2018 is upon us. Every new year brings change along with it. Nowhere is that truer than in the digital marketing industry. So, to keep you up to date, here is what you need to know so you can keep creating those Aha! Moments for your audience in 2018. Whether we like it or not, our audiences’ behaviour changes, technology changes, and our businesses change. That’s why it’s crucial for marketers to stay current with all the latest digital marketing trends. Get comfortable, grab a notebook, and get ready to learn. We’re going to show you how to get the most of your digital marketing efforts in 2018.
Marketing Trend #1: Content is still the king of digital marketing
Seems obvious, right? Actually, it’s not as obvious as you may think. Some marketers still ignore the fact that you can’t create a positive customer experience without quality content. According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, brands now have more touchpoints than ever. That means customers interact with your brand multiple times (most often through multiple channels) before becoming buyers. Given all the different touchpoints and channels, can you guess which element is the most important? You got it, content. Now, 89% of brands are using content marketing to get the attention they want. However, content can be created with an endless combination of tones, formats, and goals. So, it’s still possible to stand out from the crowd.
Marketing Trend #2: Content marketing jobs will continue to change
Content has become a vital asset to any marketing effort. However, digital channels have changed dramatically over the past few years. As a result, content marketing has become way more complex. Gone are the days of coming up with a few blog posts and publishing them every once in a while. The good news is that you now have more interesting options that you can use to connect with your audience. Short, consumable content and live video are two great examples of changes that, while unheard of five years ago, are now core features of many major social media channels. Obviously, these new tools require marketers with new skillsets. Some skills that you should make sure to include on your marketing team are:
- Graphic design and illustration.
- Content optimization.
- Audio and video production and editing.
- Content promotion.
- User experience.
- Content distribution.
Marketing Trend #3: Personalization is a must
Beyond having a content marketing strategy, brands must make sure that their marketing campaigns create unique experiences for individual users. Whether you run a small blog or big e-commerce site, your users expect you to anticipate their needs so their journey is personalized at every step. While personalization can sound complex, it doesn’t have to be (well, at least in the beginning). You can start adding personalization to your marketing campaigns by simply using email marketing personalization features like:
- Addressing your customers by their name instead of a generic “Hey There” or “Dear Friend.”
- Having a series of welcome emails for new subscribers that provide them valuable information.
- Sending a post-purchase email after each sale from your website.
- Thank users for their membership with an anniversary email.
- Use time zone specific emails to deliver messages at the right time (which usually isn’t 3 am).
If you’re not doing this already, you’ll soon see how these tiny changes can make a big difference to your users. In the meantime, you should get working on more accurate (and complex) ways to improve the customer experience.
Marketing Trend #4: Micro-moments are the key to outperforming competitors.
96% of users do some kind of research before reaching the decision stage. This usually takes place across multiple channels with multiple devices. So, what’s the opportunity? If you can correctly anticipate your customers’ needs, you can change intent to action. That’s why it’s crucial that your brand delivers the right pieces of information at each stage of the customer journey. It can be tough to nail all of the micro-moments. The key to success is learning more and more about your customers while also allowing the data to guide your decisions. It’s best to think of it as a cycle. The better you know your customers, the better your promotions will be. The better your promotions, the better you know your customers. As a first step, you can gather data by:
- Researching your customers’ buying cycles.
- Analyzing related search results.
- Collecting competitors’ mentions.
- Employing social listening.
Marketing Trend #5: Social media channels will overlap more and more
Live video, infographics, and other visual content are going to continue flooding social media channels in 2018. Does this mean that your company should be active on every single social media channel? Actually, it’s the opposite. Given the fact that most social media channels offer many of the same features, you can now step back and analyze the whole digital landscape. You should identify which channels are best for your brand before carefully choosing where to invest your time and resources. This approach becomes especially important if you’re a startup or a company with a small marketing team. You always can move to more channels later on.
