8 Ways Online Marketing Will Change in 2018

8 Ways Online Marketing Will Change in 2018

8 Ways Online Marketing Will Change in 2018

It’s that time again — time to reevaluate your marketing strategy and adapt it for the coming year. To prepare, you need to consider how online marketing will change in 2018. There are some pretty big changes on the horizon.

To understand these changes, it’s a good idea to see how online marketing has been progressing. Let’s examine the predictions we made last year for 2017 to see what came true.

Advertising Competition Will Cost You

We said that, with more businesses building an online presence, advertising would become more competitive. This has indeed made PPC ads more expense. In 2016, the average cost per click was $2.14. In 2017, this increased to $2.32.

Gift Audiences Will Grow

Gift audiences have been an important trend for the last quarter of 2017. Major holidays, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas, can give businesses the opportunity to increase sales. To maximize profits, companies need to market their products and services to customers looking for gifts, rather than just to their regular target audience.

Everything Is Coming Down to Customer Experience (UI/UX/CX)

The numbers do suggest that customer experience is really more significant than offerings and price. For instance, a Harris Poll study in the UK found that 76 percent of consumers value a positive customer experience more highly than the product itself.

Facebook Live Will Become More Popular

Facebook Live has grown in popularity by more than 330 percent since it was released.

Your Business Structure Must Change

As companies increase their number of essential activities, more jobs are being outsourced. In 2017, businesses have been relying heavily on freelancers for call center services, accounting services, writing tasks, graphic design, and manufacturing.

Customers Will Hold More Power

In the fifth year of the Age of the Customer, consumers have yet more power. This comes with high expectations — customers want to be treated as individuals, they demand immediate responses to queries, they value consistency, and they want businesses to anticipate their needs.

With all that in mind, we can look at what is likely to happen in 2018.

1. Greater Personalization of Content

The focus on personalization has existed for some time now — 80 percent of marketers agree it leads to more effective content. However, the stress on personalization is always becoming more pronounced. In 2018, to make an impact with your content, you will need to go further to drive unique experiences.

The good news is that it will be easier to collect and utilize more relevant data. This will allow you to learn more about your audience. You will also be able to better segment your audience to ensure that you are delivering content that matches the unique needs of individual users. Finally, improved access to data will allow you to better measure and analyze results, enabling you to adapt your personalization efforts to make them as effective as possible.

2. More Social Messaging

Social media is all about encouraging engagement from your target audience. Whereas you can communicate with these users through comments on posts, messaging is better if you want to have a real conversation. Chatting through social media also enables you to reach many customers through their preferred means of communication.

To take advantage of this trend, many social media platforms have already improved their messaging capabilities for brands. Facebook and Twitter are prime examples. Expect more platforms to join them in 2018.

3. New Formats for Content Mean Larger Teams

Once, a long time ago, it was enough to just release written content, like blog posts and the occasional ebook. As more new formats are added to the list of digital marketing content, companies need a wider variety of team members to market their brands.

Now, in addition to writers, companies need access to experts in graphic design, social media, video production, and advertising. Plus, they need people who are able to optimize their content across the different formats, distribute it, promote it, and analyze the results. Content marketing, even for a small business, is becoming an ever larger task.

4. An Increase in Advertising

Paid advertising is becoming a central aspect to most marketing strategies, and it will spread to new places in 2018. Facebook, as the biggest social media platform, has the highest ad revenue but also the highest competition. Other platforms are improving advertising for businesses, meaning brands will soon be able to take advantage of new opportunities.

Instagram, in particular, is likely to become a popular option due to its high engagement rate — it actually beats Facebook. Whereas the average Facebook and Twitter user has an engagement rate of between 0.5 and 1 percent, the average Instagram account engagement rate is 3 percent.

Twitter is also a valuable option for advertising, as the average user shops online 6.9 times a month compared to non-users who shop online just 4.3 times a month. Despite this, few advertisers are currently taking advantage of Twitter.

5. Use of New Technology

Technology is playing a bigger role in digital marketing, particularly in the realms of insights and automation. Many businesses are now aware of the potential applications of AI and machine learning, but less are already utilizing these capabilities. As both areas of technology grow in 2018, gaining additional functions, they will become more accessible to more companies.

Just one example is chatbots, which are particularly useful to marketers for communicating on social media. As chatbots are constantly learning and becoming smarter, you can expect better interactions as 2018 progresses. For instance, it is becoming easier to tailor the language a chatbot uses to match brand image and interactions according to the type of user.

Marketers will also use chatbots more for gathering valuable information about their target audience. Chatbots can ask questions about preferences and demographics that would be uncomfortable coming from a human marketer.

6. Voice Search Is Changing Content

Users no longer need to type into a device or computer to access content. With voice search, they can ask a question and receive an answer without even looking at a screen. If businesses are to stay heard, they need to create content that works with this new format. It will only become more significant as the Internet of things grows.

For one thing, marketers need to consider that voice searches tend to use natural speech and completely different queries to typed searches. This means adapting content to contain long-tail keywords with conversational phrases.

Voice search also emphasizes the need to focus on mobile. Most voice searches come from mobile devices while users are out and about. To ensure your content appears in voice searches, your webpages need to be mobile-friendly and feature information that will help users who are on the move.

7. Influencer Marketing Is Expanding

This year showed how effective it can be to use Internet celebrities to endorse products. However, 2018 will take this a step further, creating influencers out of non-celebrities. This will allow businesses to develop a sense of authenticity for their brands, giving customers reasons to trust them. To distinguish the differences in how much impact an influencer has, they will be divided into mega, macro, and micro influencers.

Influencer marketing can be particularly significant for small businesses, as it can help you gain attention for your brand much faster than going through the normal channels. When you team up with influencers, you can receive early exposure for your products and services through a variety of platforms, both online and offline.

8. Generation Z Is Gaining Significance

When talking about customers in terms of generations, you mostly hear about Millennials. Generation X and Baby Boomers receive occasional mentions for certain brands. In 2018, there will be another, equally important generation: Generation Z.

Before now, Generation Z has been too young to be much of a concern. The older end (up to 22 years old), is often lumped in with Millennials. Despite this, Generation Z users are completely distinct in their behavior online — and marketers need to start taking notice.

To reach this valuable audience as it increases in age, and therefore in customer value, marketers need to ensure that their strategy reaches users where they are. Generation Z users tend to favor different social media platforms. For many brands, this will mean increasing presence in places like Instagram and Snapchat. Plus, they need to watch out for new trends, as there is a good chance that users may start preferring another, perhaps new, platform.

Many of the changes you will see in 2018 are already beginning to take place. This means it should be easier to start adapting your strategy now and test what is likely to work for your brand.

Laura Holton
[email protected]

Utilizing her knowledge of SEO and inbound marketing practices, Laura has gained significant attention for her articles and blog posts. Writing on a range of B2B topics, she helps entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level, provides inspiration, and solves the most pressing problems small businesses face.