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For marketers, the year’s end months are the most defining of the entire year. From the Black Friday and holiday pandemonium, to annual analyses and reports, marketers are tapping away at their keyboards like elves in a workshop to prepare for the year's final rounds. 

But between all the excitement and chaos, it’s important to take a moment for a quick inventory. What new tools and techniques have emerged as a result of this year? Which of our 2017 predictions were true and which technologies fell short of expectations? 

And as we head into a new year, we must also ask, what will 2018 have to offer?

Here’s our take on the top trends that will rule digital marketing in 2018.

1. ChatBots

In the past decade, rises in online technology have made marketing increasingly consumer-focused. Thanks to easy access to data, the modern buyer is empowered and educated. To adapt to this customer-centric approach, brands need to be more available and connected with their audience. 

Many brands will be opting for ChatBots because they make it possible to offer 24/7 customer service with immediate response. Also expected to increase in popularity is the Facebook Messenger ChatBot. With Messenger, users can chat with their favorite brands just like they were chatting to a friend. 

This attempt to shorten and personify the communication pathway between brand and customers will be underlying theme in many of this years emerging digital trends.

 cnn facebook chatbot

2. Live Video

Call it an overindulgence of our human tendency towards instant-gratification, but users are showing preference towards live content. Live Video is a powerful tool because it creates the sensation of a one-to-one and real-time connection between brands and audience. Live Videos also tends to have slightly higher engagement than their non-live counterparts. Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and YouTube have all released live streaming on their platforms. And, while video content of all types has experienced serious growth in recent years, live video is growing the most.

 Neil Patel Growth of Live Video 

Source: Neil Patel

3. Predictive Analytics  

As another underlying theme, marketers are focused on making the customer journey more personalized and granular. Much of 2018 will be focused on digging into the potential of this through big data and predictive analytics. It’s no longer to keep up with customer behavior- brands need to be anticipating their buyer's next move. This upcoming year, we can expect to see brands in investing time and money in predictive analytics so they can foresee customer behavior and increase ROI.

Predictive Analytics Stats Salesforce

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Ecommerce

Artificial Intelligence was one of the biggest talking points of 2017, penetrating all areas of technology. In 2018, we can expect to see AI take a leading role in Ecommerce. Online stores are focusing on how to turn their predictive analytics into actionable solutions. 

By incorporating AI into their platforms, Ecommerce stores can customize content and product recommendations based on each user’s unique tastes and behaviors. Like other marketing activities, the goal is to make a more custom and intimate shopping experience. AI in Ecommerce

5. Augmented Reality (AR)

Marketers are getting excited about the potential uses of AR and will continue to explore its role in digital marketing in 2018.  Currently, brands are experimenting with different ways to use AR to bridge gaps between traditional and digital marketing by incorporating it into print ads. 

Social media also offers a lot of room for creativity with AR, as we’ve seen from companies like Snap. However, the savviest brands, such as Estée Lauder, are using a combination of AR and AI to construct innovative shopping experiences and drive conversion

s. Estee Lauder AR Chatbot Estee Lauder AR Chatbot 2

6. Voice Search in SEO

SEOs have been pondering how to optimize for voice search since its arrival. But in 2018, voice search is expected to reach new heights with the growing popularity of devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. Voice search queries will push SEOs to focus on even longer long-tail keywords, and create content specific to the nuanced needs of spoken searches. This also marks Featured Snippets as some of the hottest real estate on the SERP because this bit of information is often read aloud by the Google virtual assistant. You could also check these local SEO services to boost your online presence.

 OK Google Voice Search

7. Privacy and Politics

2017 has ended with a lot of unknowns when it comes to regulations on personal privacy and data collection. Controversies, such as Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential Election through Facebook Ads, have companies pressured to be more transparent with their data privacy policies. Much of the aforementioned trends are focused becoming as intimate with your audience’s interests and behaviors in order to create hyper-targeted and tailor-made customer journeys. 

As legislation such as the EU GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Legislation) unfold in the coming months, marketers are facing a lot of big question mark. Only time will tell what kind of effect new privacy and Net Neutrality policies will have on our role as digital marketers.

History in the Making

It’s important to remember that digital marketing is still in its youth. And, as we enter these formative years that will define the future of digital, we should focus not on keeping up, but being active players in its development. Let’s make digital history together.

Get in touch with Codedesign to talk about your 2018 Strategy.

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