Digital Marketing Trends and Challenges 2018

Author
Tamir Davies | 5 Jan 2018

Digital content manager, with an eye for editing and literature. Can be found channelling my love for musical theatre

Today, digital marketing is a minefield, laden with disruptors and subject to change at the drop of a click. Leading marketers to question whether it’s best to continue their 2017 trajectory – or to boldly begin anew, in 2018.

Considering this, online marketing and SEO experts, Reboot Online sought to investigate how companies feel toward marketing - establishing what is a priority, challenge and trend.

Image credit: zaozaa19/Shutterstock

To achieve this, Reboot extracted data from the report State of Inbound – which consists of feedback from 6,399 global professionals. It revealed, in 2018 it is likely marketers will focus first on converting leads into customers (70%) and growing traffic to their website (55%). Improving SEO presence, creating more blog content that can be found via search, and distributing and amplifying content – will therefore become essential acts.

The most over-rated marketing tactics, and therefore the least priority, were defined as: paid advertising (print, outdoor, broadcast) – 32%, social media organic – 13% and online paid advertising (social media ads, PPC) – 11%.

Image credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

However, with change comes challenge. Echoing their priorities, marketers today have expressed they feel “generating traffic and leads” (63%) to be their biggest challenge, followed by proving ROI (return on investment) – at 40%, and securing budget (28%) for marketing programs.

Alongside this, global professionals identified the main disruptors in marketing – moving into 2018 – to be: Artificial intelligence (A.I.), Virtual Reality (V.R.) and social platforms.

Interestingly, just 61% of company respondents are happy with their marketing strategy, and believe it is effective. Reboot Online decided to look at 8 key marketing trends in 2018, as inspiration and acknowledgment of what is likely to touch all business in the next year.

1. Micro-Moments.

Defined as something “that happens when people reflexively take out a device” to learn or discover. A micro-moment is urgent, spontaneous access – and a vital tool. In fact, 96% of people use smart technology to find key company information.

By providing the right information at the right time to customers in need, successful brands can establish a connection that is instant – but one that will last.

Smart marketers will continue to develop their content to ensure it is optimised for mobile – whether that be blog posts, video posts, calls to actions, or forms – each feature designed to be easily utilised and consumed.

2. Voice Commerce and Voice Search Take-Off

Smart speaker sales, like those for Amazon Echo and Google Home, surged in 2017 and sales are set to grow further in 2018.

As these speakers are controlled by spoken word – and therefore provide “spoken” search results – users are rapidly interacting with search engines using their voice and ears alone. This could drastically change the types of queries seen, and reshape the way businesses think about SERPs (search engine results pages) as focus shifts from visual needs.

3. Increased A.I. and the Normalisation of Chatbots

In 2017, the question around chatbots would likely have been “Did you engage with one?” In 2018, it will likely become “How many did you engage with?” As conversational chatbots become a normal part of digital customer experience.

In marketing, A.I. has already made an impact – with 57% of marketers implementing the technology into their strategy.

4. Brands Taking Stands

In 2018, empowered consumers want brands to deliver relevant offerings and take a stand on today’s pressing societal issues. In fact, 84% of leads will check out your online presence prior to investing in your business and so, to have transparency and personality in everything you post is crucial.

As a business, it is not enough to simply sell your services any longer. Integrity is more vital than it has ever been in 2018 – and companies need to take note.

5. Data Visualisation and Storytelling

In 2018, there will be a refresh in the collaboration between data analysts and visualisers – perhaps due to the influx in voice technology which has created new customer expectations. This will impact journalism, content studios, marketing agencies and brands that have built a content-first strategy.

Yes, the days of dumping data into an article are coming to an end. In 2018, data must be visualised, striking and woven seamlessly into the story.

6. The New SEO

New optimisation trends are on the horizon and Google’s latest algorithm updates will shake things up for marketers.

Keywords, for example, will require a greater emphasis on natural, key phrases optimised for the increasing popularity of voice search – which, works more like how we talk. Think, “what are the key digital marketing trends coming in 2018?” Rather than, “marketing trends 2018.”

SEO elements such as search history, keyword research, location data and more, will all be affected by this change. Additionally, search engines are getting better at figuring out what people are looking for when they enter a query into the Google search box.

This year, more users will type full queries into search engines and it is therefore important to get into the head of your target audience. Figure out what people are asking and compliment those questions with your SEO strategy.

7. Rich Content

It is proven rich content improves click-through and conversion rates and as a result, this strategy is only going to get bigger.

Consumers love to engage with content, such as pressing play on a video or podcast. This can now be implemented further, through features such as polls on Twitter and Instagram. A tool that will make customers feel like they are part of the company – a crucial asset, but one that will allow an opportunity to capture valuable information too.

As ever, the focus should be on rich media that complements inbound marketing and audience engagement, as opposed to intrusive outbound methods.

8. A Demand for Live Video

With the news that, 80% of consumers would rather watch a live video than read a blog – 2018 may be the year to implement the technology into your marketing strategy. It is, after all, a more personal and entertaining method of distributing insight and knowledge.

In B2B marketing, this feature – which can be found on social media platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram – can be used effectively, to live stream company events and showcase your brand style, service and expertise. It is also a great way to re-engage with leads.

In setting up video marketing campaigns, to promote – you will likely offer something new each time. Posting this out to disengaged audiences will create a tempting buzz, which they will have no choice but to check out!