Marketing Trend #6: Distribution is more important than ever
What’s the first thing you do after finishing some content? If you imagine yourself posting the exact same thing on every channel then you really need to keep reading. Sharing the same link or picture everywhere doesn’t work anymore. Yes, even if you do it at different times. As content has become an important part of marketing strategies, you can bet more companies are investing in it. So, how do you get an edge when your competitors are creating so much content? Well, you can improve how you distribute it across all your platforms to make sure your multi-channel experience is top-notch. To better distribute your content, you need to understand the features of each channel so that you can make the most of it every time you click “share.” These are a few elements thqt you need to consider when distributing your content:
- Paid versus non-paid tactics
- A channel’s purpose
- The channel’s features
- The content’s format
- Content length
If you do it right, you can deliver an experience that will have your audience coming back for more.
Marketing Trend #7: Live video continues its take over
As peoples’ attention spans continue to decrease, it’s easy to see why short, digestible content is the star of the content marketing world. In a recent study, Contently states that “the future of media and marketing is video.” They backed that up with some interesting facts and predictions:
- Video succeeds because it incorporates the four elements that we’re wired to pay attention to: faces, voices, body language, and movement.
- Videos are replacing photos as the primary medium that we use to create and share memories.
- When it comes to traffic, videos appear to bring a lot of it. BuzzFeed has more than 7 billion monthly views, most of which can be attributed to video content.
- By 2020, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be comprised of video.
- By 2020, 5G networks, which are over 10 times faster than 4G networks, will be commonplace.
- 85% of SMBs currently use video or intend to start using it soon.
In addition, it’s well known that brands who use video have higher engagement rates, CTR, and conversion rates. If you want to learn more, you can see Contently’s Visual Study right here.
Marketing Trend #8: Digestible content will be the most engaging
With the rise of ephemeral (short, easily-digestible) content on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, “stories” have become the tool that brands are relying on to strengthen their relationships with their customers. However, “engagement” doesn’t mean a better CTR or conversion rate (though it’s possible) but better “top of mind awareness” and brand perception. That’s because this content, by its nature, is meant to show the authentic side of a brand and the people who are behind it. As a result, more and more companies are developing two content separate strategies for Instagram and Facebook. One that focuses on traditional content and other aimed at ephemeral and branding-related content. When compared to traditional content, there are a few advantages of ephemeral content:
- Since this content is only around for only a few hours, the potential fear of missing out increases. As a result, users tend to take action faster.
- It allows you to let your inner storyteller shine.
- It’s focused on the people behind the brand.
- It is location based.
- It’s mobile-focused.
Even though this type of content can be time-consuming and hard to manage, it’s still a good idea to develop a separate strategy for it.
Marketing Trend #9: Influencer marketing continues to grow (but it will get harder)
Attention has become the Internet’s currency. As customers tend to react positively to authenticity, more and more brands are trying to get their content in front of their ideal target market using influencers. In fact, a recent study by Tomoson found that more than 75% of marketers are currently using some form of influencer marketing. What’s even more interesting is that 59% of them are planning to increase their budgets. With that in mind, you can expect a lot more posts from niche micro-influencers who are collaborating with brands. Nevertheless, reaching your audience using influencers will get harder as more and more companies try to get in on the trend. If you’re going to do it, you need to do it right. Start by putting the numbers aside when you’re figuring out which influencers will be the best fit for your brand. Instead, base it on their fit with your company’s brand positioning and values.
Marketing Trend #10: Authenticity and empathy are the secret ingredients to great communication
With more brands producing content, doing influencer marketing, and paying for sponsored content, customers are growing skeptical of the content and relationships they see on digital channels. That said, marketers have a chance to turn things to their favour. Those who are looking at this trend as an opportunity rather than a threat will be the ones who can take advantage and win the hearts of potential customers. As users become more distrustful, brands need to double down on the values that most users value. Things like empathy, transparency, and authenticity will be key to the success of future marketing campaigns. If you didn’t have time to read the whole article, this is what you need to know about digital marketing in 2018:
- Make content the foundation of your marketing strategy
- Invest in new marketing talent
- Use personalization to deliver a better customer experience
- Nail on your target customers’ micro-moments
- Re-think which social media channels you use
- Work on your content distribution strategy
- Use live video
- Invest in short, easily-digestible content
- Be careful with influencer marketing
- Win your customers’ hearts with authenticity and transparency
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