Can you believe we’re nearly 2 months into 2018 already?!!

Here at PUNCH we like to run our annual Marketing Predictions Survey. Why you ask? Well we like to test what the experts had to say about digital marketing in 2018 against what Australian businesses are actually planning to focus on.

Over the month of January, we ran a short survey to Australian business owners and marketing professionals from all industries and sizes to discover what their marketing focus will be for the year.

The methodology was simple–we asked four quick questions via an online survey:

  1. “What best describes the size of your business?”
  2. “What industry do you work in?”
  3. “What are the top 3 areas you plan on investing your hard earned marketing time and money in 2018?”
  4. “Are you planning on implementing any of the following hot 2018 trends into your marketing this year?”


Who answered?

We had a pretty even mix of responses from businesses of all sizes, with the most coming from large businesses with 200+ employees (28.3%), an even 26.7% from   both small and medium businesses, and our fewest responses came from microbusiness owners with 1-4 employees (18.3%).

We were pleased to see that our responses came from a wide variety of industries, such as:

Digital, IT, Marketing, Financial Services, Fitness & Health, Higher Education, Telecommunications and plenty more (but we don’t want to hold you up all day).

Now, let’s see how the results measured up!


What are the top three areas you plan on investing your hard earned marketing time and money in 2018?

POLL: Marketing Focus for 2018

The top response we saw here will likely come as no surprise – content marketing.

This focus was consistent across businesses of all sizes – with 70% of respondents saying they are planning to invest (or continue to invest) in the tactic in 2018.

If we know anything by now, it’s that content marketing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With our digital and social technologies developing at such a rapid rate, content marketing is continuing to dominate the digital marketing world.

So we said it last year, and we’ll saying it again this year – content marketing is STILL king.

Following up in second and third are social media marketing with 50% of businesses saying they will be investing in it, and 31% saying they will be giving marketing automation some attention this year.

One thing we were quite surprised to see was AI/Machine Learning landing so far down the poll results, with only 5% of our respondents saying they would be investing in it in 2018. We expected this to be a bigger player this year, as this is the technology that powers chatbots.

We won’t sugar coat it – we were pretty shocked to see mobile/voice optimisation so far down on the poll results as well, since we would say this is exactly where marketers and business owners should be focusing this year. As we’ve said before, voice search is the future – and the future is now.

These two tactics go hand in hand–if you are optimising for voice search, your website also has to be mobile-friendly.

So why are only 7% of our respondents focusing on this in 2018?

It’s hard to pin point, but maybe there is a level of complacency around the impact that voice will have – only time will tell.


So, are you planning on implementing any of the following hot 2018 trends into your marketing this year?POLL: Hot Trends 2018

One of the key reasons we do this survey each year is to get an understanding of which areas business owners will be focusing on this year.

It looks like there are a number of areas to watch this year – chatbots (29%) and micro-influencers (29%), with BIG data not far behind (27%).

Chatbots are positioned to be a tool that we will see picked up by businesses of all sizes this year.

And while influencer marketing has dominated the social realm for big brand names in the past few years, this year we are seeing businesses of all sizes jump on the trend.

Interesting to note that 29% of businesses also said they would not be implementing any of marketing tactics we included in the survey. As marketers, this leaves us curious as to why (Budget? Time? Expertise?), and wondering what they may be focusing on instead—if you’re part of this group give us a shout!

As we discussed in our own marketing predictions at the end of 2017, while the experts were calling IoT, VR and AR to be the hot areas for digital marketing, we found, again this year, that it’s pretty unlikely that they would actually be adopted by the average Aussie business.

And that’s exactly what these results have shown us.

The reality is that the budget and time required to implement things like VR, AR an IoT just aren’t realistic for the average business owner, leaving these areas for the big corporations.

Chatbots and micro-influencers on the other hand are new trends that are totally doable for the everyday business – so we are excited to see how these areas grow in the year ahead!


Our Takeaways

While we went into our annual marketing predictions survey open-minded and as unbiased as it’s possible for a group of marketers to be, most of the findings came as no surprise.

Content marketing is still king. And in 2018, it will continue to be a focus for businesses of all industries and sizes. We will also see an emphasis on building even stronger social media marketing strategies this year.

It appears that 2018 will also be the year of chatbots and micro-influencers as these avenues become more accessible and BIG data can also expect some attention from the big companies this year that have the depth of resources and data to harness this powerful asset.

All in all, there are lots of areas to keep our eyes on. And to say we’re excited to see these predictions become a reality in the months ahead would definitely be an understatement.


About the Survey

We conducted an online study, which involved surveying 60 business owners and marketing managers about their digital marketing strategies for 2018. Out of 60 respondents, the answers came from owners of all ranges of business sizes – Microbusiness (1-4 employees), Small Business (5-19 employees), Medium Business (20-199 employees) and Large Business (200+ employees).

Survey Respondents

When we broke down the responses by business size, the results varied slightly. Content marketing held strong across all sizes as the top area of investment. While micro and small businesses had their sights set on chatbots, the bigger businesses said they would be focusing more on BIG data in 2018.


To learn more and view the full break down of the results, download your free copy of the 2018 Marketing Predictions Report.

Download PUNCH Digital’s 2018 Marketing Predictions Report NOW