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2018 marketing tips you won’t read elsewhere

28 November 2017
by Adam Oldfield

OK, so it’s a bold claim to make – we can’t guarantee that we’ve scoured the whole of the internet to find every marketing prediction that has been made ahead of the new year. But we have tried to think a bit differently about what marketers are going to encounter in 2018, what they need to do if they want to ‘up their game’ and where the opportunities lie to accelerate ROI.

And here are our tips…

The resurgence of email – but not as you know it

One minute, email marketing is dead, and the next it holds the key to greater engagement with customers and prospects. What’s it going to be?

We think we are going to see a resurgence of email next year, but the content may be a little different.

As 2017 has unfolded, the savviest of marketers have started saying less, but delivering more. They’ve worked hard to project increasingly coherent, meaningful and humanised conversations over time – even though that dialogue has been carried out on a mass automated scale.

In doing this, email has become a tool to educate and inform – not to blanket sell. And this is where efforts need to be concentrated in 2018.

Marketers will kill complexity

It’s a theme we began to highlight this time last year – that marketers would start to say no to super-suppliers in favour of working with specialists in each field. And it does appear that this prediction has come to fruition in 2017.

As 2018 unfolds, this is something other marketers need to think about. Is every supplier really clued-up on all elements of the services they provide? Or are they strong in some aspects of marketing and weak in others?

With marketers coming under more scrutiny than ever before to ensure savvy spend of their marketing budgets, 2018 needs to be the year that the profession says no to expensive ‘catch all’ tech solutions that don’t deliver ROI, or that have limited functionality and therefore hold teams back. If you haven’t already, you need to kill the complexity.

Evolution not revolution

We couldn’t look to the year ahead without homing in on a key theme that we communicate throughout our new site. Marketing is increasingly about evolution, not revolution, and this needs to be the focus next year.

Of course, moments of pure genius sometimes come to us all, and the perfect campaign is ready and waiting to go with little fuss. That campaign may absolutely fly and deliver exactly the engagement that you set out to achieve.

But moments of pure genius are a rarity. More often than not, it is more realistic for an idea to slowly take shape, and the customer journey to become an iterative process as time passes. However, if you’ve ‘killed the complexity’ that we mentioned above, and are equipped to work quickly, tweak as you go and remain agile according to new learnings, there is no harm in a marketing concept, campaign or journey evolving. It could actually be argued that this is a far smarter way to work, rather than staking all hopes on what could be little more than an initial punt.

Agility is a term being increasingly used throughout UK businesses large and small, but it can only be realised in marketing if the mindset exists and if your team is freed from the shackles of clunky, burdensome tech that holds them back.

AI vs humans

As a marketing automation specialist, we naturally monitor the martech space and wider realms of machine innovation, to see where AI is having an impact on the world of business.

Some organisations are sitting back and watching from afar, others are dabbling with the likes of chatbots to dip their toe into the water of next generation tech, and there are a few brands whose entire propositions revolve around AI capabilities.

There can be no denying that this type of technology is incredibly clever and extremely powerful. Call it what you like, it boils down to the use of machines or robots to compute data and uncover insight that we never thought possible – admittedly on very different levels, depending on whether we’re talking true AI or some simpler instances of machine learning.

2017 has seen automation engines dig deeper into a user’s behavioural patterns and predict optimal engagement times, send frequencies and messaging, at any given second, and in real time, for instance. There is no longer an excuse for marketers to not segment and personalise.

But this doesn’t render the human touch redundant.

Yes, AI/machine learning/automation engines can uncover much-needed data. But in terms of achieving that all-important communication cut-through, there are a number of extremely basic composition principles which are proven to open doors and educate contacts faster.

These nurture principles, quite simply, revolve around the components of an effective human argument. Marketers therefore need to introduce the concept, deliver the social proof, highlight the gains, instil the ‘why’ through an element of fear, and conclude with logic to truly drive the message home. We even authored a complete guide on this topic recently.

AI and human intellect are not mutually exclusive – they will both be needed in 2018 and beyond.

Say no to open and click-through rates

OK, it’s a bold statement to make and if these stats truly matter to your business, then keep analysing them.

But before you run off the next campaign report to measure your ‘success’, challenge yourself with the question – what is this data really telling me?

Increasingly, open and click rates are so far removed from the bottom line of a business that they convey very little. Have they actually led to the effective completion of a marketing objective? Have they contributed to the growth of that organisation? Are they going to excite the senior management team of a brand?

If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, think again about the next report that you run off and concentrate on the marketing metrics that matter. Much will depend on the business concerned, but often segment engagement, lead scoring and segmentation growth stats are far better aligned with inbound enquiry trends and commercial impact.

So, rather than just relying on the ‘safe’ stats that may not tell much of a story, talk to other decision makers in the company about the metrics they would like to see and understand. You’ll stake a bigger claim in the boardroom if you do!


Photo of Adam Oldfield
Adam Oldfield
Managing Director & Founder

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