As we get back into the swing of things after another fun-filled holiday season, it’s time to look ahead to the New Year and consider some of the top digital marketing trends for 2018.
Here are 9 things to consider as you plan your business’s new digital marketing strategy.
9 Digital Marketing Trends to Add to Your Strategy
Live Video Will Continue to Be Popular
Live video, whether it’s via Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, has been popular for a while, but it will continue to gain momentum in 2018. People really enjoy watching well-made videos, especially if they’re viewing them in real time. In fact, according to a Livestream Survey, 82% of respondents said that they would prefer to watch a live video than read a social media post.
So what’s the allure? Well, for one, video engenders trust by providing your target audience with insightful and useful information through engaging conversation. In addition, video provides an opportunity for your customers to put a face with a name so that they can better identify with your business. Video is also a more effective medium for explaining how a product or service works, particularly because the majority of us are visual learners.
To take advantage of all that live video can do for you, consider utilizing it to:
- Showcase a live event by providing your prospects and customers with a behind-the-scenes look at your business.
- Promote an upcoming conference or event you’ll be attending.
- Introduce your prospects and customers to your employees.
- Advertise a promotion or special sale to those customers who are watching.
- Answer your customers' frequently asked questions.
- Offer your customers a preview of your new products or services.
Consumption of Mobile Video Will Continue to Increase
Mobile web browsing surpassed computer web browsing in 2016, so it’s not surprising that the same can be said for viewing videos. By now, your website and marketing strategy should be geared toward mobile delivery, particularly because mobile video use is projected to increase by 25% in 2018.
In addition, if you plan to advertise your products or services, mobile is the place to do so. In fact, the technology news site Recode projects mobile video ad spending will grow 49% in 2018 to $18 billion, overtaking non-mobile video ad spend. Finally, the average person who watches videos on a mobile device does so for 36 minutes a day; that’s a big chunk of time that they could be spending watching your videos on their mobile devices.
Customer Experience Marketing Will Increase in Importance
Ensuring that your customers have a wonderful experience when they do business with you isn’t solely the domain of the customer service department. Each and every experience and interaction customers have with you, and your employees will determine how they perceive your business.
So when you’re promoting your products or services, you want to do everything in your power to create and maintain meaningful connections with your customers, which will ultimately lead to brand loyalty. In fact, in Salesforce’s 2017 State of Marketing Report, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents stated that their marketing team is focusing on customer experience initiatives.
Nurturing long-term relationships with your customers and delivering the ideal personalized ad at the right time is becoming increasingly more important than one-off likes, comments, shares, and targeted impressions.
Content Marketing Will Help Brands Become More Authentic
Whether you utilize videos, blog posts, or infographics, the majority of your prospects and customers prefer learning about your products or services via content marketing, rather than through an ad. After all, quality user-generated content (UGC) is another excellent way to gain your customers’ trust.
And the numbers bear this out: According to a recent study by social media aggregator TINT, approximately 70% of the social media marketers they surveyed said that UGC makes their marketing more authentic. By doing so, your social media marketing campaigns will be much more successful.
Customers Will Continue to Value Transparency
Authenticity and transparency go hand in hand, and customers expect both when making a purchasing decision. This comes back to offering content that informs customers about your products or services; for example, where they are manufactured and what materials or ingredients are used.
But customers also want to be informed about your employees and brand. That's why it’s important to be more than your products or services and your logo; customers want to identify with you by knowing you on a personal level.
Finally, online reviews are a key component of transparency; customers want to see what others think of your brand and products or services. In fact, in 2017, a whopping 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, so it’s important to also focus on local search marketing. These positive reviews will not only help your customers make a buying decision, but they will also help improve your Google search rankings. This will go a long way in ensuring that customers notice what other consumers are saying about your brand.
Digital Marketing Will Become Even More Localized
Whether it’s Google or Facebook, digital marketing on the local level is becoming increasingly easier. In June 2017, Google Posts became available to all businesses that use the Google My Business (GMB) platform. The posts, which can be seen in both Google search and map results, help small businesses to share daily specials and promotions, publicize events, and highlight featured or new products or services, among other things.
Similarly, Facebook Local makes it easier for customers to find local businesses by showing them ads when they are in close proximity to your business. Like Google Posts, Facebook Local gives businesses another platform to incentivize customers to visit your business through special offers, sales, and promotions. In addition, it helps businesses connect with their community by allowing them to share their story about how they got started and how they are tied to the area.
These tools are effective because they not only make it easier for businesses to interact with local customers, they also provide the opportunity to substantiate their trustworthiness. In addition, for smaller businesses, these tools can level the playing field with their larger competitors.
Twitter’s Influence Could Be on the Decline
Unlike many social platforms, Twitter’s user base failed to grow in 2017. Although the social networking service attempted to increase its reach by doubling its character count from 140 to 280 in November, there’s no word yet on whether this has generated more users. It may actually have the opposite effect.
Many users are reportedly upset about the increased character count because they believe it was part of what made Twitter unique. Most important, it forced brands and individuals to be concise in expressing their opinions and ideas. In a fast-moving world, this was appealing because users could get the information they needed without having to weed through superfluous verbiage. Now, the platform isn’t much different than Facebook or LinkedIn.
In addition, in 2017, Twitter didn’t devote a lot of time to updating its platform; instead, it focused more on acquiring new users, which may not have been the best way to allocate its resources. What does this all mean? That many marketers shifted their emphasis to other social platforms.
Behavioral Marketing and AI Will Work Hand in Hand
CRM programs already have the ability to collect information from prospects and customers, such as how often they visit sites, their browsing patterns and history, and their preferences. By having access to all of this information, marketers are better able to create the ideal customer profile and target customers with customized messages.
But in the coming years, machines will be able to help out with strategic marketing. There will be software that will be able to interpret data to help build marketing segments, figure out when to initiate and terminate marketing campaigns, and help create copy geared toward your target audience. All of this will help marketers improve their engagement with prospects and customers. And they, in turn, will become more loyal because marketers can specifically target them based on their needs.
Finally, live chat tools such as Intercom and Drift will continue to utilize AI to help businesses communicate with prospects and improve their experiences. These virtual assistants can also help prospects find the answers they’re looking for much faster than they could with a customer service or sales rep.
Influencer Marketing Will Continue to Have a Seat at the Table
Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important strategy in recent years, and that will continue in 2018. Targeting key leaders who can influence prospects and customers can be very effective with certain products or services. In fact, on Instagram, influencer marketing is already a $1 billion business, and it could double by 2019.
One of the keys to influencer marketing is to have a sound strategy before entering the fray. Among other things, this entails developing strong relationships with potential influencers, creating effective campaigns, and instituting a robust distribution plan to get the word out.
Also, keep in mind that your customers can be influencers as well. After all, they are the ones using your products or services, so oftentimes their comments and suggestions are invaluable. Valuing and utilizing your customers’ feedback is also a fantastic way to generate brand loyalty.
Digital marketing is constantly evolving, so it’s vital to keep apprised of the trends that could impact your business and brand. By carefully considering these trends, you’ll be better able to create an effective digital marketing strategy for 2018.