My predictions for 2018’s marketing funnel landscape

2017 is now close to being a distant memory. Last year I wrote about my 6 predictions for 2017’s digital business landscape.

Today we can look at my predictions for 2018’s marketing funnel landscape.

Messenger chat bots dominate the auto responder market

Software like Chatfuel and Message Hero are making messenger chat bots more accessible to everyday users.

Facebook has also just released its messenger service for websites. Meaning you will now be able to use live chat powered by Facebook messenger on websites.

More and more e-commerce and online sales will be followed up with chatbots with invoices and receipts, rather than going straight to your email.

This isn’t to say that email will be totally replaced by chatbots. There is still going to be an enormous call and requirement for building your own email list.

However messenger chat bots will allow us to capture information inside Facebook easier than ever before. It’s already predicted that messenger bots have a higher opt in rate than Facebook’s inbuilt lead forms.

Rather than clicking on a paid Facebook advert and being taken to a landing page, businesses will adopt Facebook chat messenger bots to have a simulated conversation with a real person. That chatbot can ask for email addresses and other details, Before marketing offers, products and services to that Facebook user.

Personally I still believe that email auto responders and funnels are a vital part to your marketing funnel mix. However there’s no denying that the scalability, ease-of-use and being positioned-where-your-customers-are means Facebook messenger bots will explode in 2018.

More businesses release course content

Businesses that want to be seen as authorities within their marketplace, will have to release their own online course content.

This isn’t really a new concept it’s just been forgotten in the age of websites, blog content and viral videos. With online course content being easier to create, share and charge for than ever before, businesses that want to position themselves as authorities, will have no choice but to release some kind of online course content in order to prove that they are the expert.

Whether the course is paid for or free, is almost irrelevant. Businesses have been doing this for decades before (think Oracle, IBM). But more and more small businesses will adopt this approach in order to position themselves as an authority to their customers.

If you want to position yourself as the #1 email marketer for insurance businesses, you better believe that you’ll have to release a course in order to position yourself as the expert in that niche.

More and more experts, celebrities and businesses are seeing online course content as a valuable product add-on. As well as an important leads generation and sales conversion tool.

The first commercially available fully automated website design software will be released

We’ve had The Grid and a few other “AI” based website builders. But I believe that in 2018, an automated website design software will be released to the public.

A few weeks ago at a website marketing conference, I saw the demonstration of a software that can respond to commands such as “make the header read. No not that kind of red.”

It might have been set up in probably was pre-recorded. But the user process behind creating these kinds of websites will become more and more common, as artificial assistants are added into everything from our fridges to our TVs.

First things first, know that this absolutely will not put website designers out of business. Just because it’s easier to make a website doesn’t mean that the user has any idea about design, content or conversion optimisation. If anything it’ll be just designed to make your life easier.

Advertising costs will go up (but smart marketers will keep costs low)

As Facebook reaches advert saturation point (more on this below) you’ll find that cost per click advertising will go up in price.

However I’m going to add a massive caveat to this statement, stating that advertising costs will go up to marketers who don’t pay attention.

Let’s take the Super Bowl for example. We all know that the Super Bowl audience has been growing year on year and therefore the advertising costs grow year on year for those who want to get in front of those eyeballs. To advertise on the same channel as the Super Bowl, during the Super Bowl now costs roughly $5 million for 1/32 advert.

As more and more people want to advertise to a larger audience, advertising costs go up. Simple maths.

However, smart marketers will still be able to keep costs low through to very specific methods.

  1. Specific targeting through niche interest data
  2. self liquidating offers for splinter products to pay for traffic

While advertising costs will go up (potentially across all media), smart advertisers will still make advertising incredibly profitable. Advertising costs have ALWAYS been going up. Somewhere along the way costs go up for whatever expense you have your business.

However costs only go up when you’re not smart about the return that you’re expecting on your investment.

At $100 a click if every single click convert into a sale, that might not be particularly expensive. But $100 a day for a thousand clicks, if none of them convert is very expensive.

Facebook will buy a news channel

Facebook’s advertising platforms have become saturated this year. Peak advert to content ratio was reached in about July of this year.

This means they need new channels and platforms to be able to reach an audience. Therefore don’t be surprised if Facebook buys some kind of news channel.

It might not be a TV station or a traditional media platform. But they need to expand the ways in which their audience can be exposed adverts.

It might not be a news channel like Fox, BBC or CNN. But for someone to create a streaming new service potentially entirely online, peppered with adverts in the same manner that YouTube does now, might become more common.

Someone will work out we now watch more advertising per hour, even if we don’t watch TV, than ever before

Final prediction. I reckon that someone will work out that even though we pay for Netflix and watch an enormous amount of Facebook and YouTube video content. Technically we are watching more adverts per hour than ever before.

It might not only be in the content and platforms themselves. Billboards, magazines and sponsorship deals are becoming more and more common and frequent. Therefore our exposure to adverts and brand messages will become ubiquitous.

As soon as we are watching more than 50% content to advertising ratio, that’s when it becomes saturated. It would mean that for every hour spent reading or watching content of our choice, another hour is dedicated to watching or seeing adverts.

Remember when everyone thought that paid product placements would become commonplace? I’m happy to be wrong on this prediction. The paid product placement didn’t really work out as well as people thought it would. It was instead taken over by YouTube media influencers talking about products that they loved and was sponsored by.

It’s interesting that people will follow an authority or character (we can argue whether they actually have a personality in another post) Is what people are choosing to watch rather than particular topics or content.

As our choice of media moves further and further towards personality and micro-celebrity content, will start to see more and more advertsĀ  starring our favourite characters. However, we might not even recognise as an advert. As is the case with Unboxed Therapy and many other vloggers on YouTube.

What do you think? The ramblings of a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracist? Or sensible predictions, seeing as my other posts have been 100% bang on (not). Let me know in the comments below.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.