR headset in my living room. And that’s just to start with!
All of these devices are portals through which people consume content. Your job is to figure out how you can use them to communicate your message and repackage your own content. Have you thought about creating an “Alexa skill”, for example?
- “The rise of content A/B testing” (Siege Media)
As Ross Hudgens of Siege Media rightly points out, it’s common practice to A/B split-test sales pages. Going forward into 2018, however, content marketers will start to earmark more of their budget for testing top-of-the-funnel content.
Metrics like engagement, bounce rate and time on site will all appear more prominently on marketers’ radars. Tools to test and track these metrics are becoming more widely available.
For important pieces of content, whether they’re intended for newsletters, social media promotions or search engines, it’s likely that testing different iterations will yield greater returns than an approach best summed up as “produce tonnes of the stuff”.
- “Collapse of the influencer market” (Craig Greiwe in Forbes)
I must confess I’ve always been a little dubious of “influencer marketing”. As Craig Greiwe points out, many marketers are seeing poor returns, especially when compared with other forms of promotion.
It’s also worth remembering that many “influencers” also have their own products or services to sell, or will likely be thinking about developing them at some point.
This isn’t to say that influencer marketing doesn’t work. It can be particularly useful at the awareness stage. But results are notoriously difficult to track and the reach of “middle-tier” influencers can be limited.
What’s the takeaway? If you are keen on pursuing influences, tread with caution. And don’t forego measurable, proven alternatives.
- “AI goes from newbie to mainstream” (Daniel Newman in Forbes)
Daniel Newman, in his article about “digital transformation” for Forbes, believes that 2018 will be the year that AI enters the business mainstream. With the growing prevalence of smart homes, smart speakers, smart watches etc., it can start to feel that AI has already gained a firm foothold in our daily lives.
But what about the business world? There are still many unrealised opportunities. Not only can AI help with certain backend processes like automation and data analytics, but there are also customer-facing possibilities. Companies will start to use AI to connect with, entertain and help their customers in new ways.
Remember, the B2B market is huge and big software companies are already starting to cater to the demand for AI.
- My prediction: Mobile will be more important than ever
Ok, here’s my big prediction for 2018.
Despite all the emerging technologies and transformations in the digital world, I think that the dominance of mobile will be a huge factor for marketers in 2018. Mobile use continues to outpace desktop. Mobile phones are the preferred devices for entertainment, problem-solving and performing all sorts of tasks.
On-screen text and video will remain the most common media for consuming information. The fact that 5G will make internet use possible practically anywhere will also prompt marketers to create unique, tailored mobile experiences that cater to unique situations.
In the frenetic pursuit of the “next big thing” it can be easy to lose perspective. The fear of missing out is often what drives marketers to learn about trends and predictions.
But it’s also important to be aware of the the things that don’t change. What are the solid foundations that your business should be built on? What’s timeless?
Once you’ve answered that question, getting ahead of the curve will yield even greater awards.
I hope you have a great 2018!