2018 Digital Marketing Trends

digital marketing trends

2018 Digital Marketing Trends

It’s the start of the year and with that comes the hard task of planning for the months ahead, where are you going to focus your marketing efforts? What’s going to be popular this year and what will make the biggest impression? To save you time, we’ve done the research and made a list of what we believe are going to be the most popular digital trends for 2018.

Micro Influencers

It goes without saying that influencer marketing has grown massively over the last number of years. When discussing how to promote a new product or service, influencers have become a go-to social media marketing option for many marketers due to their engaged, attentive and for the most part, trusting audience.
A small number have exploded in popularity, becoming fully fledged brands in their own right (Zoella, Casey Nesitat) and in some cases, making them less relatable.
This loss of relatability has seen marketers turn their attention towards ‘micro-influencers’. Although they have a smaller following, there is an increasing level of trust instilled in them because their followers believe they would never mislead them. The relationship between the two differs because there’s an ongoing level of communication, something that can get lost when there’s a massive number of followers as comments vanish among comments. Resulting in the follower feeling ignored and like they don’t have a personal connection with the influencer.
Not only is working with a micro-influencer beneficial because of their established audience, but the cost of working with them tends to be lower too. If you’re tied to a tight budget, working with a handful of micro-influencers as opposed to one big influencer could make the most significant impact. Not only will you keep within your budget, but your product will land in front of a broader, engaged audience. Having several people talking about your product creates hype, desirability and a ‘must have’ factor that isn’t achievable with one single person.
If you’re thinking of new ways to gain exposure for your product or service, working with a micro-influencer is the way to go in 2018.

Chatbots

If you think you’ve seen more and more chatbots pop up on websites lately, you’re not wrong. Chatbots have become a fantastic tool for helping companies deliver 24/7 customer service through their website, and more businesses are beginning to jump on this trend.
The reality is, customers can experience an issue at any time, not just during business hours which is why being able to access immediate assistance will be a concern for them. Chatbots provide customers with instant access to customer support and depending on the complexity of their issue; the chatbot will be capable of answering their questions and providing solutions using preprogrammed responses.
The customer isn’t the only one who benefits from the use of a chatbot on your site; your customer service agents do Think about it; you have a customer on the line, they have a straightforward issue, that the chatbot could solve, but instead they’re taking up call time and contributing to long waiting times. Leaving less time for customer support to spend assisting customers with complicated issues. Not forgetting that customers can become dissatisfied left on hold for long periods of time; a chatbot will reduce these numbers, giving customer service agents more time to focus on complex calls and increase customer positivity in the long run.

Voice Search

You may not be using voice search (yet), but that doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. Voice search is becoming an increasingly popular way for consumers to search. Sales of voice assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have increased, with voice search now accounting for 20% of all Google searches, and this number is expected to rise in 2018.
There’s a number of benefits to voice search which has led to more people choosing to search this way:

  • Convenient – people speak faster than they write or type. With voice they don’t have to waste precious time typing, now they can ask their voice assistant and have the information read back to them just as fast.
  • Hands-free – driving and need to make a call? Ask your voice assistant to do it for you and you can keep your full attention on the road and hands on the steering wheel.
  • Smart – want to know the best restaurant for lunch in your location? Your voice assistant can find it for you. Based on your geolocation and previous searches, it knows where you are, what you like and trawls the internet for the best answer to your query.

To optimize your site for voice search, you need to consider how people are searching:

  • Answer questions in your content using the phrases people voice search. How, what, why etc.
    • Text – think about it, if you were searching for something you would keep it short and to the point. You’re not going to type out a long query because typing takes time, and you want the answer fast. If you wanted to know what the weather was like in Dublin, you would search something similar to ‘weather Dublin’, and you’d receive the search results that are relevant.
    • Voice – searching by voice differs entirely. It’s not short, and to the point, it’s conversational, like asking a person. If you were to ask a friend the same query you searched above it would be more like ‘Whats the weather like in Dublin today?’, this is close to how people search by voice.
  • Mention your question keywords early in the page and use bullet point lists to display your content on the page. If your post becomes a featured snippet, it will more than likely be the winning search result for a search conducted by voice.
  • Local search terms have increased as users ask more and more questions related to their current location. Make sure you include your area on your site, so you don’t lose out on these potential questions.

To be ready for this increase in voice search, optimizing your website is essential to ensure you aren’t missing out on potential website traffic.

