2018 Predictions: 7 Top Trends in Digital Marketing

By Brian Everett, CEO of the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association

In recent conversations with TMSA members, there appears to be some emerging marketing trends that could have a growing impact on how marketing organizations in transportation and logistics collaborate, communicate, innovate and evolve. Specifically when it comes to digital marketing. Today we live in a fast-paced world where the rules of customer engagement and sales/marketing/lead gen strategies change on a daily basis. One minute you believed you've nailed the YouTube algorithm and suddenly the next you're pulling out your hair because your stellar content no longer is getting adequate views.

Here’s a snapshot of what some of the top marketing trends could be to drive forward your business strategy:

1. Video will continue to drive content marketing. It’s no surprise that video continues to dominate social. There are many types of video that can positively impact your video content strategy - ranging from live streaming and "explainer videos" to mobile video. Let's explore these further:

  • Live Streaming: You likely will see a continued shift toward video content and live video. Believe it or not, video streaming was 75% of all internet traffic in 2017! Research finds that viewers watch live streams 3 times longer than prerecorded video. Look for major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to double down on live videos by improving feed quality and adding more interactive features.
  • Mobile Video: Some think ad spending in this area could double to roughly $18 billion in 2018, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to decrease 1.5% to $15 billion (these estimates include both B2B as well as consumer). You likely will see a decline of video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time, while video views on phones and tablets will grow by as much as 25%. Consider this: The average viewer could watch 35+ minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, compared to half that amount on a computer.
  • Explainer Videos: They're short, uncomplicated videos that explain your capabilities, products or services. They pack a big punch when it comes to driving results. The visual elements in an explainer video help viewers understand more about what’s explained with only a few short sentences. When an explainer video is included on a website, research shows they're 4 times more likely to watch the video than to read text on the page. Especially if your capabilities, products or services are somewhat complicated, animated videos can work best to simplify ideas and educate your target audience.

2. Growth Hacking will continue to be a priority among business leaders. Also known as growth-driven tactics, these are marketing processes are developed specifically to drive growth in revenue. Most in transportation and logistics still seem to see SEO as one of the best growth hacking strategies because you're gaining more traction from targets who are already inquiring about your company, product or service. As technology evolves to allow additional search options, you likely will need to adjust your strategy to meet your audience where they are looking for you. Attracting qualified leads with relevant content and exciting twists can help to more aggressively convert these leads to sales.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI). When you combine big data and machine learning, AI quickly makes a big impact on how you can market to your prospects and customers. Users can expect highly-customized content delivery, automated based on their buyer persona and buying habits. The biggest challenges: Launching an AI strategy can be a large investment and require specific skills that may be hard to come by. However, the large upfront investment shows promising results for those willing to take the plunge. I was speaking recently with a TMSA member who talked about recent data from the Salesforce State of the Marketing Report where high-performing marketing teams are more than 2 times as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers. 

4. Chat Bots will continue to make websites more interactive. More and more TMSA members say they're incorporating interactive mechanisms to help engage website visitors, and chat bots are becoming more of these strategies. In fact, we've even had a few TMSA Affiliate members recently join who offer such capabilities. I think we’ll continue to see a rise in transportation and logistics companies integrating chatbots as a valuable communication asset that helps push forward marketing strategy and improve customer support. Clearly, chat bots are driven by a predefined workflow and can help enhance engagement while facilitating faster conversions by answering questions or offering suggestions. Use of chat apps has actually surpassed the use of social media and audiences will expect it from most companies.

5. Geofencing strategy to gain more intelligence about our target market. For many customers and prospects, their mobile devices are becoming an artificial appendage. Wherever we go, the device goes. On average, users trigger 75 separate mobile sessions per day - which means they engage with the device throughout their day across many locations. Smart marketers use geofencing technologies and strategy to gather information about and target their customers as they enter, leave or stay in specific areas, also known as geofences. These are specific areas that prompt mobile notifications on a when a customer (or even a professional driver, if that's your target market!) is active in a certain area. During these key moments, marketers could send key messages to users that will engage with your customers who are "on the go" in a more contextual way. Keep in mind that customers have to allow your app to track their location - so you’ll need to highlight the benefits of location sharing and how it will improve their customer experience.

6. Begin thinking about how to leverage micro Influencers. Think of micro-influencers as digital influencers with an incredibly large audience following. Micro influencers are 4 times more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers. Micro-influencers will likely post about specific niche topics that could be aligned with your own business, and they have a loyal following that shares their passion. Consider this: A staggering 90% of customers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads. With more than 32% of internet users enabling ad blocker in 2017, it’s increasingly harder to reach users - and aligning your marketing strategy with micro influencers can bridge that gap moving into 2018.

7. Create your "Brand Blog." If you've been an active member of TMSA in the past two years, you know that there has been a strong focus on content marketing. Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, was TMSA's Opening Keynote at the 2016 TMSA Logistics Marketing & Sales Conference - as well as a featured presenter on one of our highest-attended webinars last January. I continue to hear members talk about how they're taking control of their content by creating their own blogs as a best practice in this area. Engaging customer stories or testimonials, company updates, featured guest posts and thought leaders, and relevant business trends will allow marketers to continue to cultivate their brand and connect with customers and prospects while having the interactions take place on their own website.

Clearly, 2018 is going to be another exciting year for new and innovative ways to reach consumers and increase brand awareness. Rapid development in technology is making it increasingly challenging and marketing teams will need to explore, invest, experiment and adapt in order to keep up. TMSA will continue to help you identify the opportunities available - stay tuned and prepare yourself for another wild ride this next year!

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