Seeing as we’re now in to 2018, it seems only right to do an obligatory blog post about what we think is going to be important in the world of digital marketing in 2018. The rate of change in marketing is gaining momentum. New technologies are changing the way people experience some of the staple parts of the marketing diet, as well as shifting the focus to different aspects of digital marketing.
As with all marketing efforts, the real importance is in how well you can integrate all of the different aspects into your digital presence, so everything is seamlessly pushing in the right direction. Data will continue to be critical to all of your marketing, as the ability to interpret and react to analytics in the right way gives businesses a big advantage.
Don’t panic if you’re not a marketing guru, we’re on top of it for you. Below are just some of the ways we see the landscape evolving this year.
Voice searches are getting louder
Consumers have had access to voice search for quite a few years now, whether through their smartphone, tablet or laptop. However, 2017 has seen smart speakers gain a lot more traction, which has fuelled a spike in the number of voice searches being performed.
Optimising your content marketing for voice search requires a slightly different strategy to normal SEO, as the focus needs to be more on long-tail keywords and phrases people are more likely to speak. Most people don’t speak in the same way they would type a search, so incorporating a strategy that ensures you’re covered from both angles is more important than ever.
The smart speaker is still in its relative infancy, and as 2018 rolls on we expect to see adoption continue to increase. Will the more common use of smart speakers also make voice searches more familiar, increasing the likelihood of people using voice on their other devices? Only time will tell.
AI is not pie in the sky
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re already interacting with AI. Over 50% of marketers already use simple AI technology in different forms. Over the last couple of years AI technology has been improving at an astounding rate, and its use in marketing is only going to grow.
The new generation of machine learning and AI technology will have a bigger impact, from machine mediated customer conversations and personalisation of the customer’s journey, through to image recognition on social media. A few organisations are already using AI to generate some of their content, and while it can’t match good quality content with a human touch, it can automate some of the more formulaic copy.
Machine learning and AI will impact how digital marketers approach SEO. Strategies will include more types of content in different formats and become more complex. They will also need to be sustainable in order to maximise their impact. Google’s main focus has always been the users experience, largely through improving the relevance of search results, and the technology they use to rank the content is becoming savvier than ever.
With autonomous vehicles, marketing, drone technology and financial market predictions, AI is being developed in lots of different ways, and will continue to progress at an impressive rate, slowly reaching into new areas of our daily lives.
Your audience loves mobile and live video
Video is nothing new on the Internet, and neither is the fact its consumption is increasing. However, the continued growth of smartphones, and the adoption of live videos by social media resources like Facebook, means it’s becoming a more important aspect of your Internet presence.
This has altered the way companies are using video. It’s now much more common to see a video featuring members of the workforce on a website’s homepage. Live video is being used to introduce employees, give customers a behind the scenes look at your business, and show off new products or displays.
Mobile video consumption is expected to grow by more than 20% over the coming year, so having a decent mobile video strategy is a no-brainer if you want to connect to your audience in a way they really relate to. The use of video in this way ties in to the shifting focus towards the customer experience, and video is now a crucial part of the customer journey.
Customer experience takes centre stage
Content is king is a tired cliché, but when it comes to customer experience, high quality focused content is not just king, it’s the supreme leader. Whether it’s through video, infographics, e-mail marketing or blogs and web copy, adding value to your customer’s experience of your brand is more important than ever.
Your business brand is the sum of all a customer’s experiences. Every point of contact, physical or digital, should be providing the customer with an enjoyable experience that uses the same narrative. This will help to build brand loyalty and awareness.
In a mobile world where people can easily (and often do) share their personal experience of your company, you must ensure it’s a positive one.
Local awareness through social media
With services like Facebook Local and Google Posts, and the same analytics and tools at your disposal, the social media landscape provides a more level playing field for marketing. Its accessibility is also one of the reasons businesses can struggle, as most markets are saturated with competition.
Despite this saturation, not many companies are utilising their social presence in the best way for them. Businesses are turning away from some of the generic rules of social media marketing, and instead focusing on targeting a smaller but more relevant audience. Even big brands are starting to focus on a strategy that is more local, so for businesses that actually are local it’s an important factor. The fact you’re a smaller business fits better with the ethos of going local, and provides a great base to build from.
A year of transition
The digital marketing world is a fast paced place, but many of the recent changes are more fundamental than previous years. Not all of them have reached their peak yet, which is why getting your business on the right track now will position you perfectly as these trends continue to grow.