With the majority of 2018 behind us, it is important to look at where we thought we would and what has happened most recently. Take a look at these different predictions of where we thought we would be versus where we are today in online marketing.
Where We Predicted We’d Be
Greater Personalization of Content
Marketers have been striving to better personalize content, particularly in email but also for their websites and mobile apps. However, many have come to the realization that it may be impossible to personalize content as much as they’d like, due to data limitations, cleaning up contact info for GDPR, and the anything-but-new love affair with privacy that internet users have today. Still, the ability to personalize content goes much, much further than mass-messaging. Now, more than ever, personalization becomes the foundational goal of all online communications in order to execute a truly quality online marketing campaign.
More Social Messaging
Social messaging is definitely having a major impact with how users communicate with brands. You only need to consider what are the most popular social networks to see this: WhatsApp now ranks third in terms of active users and Facebook Messenger ranks fourth. Both of these social media platforms are considered dark social. Dark social elements are sites that are entirely private and do not have tracking scripts known as cookies that track your actions such as clicks. The rising popularity of dark social sites isn’t just a rise for stronger privacy policies, it is a growing realization in younger generations that they want to have more private lives shared only with friends that they choose.
Online advertising has increased this year, particularly local advertising. Estimates are that it will increase 7.8 percent this year, compared to just 0.4 percent in 2017.
“40 percent of the world’s ad spending is expected to take place online in 2018, according to new forecasts from advertising measurement company Zenith. Online ad spending first beat out TV as the biggest ad medium last year.” (Source)
Using New Technology
We said that technology would play a greater role in areas of digital marketing like insights and automation. In addition to this, marketers have been using technology to better optimize channels, monitor campaigns in real time, and run sophisticated data analysis. We’ve seen this come into place with artificial intelligence and chatbot systems becoming the new normal in 2018. More and more sites are installing simple chatbots for frequently asked questions as well as integrating Facebook Messenger with their websites and shipping information. Likewise, several analytics and sales companies, such as Salesforce, have integrated artificial intelligence into their platforms – allowing for seamless communication and instant response run by humans but suggested by their very own Einstein AI system.
Campaigns Based Around Data
Campaigns continue to become more data driven. To improve their campaigns, marketers are using CRMs, integrating analytics across channels, and utilizing tools that allow for data visualization — which make it easier to understand and interpret findings. While the ability to track and analyze online data has increased over time, the ability to track it continues to be a dodging bullet. Again, the rise of dark social medias creates an alluring and complicating factor for online marketers. Dark social is working for us, we just don’t know how. The best online marketers will rise to the occasion and embrace authenticity in a way that encourages brands to track themselves and how they are doing with customers more than tracking how their customers are interacting with the brand.
Changes to Email Marketing
Of the predictions we made about email marketing, the ones that stand out for clearly coming true include:
- Marketers would start verifying users’ consent before receiving newsletters, due to GDPR.
- Popups asking people to sign up for an email newsletter would be improved. This is important because popups can be highly effective, but users hate them if they’re intrusive.
- Emails would be more personalized.
With the year just over halfway through, it seems like a good time to stop and take check of all the changes in the marketing world that have happened so far.
The Latest Updates: Where We Are
The General Data Protection Regulation (more commonly known as GDPR) passed in May. This means that all businesses marketing to anyone from the European Union (even if these individuals are not living in the EU) need to make complying with GDPR a priority.
Facebook has been in the news multiple times this year. Concerns surrounding fake news, as well as less engagement on the platform, have led to changes as to what users now see in newsfeeds. Content from brands has dropped, whereas posts from personal pages have increased.
With the launch of shoppable posts, Instagram is finally allowing brands to directly monetize their organic content. Users can now click items in posts they want to purchase and head straight to the checkout, all within the Instagram app. Another new feature is clickable stories, which allow brands to add links within their stories. Previously, the only place you could include a link was on your bio.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) has added numerous tools, all designed to benefit local businesses. This has included descriptions for the local panel, chat in more countries, new insights, and the opportunity to create a single-page website.
Where You Should Be
As a small business, to be on track in 2018 you need to have implemented several changes to keep your marketing strategy on top of these latest developments. At a minimum, you should:
- Understand the GDPR and already be implementing measures to ensure you’re compliant.
- Be adapting your Facebook strategy to stay visible, which may mean increasing ads or it could mean finding better ways to engage organically.
- Change your strategy on Instagram to include shoppable posts and clickable stories.
- Take advantage of GMB’s additional tools to improve rankings and communication with customers.
Our Most Popular Blog Posts
Our most popular blog posts reflect what people cared about most over these six months:
- Chatbots — the current state of chatbots as well as creating a chatbot experience for your customers and deciding if a chatbot is beneficial for you
- Google My Business — why you should use GMB posts and building a website within GMB, plus new GMB tools
- Content — revitalizing old content
- SEO — preparing your SEO for the future and SEO fundamentals as well as consumer trust in search engines and top keyword strategies
- AdWords — getting started with AdWords
- Social media — growth hacking for Instagram and Twitter and changes to Facebook image customization
There is no reason to believe the second half of 2018 will be any less exciting. Check back with BoostBlog to stay up to date with all the latest news and best practices!