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How to set your 2018 marketing strategy

by Michelle Alexander
on 4 Dec, 2017 16 min read

As 2017 comes to a close, now is the perfect time to develop your marketing strategy for 2018. An effective marketing strategy will involve reflecting on your current business performance, establishing your consumers’ expectations and understanding the latest marketing trends which have the potential to positively affect your bottom line.

To help you set a powerful marketing strategy tailored specifically to your business, this article shares the most effective strategy-setting tips. It also educates you on the latest noteworthy trends that may inform your next strategic move.


Why you need to revise your current marketing strategy

Marketing is a process of implementation, evaluation and control. For this process to generate a positive ROI, it needs to be driven by the mindset of continuous optimisation.

An informed marketing strategy and success go hand in hand.

If you have business aspirations for 2018, now is the time to review and update your current strategy. Revisit the last 12 months. Measure and evaluate where your business can improve. This process will enable you to uncover new business opportunities. From here, articulate your goals and set a clear, realistic roadmap to ensure you are able to achieve them.

“An informed marketing strategy and success go hand in hand.”

Ask yourself:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work well?
  • What has changed for my business?

Consider the changes in both your external environment (e.g. competitors, regulation etc.) and your internal environment (e.g. talent, budgeting etc.). How can your business approach these changes?

Need some extra help? Our team offer strategic consultations for business owners.
Enquire with me today to learn more.


How to set your 2018 marketing strategy

Having a well-informed marketing strategy will help you create clarity when it comes to making decisions in 2018. Your strategy will guide and coordinate all of your marketing efforts, ensuring every dollar you invest in your business contributes to achieving your goals.

The end goal of developing a marketing strategy is to have a realistic, comprehensive and coordinated plan for the year ahead. There are a few key steps that will help you achieve this outcome.


1/ Conduct your research and establish benchmarks

Address the following:

  • Seek to identify new business opportunities and trends
  • Identify your current business position in the market
  • Research competitors and identify their strategic objectives
  • Review analytics to understand your target audience


2/ Establish your goals

Over the next 12 months, where do you want to take your business? Be specific and quantify your goals – this will make it easier to measure your success and understand whether or not you’ve achieved your desired outcomes. Ensure your objectives are measurable, achievable and realistic.


3/ Determine your budget

In order to make your 2018 business success a reality, you need to marry your strategy and your budget together. Regardless of your budget size, you need to think strategically about how you can best invest your dollar to generate a positive ROI.

Not sure how to set your budget? Read our related article.


4/ Define your tactics and implementation plan

Create a roadmap for success:

  • Breakdown your target audiences and identify what channels they use and the key messages that will win them over.
  • Select your tactics. Get innovative. Competitor pressure for most industries is intense. How will you stand out? It might pay to get a marketing professional involved here.
  • Delegate responsibilities to your team and create a plan to keep them accountable


5/ Set up a plan for measurement and evaluation

Integrate a plan for data analysis and measuring results. Your marketing strategy is not a set and forget piece. Make it a living document and schedule in quarterly reviews to update and optimise it.


Want to know how you can win big in 2018?

A key success factor to set a powerful strategy for next year will be ensuring it is relevant to the business landscape of 2018. This means being aware of the latest innovations and developments in your industry’s space. This is the best way to strengthen your competitive advantage and ensure your business isn’t left behind.


The top marketing trends to act on in 2018

To help you set a plan that is relevant to the landscape and emerging trends, I have listed the top marketing trends set to take off in 2018. After you finish reading through the following trends, take the time to reflect on what trends will be most relevant and worthwhile for your business. Ready to find out what’s install for 2018?

Here are the top trends most likely to be features of many marketing strategies in 2018.


1 Targeting micro-moments

Understanding your consumer behaviour as micro-moments is set to be a big strategic shift in 2018.

Micro-moments refer to the movements your target audience undertake when they act, with either intention or immediacy, on their discovered need.

What is driving this trend?

This is one of the latest strategic emerging trends that has resulted from the increased use of smartphones.

People are now using their phones everywhere they go – meaning your brand can reach people anywhere and anytime. It is no secret that we are now living in a mobile-first world.

The latest marketing research shows that smartphones are frequently used to support the consumer decision-making process. In fact, 82% of smartphone users use their device to help make a decision when in store. The online and offline marketing worlds have now merged as one.

As the population are increasing their use of technology in their day-to-day activities, customer touch points can no longer be seen as silo approaches for example online vs offline events. Instead, touch points should be viewed as an integrated multi-channel approach, both offline and online, working together. Having a consideration for real-time, geo-targeted marketing approaches should now be something integrated into your marketing mix.

By looking at your customer’s journey in micro-moments, you essentially fragment touch points into smaller decision making moments that allow you to identify opportunities to help influence these moments and lead prospects towards your brand.

How can you implement this approach in 2018?

To help you get in the micro-moments mindset, you need to identify and map out your consumer journey. From here look at analytics and try to uncover the decision making moments that occur on the path to a conversion.

