17 Marketing Trends to Follow in 2018

By Ronan Keane.

January 5, 2018

Now that 2018 is upon us, there are new marketing trends poised to make a significant impact on go-to-market strategy. Here are 17 of the most important trends to look for in the coming year.

1. Quant Marketing Hits the Mainstream

The rise of quantitative-based marketing is upon us. Organizations like Unilever and Kraft, which previously relied on marketing “soft skills,” are now taking a playbook out of the tech world by building data-science teams to work hand-in-hand with marketers. Next year, quantitative-based marketing will continue to surge as organizations that focus on the data find it easier to grow.

2. AI Replaces Website Messaging

Thanks to tools like Intercom and Drift, marketers can already use artificial-intelligence-powered live-chat tools to communicate with customers. As this technology gets ironed out, it is likely that more brands will embrace AI live chat to better service website visitors and customers.

3. Brands Develop Voice-optimized Content

Last year 20% of online searches were conducted through voice search. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 50%. Just as marketers have optimized content for web 2.0 and mobile, they will start optimizing content for voice search as well.

For example, because voice search is easier than typing, searches tend to surface more long-tail content. By comparison, text search tends to surface shorter phrases. Get your long-tail keywords ready!

4. Personalization Raises Effectiveness Level

A major component of account-based marketing (ABM) is providing content tailored to specific accounts or account types. As ABM principles go mainstream, you'll witness content personalization proliferation, especially on websites and landing pages. Platforms by Adobe and Optimizely are now making it possible for marketers to recommend specific pieces of content similar to the way Netflix suggests TV shows and movies.

Content personalization for #ABM to proliferate in 2018 #2018marketingtrends

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5. Marketers Develop Augmented-reality Content

With the release of the iPhone X, Apple has made it clear that they are betting on augmented reality (AR). As these new devices go mainstream, brands will begin experimenting with AR-sponsored and branded content.

Here’s an example of how it could work: you point your iPhone X at the field during an NFL game, you’ll be able to see information and stats for each player. You won’t have to search online for how many touchdown passes Kirk Cousins has passed this season.

6. In-car Ads Become New Marketing Channel

Self-driving cars have arrived. Google announced that its deploying driverless cars for testing in Phoenix as part of a pilot program. Cars without actual people in the driver seat driving people around.

Google's Waymo fleet of self-driving cars has driven three million autonomous miles and simulated over one billion miles. Uber has just ordered 24,000 Volvo SUVs to be outfitted with the latest self-driving technology

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What will happen when drivers (now passengers) no longer need to actually drive and pay attention to what's going on in front of them? Driver/passengers will consume content and in that content will come in-car ads. You'll see some brands to begin experimenting with this new marketing channel in 2018.

7. Privacy Protection Becomes New Value Proposition

There have been a number of high-profile data breaches in 2017. The ride-sharing service giant, Uber revealed that in late 2016, it became aware of a data breach that potentially exposed the personal information of 57 million Uber users and drivers. Moving forward, consumers will begin to favor products that protect their privacy.

A new law passed by the European Union called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have a major impact on what businesses must do to protect user data. The GDPR is a regulation by which the European Union intends to strengthen and unify data protection for people across the EU.

Marketers will begin using privacy protection and data security as a value proposition across industries.

Marketers will use privacy protection as a new value proposition in 2018 #2018marketingtrends

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8. Instagram Becomes More Valuable than Facebook

Instagram is growing at a very fast pace. In 2017, Instagram announced that 800 million people use the platform each month. Their latest tool, Instagram Stories, became more popular than Snapchat just one year after going live.

Since brands tend to see better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform, and because of great advertising controls, Instagram is poised to become the go-to social media platform for brands interested in social media marketing.

9. Top Brands Invest in Live Events

Approximately two-thirds of marketers say that they will increase the number of live events they host in 2018. As expensive as they are, marketers recognize that live events are one of the most effective marketing channels.

There is a reason that some of the world's most successful organizations, including Salesforce, Airbnb and Google, host an annual event designed to bring existing customers, prospective customers and the press together under one roof.

