2017 was a year that saw major shifts in digital marketing approaches, ranging from video marketing to influencer marketing. 2018 promises to bring new disruptions to the exploding digital marketing space. While the trends of this year will continue booming, the New Year will pave the way for other newer ways of reaching, retaining and converting suspects, prospects, and customers.
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After intense research and dialogue with seasoned marketers and thought leaders in the marketing domain, we have compiled a countdown of the digital marketing trends that are poised to rule 2018:
That’s a no-brainer, you’ll say. Customer experience has already been driving marketing strategies. But this year will see companies going a step forward in anticipating customer needs and catering to them in quick, easy-access ways. Snacky content, videos and infographics, intuitive navigation in websites, and other hacks will continue. But marketers will understand the importance of capitalizing on “micro-moments.” Whether it is to locate the nearest metro station or find directions to the closest H&M, 96% users are inclined to reach out for their smartphones for assistance, claims a study on consumer behavior by Think with Google. The ones who are able to understand this need and provide relevant information in a handy format will win customers’ trust and have bright chances of a long-lasting relationship with them.
In 2018, content marketing will rule the roost. Just creating unique compelling content won’t be enough; marketing and targeting it at the right time to the right audiences will matter most. Marketing automation tools such as HubSpot, Marketo, and SmartInsights, will gain popularity owing to their efficient data-driven marketing campaigns. Companies are likely to see the gains in time, efficiency, and publication regularity.
Another angle to this story is that B2B and B2C companies will invest big time in cultivating in-house editorial and content development teams. Sales team, creative writers and story tellers, designers, and logistics experts will collaborate to create customer-centric content that focuses on conversion.
Cross-device marketing will lead to a flood of valuable user data that will be again be used for gaining more insight into user behavior and buying patterns. In 2018, there will be 6 billion connected objects on the market and 30 in each home by 2025. Information from connected devices will not only be gathered it will be scientifically analyzed and segmented to create more accurate buyer personas. Apart from this, the usual data collection via social networks, app download histories, online purchase, and parsing of CMSs, will continue.
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Celebrity endorsements are a thing of the past. Regular people, like you and I, are the new breed of influencers. When a customer shares a positive interaction she had with a brand, it can have a snowball effect on social media. If a brand cultivates micro-influencers, it can gather a loyal army of advocates and promoters and attract high quality leads at a relatively lower budget.
Twitter says brands using influencers on social media have been able to enhance traffic and visibility by almost 5 times! Influencers are becoming a force to reckon with as nearly 49% of social media users are basing their purchase/investment decisions solely guided by third-party recommendations from influencers they trust. Clearly, audiences are no more swayed by brands promoting themselves (don’t we all use ad blockers?) and in order not to lose out on this substantial audience segment, companies will NEED to cut through the digital noise and bridge with audiences through their favored influencers’ personal brands.
Brands will make their websites REALLY work for them. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) will be hiked by personalization of website content, adding videos to landing pages, SEO, and improved layouts are likely to do the task. Mass advertising is passé, but mass personalization isn’t. From website user experience to tailored Calls to action (CTA), personalization of content will take new dimensions.
Consider a situation. A new visitor stumbles upon your website. The kind of content offerings you would present her would be way different from a customer who is deeply engaged with your brand. By personalizing content according to a buyer’s journey, your website can most likely keep new visitors and dedicated customers productively engaged and delighted. Further, CTAs directed to users have been found 42% more effective than generic ones according to HubSpot’s survey of 93,000 CTAs.
Companies will go a step further in meeting customer requirements by location-based marketing of their services. Research shows than nearly a third of all searches on Google have local intent. So, if a business aims to be competitive in 2018, they must find a way to connect with local consumers. Local search ads by Google and other search engines display only to users in the relevant geographic area. So, when a biker in New York hosts a search using keywords “Cafes in Brooklyn”, your local ad will show up right at the top of the SERP! You can also promote offers and discounts right there and your logo will appear on the map.
Real-time geolocation targeting can facilitate connecting with users whenever their phone’s GPS is in your vicinity. Starbucks is a first-mover in this regard. It offers “Mobile Order and Pay” which allows customers to purchase items and pick them up at their nearest store.
Cross-technology location based marketing is another way of geotagging. Remember, Pokémon Go, the Augmented Reality app that used location data and sent users on a wild goose chase for catching Pokémon’s- entertainment and branding, in one master stroke!
Chatbots or virtual assistants empowered with artificial intelligence can improve customer experience by providing any time anyplace assistance. In 2018, brands will infuse artificial empathy in their chatbots to provide a better user experience using stored customer data. After Facebook Messenger opened its API, installing chatbots in a CMS has become a cakewalk for even novices. Companies will be seen adopting chatbots in an effort to cut the cost of engaging regular customer service or technical support staff.
Digital marketing is evolving at the speed of light. Keeping yourself abreast of emerging trends can give you a first-mover advantage over competitors.
Watch this space for more revelations, tips, and hacks.
Mohit Tater is the founder and CEO of BlackBook Investments through which he helps people invest in online businesses and digital assets. Apart from advising clients on SEO and marketing he also blogs at mohittater.com.