With the festive season sadly now behind us, business owners around the world will be focusing on essential business tasks for 2018. And as we all know, good marketing holds the key to bringing in good business.
It pays to keep yourself on the pulse of digital marketing, with new opportunities springing up all over the wilds of the web. Let’s take a look at 10 online marketing trends that we think will be important this year!
Influencer Marketing Becoming More Mainstream
The first of our predictions sees influencer marketing rise in popularity. For those not in the know, influencer marketing is the practice of paying a well-known online personality to showcase your brand to their followers through social or video channels. However, you don’t need a Kardashian posing with your latest product to take advantage of this trend. Many influencers aren’t huge stars, but they do have have a professionally maintained online presence and a smaller-but-more-targeted audience of engaged followers. Though these “micro-influencers” may reach a smaller audience than a TV personality or movie star, their audience can be more engaged and vocal. 2018 may well see more companies turn to this growing marketing tactic.
For more about influencer marketing, check out our recent article “Influencer Marketing: What Small Businesses Need to Know”.
Tagging Products in Social Posts
Tagging which products are shown in an image post on social media could understandably be a positive boon for ecommerce businesses. Those that already have a Facebook Shop Section set up can already tag items from their shop in their posts, but Facebook is becoming a bit of a “marmite” platform for a lot of people – you either love it or hate it!
However, Instagram is a growing platform that seems to be going from strength to strength, and it’s a great place to showcase visual and fashionable products and services. They’re currently trialling a function that allows businesses to tag products in posts, letting viewers buy quickly and easily before their purchasing intent subsides. Though the trial is only open to a small handful of eligible businesses Stateside, it’s usually only a matter of time before these things make their way across the pond. All in all, an interesting prospect for retailers to keep an eye on.
Mobile Internet Use Continues to Rise
This one should go without saying. Use of mobile devices are on the rise, and devices and data plans are becoming more affordable by the day. In fact, Statista report that mobile internet traffic accounts for 52% of global online traffic as of 2017.
Yes, mobile is finally in the majority – and shows no signs of stopping! If you’ve been putting off making your online offerings mobile-friendly, 2018 is really going to be the year to get up to speed.
Video Consumption on the Up and Up
Video is a growing online medium. Youtube is now a larger search engine than Bing, AOL, Yahoo, and Ask combined! If you haven’t thought about creating video yet, then 2018 may be your time to start. Video is an engaging medium that many companies already use to attract attention, explain what they do, and generally build trust. Visual media is naturally perceived as being more digestible than text – we’ll generally opt for watching a video over reading! Understandably a great prospect for businesses of all kinds.
Social Live Streaming
By using apps like Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and Periscope, streaming live, high-quality video from any compatible device with an internet connection is easier than ever, and provides great promotional implications for businesses of all sizes. Live streaming allows you to educate and inform as you would with other kinds of content, but also provides the ability to respond to comments and feedback from your viewers on the fly. Hosting live videos gives a valuable “behind the scenes” touch to your brand, allows you to explain how you do what you do, and adds a new and exciting avenue for content creation and audience engagement.
Reviews and Customer Service in the Spotlight
Online reviews are huge at the moment – but don’t just take it from us! Critical Research Ltd found that 84% of consumers say it’s important to check out reviews before making a purchase, and that 76% of consumers believe it’s important for businesses to respond to issues raised in reviews (Source: Critical Research Ltd, 2017). Welcoming reviews and actively maintaining your reputation through review portals provides valuable social proof. When you keep all of your business listings up to date and respond to all customer reviews – both good and bad – you prove that you genuinely care about the average customer’s experience and satisfaction.
Trust in Conventional Online Paid Ads Waning
Our trust in paid online advertising just isn’t what it used to be. We’re all guilty of avoiding paid listings in search results, skipping ads on YouTube, and tuning out most banner advertising wherever it lurks online. This graph from Statista shows how advertising preferences changed between 2007 and 2015: word-of-mouth recommendations, print advertising and TV ads still rank quite highly, but search advertising, social media ads and online banner ads are all near the bottom. This could allow newer trends like influencer marketing, content marketing, and live streaming to swoop in and take the crown.
Personalisation and Consent
”Ooh, I love it when addresses me only as ‘Dear valued customer’, not by my actual name! And they send me all of this interesting information about services I’m not interested in – and I never even bought from them! I’m impressed.” …said no consumer ever.
Our increased mistrust of older marketing channels and the upcoming GDPR regulations (which requires explicit consumer consent to all direct marketing) will change email marketing for the better. Professional email marketing platforms now make it easier than ever to collect data in a consensual way, personalise messages, segment subscriber lists, and generally get more tailored and targeted marketing in front of the right people.
Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots Becoming Widespread
Artificially intelligent chatbots are becoming more and more commonplace on websites of all kinds, especially those that receive a lot of simple queries that can be resolved through basic programming. Though some of us may be worried about the Skynet-like implications, many others will be relieved to hear that on-site chat functions no longer need to be handled by a real person, and basic requests can be acted upon without human interaction – great for time-poor small businesspeople.
Voice Search and The Renaissance of Long-Tail Keywords
As more and more people use voice search on mobile devices (and through voice controlled assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo), the ways in which we search are becoming more and more conversational. We even type full sentences into Google now, which would have been unheard of a decade ago. This colloquial shift in our use of search should start to play more of a part in the way we optimise content for search-effectiveness; i.e., focusing on long-tail keywords, publishing featured snippet-friendly responses to questions, and maybe even optimising for whole sentences rather than brief 2- or 3-word phrases.Wondering what the new year holds for online marketing? Click To Tweet
What digital marketing practices are you looking to adopt in 2018? Have you got your eye on anything on this list? Are there any rising trends you feel we’ve not mentioned? Please share your thoughts down in the comments!