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Franchise Thoughts on BOLD Marketing Predictions for 2018

As much as I love the complete deluge of “year in review” articles that flooded the internet this past week, I think this week’s “bold prediction” streak is pretty cool as well. As I was looking at various fun ones like Amazon acquiring Target this year, I came across this really useful one from Gordon Donnelly over at WordStream.

In it he goes through seven bold marketing predictions for this year. And given that franchisors are constantly thinking through these questions, I figured I’d pass them along with a little bit of commentary for us in the franchise development world.

The New Stuff

  • We’ll see the rise of 360-degree video/virtual reality campaigns
  • The potential of chatbots will finally be realized
  • SEOs will finally be forced to take voice search seriously

Franchise marketing is rarely on the cutting edge, but Donnelly speaks here to three trends that you’ll want to keep an eye on this year, VR, chatbots, and voice search. Each of them certainly has some traction in the market right now, but they are relatively small. In all likelihood, your franchise shouldn’t be dedicating resources here for the time being as the tech is still evolving quickly.

I’ll specifically call out chat bots here, as they are probably the closest to being a part of what you’ll do. (If you are looking for a really good primer to them, then check out this article here.) Automation is a huge theme these days and chatbots are really the intersection of texting and automation. Customers and leads increasingly don’t mind interacting with an automated service as long as they fulfill their needs.

Changing Strategies

  • Brands will allocate more budget than ever to influencer marketing
  • Gated content will get all liberated, and stuff
  • The ad revenue gap between Facebook and Instagram will shrink

While the previous section is about innovation, this one is all about evolution. It’s a theme in what we write around here, but of course the world of online marketing is incredibly dynamic. Here are three things that could evolve this year: more influencers, less gating, and more Instagram. If your franchise employs a sophisticated digital marketing strategy, it’s likely that all three of these influence your franchise. (If you’re into the basics only, then you’ll want to start here.)

I’m specifically keeping an eye on Instagram this year, as traditionally it has been a very weak option for franchises. Given that lead generation is so important for our organizations, the pithy pics and videos on Instagram haven’t yet translated well for what we need. However, Instagram continues to trend a bit more lead-y and they now allow you to even run lead ads on the platform. If this continues to be a strategic priority for Facebook, then franchisors may soon find Instagram as a big lead capture platform.

The Important One

  • Digital advertising will continue its pace to supplant traditional advertising

Obviously there’s a lot to unpack here and one article is nowhere near enough column inches to accomplish this. But I was specifically call your attention to the word “supplant.” Often times, we think of digital and traditional advertising working in concert with each other. However, Mr. Donnelly seems to have a bit of a larger idea of what’s going on here.

“A digital landscape that’s ripe for cultivation, and a whole bunch of budget heading there in the near future.”

Are you one of the 49% of organizations that do not yet have a clearly defined digital strategy? If so, 2018 is going to be a big year for you.

Eli Robinson is the COO of Metric Collective, the parent company of FranchiseHelp. He’s started using voice search recently, and it’s awesome.

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