At the start of every new calendar year, we’re inundated with listicle after listicle promising to introduce us to what is sure to be trending. Now that we’re all settled comfortably into the rhythm of 2018, we’ve decided to collate the best of this year’s marketing predictions.  Here’s a run-down of CQA’s own picks of the fresh ideas driving marketing forward in 2018 and beyond:

1) Voice is the new touch – There is no doubt we live in a world in which convenience is king, in which a quick access to and portability of information are perhaps some of the most important requirements to digital users. This demand for immediacy has opened windows of opportunity for marketers to harness the power of voice in ways that just weren’t possible before thanks to the rapid emergence of voice assistant technology like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana.

In fact, just this past Christmas, Amazon saw it’s Alexa-powered devices (Echo products) not only sell-out across the entire line, but also top the sales records as the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon. Not only did Alexa make for a great pressie, it helped to make the Christmas season easy and enjoyable for many. Amazon’s data shows Alexa helped with mixing cocktails, baking treats, listening to carols, turning Christmas lights on & off, calling extended family and providing updates on Santa.

What we find most interesting is the unlikely demographic that is rapidly adopting the technology—a quarter of users are 55 and older. The frictionless nature of voice makes adoption easy; there’s not new technology to learn. Just speak and it works; no points, clicks, or gestures to master.

2) Touchpoint consistency – A touchpoint (or micro-moment) occurs when a person encounters your business / brand / service via a source or device – a smartphone, an app, your blog, social media profiles, your advertising, your website – to obtain information. These moments happen every second of every day, and micro-moment marketing has now become its own specialization.

In the B2B space, you’ll need to be especially savvy in accurately anticipating prospective customer touchpoints with your brand, produce content that satisfies the intent of that micro-moment, and optimize your digital footprint for maximum speed and authority. It’s important to note that micro-moments can also be rich with an urgency to gather more information or make a quick purchase.

Think with Google states customers are drawn to brands that are present, useful and accountable to prospects. The digital B2B landscape in 2018 requires the execution of a consistent and focused campaign across a variety of touchpoints to successfully engage a potential customer. Digital users crave information via mobile devices and tend to make purchasing decisions only after several touchpoints with a brand. So, get out there, and be prepared with thoughtful, lead-generating answers and solutions for your prospects.

3) The maturation of content marketing – Content marketing has always been about one thing: being relevant and truly helpful to your audience. Since 2015, content marketing has been growing in priority to marketers. Its increasing priority is understandable when you note that data from Hubspot shows not only that 43% of internet users admit to reading blogs, but that blog publication has a direct impact on traffic volumes. This is equally true for the B2B space as it is for B2C. The same Hubspot data shows B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic and 4.5X more leads than those blogging less frequently.

What we’re seeing as a maturation is actually ingenious ways of captivating attention through the power of visuals combine with great storytelling.  It’s true that many marketers consider visual marketing the most important form of content for their business. Yes, visuals are great, but they are not enough. Supportive storytelling is a rising trend that promises not only to engage users as they encounter your content, but keep them returning for more. In fact, the cycle of engagement is created by quality over quantity. AdWeek’s Greg Hadden shares, “Good storytelling is potent stuff. It has the power to make people want to believe and to belong… Boiled down, good storytelling and good content marketing are one and the same. It’s the commerce of ideas wrapped in entertainment…”

4) Rethinking the value of hypertargeting – Hypertargeting is the process advertisers use to target highly specific consumer profiles in crowded media channels. Marketers love hypertargeting because of the promise of zero wasted advertising spend. But, this practice excludes some potential buyers and influencers.

At Content World 2017, Linked In’s Mike Weir delivered a presentation urging B2B marketers to realise it is important to reach the whole of the “buying committee”, which includes not only the decision maker but all of the influencers. He advised, “The idea is to strive for “relevant reach” to expand the market interest and consideration of your company.”