Digital marketing is constantly evolving.
However, there’s one element of this industry that stays consistent—growth. Over the next four years, the market for digital ads is expected to double. By 2020, nearly $113.18 billion will be spent on digital ads.
Getting your digital marketing strategy right is tricky. Not only is this a crowded and noisy space but the barriers to entry are so low that it becomes difficult for quality brands to stand out. Furthermore, most digital marketing is dominated by tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Instagram, so you have to work within the confines of their platforms while reaching out to your potential customers.
The tech giants are also constantly on the move and the platforms keep evolving. Staying up to date is essential if you want to invest in your digital strategy effectively.
Emerging trends in the industry could be driving this evolution further. Keeping up with what’s new and how bigger players are getting creative can help keep your branding and marketing fresh. Here are the top six digital marketing trends you need to be aware of as we enter this coming 2018:
1. Influencer Marketing
While influencers had a breakout moment in 2017, they will be more closely associated with digital ads going forward. Most influencers already fall into the category of micro, macro, or mega. Now the bigger, more well-known influencers are likely to be seen in a variety of ads, such as banner ads or TV ads.
It is, after all, very hard to ignore an ad that features Beyonce or Richard Branson and marketers can be trusted to leverage this influence. To find out more about how to make ads yourself, check out sites like Bannersnack to get an idea of what you can create.
This sort of influencer-led marketing is more than just a passing phase. It’s an inherently effective technique that has the potential to grow much larger and more entrenched over the foreseeable future.
These influencers are experts in their field and have demonstrated an ability to gather social currency. Essentially, people trust them and they have the ability to casually mention your brand in the right context to an audience that’s more willing to pay attention.
This is a powerful social validation force that has evolved from traditional celebrity endorsements. Now, a YouTuber who knows a thing or two about personal finances can recommend your money saving app or financial advice services. Monitor social media and pay attention to content creators in your niche who have a loyal and vast audience.
2. Machine Learning
Combining human creativity with machine learning tools could unlock value in a ton of industries. Digital marketing could be one of the earliest. The way machine learning enables predictive analysis could finally let clever marketers shift their content and strategy based on customer behavior.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are already being applied in a number of data-driven fields like healthcare and finance. Digital marketing is a great fit for this new and developing technology. Google’s RankBrain has already changed the way search works and sites are ranked. Nowadays, it seems that all search queries are handled by their AI algorithm.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are adopting similar algorithms to rank their news feed, adverts, and social content. Since no one beyond the managers of these tech giants knows how the algorithms rank content, it’s important to raise the bar and quality of your content. A
Focusing on long-form, journalistic, and relevant content is now more important than ever. There’s simply no substitute for good content as we enter 2018.
3. Micro Moments
Mobile search and browsing have led to the rise of the micro-moments. These are intent-rich moments where a user makes a reflexive turn to a device for more information or a quick buy. Companies that can use these valuable micro moments to their advantage will reap the benefits next year.
Micro-moments are getting more attention as marketers realize that users are spending most of their online hours on a smartphone. Quick and spontaneous actions are more likely to occur on the most approachable and convenient device so targeting the smartphone is essential.
Google’s own website has an interesting take on micro-moments They describe these as fleeting moments of want. The consumer wants to buy, learn, go somewhere or do something in these crucial moments. A lot of people turn to their smartphone while travelling to see if there’s an interesting place around them.
They could quickly use their phone to make sure your product is available nearby or check to see if they can price match a physical store they’re standing in. Catching them at the right time is essential for a digital marketing expert who wants to squeeze every bit of efficiency from the advertising and marketing budget.
4. Dark Social
Social Media marketing has had a great run with people communicating out in the open on public forums like Twitter and Facebook.
However, marketing is gradually shifting to the dark social circles which are less monitored, like messaging apps and native mobile apps. A recent study found that nearly half of all internet users aged 55 or above share exclusively on dark social. Chat groups on Whatsapp or Facebook messenger could be instrumental in a marketing strategy from next year.
Considering that nearly 70% of all social media sharing activity happens through dark social channels like private messages and personal tweets, it helps to get your marketing strategy built around shareability and relatability.
There are some interesting tools you can use to make it easier for people to share your content or monitor their dark social activities. However, your best bet is to simply make your content great. Better content will ultimately be shared more and get you higher traffic from these dark parts of public social networks.
Who doesn’t appreciate a personal touch? Advertisers and marketers can finally apply big data and machine learning to create personalized experiences for online audiences. A simple inclusion of a name or personal gesture on a digital ad could have a noticeable impact.
That’s why about two-thirds of users said they were more likely to buy from a company that treated them as a person rather than a digit on a spreadsheet.
McKinsey calls personalization the holy grail of digital marketing. According to the firm, being able to tailor content and adverts to users is a magically effective way to sell products and services. In-depth data on how consumers behave while browsing online should help identify triggers and craft personalized messages.
They recommend hiring a small team of professionals who can brainstorm different perspectives of potential clients and use highly sophisticated digital tools to ensure your message is exactly on point and unique to every single user.
6. Chat Bots
The year 2018 could be the year chat bots come of age and stop being a gimmick. Brands and companies are already using chatbots to help customers through their shopping experience and to solidify their relationship. Next year, these chatbots could become more intuitive and helpful, paving the way for mass adoption.
These chats bots have a number of superpowers as well. Since these are driven by AI, they’ll only get better with more interactions. These bots also tend to live on messaging platforms so you don’t need to get a consumer to click on a link or download an app to interact with your company. They can start experiencing your services right from the comfort of their favorite messaging app.
There are many examples of big brands that have used chatbots to boost their marketing efforts. National Geographic, for example, has an Einstein bot that helps users answer questions about space. Whole Foods has a bot that helps people discover new recipes while Aerie has a bot that helps women pick out the perfect bra.
Companies such as Harper Collins has used a bot to make the book buying experience more interactive while Duolingo helps users pick up a new language within their favorite chat window. These examples can help guide your marketing strategy and the design of your chatbots.
Digital marketing is changing all the time.
Search and social media are crucial platforms for marketers but these platforms are controlled by tech giants who keep finding new ways to fine-tune the system. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have algorithms that are consistently changing and that can make or break your marketing strategy overnight.
But these shifting algorithms open up new opportunities for digital marketing experts who catch onto emerging trends. Chatbots, micro moments, influencers, personalization, dark social monitoring, and machine learning are all trends that could change the nature of the industry. Keeping an eye on all these trends will be vital for any digital marketing professional as we enter the new year!
Will is the Executive Managing Editor at Feedster. Will and his team from Content HOW work with venture capital, marketing co-ops, and companies to attract and gain qualified leads.
His primary focus on developing a sales funnel for a company and finding out of the box / growth hacking style ways to convert and drive traffic.