New Digital Marketing Trends in 2018
We live in an online world – and that world is changing faster than ever before. For businesses looking to stay relevant in 2018, few things are as critical as staying current with the trends in digital marketing. As social networks, advertising mediums, and analytics technologies evolve, what works in digital marketing changes. If you want to compete, you have to stay ahead.
In 2018, we can expect a lot of change in the best practices of digital marketing. Consumer tastes continue to move away from traditional, static display advertising and into influencer marketing, new advertising channels, and deep personalization. Advances in digital marketing tech allow online marketers to use strategies once only dreamed of – but as these strategies become more commonplace, they’re what consumers expect.
At Rootstrap, we’re growth hackers: in our growth user acquisition projects, we focus on using the cheapest, fastest, and highest-leverage methods to acquire users and generate buzz using the limited resources. This requires us to stay on top of advancements in digital marketing – and you should too.
The older a marketing technique, strategy, or channel gets, the more crowded it gets. Traditional and older channels are known and accessible to anyone in the online marketing world, and while they’re proven to work, it’s also much more difficult to generate exceptional ROI. Add to that the fact that established channels often require you to compete with companies that can outspend you 100 to 1, and it’s easy to see why jumping onto newer trends is a more attractive option.
Think of it this way – when Facebook ads were brand new, there were only a few companies really willing to take the risk of investing in a Facebook advertising campaign. Due to lack of competition, these campaigns were highly effective, generating a great return.
But as the platform matured and more advertisers entered the mix, it became harder to generate those same ROI numbers. Bigger fish entered the pond, more people understood the medium, and things got crowded. Today, Facebook ads are still an effective and important part of digital marketing, but they don’t offer the same kind of power they did in their early days.
In contrast, a brand new trend in digital marketing provides an opportunity to generate massive results with minimal investment. If you’re one of the first people to master and use the technique, you can corner the market before massive companies start competing with you there.
That’s what makes digital marketing trends so important. So what digital marketing trends can we expect in 2018?
2018 is set to be a big year for digital marketing. Several technologies that have been talked about for some time are really starting to pick up steam in terms of actual usability and penetration, and they’ll have a massive impact on how companies go about marketing themselves online.
For starters, artificial intelligence is more powerful than ever and will saturate the digital marketing landscape further in 2018. The power of AI is that it allows companies to personalize their marketing and advertising in a way never before possible.
With AI-powered recommendation engines, even enterprise companies with millions of customers can customize the content and products they market on a person-to-person level. AI allows companies to define customer demographics down to single individuals – in a way, each person becomes their own unique demographic, with their past buying history turning into their own personal market research.
Add the power of location-tracking to artificial intelligence, and we can imagine companies serving targeted content to individual customers immediately when they’re near a potential purchase point. As we move forward, the companies that win will be the ones that use AI to serve the right advertisement to the right customer at the right time.
New mediums for digital content marketing will also gain prominence in 2018, live video first and foremost. With the popularity of platforms like Periscope, Live video is growing fast, and with astronomical engagement figures, it’s little wonder why. More and more social platforms and startups are competing to offer live video products, producing new features and capabilities that let businesses reach their customers through live video in deeply interactive ways.
In addition to the new capabilities, many content platforms like Facebook and Instagram prioritize live video in their content-serving algorithms – making it a highly attractive proposition for businesses. These developments will drive more companies than ever to incorporate live video into their 2018 digital marketing strategies.
However, not every video can be live – and video is increasingly becoming the norm in content marketing. Expect video to grow in dominance in 2018, but be prepared for a number of changes in the format. Consumers now primarily interact with video content on mobile devices, and for that reason, more consumers than ever will watch videos on the move. This means the majority of videos will be watched without sound and in brief chunks. As a business creating video marketing content, it’s important to frontload videos and include subtitles so viewers don’t miss anything with the sound off.
New Companies on the Rise with New Trends in Digital Marketing
A number of companies are taking advantage of the latest digital marketing trends to grow their impact with remarkable efficiency.
Take a look at New York-based beauty startup, Glossier. They created an innovative influencer marketing campaign that eschewed the traditional model in favor of a much more grassroots approach. Instead of engaging high and middle-tier influencers, which can come with a serious price tag, Glossier relies on “real women,” identifying brand advocates and micro-influencers to promote their brand and products. By adopting this strategy, they gained a cult following almost overnight, and they’re steadily growing a deeply loyal base of engaged customers.
While not exactly new, Spotify took a very forward-thinking approach to their end-of-year 2017 marketing campaign. By using customer data, they created adverts that highlighted the weird, the wacky, and the downright funny things that Spotify users did – for example, adding 48 Ed Sheeran songs to a playlist called “I Love Gingers.” By diving into their extensive pool of user data, they pulled out insights that demonstrate the deeply personalized experience that Spotify offers.
