No purchasing decision is too small, and omnichannel marketing is the new normal in 2018.

Shopping: Mobile integration

The future of shopping will be physical as we see options to purchase in both the physical and digital realms. Mobile is the common denominator between customer retail experiences. Deloitte in the United States reports that more than 90% of consumers now use their phones in the shopping process.

According to Think With Google, people are also using their phones as an 'in-store research adviser' with a massive 82% of smartphone users saying they consult their phones on purchases they're going to make in a store.

Online shopping in South Africa is forecast to grow to over R53-billion in 2018, and it is estimated there will be over 21 million active smartphone users here within the next five years, meaning mobile shopping integration is an imperative for marketers in 2018.

Home: Your voice is your command

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held recently in Las Vegas, and the home of the future is truly something to behold with everything geared towards a technologically integrated lifestyle. The dominant tech feature of 2018 is voice assisted integration. The question is, whose voice? OK Google, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana?

For marketers, this means relooking at their brand platforms to ensure they are optimised for voice search. For an idea of how big this is and is going to become, Google Assistant is now available on over 400 million devices, and the global predictions, summed up by Branded3, are:
  • “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.” – comscore;
  • “About 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.” – Mediapos;
  • “We estimate there will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020.” – Activate; and
  • “By 2019, the voice recognition market will be a $601-million industry.” – Technavio via Skyword.

Social media: Personalisation

It’s only natural that in 2018 we might start yearning for more 'human' interaction. How can social media help? By becoming more personalised. Social is going to need to reassure the user that they know them better than Siri or Alexa does. The days of marketers churning out generic content are almost over.

On the upside, marketers have the skills and tools to create content which is genuinely useful, and ads which reach the correct target market. In terms of personalisation, mentions 'social listening' as one of the trends this year.

Analytics need to be more than tracking growth; they need to monitor what people are saying and act on the feedback. Ironically, it’s chatbots which will give customers some of the personalisations they’re looking for.

There are at least 100 000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger, and a staggering two billion messages are exchanged between brands and audiences each month. 2018 is going to be the year of the consumer and by extension. Time to make your brand’s omnichannel presence a strategic priority.

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