Tania Condren

Digital Marketing Trends in 2018 – What Can We Expect?

Posted by to SEO

The digital marketing space is advancing and growing at such a rapid rate; it can be hard to keep up with the new trends and tactics to implement. But these days it’s more important than ever to ride that wave of progress so you can always stay one step ahead of your competition.

So, to ensure your business is across the latest cutting-edge trends, we’ve come up with the ultimate list of digital marketing trends we think will stick in 2018.


AI, Bots & Machine Learning

AI has exploded in recent years, with this new technology integrated into many parts of our lives without most of us even realising it.

The term ‘AI’ refers to a device or software that involves computer intelligence. This can include machine learning, chatbots and applied propensity models just to name a few. This technology has slipped into our world and very quickly become a necessity for various industries, including digital marketing. In fact, you’ve probably already interacted with AI in some form on a regular basis.

For example, Netflix surfaces and finesses recommendations thanks to predictive analytics. And an AI system called ‘RankBrain’ is currently used by Google to interpret a ‘very large fraction’ of search queries. AI is also becoming increasingly prevalent in marketing too.

According to recent statistics, 51% of marketers already use AI in some form and a quarter plan to pilot it in the next two years. 64% of marketers who currently use AI also say it has greatly increased their overall marketing efficiency.

There’s a range of AI technologies in the market that are effective for marketing across the customer lifecycle. We can expect to see more brands embracing tools such as chatbots to deliver better service to their website visitors, smart content curation or predictive customer service just to name a few.

Big data is also increasingly becoming more accessible to businesses of every size thanks to AI developments. Plenty of advertising platforms and marketing outreach methods now allow businesses to access big data about their customers – better allowing them to understand and target their audience.

So, AI in all its forms is here to stay, and as digital marketers, we need to adapt and grow with it and learn how to use these technologies to our advantage.


Voice Search

Advances in this space are coming out thick and fast thanks to improvements to Siri along with the introduction of smart assistant devices such as Google Home and Alexa. This has changed the way people search. Now, rather than typing in a search query, people simply ask a question into their smart assistant device.

By 2020 it’s expected that 50% of all searches will be voice searches. With a statistic like that, it’s hard not to sit up and pay attention.

The convenience of voice search combined with the continual improvement of this technology makes it a worthwhile factor to consider in your SEO strategy. To ensure your website is suited to voice search, consider including long tail keywords in your website content. Adding FAQs to your website is another great option to address questions usually asked by people using voice search.


Content is Still King

A recent poll was undertaken by Smart Insights asking marketers to select the single marketing activity they think will make the largest commercial impact in 2018. Content marketing came out on top by a long mile at 20%, significantly surpassing all else including Big Data and AI at 14% each, followed by social media marketing at 10%.

Content is still king because ‘content marketing is the engagement fuel that powers all digital communications’ according to Smart Insights. Content encompasses all areas including social media, email marketing, website and conversion experiences. So, whether it’s well thought out blogs, creative videos, eye-catching graphics or informative landing pages and e-books, remember to keep up with your content marketing strategy in 2018 and beyond.


User Generated Content

Customers crave authenticity from their brands, and now businesses of all sizes are finally paying attention. In 2018 one of the best ways to come across as an authentic brand is to embrace user generated content. The more authentic a brand appears to their audience, the more loyalty they will earn from them.

User generated content includes photos, video, text, blogs etc created by a customer that mentions or includes information or opinions about a brand or product. When people see user generated content, it acts in a similar way to word-of-mouth marketing and is seen to be a type of brand endorsement from people just like them.

User generated content is particularly effective when implemented on social media. It’s also a cost-effective way to build brand trust.

User generated content can even be applied to paid advertising and promotions with approval from the content creator. People are tired of seeing polished advertising with companies trying to sell them. By leveraging user generated content and utilising it in native advertising, an audience is more likely to stand up and pay attention.


Tribes and Micro Influencers

Influencer marketing continues to be an incredibly useful strategy with nearly 95% of marketers who use an influencer marketing strategy believing it to be effective.

But harnessing influencers is still in its infancy, with the trend only beginning to take hold back in 2016. In that span of time, the number of influencers with a high number of highly targeted followers is increasing rapidly – making way for more opportunities.

Because consumers, (particularly younger ones) prefer authentic content that’s more natural and feels less staged, influencers are a perfect way to achieve this. Particularly if user generated content isn’t currently available to utilise. In fact, influencer marketing can even help spark more user generated content from other social users.

But the envelope is likely to be pushed even further in 2018 with evidence showing that smaller tribes and micro influencers could be an effective avenue to head down. A mico influencer is an everyday person with a decent following on social media, and their social media presence usually revolves around a specific passion or niche.

The smaller the tribe, the more potent the influence’ according to AdNews, and these smaller influencers are also considered to be more relatable, genuine and trustworthy – which is why this influencer marketing niche is likely to soar in popularity.


Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral content refers to content that lasts a short time before disappearing – as seen on Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook stories. The content, in this case, is usually fleeting and novel and generally appeals to younger users.

The popularity of Snapchat, as well as the recent inclusion of this feature on both Instagram and Facebook, is a testament to the popularity of this content type.

Brands who have developed a presence with a younger audience on these social platforms should consider implementing this into their strategy in 2018. And while ephemeral content is yet to take off on Facebook currently, there’s an opportunity here to jump onto the trend on this platform early and beat the competition.

Overall, brands should be utilising ephemeral content methods to put across more authenticity, which in turn encourages followers to become involved with the brand over the long-term rather than a passive customer.


Live Video

Video was identified as an emerging trend in the digital space a few years ago, and there’s no doubt that it has lived up to its expectations. But marketers can get so much more out of video in 2018 by embracing live video.

Buffer’s State of Social Media Report from 2016 showed that 83% of marketers want to create more video content, and 42% specifically want to create more live video. In fact, live video even trumps blogs and written content according to livestream statistics, with 80% of users saying they’d rather watch a live video than read a blog post.

The effectiveness of live video is further solidified with Facebook statistics showing that live video gets 3 x more views than a standard video and 10 x more engagement.

Social media is a key focus area for live video content, but remember standard videos should still be implemented regularly on your website, social profiles and in promotions to stay on par with your competition.


Personalisation

These days, more people except a more personalised experience from brands when being promoted to. Recent Salesforce statistics show that 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalise communications to them.

Historically, marketers have been hesitant to pry too far into customers’ personal data however the tides are changing, and evidence shows that people are now more willing to trade data for better and more personalised experiences.

But results speak for themselves when it comes to personalisation. High performing businesses are 4.2 x more likely to be satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data to create more relevant experiences compared to underperformers. So essentially, pushing out personalised content to people who are genuinely interested in the brand, products or services is a winning formula for any business.


Allow Us to Keep Up with The Trends for You

This is just a sample of the trends in digital marketing surging through the industry at the moment, and it’s nearly impossible for any single business owner or marketing manager to keep up with it all.

That’s why we’re here – to keep your business in the loop and ensure you are ahead of the curve. We have a whole team of professionals here who learn, grown and share knowledge together, and that knowledge then transfers onto your business. So contact us or give us a call on 1300 596 636 to find out how we can help with your digital marketing.