Current B2B Digital Marketing Trends
On the B2B side of digital marketing, changes are afoot as well.
New tools and technologies mean marketing automation is more accessible and actionable than ever, and automated sales funnels will get even more popular in 2018. This is little wonder – a well-structured, automated marketing system is essentially passive lead nurturing. Once a business creates and fine-tunes their automation funnel, it continues to passively generate results. We can expect marketing automation to become even more common and profitable for B2B companies in 2018.
Another major – and perhaps unexpected – trend in 2018 is the growing importance of LinkedIn. Ever since its 2016 acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn has rolled out more and more features to make it more valuable to users. New analytics capabilities mean B2B digital marketers have access to powerful data to drive their marketing decisions, making LinkedIn comparable or better than many other lead generation and nurturing tactics.
At Rootstrap, we’ve seen the power of B2B LinkedIn marketing firsthand. Our CEO, Ben Lee, was able to grow his LinkedIn to nearly 40,000 followers in a number of months. That presence has continued to outperform our other lead generation channels, and many other agencies have similar success stories. Unless things change, LinkedIn is set to play a major role in virtually all B2B sales interactions in 2018.
Current B2C Digital Marketing Trends
On the consumer-facing side, technology continues to drive new channels for B2C digital marketing. In addition to personalization and algorithm-based product recommendations, AI is also powering the rise of chatbots.
Advances in natural language processing (NLP), which is a form of AI-enabled technology, are now making chatbots truly feasible. While no chatbot has exactly passed the Turing Test, chatbots are now at the point where it’s possible to get useful information out of them – and consumers seem more willing than ever to interact with them.
It’s become commonplace for companies to features a sales-focused chatbot in a pop-up window on a website, and a growing number of businesses are experimenting with branded chatbots accessible through platforms like Facebook Messenger. As the technology becomes even more advanced and consumers get used to the format, we can expect chatbots to play a larger role in automating customer relations.
On the non-technological side, influencer marketing will change in 2018 – but it’s hard to say how, exactly. The available data tell us that influencer marketing is still one of the highest-performing marketing channels available, but unfortunately, those data are few and far between. Few companies effectively track and analyze the performance of their influencer campaigns, which makes it hard to forecast how this will play into new trends in digital marketing.
Influencers will play a larger role in more companies’ digital marketing strategies – that much is nearly certain. But while the medium could continue to grow unabashed, we could see something of a collapse in the market in 2018. As businesses learn how to track the performance of influencer campaigns, they may consolidate on high-performing influencers that drive conversions instead of just awareness. In any case, influencer marketing will be one of the top digital marketing trends in 2018.
Digital Marketing Infographics: Trends Made Simple
Sometimes, the best way to get your handle on a concept is to see it broken down in a picture – which is part of the reason video will become even more important in 2018. To get a more granular understanding of how video will play into the digital marketing trends of 2018, take a look at this infographic, but Offeo:
So what do all these digital marketing trends tell us? There are a number of key takeaways.
The first, and one of the most overriding, is that personalization is king. The online experience of consumers is increasingly customized and tailored to each individual consumer. Be it through product recommendations, interest-based content, or techniques like dynamic text replacement on websites, digital marketing is taking advantage of new technologies to create deeply personalized experiences for consumers.
Complementing that personalization is automation. Through chatbots, algorithm-based recommendations, and big data-enabled AI, businesses now have the power to create technological systems that can identify leads, create personalized advertising campaigns, and drive conversions entirely without the influence of a human being. These capabilities are only expanding, and the power of automation will grow exponentially in the coming years.
And finally, the thread running under all of these developments is that technology now defines the terms of engagement. While in the past, marketing was largely driven by creativity, the message of the advertisement, and the intuition of the marketer, the modern digital marketing world runs on tech. Comprehensive analytics, combined with the ability of AI to process massive sets of data, now give businesses the power to test and optimize almost anything. As data gathering methods and analysis algorithms get more advanced, we can expect marketing to increasingly look like a science instead of an art.
Potential Future Trends in Digital Marketing for 2019
So where trends will shape digital marketing in the future? It’s hard to say, but there are a number of things on the horizon.
Augmented and virtual reality have yet to reach true mainstream adoption, but that point may be sooner than we all expect. Once the hardware gets powerful and cheap enough to catch on with the mainstream consumer market, AR and VR will transform the digital marketing world.
True AR will bring personalization to a whole new level, allowing customers to try on clothes, demo new products, and have diverse experiences from the comfort of their homes. Combined with an ever-more powerful range of artificial intelligence capabilities, 2019 might be the year that companies can create immersive, personalized augmented or virtual reality experiences and deliver them to consumers in the comfort of their homes. This will present a new frontier entirely for digital marketing – but how that plays out, only time will tell.