Do you feel like every time you have a handle on your marketing, something new comes along? You're not alone. Marketing trends and technology are constantly changing — forcing business leaders to jump on board or get left behind. So how do you stay ahead of the game this year? Here are seven marketing challenges you might face in 2018 and how to tackle them.
1. Mobile Domination
The need to market your business across mobile devices isn't new. And yet not all companies are making their websites optimized for mobile use or leveraging the power of apps. With mobile usage only continuing to climb, it's no longer about simply having a mobile-friendly website — it's about having a dominating mobile presence. This means a website that's perfectly mobile friendly, utilizing mobile ads, increasing your presence on social media, and even developing an app.
2. Customer Experience
It's a customer's world. They hold all the cards and expect nothing but the best customer service and experiences with the companies they patronize. As Forbes reported: "In today’s customer experience economy, companies are no longer compared to their direct competitors. They are compared to the best service they ever received — from any company or person." So we've all got some big shoes to fill. But that's OK. Model your customer experiences after those who do it best. What do they do? Drive innovation. Personalize customers' interactions. And remain agile, no matter how big they get.
3. Finding a Purpose
More and more companies are choosing to jump on the purpose bandwagon. That is, aligning themselves with an issue and using it in their marketing. However, this can be tricky (remember the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad?) and there's a fine line to walk with which causes you choose to take up. However, some say that if you don't align with the issues that your customers value, your competitors will – causing you to lose out on business. In fact, "the number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87 percent," according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey. So what to do? It might be best to avoid playing politics and sticking to causes that make sense for your brand. Keep your long-term marketing efforts in mind and make sure your decisions will hold up over time.
We are in the midst of a trust crisis. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, "trust in the U.S. has suffered the largest-ever-recorded drop in the survey’s history among the general population." So what does that mean for your business and its marketing? Make sure you have an authentic, human voice. You may be advertising, but try not to be too salesy in your tone. You can also request customer testimonials and showcase positive reviews you may have already received. Also, be transparent with your corporate views and make sure they shine through your marketing efforts.
Some say that brand loyalty is dead, while others claim it's still alive, just different. Either way, brand loyalty means customer retention, so it's something to stand up and pay attention to. How do you make sure your customers remain loyal? Be smart with your communications. Use storytelling to develop a brand narrative that connects with your customers — something they can relate to. Also, be consistent in your marketing. Don't launch unique campaign after unique campaign and lose sight of your overall brand. Consistency builds trust, and trust builds loyalty.
6. Social Media Struggles
From Facebook algorithm changes to rising ad costs, social media marketing just keeps getting more challenging. How do you rise above the noise and ensure your company is noticed? For one, make sure your content is generating engagement (e.g., comments and shares) and not just being produced just to check a box. Next, start leveraging video — even live video — to keep your audiences interested and engaged. And as always, make sure you're tracking social media activity to ensure you're giving your customers what they want.
7. Alexa and Friends
One in six Americans now own a smart speaker (e.g., Amazon Echo or Google Home) – and that number will only continue to skyrocket. So how does this impact your business? As more and more people introduce an AI assistant like Alexa into their lives, companies will have to change how they interact with their customers. As Harvard Business Review puts it: "Consumers’ allegiance will shift from trusted brands to a trusted AI assistant." No advertising is integrated with these AI assistants yet, but staying on top of this evolution in customer behavior will be critical in the next several years. So keep your ear to the ground and take note of how the big brands are taking advantage of Alexa.
At the end of the day, there will always be new marketing trends. You don't have to jump on every single one of them, but make sure you're meeting your customers where they are and engaging them in a meaningful way. And if, in 10 years, they're all walking around talking to AI assistants and wearing augmented reality glasses, then your brand should be right there with them.