We’re less than a month away from Christmas and the New Year, which means it’s time for another round of our bold predictions for the marketing world. As always, I want to mention the reason we started doing these prognostication posts: Rand Fishkin’s annual predictions, something he started doing way back in 2011. In case you’re curious about our fortune-telling prowess, read our 2016 and 2017 marketing prediction posts.
As usual, we’ll grade last year’s predictions before we allow ourselves to make another set but let’s get serious, we’re going to play the game again either way.
Here’s the grading scale we decided on in 2014’s post:

  • Oracle (+2) – when we’re so right it’s like we channeled that nice lady from The Matrix
  • Oracle In-Training (+1) – we didn’t quite see the whole picture, but hey, we still saw the future
  • Clear As Mud (0) – we weren’t right, but we weren’t wrong, either
  • Just A Bit Outside (-1) – we tried to paint the corner of the plate, but the ump didn’t give us the call
  • Swing And A Miss (-2) – like a batter who expects fastball and gets a curve, we weren’t close

For 2017, we made these five predictions:

#1: Jobs for Data Scientists and/or Analytics Gurus Will Continue to Grow

Grade: +2

Oh yeah! We start off with a quick win for last year’s predictions with a full two points on the board immediately. The chart you see below comes from Indeed’s job trends tool. Check it out and we think you’ll agree: jobs for data scientists continued to rise in 2017 and show absolutely know signs of slowing down.
Data Scientist Jobs

#2: Influencer Marketing Will Gain a Foothold

Grade: +2

Excuse us for another chart, but the proof is in the chart, right? That’s how the saying goes isn’t it? With apologies to pudding, there’s no doubt influencer marketing got more popular in 2017, as evidenced by the Google Trends tool showing interest in the term “influencer marketing” almost doubled from the end of 2016 to December, 2017. That’s another two points for us!
Google Trends: Influencer Marketing

#3: More Small Businesses Will Embrace Marketing Automation

Grade: 0

Alright, we’re willing to admit this one is a little hard to measure. With companies like HubSpot constantly evolving better and more affordable marketing automation tools, it’s clear automation is more accessible than it’s ever been. Since it’s proved difficult to find recent stats that show legitimate growth for marketing automation in the small business sector, we’ll call this one a wash. We think it’s definitely happening, though.

#4: The Use of Video Will Keep Climbing

Grade: +2

Put another two points on the board, folks! In retrospect, this wasn’t exactly a difficult prediction to make, but hey, when you’re right, you’re right. According to Cisco, Internet video traffic accounted for 69% of all global consumer Internet traffic in 2017. By 2021, video is expected to surpass 80% of all Internet traffic. Needless to say, if video is not part of your marketing strategy, you’re in danger of getting left behind.

#5: A New and Significant Content Marketing Technology Will Emerge

Grade: -2

It was bound to happen, but at least we staved off the negative points until prediction number five. I didn’t come across any significant tech that rocked my content marketing world in 2017, nor did I discover anything I’d missed after a brief search. We lose two points here but you know what? We’re going to keep making bold predictions!

Final Score: +4

Not only did we once again get more right than wrong, we actually prognosticated one point better than last year. With full permission by the rules of the game, and without further delay, here are our thoughts, musings and bold predictions for the future of marketing in 2018:
The Future of Marketing

#1: The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Powered Future of Marketing Will Take Shape

The emergence of artificial intelligence as the future of marketing may already be happening, but the vast majority of businesses haven’t noticed. Earlier this year, I wrote about how AI is helping marketers, not replacing them. In 2018, AI becomes the future in ways no savvy business owner or marketer can ignore.

#2: Smart Digital Assistants and Chatbots Become Mainstream

Bing has already experimented with adding chatbots to search results to increase searcher engagement, so again this is already happening on a small scale. What we’re predicting is more accessible chatbots, applied in many more instances and at a higher rate. It won’t quite be the world of Spike Jonze’s Her in 2018, but we’re getting there.

#3: Marketers Start Creating Augmented Reality (AR) Content

When Pokémon GO took the world by storm, marketers watched in awe, wondering if they could possibly duplicate that level of engagement and interaction. In 2018, marketers begin to familiarize themselves with augmented reality and by the end of the year, possibly work it into their marketing strategies.

#4: Influencer Marketing Maintains Its Foothold

In 2017, marketers realized the importance of developing relationships with both customers and influencers. Now that those relationships are off the ground, 2018 is about nurturing them into a larger and more productive network. There are no limits to the reach and power of influencer marketing.

#5: More Brands Invest in Perfecting Their Customer Experience

Although we believe it’s extremely important for companies to align their customer experience with the marketing messages they send out, it doesn’t always happen. In 2018, the customer experience becomes more of a focus for marketers, rather than an afterthought.
Until Next Year!
We didn’t need luck with last year’s predictions, but the future is a fickle thing, so we may need it this year! Are you brave enough to take any of our predictions and work them into your 2018 marketing strategies? We hope you are, but if not, don’t forget to visit our blog again next year to see how we did.

This post is originally published in WSI World.

About the Author: Cheryl Baldwin

Cheryl Baldwin, Director of Marketing Communications at WSI, oversees WSI’s Marketing Department. She’s an integral part of the WSI’s global brand presence and corporate identity.