Today’s era of consumer empowerment has forced marketers to rethink their communication strategies. The days of ‘spray and pray’ marketing are done. As consumers increasingly live their lives online, marketers need to deliver highly relevant and authentic experiences across every channel and device. If consumers don’t get it, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

As consumer expectations continue to rise, the pressure is on marketers to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the drive for authenticity. A new year represents new opportunities for marketers to review the landscape, anticipate what’s to come, and adjust. So, what’s in store for marketers in 2018?

People-based marketing will deliver authentic experiences

When Facebook first introduced the term ‘people-based marketing’ in 2014, the concept was more promise than reality. Marketers found themselves burdened by siloed systems that didn’t share data, channel-specific strategies that created cracks in the consumer experience, and performance metrics that failed to tell the whole story.

But with each passing year, the advancement of technology is giving marketers the ability to turn the promise of people-based marketing into a day-to-day reality. Audience and performance data from disparate systems can now be integrated to provide a single source of truth about marketing performance , and a people-based understanding of what content, offers, creative and other tactics work best for whom.

Marketers need this type of intelligence to curate more authentic experiences that foster real connections with their customers and prospects. As brands are increasingly defined by the interactions people have with it, marketers will be held accountable for creating the most authentic, genuine experiences possible.

Marketing teams will be structured around the consumer journey

Delivering authentic experiences will require more than just de-siloing data from disparate systems; it will also mean rethinking traditional marketing structures.

Many marketing organizations still operate in silos that are split across products, brands and/or channels . Individuals and teams work independently of each other, often with their own outside agencies, and with their own set of metrics that they use to measure engagement, conversions, revenue and return. These silos not only promote inefficiency, duplication and waste, but also create a disjointed experience for consumers.

In the months to come, expect to see marketers shift away from isolated channel silos towards a cross-functional team that can ensure experiences are synchronized across every interaction from first touch through to final conversion. This will, in turn, enable marketers to create the kind of authentic rapport with customers and prospects that leads to deeper, longer-lasting, and more profitable relationships.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning will enhance scale of people-based marketing

From providing more sophisticated metrics to predicting future outcomes, machine learning is already setting the bar high when it comes to helping marketers improve performance. But as we move into 2018 and beyond, expect today’s machine-learning techniques to evolve into more powerful AI.

Marketing as a practice is part art, part science. While the blending of the two is uniquely human, AI can do it on a much faster and greater scale. Thanks to AI, marketers can now target, measure and optimize their marketing and advertising at the level of real people a task that was previously impossible for humans simply because of the scale and complexity of the data.

In the year ahead, expect to see even more opportunities to apply AI to big data sources, particularly as marketing technologies mature. By blending artistic and scientific qualities, these AI-based tools will enable marketers to greatly improve experiences and deliver the authentic, one-on-one interactions that consumers demand .

The drive for authenticity

In the age of the empowered consumer, brands must represent themselves honestly and transparently in order to earn their trust and their business. Expect the drive for authenticity to be at the forefront in 2018, with people-based marketing strategies, restructured marketing organizations, and AI-based technologies leading the way.