If you thought 2017 was a crazy year for mobile marketing, buckle up. In 2018 there will be bigger changes in technology, automation, and personalization, which will all converge in search of a more relevant customer experience.

The economic growth in 2017 was impressive. Unemployment is down, spending is up, and businesses are investing in the future. While the debate about the recently adopted tax reform package rages, Kiplinger’s David Payne expects a boost in 2018. In Tax Reform Will Boost Economy, Payne notes that “the economic momentum should continue into the fourth quarter, with 2.7% growth. Consumer spending is likely to remain strong, given the jump in consumer sentiment surveys in October.” This is all good news for mobile marketing.

Technology is driving change

None of us are surprised by this observation. Our phones are more than communication tools. We tend to be tethered to them, for managing information, navigation, research, and of course, for making purchases. Azadeh Williams, in Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018, cites Forrester’s claim that “smartphones are fast assuming the role of ‘central conductor’ across broader digital experiences.”  And while we appreciate all of the features and functions as users, we are even more amazed by the technology on the back end for marketers. Digital platforms let advertisers gather, process, and measure data like never before. Collectively, these advances in technology will be the drivers of change in 2018.

Vast amounts of consumer data from search and social media providers, along with feedback analytics from marketing efforts, are important to hone future campaigns. Budgets are always a factor, so it’s imperative that marketers process the data and use it to provide ads to the right user at the right time. Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are necessary tools, and they are becoming even more sophisticated than their names suggest. Properly implemented, these efforts “enrich, rather than avoid human interaction,” according to Forbes’ Ian Altman in The Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2018.

Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are forming a new “real reality” for marketing. As these technologies proliferate, they will change how users interact with their devices, with data, and of course, with marketing campaigns. Williams, in Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018, notes that “once you realize its capability, there will be endless application ideas and opportunities for marketers.” This also means more data, and more opportunity to refine your efforts to find your best prospects, virtually and physically.

Blockchain technology, which is currently seeing a big boom, could change the way data is shared between parties. Nic Dennis, Vice President of sales for Australia and New Zealand at Marketo, observes that “blockchain technologies have the potential to disrupt how digital advertising is measured, purchased and delivered—giving consumers more control over what personal data is available to an advertiser.”

Customer experience is the key

The capabilities now available through technology are simply mind-boggling. The less tech-savvy often see technology as nothing but a bunch of bits and bytes, ones and zeros. Developers are presented with the challenge of how to make the experience more exciting for users. Williams, in Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018, calls this process “customer centricity.” The technology drives the digital marketing strategy to move “the customer relationship to an even deeper and more dynamic level of personalized engagement.”

The trick is to enhance the trust in a brand and its offerings by understanding consumer behavior. Williams quotes Leigh Dunsford, recognizing that savvy consumers “are very aware of corporate hogwash and cliché terms repeated within industries, making authentic language and design even more critical as we head into another year of compounding advancements in technology.”

Social and content marketing will have greater abilities to be localized. One aspect of localization involves targeted campaigns that are cognizant of local trends and issues. Another aspect involves providing additional opportunities based on the geolocation of consumers. An ad for tires is dramatically more valuable if the consumer’s data indicates recent search activity for tires—AND they are currently near your tire store. Getting the customer experience right is critical.

Making the most of each campaign

The creative resources in each organization will be called on to produce content that is engaging and meaningful to customers. The information technology professionals will be under pressure to implement and manage ever-evolving tools, and strategies will be required to bring all of these capabilities together to make the experience compelling as an expression of the brand, products, and services.

As counterintuitive as the idea may sound in the midst of this digital dialog, Altman reminds us of what top companies already know: that “nothing drives strong communities better than in-person and live interactions.” In The Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2018, Altman concludes that digital marketing is much more effective when it drives in-person interactions.

With all the big new shiny tech and fancy systems, our developers at Xclaim are gathered around the water cooler making bets on which company is going to power their campaigns with the best emerging tech. Of course, our hat is in the ring too, and anybody who isn’t… well, you’re going to get left behind.

Image: Google map sculpture by Arambar on Wikipedia

Pin It on Pinterest