Some tips:

  • Understand multi-device behaviour. Look at the customer journey holistically from an offline and online perspective. Your analytics should contain this data.
  • Formulate ways to reach your audience. You need to identify the right time to combine online and offline tactics. For each micro-moment, you need a plan to provide clients with the right information that will move them through the conversion funnel and ultimately to a decision. Think about how you can geo-target and reach them in real time.

Want to learn more? Think with Google have a fantastic resource on micro-moments.


2 Experiential marketing

We are now in an experiential economy and it is essential to move away from a transaction-based marketing approach and meet your audience’s expectations. The key to successfully executing experiential marketing is to focus on emotional engagement. By targeting your key messages on emotions you will be able to better connect with your audience, ultimately attracting and retaining more clients.

With the need to create and craft experiences, every brand needs to be implementing an element of storytelling. In 2018, your brand should use a strategic mix of creativity and technology to deliver stories that create a lasting connection with your clients.

What story should you be telling?

It comes down to your branding and how you want to position yourself in your audience’s mind. Storytelling will involve an aspect of personifying your brand by creating a brand voice and an authentic identity.

For a B2B approach, you need to pivot away from focusing on products alone and move towards selling the positive experiences your products or services provided. Seek to create educational, futuristic and informative experiences.

For a B2C approach, you need to move away from the transactional business model. While providing information on rational attributes of your product and services seek to speak to your consumer’s emotions. The ultimate goal of experiential marketing for a B2C business is to create a brand voice that consumers want to be a part of. One that comes with meaning and allows for frequent engagement. Try to develop emotional, motivational and educational experiences that build a community of advocates.

Watch this space:

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) advances with emotional intelligence your ability to story tell will be strengthened with personalisation.

In the not so distant future, AI will be used to personalise branded assets based on your user’s interest and location. This will help you better understand your consumers, tailor individual messages to their situation and further optimise your brand experience.


3 Content clustering and SEO

The ultimate purpose of content marketing is to optimise your search engine rankings and move your audience through the purchase funnel until they become a paying customer. Content marketing has revolutionised the way we market. Brands can no longer expect to be able to interrupt people for their attention.

What is driving this trend?

Consumer demand. Consumers are using search engines throughout the entire customer journey. They are also using a more conversational tone when entering into their search. Having content that answers their queries is essential to build brand awareness and help educate and inform their decision. They are also spending more time scrolling through media, giving your brand more opportunities to present valuable content.

How to implement content marketing into your 2018 strategy

In a world where content is king, you need to be creating targeted content with the intention to attract prospects, nurture and educate leads and build relationships with existing clients. For the year ahead aim to produce purposeful, high-quality content. This will be vital in order to survive the search engine competition and optimise your customer journey. Especially if your competition is already implementing content marketing approaches.

This does not mean pushing out content for content’s sake. This approach will not get you the results you are after. Each piece of content needs to have a strategic purpose and be coordinated with your key messaging.

If you have not implemented a content strategy over the past year now is your chance to start fresh. You can set a powerful measurable formula that is engineered for SEO and to strategically bring in prospects.

Just how do you do this? Content clustering.

The hot new trend that merges SEO and content marketing together. It is the act of creating a ‘cluster’ of relevant content around a carefully selected key topic (usually around a keyword you want to rank for.)

Creating a detailed collection of content around one topic tells google that you are experts at what you do. The more content you add to your cluster, the more in-depth information for your website user. The longer the user spends on your website, the more Google will pay attention to you and rank you higher for SEO.

If increasing your brand authority and SEO rankings is of priority in 2018 – content clustering is a vital element to include in your marketing mix.


4 Video is now Queen

Video has been a topic of conversation in the marketing world for quite a while. There have been predictions that by 2021 82% of the web will be video.

“In 2018, we are set to see more technological innovation and brand creativity when it comes to producing video content.”

What’s driving this trend?

Video has become an integral part of our daily lives. Social channels like Facebook are already ranking videos higher in their user’s news feeds. Gen Z’s are also behind its popularity. Did you know that 95% of Gen Z are frequent Youtube users? Influencer video content is already in high demand.

With video, you can bring your brand to life and forge emotional connections with your audience. It is also a more efficient way to distribute memorable key messages. The brain processes video content 60,000 times faster than text.

How to use video in your strategy:

When it comes to your marketing strategy and video, think about where you can integrate it into business processes. Think testimonials, how-tos, product demos and explainers.

Video tactics to consider for your strategy are:

  • Projection mapping. This is an experiential marketing technique. Video projection mapping involves displaying video on 3D surfaces. This creates an augmented reality (AR). If you want your campaigns to be engaging and interactive, consider integrating an element of projection mapping into it.
    See an example of Coca Cola’s projection mapping with the launch of their Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.
  • Live video streaming. Think Facebook Live. In 2017 we saw this application used for Q&A’s, live product launches and behind the scenes. In 2018, expect to see more interactive content that actively involves the viewer and emphasise brand interaction.
  • Quick snippets. 56% of video content published over the past 12 months is less than 2 minutes long. Our attention spans are decreasing. Seek to produce more snack-size content in 2018.


