Top 5 marketing trends to watch in 2018

By Damian Papworth

With the digital world very much prevalent and here to stay, so too is digital marketing. And while there are countless predictions on the top marketing trends for 2018, Australian marketing expert Damian Papworth said it’s about taking it back to basics and focusing on the fundamentals.

Though relatively short-term, Papworth notes with the rise of the digital world, a great historical divide has been created between traditional and digital marketing. Those in digital are likely to view anyone operating in traditional marketing as ‘dinosaurs’ with an out-dated point of view, traditional marketers have extreme wisdom and knowledge that is being overshadowed by the growth of the digital world.

Having been in the industry for more than a decade and the founder and director of leading digital marketing provider Globital, Papworth sheds insight into the top five things that will change the course of marketing in 2018, that may just see the traditional and digital world collide.

Digital will turn traditional

Being a fairly new profession, with no formal qualifications required, those in the digital marketing industry can be viewed as ‘technicians’ in their field rather than ‘marketers’. Digital marketers are technicians who are generally very good at one platform or technique. They call this marketing, but it’s a very small element of the overall picture. For example, an SEO technical skill is to get clients’ websites to the first page of Google so they can attract customers, but an SEO expert doesn’t look into or try to understand who the ideal customer is and where they are, rather they look at keywords instead and what is being typed into Google. There is no traditional marketing behind this approach and with digital marketers becoming savvier, digital teams start to understand the importance of traditional concepts, particularly when it comes to better knowing their clients.

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Driven by a need to provide a better result in marketing, digital professionals will begin tapping into more traditional ideas, concepts, education and training, to become better well-rounded marketers. They’ll start doing things that will help them grasp a better understanding of their clients, transitioning into more traditional marketing skills and roles.

On the contrary, traditional will turn digital

While digital will start adopting a more traditional outlook, traditional will, on the contrary, start to become more digitalised. On the opposite end, traditional marketers are starting to evolve their business into more digital roles. They have always been good at the classic-style of marketing – getting behind the strategy and understanding who the right people are to target and finding where those people are and making sure their messages get in front of them.

The actual art of putting marketing messages in front of the right target audiences has now become a ‘platform’ question and in the old days it would be magazines, newspapers, billboards, signage, direct mail and Yellow Pages. Now we have a digital world, which seems to have scared traditional marketers initially – rather than viewing it as another platform where ideal clients were gathering and waiting to see brand messages, they saw it as some form of black magic.

Noting that digital is here to stay, traditional marketers are now beginning to come to terms with the digital world and are starting to see how their messages can be much better created and deployed across digital marketing platforms. Traditional marketers don’t necessarily need to be across the latest trends, they just have to apply their traditional work on the platforms where it is most relevant.

Best of both worlds measures up

A big prediction ahead is that the measurement of marketing and evaluation of success in both traditional and digital will collide and come together in 2018. It has always been quite difficult to measure results across traditional marketing platforms, and most of the time you would know half your marketing was working and the other half wasn’t, but you just wouldn’t know which. Overall marketing has been based on real business concepts like return on investment, proof of revenue, increased growth and profitability – which were all high level strategic measurements that would be of benefit to the client. However, when the digital world came along, you had an interface with things like Google Analytics, AdWords and various other social media engines which recorded reach, engagement, clicks and likes, conversions and attribution. It provided us access to real time information on what was happening day-in day-out.

Though digital could tell a brand exactly what was working and what wasn’t, it’s also brought with it a great deal of ‘vanity-style’ measurements that were more to showcase the skill of the technician rather than generate actual results for the client. These things included everything from Keyword Position on Google and traffic, to engagement, reach and likes - all social vanity-style measurements. We are likely to see traditional marketing measures combine with the best of the digital marketing measures in 2018 – we will lose emphasis on the vanity-style measurements and instead feed into results-based digital.

This will continue an evolution into traditional marketing concepts where we will see lead conversions turn into sales, which turn into revenue and result in profit – there will be a greater focus on return on investment.

It’s more about the strategy

As digital marketing has grown over the past 10 years, particularly with the evolution of social media platforms, we are constantly on a frenetic search for the next massive opportunity or platform that will change the digital world. We’ve seen people jump from one strategy to another – as soon as a new social media network pops up, everyone jumps on to that and tries to invent these amazing marketing strategies that are going to dominate the industry.

This will settle down as we are reaching a stage of maturity where we realise a lot of that is nonsense. There is not going to be such a need to be on every social media platform, rather the industry is going to go back to a traditional sense of knowing your prospects and looking at where you clients are, what the best platform is for your clients and what the best strategy will be to get the message in front of them. The rest of it will be about finding the best technician to implement that strategy.

Reverting to a long-term approach

While marketing was traditionally a very long-term approach to doing better business and achieving business growth, the past ten years of digital has seen marketing become more short-term focused. With three month guarantees and a strong competition to get that digital marketing dollar, there has been a shortening of the marketing results time frame. What we will see over time is that this will settle down too and the pendulum will swing the other way – we will start seeing a calmer, more long-term approach to achieving marketing success.

Think 12 to 24 month to five-year plans in marketing being exercised, which will be for the greater good of most businesses too, because the short-term approach is actually quite disruptive. The current issues surrounding short-term results is that companies can’t keep up with massive growth of an incredibly successful one-off campaign, creating internal issues and client dissatisfaction and a lot of other problems. Once that campaign is finished, companies often can’t replicate it, which causes more internal problems.

These problems are common with one-off campaigns and short-term ridiculous results, so it will be for the benefit of businesses as well as a sensible approach to marketing, to lengthen marketing campaigns and measurements. It will be about looking for small gains repeatedly over and over the course of time, rather than some immediate massive wins.


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