Digital Marketing Trends: Our Predictions for 2018

Back when Heraclitus famously said, “The only thing that’s constant is change,” it’s unlikely that he had digital marketing in mind – but he may as well have. The evolution of how brands can engage with consumers is happening at breakneck speed, and that means that if you’re going to keep up you need to pay close attention and be ready to adapt quickly. The number of ways to get your message across is expanding on a daily basis. Here are the ones that we think will have the greatest impact in 2018, and why:

Facebook

The first and last word when it comes to digital marketing in 2018 has to be Facebook and Facebook ads. All anybody needs to understand about the impact of social media is splashed all over our daily headlines, and whether you think that’s good news or bad, the bottom line is that it works. Facebook and Google now account for about 25% of all advertising, and 2018 is going to be the year that you see the big brands truly embracing Facebook advertising. You need to be there too. It’s the single best and fastest way to build your audiences right now because it allows you to connect in a much more personal, more emotional way.

Here are a few specific things that you need to know about Facebook marketing going forward:

  • It’s going to be getting more expensive. With the big brands jumping in, the pricing has nowhere to go but up. Get in as quickly as you can, while you can.
  • Facebook is going to take action against the bad actors that are hurting its reputation: it’s a step they have to take, and they will.
  • Facebook is going to make digital marketing even more effective by providing even more usable actionable data. They’ll be delivering information on user behavior that goes beyond their own platform, all to help you know more about the consumers you’re targeting and act on it.
  • With over 2 billion users on the platform every day, this is going to be the year that Facebook’s e-commerce advertising explodes, with more and more physical products being advertised with the platform’s new tools, including carousel ads for multiple products, canvas ads, collection ads, messenger ads, and more. This will be the year that Facebook’s dynamic ads really break through, offering you the ability to more effectively reach a much more diverse audience in a highly targeted way.

Instagram

Instagram provides one of the greatest opportunities for digital marketing today. Out of all the social media channels, it has one of the broadest followings, with users ranging in age from teen to elderly and the largest demographic consisting of the ever-important 20-45-year-old group. The key to Instagram success is to make sure that the content you’re creating translates well to the platform, and to create enough content so that you’re able to post every single day. That should be your goal, because you want to build your following as quickly as possible now, before the prices go sky high.

Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Though these technologies are still in their infancy, and virtual reality remains a novelty at this point, it’s not too soon to be thinking about it and its role in the customer journey.

AI’s big impact on digital marketing will lie in its ability to combine content marketing with big data. By analyzing customer searches and buying behavior on an individual basis, smart marketers will be able to leverage the information and deliver a customized content campaign that directly delivers product to potential customers based on their needs and behaviors. Other areas will include the use of chatbots that can be embedded on websites to create a sense of communicating with a real person. By doing something as simple as using a chatbot tool to ask potential customers a couple of questions, you’re likely to be met with much less resistance than comes from asking the to download a document or subscribe to a list, and the information you gain will be much more helpful.

Augmented reality will not only have a huge impact on online education, but it will also enhance the buyer’s experience and change online shopping forever. Retailers are already adding videos to their website offerings to allow customers to see how a product will look in their environment, fit on their body, view items in different colors, and show them how complex products work. Adding the ability to interact virtually with a product will increase sales and decrease returns, and as virtual reality gains greater levels of adoption, smart marketers will allow clients the opportunity to “experience” the benefits of their product in a way that goes far beyond what mere words can do.

Individualized Marketing Campaigns

Messenger Marketing has made it possible to completely automate your campaign in a way that feels highly individualized and personal to the consumer – and that’s the experience that they want. From Amazon’s book recommendations to shopping-cart-triggered emails from retailers, personalization makes users feel “known” and keeps them engaged. Look to adding quizzes and questions that make the end user feel as if they are getting a one-on-one conversation and sales experience and a customized product that’s made just for them. It’s a strategy that allows tremendous creativity for your brand and invites far greater loyalty from consumers.

Live Events

You know that engaging in live, in-person events allows you to make a much deeper, much different sort of connection with potential customers — but these types of interactions also have much more expense involved in producing them, as well as an enormous outlay of time. There’s also the fact that the impact you make at these events can be short-lived. The digital arena provides you the ability to repurpose an in-person event into digital content that can be kept on your website, and events hosted on Facebook Live provide the same opportunity to reach more people and build connections in a much more efficient way. The key to success lies in allowing yourself to get more personal and engaged while you’re communicating.

Optimizing Voice-Activated Search

One of the biggest evolutions in search engine optimization is related to the introduction of voice-activated search. All you need to know to understand it is to think about what you type into Google versus what you ask Siri or Alexa. Your question is worded differently, and that means that your content marketing strategy needs to reflect that. People speak differently than they type, and that means that the titles, subtitles and keywords need to be too.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn may have started out as a job-seeking platform, but there’s been a big shift in focus on the site, and the improvements they’ve made are big news for B2B promotion. If your current focus is on Twitter, it may be time to shift your ad spend over, as Twitter seems to be going through its own evolution, and it’s not entirely clear where it’s headed or whether Twitter advertising has the same value that it once had.

Influencer Marketing

Did you think that influencer marketing was just another trend that would rise and then retreat? Turns out that when it’s done right, influencer marketing campaigns are a sure-fire way to reach a targeted audience — especially when the campaign crosses channels. It’s leading to bigger impact and better results, as influencers help industries access eyes that they wouldn’t normally be seen by. If you’re not building those relationships, it’s time to start. When an influencer marketing campaign is done right, it amplifies content and results for all involved.

Goodwill Content

Including goodwill content in your digital marketing strategy may not give you the immediate hit that a direct call to action does, but it’s going to pay off in the long run. When you educate your audience, you grow your audience and – more importantly — you keep them. Goodwill content generates interest that makes a stranger into a friend when it’s done right, and that means a higher probability of a conversion in the future. Make sure that what you’re putting out there without a call to action is targeted at building people’s understanding of what your brand is and what you stand for. Whether you’re talking about your people or a social issue that you care about, make sure your message is consistent and your values are clear.

Digital marketing is changing at the speed of light, and each new innovation provides the opportunity for new and better ways to reach out. The bottom line for 2018 is a focus on user experience, and attracting new clients with an approach that feels more personal.