Mobile First

Back in 2015 Google announced that the number of users searching on a mobile device surpassed those on a desktop for the first time. In the three years since, Google has been working to roll out their ‘mobile first index’ globally as a result of this shift from desktop to mobile. Full implementation of this update hasn’t landed yet, but we do know it is being tested and slowly rolling out to a handful of sites. Completion was expected at some point during 2018, but it looks like it may take longer than previously thought, but webmasters should be prepared.
‘Mobile First’ means Google will now crawl the mobile version of your site first as opposed to the desktop which it has always done to index and determine your ranking. This change aims to improve search results for those searching on their mobile. The mobile version of an unoptimized site may contain less content than the desktop version which means when a user has a query, and they search on their mobile, they may not receive the information that is relevant to them or only get a small portion of it. If you don’t have a mobile version of your site, the desktop site will continue to be crawled and indexed by Google. Google and we recommend you optimize your site for mobile, even if it’s just switching over to a responsive design. Once a responsive design is adapted, your site will automatically resize itself to fit the screen of the device that is being used to access it.  However, there are unconfirmed reports that not having a mobile version of your site may impact your search engine position in the future also.
Thankfully the delay will give you plenty of time to get your site ready for the new changes.

Podcasts

A growing number of consumers are listening to podcasts with LinkedIn reporting that 42% of under 35s now regularly listen to podcasts.

Traditionally blogs and videos were a great way to reach your audience and provide them with additional, exciting content. However, videos need to be watched, and blogs read, taking up a lot of time that may not fit into their busy lives. Podcasts are a convenient source of content that can be downloaded to access at any time and play in the background as they get on with their day. Rather than listening to music or the radio, consumers can listen to a podcast instead, whether that’s at the gym, at home or in the car on the way home from work. They’re learning something new, and it’s a topic they’re interested in hearing.

Podcasts can be made to focus on a subject you want; a hot topic, information on a service you provide, an interview with a leading industry leader or even an episode dedicated to answering your customers burning questions. You can use your podcast to showcase your knowledge and cement your place as an industry thought provider. If your listener has enjoyed it and found it informative, they may share with their social circle so they can learn from it also.

Video

If you’re looking to capture your audience’s attention this year with unique, relevant content, video is the way to do it. According to a recent report from HubSpot Research, 54% of consumers want to see videos from the brands they like which comes as no surprise as on average 5.75hrs a week is spent watching videos globally. If you have yet to add video marketing to your strategy for 2018, you’re missing an opportunity to give consumers what they want to see.
Deciding what type of video content you want to create can be tricky, but we’ve gone ahead and made a list of some of the ones we think make the most impact:

  • Customer testimonial videos are possibly the simplest yet most effective type of video you can create. They’re popular among potential customers who will look to these videos for social proof that your product/service is worth their time and investment. Video testimonials are authentic, engaging and convincing.
  • Depending on the product or service your business offers a demonstration or ‘how to’ video will grab potential customers who are looking at your content to see how your product works. They can share it with their online community
  • Hold a frequently asked questions series. Answering potential concerns or issues customers may have.

Creating a video people want to watch can be difficult, but you need to get them clicking on the video and watching.

  • Create a unique thumbnail that grabs a consumers attention as they’re scrolling through their feed. Don’t use a still from the video as this doesn’t give a complete picture of what the video is about.
  • Use a video title that will provoke interest and make them want to watch straight away.
  • With up to 85% of videos on Facebook being watched without sound, you can increase engagement with your videos by creating short, informative and/or entertaining, captioned videos on Facebook and Instagram. Adding captions to your videos means you don’t lose out on someone viewing your video because they’re in a situation that makes listening impossible. This Instagram video from Hubspot is a great example of this being used effectively.

Video marketing isn’t limited to just Facebook or YouTube videos. Snapchat and Instagram stories have provided companies with a platform to produce unique 24hr content. Videos on these platforms create a sense of urgency as your audience know they only have a limited amount of time to watch before it disappears. Snapchat and Instagram stories are less professional than a video you would make meaning you can have a little more fun with them because followers on these platforms want ‘in the moment’ content. Show off new products and upcoming products or host a takeover with a relevant influencer. The possibilities with Snapchat and Instagram stories are endless and they shouldn’t be ignored.

 

As is the nature of digital, trends are always changing. What worked last year, may not work this year as the way consumers spend their time online shifts. Here at Dotdynamic, we believe these are the top 5 trends that you need to adapt to your digital marketing strategy this year.

Get in touch today, and we can help you develop your digital marketing strategy.

Jess McCaul
[email protected]