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What Were the Top Marketing Trends of 2018?

As digital technology quickly evolves, it creates new marketing and sales opportunities. Reaping the benefits of innovation, however, can be challenging and often fraught with potential pitfalls.

Firms that embrace innovation can gain a competitive edge over firms who fail to take similar actions, which can make the advancement of technology a high stakes matter.

During 2018, that trend continued as marketers struggled to enhance personalization of content, offer email-based shopping and shoppable content. Indeed, articles on those topics are some of the most popular items published by CMO Technology News in 2018. 

One of the most popular articles was entitled “Personalization Trend Having Broad Consequences.”

Individuals are increasingly being bombarded by emails, popup advertisements and promotional videos. So, marketers in 2018 continued to seek new ways to make their marketing messages more meaningful by customizing their content to individuals’ unique interests.

Procter & Gamble's top marketer, Marc Pritchard, for example, has emphasized that broad campaigns that don’t target specific individuals’ needs aren’t cost-effective. Meanwhile, Gartner has reported that smart personalization engines that can recognize customer intent will eventually help digital businesses increase profits by up to 15%.

To that end, marketing consulting firm Munvo formed an alliance with Evergage, which provides a real-time personalization platform. For Munvo, the goal is to help clients produce optimized content for clients in a variety of industries, including retail, travel, and financial services.

More recently, UST, which provides technology and other services to 12 of the world’s 20 largest retailers, decided to tap Evergage to assist its clients in creating and distributing customized email communications.

Developing technology that expands upon the types of content and services associated with emails is another strong trend observed in 2018. Not surprisingly, the article “Email Becoming the New Customer Destination” is one of the top read articles.

The article reported that Email on Acid had launched its “Filmstrip Interactive Email Technique,” which makes interactive emails compatible with Gmail on Android phones. The interactive emails include slide shows or even product catalogues that individuals can view without having to download a webpage.

Litmus technology, meanwhile, provides shopping baskets within emails and Rebel provides technology that lets individuals perform the checkout process without leaving their emails. The common theme with the technologies is to maintain customer engagement by not requiring them to leave their email to view products or make purchases.

Other firms began to turn content into a shopping experience. On that topic, the article “Shoppable Content Raises Concerns Over Objectivity” generated considerable interest among CMO Technology News readers. 

Many online retailers, including Amazon.com, eBay, Shopify, and Walmart are also developing technology that involves placing tags in content. The tags open a window that can be used to purchase items that are related to the content.

An article about a movie star, for example, could have tags that link to clothing or jewelry that is frequently worn by that celebrity. Yet, the technology could harm writers’ objectivity by encouraging individuals to produce content that can generate sales, and therefore income.

Brands also began to expand into new target audiences during the year, with the rapid growth of eSports providing new opportunities. For the year, one of the top read CMO Technology News articles is “eSports Growth Creates New Marketing Opportunities.”  

Brands are sponsoring both eSports leagues and gamers while also featuring advertisements on platforms that allow video stars to live stream their gaming. For marketers, eSports can be an appealing opportunity, with one study concluding that more unique viewers watched gaming video content than HBO, Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined last year.

Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. has even gotten into the action by investing in the highly popular Overwatch League 

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