There are a number of trends we see coming down the line that could prove fruitful if done in the right way. Albeit it is frustrating that the rate at which digital marketing is changing means we have to be extra cautious of not losing focus and have a bigger picture of what trends have a good chance at paying off for years to come. I have been spending a great deal of time reading, attending meet-ups and conferences and talking with digital enthusiasts covering a wide range of topics and narrowing down what to act on in 2018. And here is what I think will be important for you and your business in 2018.
Getting Personal & Integrating into the Customer Life Cycle
In a galaxy far far away Adtech discovered that conversions go up when ads are focused directly on an individual user. It’s also something I have advocated in recent times, as well in my previous articles in for example Woo Your Audience. The journey towards personalization is a dream, most marketers agree on and want to fulfil. Although emphasis is growing and not just a dream anymore, to really HELP users get personal experiences, webtech needs to catch up. Machine learning can help with this as well, which we will cover later but personalization could be as simple as having a customized landing page that changes its content based on the channel users are coming from and where they could be in their customer journey phase. It’s time you start believing and understanding that people are sick of ads and will only engage with different, targeted and sophisticated (sophisticated doesn’t mean fancy solutions) content you share with them.
In addition, a keyword that we must remember for 2018 is that personalization will require interactive marketing experiences across all digital channels to engage consumers at every digital touchpoint. That could be through an Appvert (an interactive marketing ‘application’, fully customizable by the advertiser, which is used instead of the traditional ad unit.) The different campaign types and real-time visuals to can be embedded into Appverts and help you stand out and drive action. Something new and exciting for the consumer.
Search is Still Alive & Will Be Better
What keywords to customers use to search their products, services or entertainment is as crucial as ever. And how you set up your content to include those keywords is just as important but what we will see more of in 2018 is that voice search will have a stronger impact and potentially be a game-changer. Voice Search already accounts for almost 20% of searches according to the Digital Agency Network and with app assistants through Amazon Echo or the Google app itself longer tail queries are becoming easier. Add to that you take a picture of a say a poster and Google will search the results within that specific poster for you.
Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
AI and machine learning are very much related, but they’re not quite the same thing. AI is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart”. And Machine Learning is an application of AI that simply put “trains” the machines to learn from experiences and data how to perform a task, according to Forbes.
97% of business leaders feel the future of marketing will consist of clever human marketers working in collaboration with these technologies. As discussed earlier, the ability to respond quickly and perhaps more accurately to user behaviour changes will be vital to the digital needs in 2018.
To paint a clearer picture of the power of AI and Machine Learning in the context of digital marketing have a look at its impact in these videos:
Investing in Chatbots
Not much needs to be said about Live Chat / Chatbots. This will become an even bigger channel of digital communication to meet the ever growing demands of the customer of instant responses on their queries. Not only that, it has proven itself as a high converting medium, especially in the automotive industry.
Video Will Rise Again
Early last year, Forbes wrote an article proclaiming 2017 would be “the year of video marketing.” By all accounts, that was true. 2018 will be no different. Integrating video into the customer journey experience is perhaps not the most insightful or the next “big” thing to act on. However, video continues to evolve as Augmented and Virtual Reality are closely being combined to expand video engagement with user. Especially since, users are growing increasingly tired of highly polished and photoshopped media. Thanks to fake news- brands will realize authenticity is key, making video content (and content in general) more genuine, abolishing the airbrush with a surge in live videos and real-life content. In fact, 52% of marketing professionals worldwide feel that video is the type of content with the best ROI. Furthermore, 43% of people said they want to see more video content from marketers.
The Balance of “Dark Social”
When you hear the the term “dark social” one would immediately consider this to be a sinister activity. However, that is not the case. It simply refers to social sharing that can’t be tracked accurately by your analytics platforms. Platforms, such as WhatsApp, emails, native mobile aps like Facebook, browing security
According to a RadiumOne study, almost 70% of all online referrals come from dark social globally. This means an huge chunk of referral traffic is extremely difficult to track accurately and without the full picture, you might end up wasting your time on optimising the wrong things. There is not a lot you can do about other than keeping it simple by set up a segment in your analytics that takes into account all direct traffic links with UTM parameters and include highly visible sharing buttons on your sites and platforms. It may not always tell you where the content was shared originally but at least you can have a fairly educated picture of that this traffic is “dark social”.
Find & Cherish the Little Moments
Decisions today are made in micro-moments. If a user sees something in your email, social media or any other touch point the likelihood of making a making a decision in your favour will not be when they click to the next page but through the first impression they get of seeing your digital asset. This is even more relevant when we talk about mobile, continues to be on the rise. On average people check their phones 100+ times a day! Consider this, BBC’s mobile site displays a navigation bar where categories are arranged and personalized according to the user making it easier to locate rich and relevant information during an impulsive or micro-moment.
Daunting, but Exciting
The constant changes in digital marketing is daunting. It requires time and effort and importantly people to drive these sort of activities. We are only scratching the surface. There is the whole stories features within Facebook and Instragram, there’s mobile commerce, influencer marketing and many more that aren’t mentioned in this post. But one thing is certain that 2018 promises to be a defining year. Let’s see what happens.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Sources: Forbes, Digital Marketing Institute, Business2Community, Social Media Today, Social Media Examinar, Digital Agency Network, Danish Marketing Association, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram