Digital Marketing Strategy Trends to Watch in 2018

When we plan our marketing strategy and activities for the next year, it is always a good idea to look into digital marketing trends to make sure that we are not missing out on any opportunities. As you review your strategy from the past 12 months and start looking to the year ahead, keep these three digital marketing stats in mind. They offer some great insight into today’s consumers and better experience and can point you in the right direction when developing your 2018 digital marketing strategy.
Our digital marketing insights from 2017
84% of millennials say they don’t trust traditional advertising
If millennials and Generation Z are in your target market, you can say goodbye to traditional forms of advertising. These consumers don’t like the pushy, insincere nature of ads and will go out of their way to skip, block and avoid them altogether. They’re going to see right through your sales Facebook post and skip right along. Instead, focus on creating content that is personalised, relevant and engaging by telling them a story. Storytelling is a powerful way to create an emotional connection with consumers and keep them coming back for more.
97% of consumers read online reviews before acting!
The new year 2018 presents a great opportunity to get serious when it comes to generating reviews for your business. Back in 2014, 88% of consumers read online reviews. That was already a big chunk of the market, but now a whopping 97% read online reviews before visiting a local business. If that doesn’t impress upon you the importance of having online reviews, nothing will. Your action step is to develop an actual strategy for asking for and gathering new customer reviews. A strategy will go a long way toward keeping you accountable for making reviews a priority.
75% of people who search for something nearby visit a store within 24 hours
Local search engine optimization has never been more important. Not only do 3/4 of local-intent searches lead to in an in-store visit, but roughly 30 percent of those visits result in a purchase. It’s not hard to see the potential here. So, take a few minutes to double check that all of your small business’s information — name, address, phone number, etc. and if you find any discrepancies, don’t wait to get them fixed! This should be priority number one to get found.
In fact, the digital marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis and demystify the digital marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today in 2018 that can help your small business tomorrow. 
Chatbots as a conversational user interface 
Chatbots are a great example of marketing automation, which will continue to grow in 2018. Chatbots can deliver information in real time and are designed to support customer service teams.
 Many brands are already utilising simple ordering processes through chatbots, but next year we expect to see chatbots move into more industries with more complex transactions. This type of instant response is fast becoming a consumer expectation, so it might well be worth thinking about how to utilise this software.
Cognitive content marketing 
Content marketing is still somewhere near the top of the marketing pile. It’s one of those trends that is not getting old. But what matters most is personalised and user-centric content. In 2018, we should still focus our content creation efforts on creating interesting content people actually want to engage with.
One of the most exciting uses of artificial intelligence is in recognising visual content and determining the best place to use it. Cognitive content management systems like IBM’s Watson Content Hub can auto-tag images, text and video to by recognising the content, which then makes it easier for the platform to recall and serve the content it believes will have the most impact on the customer in a given context. Not only does this save an immense amount of time for digital asset managers, it takes a lot of guesswork out of personalisation strategies. – Omar Akhtar
Online Safety and the age of Internet of Things is here
If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely implement an SSL certificate on your site in 2018. Not only can it make your website more secure, but it can also improve your rankings in search.
Linking to smart products is definitely the next big revolution in the digital marketing landscape. This revolution has the potential to significantly influence traditional digital marketing processes. The Internet of Things will open up new potentials for the direct digital marketing. Smart consumer products like fitness trackers and smart homes are expected to generate silos of valuable data which can be effectively used to enhance customer understanding.
Hence to stay competitive in 2018, marketers need to leverage the power of such information for marketing and service communications.
AI Ethics Goes Mainstream
The word “ethics” makes your eyes roll back into your head. But ethics is just a set of norms for behavior, and AI is still in the toddler stage. After the many AI horror stories of 2017: apps that scan your face and tell recruiters whether or not to hire you, bot armies that influence public opinion, sexism and racism in algorithms, there is increased awareness that algorithms are not, in fact, neutral. As AI continues to infuse more products, services and business models, the way companies use it will inform the brand experience. – Susan Etlinger
Big Data and the hidden opportunities of GDPR
Big data helps transform how the business interacts with its customers. The amount of data available can be overwhelming but if you understand how to collect and analyse Big Data, you will learn more about your prospects and customers and ultimately, improve your marketing efforts.
Thanks to Big Data technologies, the tremendous amount of data collected from social media, online purchases, mobile app downloads, etc. markers are able to make better predictions about customer behavior, which allows for more customised content.
With big data marketers can be more targeted, spending less money on advertising to people who aren’t likely to be interested in your products or services. For example, with proximity marketing, you can track where your potential clients are via their mobile phones and push offers/ads to them based on their location and/or interests.
Whether you think of it as “the biggest change to data protection law for a generation” or a piece of legislation that “looms on the horizon like a swarm of mutant bees bearing down on us all”, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will upend the way global companies think about and collect data from customers and consumers. The law, which was designed to “protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy”, goes into effect May 25, 2018. The first half of 2018 will see companies hurtle toward the compliance deadline.
Forward-thinking companies will see GDPR not (only) as a “Kafkaesque, bureaucratic enforcement nightmare” but as a kind of blessing in disguise: a chance to explore data-intensive product, service and business model innovation, and, as importantly, reset trust with customers and consumers. – Susan Etlinger
Personalisation along all stages of sales funnel 
Content personalisation has been common practice in marketing strategies in 2017 and there are no signs of it slowing down. In 2018, offering a personalised online experience will be vital as consumers demand more and more from brands.
Personalisation offers unique customer experiences based on their specific preferences, interests, and behaviors. It is also proven to be much more effective than general marketing in terms of open rates, click-through-rates, conversions, etc. Personalisation could be a simple customised landing page for different campaigns, or it could be a fully personalised website experience.
2018 should definitely be a year to start with personalisation strategies, or if you are already taking advantage of it, to go even deeper. Data-driven marketing is a powerful tool, but how that data translates to the customer journey will be paramount in digital marketing success in 2018.
Attention is a currency, and building a personalised connection with prospects will be critical for digital marketing in 2018. Twila GrissomAcorn Digital Strategy
Micro-moments and machine learning resulting better customer engagement 
With more people making on the spot decisions than ever before, in 2018 we expect to see a significant rise in micro-moments. Customers turn to their mobile devices for advice and information on just about everything. Their expectations will only continue to rise so you not only need an approach to identify micro-moments, but also an integrated marketing strategy that ensures your brand shows up whenever your potential customers are looking for information or advice.
A shift from traditional marketing to real-time automation is highly needed, and this can be achieved through machine learning. This trend has already created a lot of buzz in several industries and is set to transform others too. Clever marketers who would work in collaboration with machine learning-based automation are bound to succeed in the coming year.
Engaging with your audience by utilising native language and your proprietary tools increases the opportunity to expand viral sharing and can lead to developing a more involved relationship with your target market. Timothy Nichols,  ExactDrive, Inc
Mobile growth and automated mobile ads formats 
It’s no secret that the growth of mobile devices has been on marketers’ radars for quite some time. A mobile first approach is becoming even more important in 2018 for several reasons, including:

