Another year is almost over and that means marketers everywhere are assessing what strategies worked this year, what didn't and what they could do in the upcoming year to make it the best yet. With eMarketer predicting that by 2019, mobile will account for 72% of all US digital ad spending, making digital marketing is a priority for any brand looking to stay relevant and compete in the year to come.
To help brands start thinking about ways to grow their digital marketing strategy we’ve put together a list of key digital marketing trends to watch in 2018.
Voice Search Changes the SEO Game
With the increased prevalence of voice-activated devices such as the Amazon Echo and Alexa, as well as a surge of searches performed through Siri and Cortana, it’s no surprise analysts at Comscore expect to see voice search hit 50% of all searches by 2020. But what does this mean for SEO? When users perform a voice search, they speak naturally and ask questions, increasing the potential for long-tail queries to outperform awkwardly phrased, 1-3 word searches. The brands who come out on top will have content that is optimized both for traditional SEO and the more natural questions that deal with the Who, What, Where, When and Why.
Furthermore, the recent unveiling of Google Lens has added an additional layer to the SEO puzzle, allowing users to combine voice search with image search in order to book a table at a restaurant, identify a flower or add a concert to their calendar directly from a venue marquee. The implications of Google Lens from an SEO perspective are yet to be fully understood, but 2018 will see which brands best navigate this uncharted territory.
Personalized Marketing Goes Deeper
According to Janrain & Harris, 74% of online consumers get frustrated with websites when offers, ads and promotions appear that have nothing to do with their interests. On the other hand, 70% of consumers believe that personalization attempts are superficial, with 33% citing this overt personalization as their top annoyance in digital marketing.
Developing customized landing pages or even creating fully-personalized website experiences for consumers can make a vast difference in improving conversion rates and fostering brand loyalty. But missing the mark or simply adding a first name to your blast marketing emails can just as easily have the opposite effect. With the wealth of customer data now available to brands of all sizes, the challenge will be properly using it to define and differentiate between your buyer personas and the various stages in the buyer journey. Only through an ongoing process of research, insights and optimizations will brands be able to serve users truly personalized content that does what it’s meant to do: increase conversions.
Video Dominates Content
If you’re tired of hearing that video is king of the content game, I’ve got some bad news for you. In September 2017, Cisco VNI predicted internet video will account for 82% of consumer Internet traffic by 2021—up from 73% in 2016. Popular platforms like Facebook continue to increase their emphasis on live video streaming with good reason: users spend three times as long watching live streams compared to pre-recorded video. Perhaps most important, 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded video content.
All this data means that platforms will continue to prioritize video content, brands will continue to create it and consumers will continue to consume it. Even Instagram, a platform built on photography, is seeing an impressive increase in video. Though still only at 33% of all content (in May 2017), every single one of the top ten brands on Instagram significantly increased their video output over the previous year. So don’t expect this trend to slow down at all in 2018 but expect to see more brands experimenting with live streaming, augmented reality and 360 video in their video marketing campaigns.
Instagram Takes Over Social
The social platform Facebook purchased for $1 billion in 2012 is on the way to becoming more valuable to marketers than Facebook itself. In August 2016, Instagram introduced “Stories,” their clone of SnapChat’s candid video clips that disappear in 24 hours. Less than a year after launching, Instagram successfully outpaced the social giant and beat them at their own game. Instagram Stories have boosted the average app usage to over 30 minutes per day and half of all businesses on the platform have published a story in the last month. Currently, more than 700 million people use Instagram monthly, with over 400 million checking in daily. They are on pace to break 1 billion MAU in 2018. While Facebook remains the leader of social at over 2 billion monthly active users, it’s not difficult to see Instagram reaching that same milestone in the coming years. So if your brand hasn’t yet incorporated Instagram into your digital strategy, now is a good time to start.
If Instagram is dominating the social media space, it follows that influencer marketing will continue its massive rise into 2018. Influencer marketing is one of the most compelling and effective tactics to drive sales and brand loyalty, with Instagram being the platform of choice. Both macro- and micro-influencers can provide significant value to brands in terms of advertisements that feel more natural and subtle compared to traditional media. However, as the market gets more saturated—both with brands looking to get in on the game and micro-influencers looking to partner with those brands—businesses will have to be increasingly savvy to avoid throwing money down the influencer drain.
As digital marketing continues to be where consumers look to interact with brands, research products and make their purchases, knowing how to build out your digital marketing strategy and execute against it is the difference between a Happy New Year and a disappointing Q4 report. So as you make your brand's New Year’s resolutions, be sure to ask, is your digital marketing strategy ready to tackle these trends in 2018?