The countdown clock is ticking and it’s time to officially say goodbye 2017. It’s been a great year for digital marketing, but I have a feeling 2018 is going to be even better.
Are you, and your digital marketing strategy, prepared for the year ahead or did it sneak up on you out of the blue?
No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the hottest digital marketing trends that are going to push your business forward in 2018. Let’s get started.
- Go Off Screen: 2018 is the year to begin thinking about reshaping your ideas of content marketing. Computer and mobile screens are no longer the only place that businesses can share their content. Take Amazon’s Alexa, for example. The American Heart Association uses Alexa to help guide people through CPR, along with warning them of signs of heart attacks and strokes. Small businesses can take advantage of off screen technology, like Alexa, to answer customer questions and engage with their audience in a more personal way.
- Build a Team That Includes More Than Just Writers: At one point, the only asset you needed for content creation was a great writer or two by your side. That time is no longer. The changes in how content is delivered and what is expected from it means that quality content creation requires talent in writing, but also graphic design, audio production, multi-channel content optimization and the ability to analyze content success. This doesn’t mean spending major money on a content creation team. Instead, look at new ways to use the talents of your existing team.
- Content Goes Interactive: Looking for a way to make your content more engaging? Go interactive. In 2018, we see augmented reality becoming more mainstream for content creation. Just think about the possibilities for the local hardware store that sells paint or the small interior design firm. Instead of blog about paint colors or accents, users can interact with your ideas, and play around with the concepts themselves. This is the type of interaction that will drive conversions for many types of small businesses.
- Downfall of Content Overload: You’ve heard it a thousand times before. The more content you push out, the better. Now we are learning that less can be much more. Businesses are going to do better with their content creation strategies this year by toning down the amount and focusing on quality instead. Rather than posting a short blog to social media every other day, create slightly longer, more valuable content and deliver it only once or twice a week. Content overload, especially today, can feel insincere or “salesy”. Now is the time to take a deep breath, take a break and then deliver content that wows instead of overwhelms. If you’re in the accounting business, go in depth into one tax topic per week leading up to tax season instead of blasting short pieces that offer less real value to your readers.
- Go for Content That Doesn’t Sell: If you use content to deliver your sales pitch, its time to stop and take a sharp turn in a different direction. Consumers, especially millennials, don’t want to be sold to through content. Well, at least not obviously. They want content that offers value and an experience. For example, a coffee house might regularly create content with the purpose of selling or promoting a specific blend. They would do better by creating a tutorial for a brewing method, and maybe mentioning the feature blend somewhere in the journey. Content that gives the reader something in return for their time is content that wins.
- Advertising Goes Native: Marketing has increasingly become a more personalized experience, and that isn’t going to change in the coming year. This means looking for ways to market to your mobile consumer that fit in naturally with their experience. Such as native ads. According to one study, native ads will make up 74% of all ad revenue by 2021. Now is the time to steer away from banners, pop ups and other types of ads that interfere with the mobile user’s experience. The same coffee house we mentioned earlier can target their mobile advertising to feature a list of new cold weather drinks just when the temperature is starting to drop, rather than a banner ad that offers no real immediate value.
- Messaging Apps Provide Improved User Experiences: Do you want to do more business with the mobile consumer? Make it ridiculously easy for them to contact you. Consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that make communication easy, and for the mobile user this means a messenger app. Now is also a great time for small businesses to experiment with advancing AI technology to seamlessly gap the space between immediate customer needs and their available resources. Which is great for small 9-5 business that don’t have the luxury of an always on call customer service team.
- Optimizing for Voice Search: While this isn’t a new trend by any means, in 2018 it’s becoming even more crucial that your marketing strategy is optimized for voice search. Get your business on board with long tail keywords that mimic the more natural, conversational way that voice searches are initiated. For example, if you’re counting on “best pizza restaurant” to bring people to your door, instead try “where can I get the best taco pizza in Cleveland?”
- Juice Your Speed: If there’s one thing that will leave even the best marketing strategy dead in the water, it’s a slow load speed. This is even more true for the mobile consumer. You have exactly 3 seconds before visitors are going to back out because your site is taking too long to load. That’s why smart businesses are transferring their websites to faster hosting providers and devoting separate pages to mobile users that are optimized for load speed and ease of use on mobile devices.
- Expect Live Video to Soar: It’s no secret that video is where it’s at in marketing. Maybe you’re even a little tired of hearing about it. Well, it’s not going anywhere, but it is changing. Live video content, which is already hot, is going to continue to soar this year. Get your business in on the action by hosting live video events such as grand openings, product launches, special events and live Q&A.
- Look for a Heavy Focus on Consumer Experience: Social media has made marketing all about the consumer experience. If you don’t have a strong focus on it, you’re not going to survive the year. This comes from a blended approach of being accessible to meet your customers questions and concerns on social media, but also highlighting positive customer experiences, in the forms of reviews and testimonials to elevate trust in your brand.
- Hello Generation Z: For a while now, social media marketing has focused on reaching the millennial generation. While they still make up the significant portion of the social media market, Generation Z is coming up on their coat tails, and they’re going to be shaping the marketing trends of the future. The oldest of Generation Z has now entered the independent consumer stage of their lives. Your business can begin to reach out to this market by not trying to sell them on your product, but on your experience. What are you offering to enrich their lives? Bonus if you can tell them in 8 seconds or less, because that’s the amount of time they’re going to give you.
- Don’t Back Away from Influencer Marketing: This is another tactic that might seem overdone. But, just listen. Millennials are growing their careers and their families, while generation Z is entering the consumer marketplace. Soon, these two generations alone will make up most of your market. They are still responding to social influence. This means influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, you can expect it to grow. You don’t need to go big with influencers either. Small businesses can partner up with major local players for maximum social media punch.
- Go Live: I’ve already mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating here. If you want your video to perform, it’s time to take it live. People spend an average of 3 times longer watching live content than they do other types of video. Why not give them what they’re looking for? Give viewers a behind the scenes look at your business or offer a live tutorial that offers value to your viewers.
- A Wider View with 360° Video: What do people want out of video? They want to see more, but we’re not just talking about more video. We’re talking about more of the video around you. They want to experience it from your perspective. 86% of companies that use 360° video consider it an effective marketing tool. The good news is that this is getting easier for small businesses with modest budgets to accomplish thanks to the lower cost of high quality tech equipment.
- It’s Good to Be Square: 2018 is the time to switch up your video format from vertical to square. Here’s why. First, mobile users love to watch video, and a lot of it. Square formatted video means that they don’t need to turn their mobile devices to get the most out of their content. Secondly, square formatted video takes up more space on Facebook, which means higher engagement and more leads for you.
- Explainer Videos Explode on the Scene: Not quite sure how to best use video to market your business? Explainer videos are your answer. Viewers want value from their content, and explainer videos give it to them. Think of a veterinarian that offers a video on how to get your cat to swallow a pill, or a tailor that shows how to do a quick, emergency fix on a hem. Explainer videos don’t need to be elaborate productions, they just need to appeal to the needs of your market.
So, are you ready to make 2018 you year in marketing. I thought so. At TabithaNaylor.com, we’re here to help you with all your digital marketing needs in 2018. This is your time, and I can’t wait to see how your business is going to explode in the coming year.