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2018 Marketing trends to be or not to be in South Africa?

365 days as a marketer to find ways to gain an edge over your competitors, as that is one thing that all successful marketing professionals have in common. Marketing is changing rapidly, the ability to master and exploit these changes into your daily operation and short/long term strategy is key. No time for a pause as the tempo of change is constantly rising.

What are the 2018 marketing trends and… Are they hype or necessity?
About two years ago I already found out that some things in South Africa are thought, however, not said out loud, I have done so anyway. Traditional, purely above-the-line marketing is dead! And I remain with my statement.

Mass marketing is largely untargeted and focussing on the brand rather than the customer with no other purpose for a user to buy a product is not enough anymore. You won’t hear me say that is will never be a part of your strategy anymore. However by itself it is dead. Modern marketing is developed with the vision of brand building as well as conversions. It needs to be personal, add value for all parties and be measurable. Marketing Automation and data are shaping the future.

The first big trend we spot is the use of live video streaming. Social media and it’s very big influence has paved the way for live content possibilities. Research concludes that 80 per cent of end-users prefer watching a live video as opposed to reading a blog. Why: too much information not enough time.

Video gives businesses a chance to interact and communicate with their audience directly next to this the broad spectrum of social media platforms make it possible to get real time feedback. Most used platforms are: Facebook live, Youtube live, Instagram live, Twitter and Periscope. Finally, videos and their content can be repurposed in the future.

Another trend is the rising importance of micro influencing. It’s all about the focus on qualitative results instead of the quantitative aspects of social media influence in gaining an audience. Using brand ambassadors and social influencers has become a legitimate marketing strategy. 85 per cent of end users trust peer recommendations over brand advertising, 70 per cent of end users consult social media before making a purchase and 82 per cent of end users are highly likely to blindly follow the recommendation of an influencer.

Still trending and again getting a position in the yearly trend list is content marketing, recurring in the list for the past years. However, the proof that businesses are still not adopting to this, as it keeps coming back as an advise to implement in your strategy. Compared to other, important, factors such as; Big Data (including market and customer insight via predictive analytics), Mobile Marketing, CRM/ Email Automation, PR and paid search (Google AdWords & Pay per Click), content marketing according to business executives will remain in having the biggest impact on companies. Make sure your content is relevant and has a clearly defined audience. In line with the cost saving challenge we all have in marketing rather than coming up with new marketing strategies; refine your existing ones. Content marketing is not expensive and when properly executed will increase sales and customer loyalty.

A new challenge is the focus from the Millennials to the Generation Z.
Oldest trick in the book: “Target your end users while they are so young you can retain them for as long as possible”. However, how to target this new generation as they have completely different buying habits than the generations before them. Millennials have shaped the marketing landscape and trends for the past 10 years. It now is time though to also put some more focus on the younger generation as well; the i-Generation, Homeland Generation or the iGeneration born in the late 1990’s to mid 2000s. The oldest people in this generation are entering their early 20s. In other words graduating from college and entering the workforce and changing their habits. As their steady job results in having more buying power. No matter what industry or size your business is, you need to do research on this generation and find out how to target them. Don’t forget the Millennials or Generation X, in contrary, however embrace that whole new and fresh market for you to target.

In line with the above, more key than ever in 2018 is consumer personalisation, and we all know it and we all need to implement it, however, the fact is a lot of organisations don’t focus enough on this way of increasing engagement and sales. How can you sell to your customers if you don’t know what they want? 75 per cent of end users prefer suppliers or retailers that use personalisation to improve their shopping experience. And we are not talking using your prospects / customers; name and surname.

Encourage people to create a customer profile on your website or mobile application. The more data you have the more you can implement personalization tactics which will make it easier for you to up- and cross-sell to your customers. It’s cheaper to target your current customers than it is to acquire new ones.

You can also send personalised email messages to your subscribers. Email personalisation improves your conversion rates by 10% and increase click-through rates by 14 per cent. A personalised subject line of an email, increases your chance of the recipient opening the mail with 26 per cent. Those of you who weren’t using personalisation in 2017 need to start doing so in 2018. So, hopefully your 2017 focus was cleaning up your CRM database and making sure you accumulated a lot of clean data.

Speaking of data another very important trend is security. South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act ensures the end user’s privacy. And let’s face it a lot of people are rightfully worried about their privacy. However if you respect all the rules, regulations and stick to the guidelines there is nothing to hide and transparency is key. Let your customers know you are protecting and not abusing their information. Use your privacy protection strategy as a selling point. If their information is safe with you, tell your customers. Using data lists without permission, selling your customer’s data or engaging with the end user without their permission will result in your company appearing sketchy or untrustworthy; it will be difficult for you to get lots of sales and regain trust.

Finally, last trend for this year is interactivity.
Focus on a multi-channel approach. No or – or strategy but an and- and. Making a connection from print to online and integrate this into your email marketing. Email marketing is far from dead. However, if you keep sending out the same unpersonalised, untargeted boring emails over and over and over and over again, yes you will not get different results. Engage with your subscribers and improve engagement via interactivity using: real-time activities, adding surveys or reviews and using GIF’s instead of pictures.

To be or not to be in South Africa is up to you. It’s a simple key to success: staying up-to-date with the latest marketing trends. The best marketing professionals seize opportunities from the future and look forward using consumer behaviour.  It results in being able to identify trends and making significant though applicable changes to your marketing strategy giving you that: “Edge over your competition”! If you’re struggling to come up with new ideas, or some of the topics in the above article keep reading my articles and blogs the coming year. Will go into the subject deeper with more explanation and practical examples.

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