10. B2B Marketers Launch Multichannel Cold-outreach Campaigns

The average cold email response rate is low, and it will continue to decline as email clients get better at filtering out junk mail. The best marketers develop integrated marketing campaigns that use a combination of email, digital ads and other channels to engage prospects in new and exciting ways.

For example, by using Twilio marketers can send text messages in addition to email. They can then retarget highly qualified prospects with custom audience ads offered by platforms like Facebook, Facebook, Google AdWords and YouTube.

Use integrated marketing 4 new prospecting - email, digital ads + channels #2018marketingtrends

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11. Twitter Dies a Silent Death

Twitter has failed to grow more users in 2017. The platform has focused on getting more users instead of making improvements to their ad platform. Because of this, marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects. This trend will continue in 2018 as Twitter works to improve and grow.

12. B2B Marketers Leverage LinkedIn in New Ways

While Twitter fights for its place, LinkedIn has made a number of significant improvements to their platform. A complete face-lift refreshed the LinkedIn user interface in 2017. While many good features are now part of paid subscriptions only, the platform saw good developments to the LinkedIn ad platform. Thanks to these changes and other improvements, B2B marketers will make use of LinkedIn more in the coming year.

13. Machine Learning Improves Digital Ad Performance

You may be paying a digital marketing agency big bags of money to manage ads. I see this changing as machine-learning platforms can do it better. New digital ad-spend management tools like Acquisio and Trapica can now optimize ad spend through advanced machine-learning algorithms. Marketers just need to fix basic campaign parameters. Then the platforms do the work of recognizing ideal audiences and effective ads.

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14. Predictive Lead Scoring Reshapes Lead Routing

Marketers are starting to operationalize Big Data to produce more qualified leads, to focus content operations on target markets, and to predict future behaviors of leads with predictive lead scoring.

With predictive lead scoring, marketers can now identify the prospects that are most likely to convert to customers. All that's needed is an email address, and tools like Ignite Technologies crawl the web looking for buying signals. Leads are then scored and sorted, so that only the most qualified prospects are passed to sales.

15. Social Media Management Gets Help

There are many creative social media marketers who are very good at generating awesome content. However, it’s not an easy task for marketers to manage the entire process of producing and then sharing the content across many social media and social networking sites. They need to share the content, build schedules, maintain content, and analyze the results. AI can manage all of the heavy lifting as well as and better than the marketer. Unmetric and Mintigo are just two of the AI-powered social media platforms offering this service.

Social media marketing gets much needed help from #AI #2018marketingtrends

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16. Gated Content No Longer in Favor

In the B2B world, gated content is how most companies generate leads. But, some of the best brands, including Hubspot and Zendesk, are un-gating content in order to develop a stronger organic search presence in an increasingly crowded content landscape. Add to this strategy techniques like cookie remarketing and website user tracking, and the need to get email addresses may become unnecessary.

17. Influencer Marketing Still a Good Strategy

Nearly 95% of marketers who use an influencer marketing strategy believe it is effective. Companies and brands interested in connecting with prospects via social media will continue to turn to this very good strategy. Connecting with and forging strong relationships with influencers in your industry or niche should be an ongoing effort to reach new prospects interested in your company's products and services.

The world of advertising is changing. It's moving toward more subtle sponsored content promoted by influencers or micro-influencers.


More marketing surprises wait for us in 2018, and some of these predictions may fail to come to pass as technology and the expectations of businesses and consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.

Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media. In addition, new content formats like augmented reality and in-car ads will probably go mainstream.

If you're interested in learning more about digital lead generation and effective inbound marketing schedule a 30 minute call with me, Ronan Keane.

Ronan Keane

Ronan Keane is an award-winning marketing and demand generation leader with 16 years’ experience. His expertise is in complete B2B marketing strategy and demand generation for increased bottom-line revenue and cost efficiencies. Ronan has worked with SMBs and Fortune 100 and household brands like Nike, Black and Decker, Renault and Popular Science Magazine. Ronan is a Forrester Groundswell winner and LinkedIn Sales Blog contributor. Ronan has taught thousands of marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and sales professionals how to use SEO, LinkedIn, Facebook, Social Selling and Digital Marketing techniques to grow their customer base.