5 Marketing automation

Already a trend that has skyrocketed in popularity, marketing automation is set to be the way of the marketing future. By 2025 this software is expected to have an annual worth of $8.6 billion. In 2018, marketing automation will continue to be a method that amplifies your strategy.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a software platform used to perform business communications, campaigns and segment databases. It is a platform that brings all of your marketing efforts under one roof. This helps to streamline tasks and amplify your results. This software takes a data-led approach to nurturing your leads and, with strategy, can deliver the result at a higher conversion rate.

Marketing automation is still considered to be in its infancy. In the next 12 months, you can expect this software to get smarter and more efficient with more user-friendly interfaces – making it easier for your marketing team to get the hang of. These platforms will ultimately become the one-stop shop for managing your content as a business asset.

“Marketing automation platforms will ultimately become the one-stop shop for managing your content as a business asset.”


How can you implement marketing automation in 2018?

When it comes to choosing a platform, you need to do your research and weigh up your options. Like most software, it does come with a price tag. Start out by articulating your goals of using the software. Create a spreadsheet of the functions you need. From here, conduct research and engage sales for more information.

Need help finding your perfect fit? Read our blog.

Watch this space:

In 2018, keep an eye on MailChimp. The past year we have seen them develop their traditional email marketing platform into a campaign marketing automation platform. My bet is they are set to be big disruptors in the marketing automation game next year. Especially when it comes to pricing.


6 Social media

Over the past decade, social media has transformed the way we socialise and the way brands communicate. With the competition high between social platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, 2018 is set to be another year of new social trends that, as a business, you need to be prepared for.

Social media platforms are now crowded with content and it is becoming increasingly harder for brands to win over algorithms and grab user attention.

How to implement the latest social media trends into your strategy:

Social media is a fast moving space and your brand needs to have a proactive approach. Again keeping up with the latest functions and business opportunities is a must when it comes to gaining a competitive edge.

Emerging 2018 trends to keep your eye on include:

  • Ephemeral content: This type of content has taken off over the past 12 months. Ephemeral content is content that only lasts for 24 hours, usually referred to as “stories” published on Instagram, Snapchat and now Facebook. Your social media strategy now needs to involve a separate plan for ephemeral content.
  • Influencer marketing: While this trend is nothing new, the power of it continues to attract brands. In fact, 94% of marketers found it to be an effective marketing tactic. When it comes to setting an influencer strategy in 2018, you will need to consider which influencers will generate the highest ROI for your brand. You will also need a networking strategy for influencer relationship management.
  • The rise of social eCommerce: If the past year is anything to go by, Instagram is set to continue to become more commerce driven. With the addition of Shopify, Instagram has moved from a brand awareness channel to one that can drive revenue.
  • Facebook “Spaces”: Where VR and social media come together. In 2018 expect to see Facebook develop their recently announced Facebook Spaces – a channel that allows VR headset owners the ability to hang out. Spaces present an exciting opportunity for brands with the possibility to connect brick and mortar and eCommerce and create group immersive brand experiences.


7 Data

Now more than ever, customers expect personalised content. When a customer opens an email or sees a Facebook ad, they expect the entire package – from the message to the image – to be relevant to their life.

To provide this kind of personalisation, you have to collect customer data. In 2018, we’re set to see data collection and implementation grow. You’ll need to use a data-driven marketing strategy, collect data from customer interactions and use that information to personalise messages and drive sales.

Here’s a look at some of the objectives and challenges that accompany data collection:


What’s driving this trend?

Customer demand and profitability. Customers are demanding personalisation. The average consumer gets 111 commercial emails a day (according to a report from The Radicati Group). With so many messages cluttering inboxes, a personalised email is the best way for customers to select the messages they’re interested in.

Profitability is also fueling the need for more data. Research shows the more data you have on customers, the more likely you are to build strong relationships and grow sales. For instance, research from Experian shows transactions rates are six times higher with personalised emails compared to general promotional emails.


How to implement data collection into your marketing strategy:

Here are a few ways to collect and analyse data in 2018:


  • Collect data at various touch points

Make an effort to collect data. For instance, ask customers their birthday when they checkout in your store, or inquire about their job title when they sign up for your email list online.

  • Build customer personas

As data comes in, use the information to build customer personas so you have a complete picture of your audience and its segments.

  • Segment your email

Use your personas to segment your email contacts. You can segment your list by past purchases, location, job title, age, sex – you name it. Once segmented, create content for each niche.

  • Advertise on social

Social channels can use your existing customer data to find new customers. Facebook, for example, will reference your customer information and target your ads to what’s called, Lookalike Audiences, or customers that have the same characteristics as the ones you already have.


This kind of targeting increases your chances of landing repeat customers.


Achieving more in 2018

The underlying reason you need a marketing plan is to focus your effort on attracting and retaining customers. Without customers, your business cannot survive. Creating a sound strategy for the year ahead is the perfect way to gain clarity and determine the direction you need to be heading now.

At Thirst Creative we have a team of highly experienced and industry specialised strategists who can assist you to set an informed, actionable and powerful marketing strategy.

To find out more get in touch with me. 


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