  • Google announcing that it will be launching a mobile-first algorithm
  • micro-moments being driven by mobile, mobile-first websites will be pivotal in offering consumers instant information upon immediate request
  • rise in voice searches

This year, we could see the rise of custom ad formats, where brands reimagine mobile ads as interactive, immersive experiences. A Virgin Mobile ad accessed the phone’s camera and allowed users to control movements in the ad by just by blinking their eyes. These creative mobile ad formats will raise the bar for customer expectations, and force brands to compete on experience, rather than messaging or brand awareness. Omar Akhtar
Voice optimised content and the AI-isation of Everything
With voice search already accounting for 20% of all searches, it’s clearly set to grow and expand even more in 2018. New voice devices and technology make it easier for people to simply ask a question and get information from their devices. This allows for a more natural way to interact with machines using a conversational voice.
With this in mind, optimisation for voice searches is slightly different compared to traditional search. In 2017, we saw AI expand from recommendation, search, voice agents and robots into, well, everything. Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Home announced technical advancements including better natural language understanding and expanded skillsets
In 2018, we’ll see more AI everywhere, but the real question will be: what will add to our lives? What needs to be intelligent? And, most importantly, what is the right balance between the human and the machine, in business, art and everyday life? Susan Etlinger
Video advertising along with professional live video 
The demand for video is growing at an incredible rate. In 2017, 90% of user-shared content was video. With the audience viewing more video on a wider range of devices than ever before, for brands to stand out and build meaningful consumer or professional relationships, they must learn how to leverage video-based advertising across a range of channels to grab the attention of their target audience; be it 6 seconds or longer.
In 2018 video advertising will prove very fruitful for brands or businesses looking to market their products or services.
Every social media platform is jumping into live video and adding new features monthly to their platforms. Live video is a great way to connect with your audience, and the shaky, holding-a-phone-in-your-hand live video won’t be acceptable anymore. Thomas BrodbeckSite Strategics
Final Thoughts
In final words, at Skyline, we do believe that an evolved enterprise is one that uses digital transformation to become more relevant to consumers and drive long-term growth and most importantly that’s technology enabled and adhere to digital innovation.


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