Ask any digital marketer if they’ve been able to set their strategy on autopilot over the past decade, and I bet you’ll get a laugh or two—as well as an emphatic “No.” If we’ve learned anything it’s that the digital landscape is simply too fast-changing to keep the business as usual mindset.
But while the global rise of the internet, the explosion of social media, and the development of mobile technologies and other digital tools and platforms are undoubtedly “to blame” for the constant state of change we operate in—it’s really the everyday use of these innovations that requires our flexibility and attention.
Simply put, thanks to these modern essentials, our behavior, expectations and attitudes as consumers have changed—and they’ll continue to. The mobility and network access enabled by mobile phones and tablets, coupled with the incredible amount of content now available (thanks content marketers), means consumers now have the majority stake in developing their own customer journey.
In fact, last year comScore reported that users spend an average of 69% of their media time on smartphones—and other research shows that the great majority of people use the internet and mobile technologies to research products before they buy.
But what’s the next stage of evolution in consumer behavior? And how can digital marketers adapt their strategies to fit with consumers want and expect?
Below we highlight some of the consumer trends that will have (and are already having) a big impact on digital and content marketing in 2018 and beyond.
#1 – Voice-activated personal assistance will continue to shape consumer behavior.
While voice-command technology began to emerge in the early part of the century, it’s taken on new life over the past couple years thanks to the emergence of mobile personal assistants, and the birth and increasing adoption of tools like Amazon Echo, Cortana and Google Home.
To put it simply, these voice-activated technologies just make life simpler. According to Think with Google’s research, the top reasons people turn to voice-activated speakers are:
- It allows them to more easily multitask.
- It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
- It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
- It makes their daily routine easier.
What does this mean for brands and marketers? Google says their research also shows that people welcome brands to be part of their experience, and they’re open to receiving information that’s helpful and relevant to their lifestyle.
Image Credit: Think with Google
As a result, brands and marketers have the opportunity to explore digital advertising opportunities in this arena. But, perhaps more immediately important, optimizing for voice search is critical.
According to Gartner predictions, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. Some voice search optimization tactics include focusing on featured snippets, using more conversational keywords and content structure, and adding structured data markup to help search engines better understand the context of the content you’re providing.
#2 – Consumers want to experience a brand, product or service before they buy—and video is the conduit.
I think it’s safe to say that video is no longer an emerging or rising marketing trend—it’s part of the now and the future. According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs’ 2018 content marketing benchmark reports, 72% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers use pre-produced video as part of their strategies.
It’s certainly not difficult to see why video has taken off. Humans are visual creatures by nature, and as the internet, social media and technology have evolved, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time in front of the screen—elevating video as a preferred engagement medium.
But a bit of change is in the air….