At Accord we know that, in marketing, staying ahead of your competitors is key. It requires creative thinking, innovation and a strategy that is underpinned by meaningful data-driven insights.

At this time of the year (every year!), our expert planning and strategy teams compile a list of the emerging marketing trends for the coming year, offering advice on how to successfully capitalise on these often ground-breaking opportunities.

So, what are our top five predictions for 2018?

1. Big data:

Most marketers acknowledge that data is central to delivering successful campaigns, whether it’s tracking crucial metrics like CTR, or simply recording the number of social shares received on a recent Facebook post. However, with vast amounts of data to wade through, many are finding it increasingly difficult to collate these analytics into ‘big data’ metrics, such as Customer Life Cycles or Lifetime Value. This challenge is further intensified by the current dearth of digital skills within the industry. This year, 64% of businesses reported that their company does not have enough personnel with the skills necessary for digital transformation.

So, our first prediction for 2018 is that companies will (and must) adopt a renewed focus towards finding ways to aggregate the data they collect, either by recruiting specialist staff, developing an in-house platform or partnering with an experienced agency. For example, business intelligence tools, like Accord’s data visualisation platform LOOP, can collect data from multiple touchpoints along the path to purchase, providing accurate, detailed and valuable insights. We forecast that, as data analytics software grows in popularity, big data metrics will become more and more valuable in measuring marketing success and forecasting business growth.

2. Personalised content:

Content for the sake of content is dead; in today’s crowded market, real value must be both planned and communicated through every content piece created. We predict that businesses will become far more tactical with their content marketing approach, favouring quality over quantity. Personalisation will also play a much bigger role, with retargeting options becoming increasingly granular and websites implementing dynamic copy that automatically adjusts, based on where a consumer is within the purchase cycle.

3. GDPR:

It’s impossible to talk about 2018 without mentioning GDPR and the new regulations that come into effect on 25th May. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will introduce new, more stringent regulations on the processing of personal data within businesses. Going forward, companies must be mindful of how they capture and store personal data, where they get it from, who do they pass it to and does everyone in their business understand their role in keeping personal data secure. There will be three golden rules:

  1. Treat personal information with respect.
  2. Keep it secure.
  3. Be aware of individuals’ rights.

But companies will be able to use GDPR to their advantage if they can see beyond the compliance and identify how it will add real value to their business strategy.

4. Conversion rate optimisation:

You don’t always need to make big changes to have a massive impact – sometimes all it takes is minor tweaks and adjustments to transform your website’s success. As the digital environment becomes more competitive, it becomes harder to stand out from the crowd. Adequate conversion rates are not enough, you need to ensure that your website is perfectly designed to facilitate a smooth path to purchase and fully optimise conversion rates.

For these reasons, we predict that 2018 will be the year where brands fully embrace Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) as an integral part of their marketing plans. CRO is not just about identifying how users convert; it’s about understanding why they convert and, crucially, why they don’t. With a clearer and sharper sense of user behaviour, you can begin to map out the key barriers that are negatively affecting your conversion rates and develop vital solutions. Not only is it a cost-effective way to boost your ROI, it can also work successfully as a part of a wider auditing and testing process.

5. Visualisation and video:

We’ve already discussed the rapidly increasing popularity of video as a marketing channel and this is only set to grow over the coming year. Video is not only a highly emotive and visual medium, it also offers a fantastic opportunity for storytelling and user interaction, meaning consumers are able to engage with video-based messaging on a much deeper level.

One big emerging trend for the year ahead is smartphone video. Mobile users are spending more and more time attached to their devices, which has naturally paved the way for online mobile video to flourish. In fact, 90% of consumers now watch videos on their mobile. To capitalise on this opportunity, brands have already begun to distribute video ads across a variety of social media apps – including Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook - adjusting style and messaging to specifically cater to each platform’s unique audience. Consequently, we predict that in 2018 producing high-quality video content will be an absolute must for most brands.

And of course, with YouTube planning to scrap unskippable 30-second ads next year, advertisers using this platform will have to work harder than ever to ensure that they make every second count. Once again, quality over quantity will be key: marketers will need to grab their audience’s attention - immediately - through exciting, bold and engaging ad formats.

At Accord, we know that data-driven planning is key to delivering successful campaigns. By combining our data profiling and media know-how with innovative technologies and digital best practice, we design innovative marketing strategies that exceed expectations. For more information, contact us today.