Golly, what a year 2017 was, right? But looking back is for the nostalgic and people still complaining about the new Star Wars being different to the originals. It’s time to look forward towards 2018 and its limitless potential, like the Han Solo movie. While 2017 saw the growth of virtual reality, shake-ups in SEO and user interface (lookin’ at you, Alexa), and also augmented reality emojis (hoo. ray.), 2018 is set to introduce even more digital innovation. Here’s our list of the top digital trends we expect to see in 2018.
The End of Typing
In August last year (yes I know what I just said about looking back) Eric Bellman wrote an article called The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice. As a barely-qualifying millennial, it’s difficult to see how this would take off. I can’t stand the idea of loudly announcing my message to my mother while walking down the street, let alone playing one. But that’s the direction user interfaces are going. Using video and voice could become more popular than typing, so it’s something that should be at least considered for any time someone is designing a user interface.
Naturally, vocal commands are commonly used when a user has their hands occupied. Around 74% of voice command users say they use the function while occupied with another activity – usually driving. In contrast, only 0.2% say they use it in bed. What this suggests is people want to use their devices without having to dedicate their attention, but it also suggests that typing is still an important feature for certain occasions, such as when you want to be quiet (e.g. in bed) or for privacy (e.g. on public transport).
“S’mwha?” I hear you sputter, unable to make coherent your shocked reaction to the subtitle, “What do you mean ‘content strategy is going to be a digital trend in 2018’? Businesses already use content. You’re using content to write this very witty and handsome blog!”
While content marketing is definitely common among businesses at the moment, with 89% of B2B marketers using it as a core component of their online marketing strategy, only 37% of them have a documented content strategy. 55% of those businesses only have one person (or a small team) managing the entire content marketing for the entire organisation, meanwhile, only 41% have clarity on their content marketing success.
It’s becoming clear that content strategies are going to need greater attention. Having an online blog is great for SEO but, for leads and business opportunities, a strategy should be in place to make the most of published content. 2018 should see an increase in B2B brands setting content goals and measuring them through KPIs. This will also help provide an idea of ROI for content strategies.
In addition to content strategies being adopted by B2B businesses, we can expect to see content personalisation taking a more prominent place in B2B strategies this year, too. Back in 2015, Gartner published a statistic that said, by 2018, companies that fully invested in all types of personalisation will outsell companies that have not by 20%. Well, it seems their powers of clairvoyance should not be underestimated because personalisation is expected to become standard for B2Bs.
B2Cs have already widely adopted this marketing strategy, with almost every publisher of online content offering content that is ‘recommended for you’, as have online shops. And it works, too. A study in 2016 found that around 80% of marketers say personalised content is more effective than non-personalised content. Emails are a great example because emails with the recipient’s first name at the top are significantly more likely to be opened.
There are several methods to personalising B2B content, but it’s always worth speaking to an expert to ensure it’s being done right. The last thing a brand needs is to send bulk emails out to all its stakeholders with the wrong names at the top.
The next step in AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a while, but it’s constantly evolving and still qualifies for this list. A continuing trend is still a trend, especially if it could resemble a completely different monster by the summer.
AI has seen some incredible scientific breakthroughs in 2017, thanks largely to the emphasis on data in our economy. AI can use machine learning to access data, analyse it, and predict or anticipate lead-generating tactics. AI is also used heavily in voice commands and will assist in helping machines understand intonation, accents, or emphasis.
Another machine interaction that could be coming back in force is facial recognition – previously thought impractical due to a lack of adequate technology or data. With the growth and wide integration of data centres, however, facial recognition is becoming increasingly common.
There are also several predictions that computers will be able to use AI to feel emotions and emulate human brain processing, but these are based on experiments into deep neural network technology, which – while great for headlines – aren’t as poised to change the way in which marketers work in the same way other AI technologies are.
Those are our top digital trend predictions for 2018. Did we miss any? Perhaps the developments in ad blocker technology will be bigger? Or the change in social media influencer behaviour? What about Facebook accepting more responsibility for the news posted on its website? Let us know what you think on our Facebook or Twitter page, or feel free to get in touch via our Contact Us page.