The Most Crucial Digital Marketing Trends for 2018
As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back and more importantly, peer forward and see what we need to focus on in 2018.
There have been a lot of incremental changes and noticeable shifts that will impact how digital marketers will shuck and jive in the new year. Lots of new tools, technologies, needs, wants, and markets that are waiting to be penetrated and used.
Here are the trends I see getting more prominent, more useful and valuable, and at least just to watch as they evolve in 2018 if not employ yourself. There’s so much out there and being created by the second that staying ahead of the curve is nearly impossible if you don’t take advantage of some powerful tools, curation and adjust your personal and time management.
Many of these are already being used a lot already depending on where you spend your time online, but they’re coming into their own and quickly becoming mainstream. Quality of your content is imperative and now more important than ever. Relevancy is what search engines are considering, but these factors below are more what users expect and will benefit from on their end. Being Customer-centric, or implementing a “customer-first” strategy is what works.
In any case, the below 14 items are what I would encourage you to focus on this upcoming year:
- More Depth. I regularly see articles, and especially infographics, that aren’t cited. Easily-digestible-sized bits of info is excellent for some pieces and situations, but to truly get and glean insight and provide needed context for your consumers and credibility for yourself, you need to provide actual citations and background. This sounds like common sense, but it isn’t followed a surprising number of times as things are shared on the internet. I always click through to the rawest source I can when I come across statistics and claims that I’m interested in. MANY times I find a dead end that lets me know there really isn’t any credibility to the claim, or more research needs to be done. Often there are some big decisions being made based on these factors, so taking people’s words at face value is very dangerous. Especially on the internet. Legitimacy is important.
- Evergreen content. This is something bloggers, and content marketers have been doing more and more of, but it should remain a primary focus. One of the most significant assets of the internet is the effect of time. Not just for search reasons, but it allows you to link to available content, and use it as part of a valuable library of information. Squeeze all the power out of your work as you can. I shudder to think of all the work I’ve merely deleted over the years on blogs because it became irrelevant due to a lack of forethought. It doesn’t have to be a total loss at all, with some proper planning and research.
- Point of view. Consider where your clients are in the sales funnel, and speak to them from that point of view. This will differ depending on the type of business and clients you deal with of course, but the advice still stands. If you have a longer sales cycle, then the content you write needs to apply to people according to where they are in the sequence. It makes a big difference, and how compelling and persuasive your copy is, and the angle you take with them needs to be aligned accordingly.
- Content Optimization. And in accordance with #2, you should make sure the content that still exists for consumption is still relevant. Update it, optimize it, and polish it. (Always be optimizing!) It’s an unfortunate reflection when a user comes across a dusty old piece of content that has apparently been neglected and is out of date and not helpful or valuable in any way. It impacts credibility negatively and is a chance to use some already shed blood sweat and tears.
- Publish dynamic content. Use your content to appeal as accurately as possible to the user. For example, you can offer different deals/discounts/offers to various segments of your audience, depending on who’s viewing it. Images and text should also change depending on the target market. There are a few ways to manage this, from using CMS plugins to coding it up yourself, if you’re good with code, to having a third party service help you out. This has become a more affordable option for smaller businesses and individuals.
- Advertise your content. With the low cost and ultra-specific targeting Facebook provides, as well as other distinct and relevant advertising channels such as Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and correlated blogs and networks, boosting your content isn’t just a nice thing to be able to do anymore; it’s necessary. Use the influence and reach available to leverage their data’s power and it will be apparent that the ROI is well worth it.
- Voice search. With Alexa, Google Home and the Internet of Things, how content is phrased will need to subtly change. Keywords and SEO tactics will need to be adapted so that they’re more natural when it comes to the spoken voice. There are small, subtle differences here that I believe many authors may have trouble adjusting to, but this will become more and more important. Search commands and keyword must sound and read more naturally. That may prove hard for some people who prefer to write in a more academic-type fashion, for example.
- Co-created and User-created Content. Reaching out to other firms that have similar goals as your to share the workload is an excellent way to streamline things as well as get additional perspectives and ideas you may not have even thought of. There’s a synergy of working with another writer that’s helpful, I’ve found, and it also helps you with accountability, if you’re a procrastinator or have “poor” time management skills. User-created content is much different, but it provides an element of social proof, reduces time on producing content, apparently, and can even provide feedback that can be invaluable. Contests are one great way to get users to submit quality content.
- Marketing Automation. Many SaaS companies are vying to be leaders in the marketing automation space because there’s a lot of opportunities to automate the more mundane tasks we do as marketers, but functions that are very valuable and necessary to the success of our goals. The chance to make a lot of money, too. But as marketers, I would urge you to embrace the technology and try to automate where you can. Your competitors will be doing it, which means their productivity will be increasing. To compete, you’ll need to automate smartly.
- Along those same lines, Machine Learning is something that is changing the digital marketing landscape. Machine learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning is integrated with the aforementioned Internet of Things, Marketing Automation and Voice search, as well as just basic SEO. Machines use sophisticated algorithms to improve their functionality as more and more data is provided. The more that’s input, the more “intelligent” the system becomes. There will be a lot of opportunities to use this, including even creating content itself. Being able to provide the right content, at the right time, at the right place, is perfecting the 4 Ps of marketing. Potent stuff.
- Video Marketing. Video marketing isn’t anything new of course, but it’s coming into its own. Producing some outstanding content has become more accessible, cheaper and more competitive for eyeballs as those barriers are lowering. Professional-quality video can be created with virtually nothing more than a smartphone, really, and if you have some knowledge of Adobe Premiere and After Effects, the sky’s the limit. But users want more video, for sure. There are rules/best practices in place, such as keeping it brief, using an enticing still shot to get people to click the video, and using appropriate and high-quality audio as well. People will watch a poorly-shot video, but they won’t view one with terrible sound.
- Data Analysis. Data collection and analysis isn’t something a lot of digital marketers have experience with, outside of Google Analytics and graphs and some pretty basic data manipulation. Google Data Studio is an excellent piece of free software that enables this, but knowing how to distill data, make sure the data is good(which is more important than anything), and put it into context to tel as tory and make predictions can be pretty sophisticated and complex. As an MBA, I spent a lot of time learning how to do this in Operations Management and Advanced Statistics.
- Micro-Influencer Marketing. Many channels like Instagram and Pinterest offer the opportunity to micro-market using influencers that have some respectable numbers. It’s a way almost to provide social proof, which adheres to word-of-mouth (WOM)marketing, the most elusive type of marketing, but the most compelling. It very well may become overdone at a point, and less efficient, like quite a bit of marketing strategies typically have grown over time. But in 2018, it will become vital to positioning your products and services.
- Bots. Chat bots are already coming into their own, with marketplaces and tools to build your own quickly. They’re becoming a little prolific with everyone jumping on the bandwagon at the same time, so they’ll begin to be used in other ways than a chat-type fashion with Messenger and as a bug popping up in the corner of every company’s website.
So, those are my “predictions” if you will for 2018 in a nutshell. These are aspects that I’ve notice becoming increasingly more prominent, more important, more useful and valuable, providing greater ROIs and what users and markets will likely be expecting, needing and wanting.
Are there any I’ve glaringly overlooked? What are some you think will be the most important for 2018?
Also published on Medium.