10 Lessons for Marketers from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018 — Including One Hiding in Plain Sight

June 3, 2018

Internet Trends and marketing

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018 report was released this week, and as usual this monster deck — 294 slides! — shows, with some exceptions, that digital growth continues to point up and to the right. As always, the report contains significant insights for anyone in business. Meeker’s report also has 10 key takeaways for marketers, which the B2B Beat has compiled below.

Let’s start with one takeaway hiding in plain sight.  

1. The Blockbuster approach to content marketing pays dividends

In and of itself, Meeker’s Report is a marketing lesson — a content marketing lesson to be exact. The Internet Trends report, which Meeker creates for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm where she works, is a giant piece of content marketing. In fact, it is a flawless execution of the blockbuster philosophy of content marketing. The Internet Trends Report has itself become a brand, and Kleiner Perkins simply launches a new version of this blockbuster B2B brand every year, in the same way that Disney debuts a new version of the Star Wars franchise every few months. By the way, at this writing, the Meeker report has more than 500,000 views on SlideShare alone.

2. It’s time to think beyond print

More than 3.5 billion people now have access to the Internet. That’s almost half of the world’s population. (This Internet thing isn’t going away). Nonetheless, advertisers still spend 9% of their budgets on print, even though print only accounts for 4% of time spent with media. Conversely, there’s still a lag in ad spending on mobile, which accounts for only 26% of total ad spend, even though 29% of media consumption stems from mobile phones. Meeker identifies that gap as a $7 billion opportunity.

3. Ensure your videos are good to go (mobile)

Marketers, B2B and otherwise, are creating more videos. That’s because our audiences like to watch. Last year, the average person watched almost 30 minutes of mobile video per day, up from about five minutes per day in 2012. The bottom line? Marketers, make sure your videos look right on Android and iOS phones.

4. Marketers are looking far beyond vanity metrics

Marketers, if you haven’t already, you should be aligning more closely with sales and measuring yourself on the metrics that matter to the business. Meeker’s report shows that 27% of marketers are judging their advertising spending optimization by the metric of lifetime customer value (LTCV), which was the metric that topped the list. Also high on the list was closed-won deals at 15%.

5. Ecommerce can drop the 'e' already

Ecommerce is just commerce. The growth of ecommerce is actually accelerating: In 2016, its growth was 14%; last year, the growth in ecommerce surged to 16%. Social media is playing a growing role in ecommerce’s rise. The share of ecommerce referrals tripled in a two-year span, increasing to 6% last year from 2% in 2015. In ecommerce, it’s often that case that prospects jump from marketing’s purview (website copy, landing pages, buy buttons) right to the purchase, skipping the sales department entirely. Ultimately, the rising tide of ecommerce is definitely something marketing should be wading into. Related: mobile payments may soon be crucial to your business.

6. Personalization is becoming table stakes

As Meeker points out in the report, every social media platform, as a moment’s thought will demonstrate, has as many personalized versions as it has members. For instance, not one of LinkedIn’s more than half a billion members sees the exact same LinkedIn.com as any other member. The lesson? Marketers must develop websites and other digital experiences that are tailored and personalized to the individual user. Consumers are coming to expect a significant level of personalization on the phone, in person, and online.

7. Innovation is a must have

The leading technology companies are investing in research and developing and capital expenditures. The top five companies in spending in this arena to sustain their innovation and their leadership are Amazon, Google, Intel, Apple, and Microsoft. All five are on top and want to stay there. The message for marketers: Innovation is necessary just to stand still.

8. Well-used data can equate to customer satisfaction

Meeker makes the case that the companies that have the most data on their customers and their preferences — Netflix among them — also have the highest levels of customer satisfaction. The lesson: personalization drives customer satisfaction. And here’s a corollary: prospects don’t mind seeing ads for products they’re interested in.  

9. Competition — and customers — are everywhere

The top 20 Internet companies are headquartered in two countries. The United States has 11; China has the other nine. No matter what politicians try to do, the economy will remain a global system. Marketers must understand that competition is worldwide, but so are potential customers.  

10. Artificial intelligence is real

Voice technology is getting louder. Meeker’s report shows that Google machine learning word accuracy is reaching 95%, which is comparable to the threshold for human accuracy. It’s just one example of artificial intelligence that will impact the marketing world. As marketers, we have to keep paying close attention.

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Photo: Stig Nygaard