The world of digital marketing evolved at breakneck speed during 2017, and the same can be expected for the upcoming year. It seems like every week there’s a new digital marketing tool, platform or trend that provides new opportunities for businesses in every industry. Keeping up with the evolving digital landscape may seem difficult, but it is essential for businesses to consider 2018 digital marketing predictions to prepare for the future.
Many business leaders don’t have the time or resources to constantly research 2018 digital marketing trends and their implications on business growth and revenue. Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn what you can expect with the coming year.
SEO is Getting Smarter
When it comes to changes in SEO, one thing is clear — search engines are intelligently adapting to human behavior, and marketers must do the exact same thing in order to stay relevant. There is a gold rush in the digital world, but instead of racing to obtain something valuable, businesses are hurrying to provide value to consumers in the most efficient way possible. Search engine results pages (SERPs) solve a problem for the searcher, so here’s how you can fill this need and get your brand in front of more people in 2018:
Voice Search Viability
What began as a novelty is quickly becoming a practical way to search online. Voice search lives in nearly everyone’s pockets and homes in the form of digital assistants. Amazon’s Echo devices, Google Home gadgets and Apple’s upcoming HomePod smart speakers are leading the charge to create a more connected world. According to Google, 55 percent of teens already use the feature on a daily basis. As Generation Z enters the consumer market, we can expect this technology to become even more important. There will be a greater shift towards the use of long-tail keywords that mimic natural speech within website content. This will make it easier for search engine web crawlers to decipher meaning within phrases and provide voice searchers with relevant information.
As much as Google has changed throughout the years, one thing that remained relatively consistent was the look of its search results pages. The simple white background with an easy-to-digest list of 10 search results per page seemed like it was immune to the constantly evolving nature of the web — until recently. Within the last few years, new features such as local packs, knowledge panels and featured snippets have transformed the look of the SERP, and these types of results reside right at the top of the page. Needless to say, it’s more important than ever to utilize structured Schema data on your website to take advantage of these features. In 2018, this coveted “position zero” is likely to continue to push traditional search results further down the page.
When you visit a website with a cumbersome and unintuitive user experience (UX), it sticks out like a sore thumb. In addition to being difficult to navigate, these types of websites give visitors a bad impression of the brand. Google understands the frustration that comes from a poor user experience, so its algorithm is evolving to reward websites that make information easier to find and digest. Site speed is a major factor that affects UX, especially on mobile. You can optimize your website speed by building AMP pages that work well on nearly any type of device. In addition to speed, Google also considers things like readability and navigation structure when analyzing UX-friendliness. Make it a new year’s business resolution to create valuable content that is logically placed on your site.
Content Marketing is Maturing
In the past, simply having a content marketing team to produce content such as blogs seemed like enough to give brands an edge on the competition. In 2018, the landscape is changing and it will be more important to take a quality over quantity approach to content marketing. Effective content is able to build a following, and it nurtures customers throughout the entire buying cycle. If your company is more concerned with pumping out X number of content pieces per month than producing content that customers are willing to share, it’s time to reevaluate your approach.
If you want something done right, do it yourself. That saying is as applicable to content marketing as it is to everyday life. Brands are increasingly forging their own paths with unique ideas for content, and it’s a great way to stand out from the endless stream of blogs, whitepapers, and infographics customers have learned to tune out. Instead of asking yourself, “What are my competitors doing?” ask yourself, “What have my competitors not thought of yet?” The answers will be different for every industry, but take time to brainstorm insights about your product or service that set it apart from everything else on the market — how can you tell that story in a unique way that engages people? It could be a live video stream, immersive VR experience or something else entirely, but don’t be afraid to think big.
Have you ever ran into someone you haven’t seen in a long time and greeted them with, “Hey….you…”? Forgetting someone’s name can be embarrassing because it makes the person you’re talking to feel like you don’t remember anything about them. The same goes for every interaction with your customers, so your content marketing should become more personalized to make them feel important. If you utilize email marketing, take steps to learn about the demographics, behaviors, and attitudes of your recipients. When you have this information, you can segment your lists to create different email templates that are much more relevant to the people you’re sending to. This is just one example, but you can apply the same personalization approach to your website experience, online advertising and countless other marketing areas.
It seems like virtual assistants are everywhere, which has made it more convenient to do everything from checking sports scores to ordering food. What many marketers haven’t noticed is that these assistants create a tremendous opportunity to create content tailored to a spoken format. The key is to create content that is as easy to listen to as it is to read. Web crawlers can pick up on this type of content and use it to provide people with answers through virtual assistants. Focus your attention on long-tail keywords that solve everyday problems people are likely to face. When your research is complete, create unique content people won’t find anywhere else.
PPC is Getting More Powerful
Google’s AdWords platform became more robust throughout 2017, and it shows no signs of slowing down on new features. It’s no mystery why Google wants to provide businesses with more powerful search engine marketing tools, as its AdWords platform commands a whopping 78% of online search ad revenue. What’s more surprising is the degree to which mobile has taken over PPC. With 71% of overall internet consumption happening on mobile devices, it’s no wonder Google sees this as a primary focus. Here’s how the search giant is adapting:
AMP’d Up Ads
As we mentioned above, AMP pages are already a great way to improve your organic search rankings, but in 2018 they will make a splash in paid search as well. Google has unveiled AMP ads and landing pages that load much faster than before, giving businesses the means to create more conversions in situations where time is critical. When mobile searchers are looking for information, every second leads to a 20% dip in conversion rates, so AMP-optimized ads are ideal when a connection is spotty or slow.
Improved Landing Page Testing
Google Optimize was already a useful way to test and tailor landing pages in order to improve user experiences, but now it is integrating with AdWords. Testing landing pages is sure to become more efficient with the change, as the integration will allow businesses to quickly update a landing page for any desired ad group or campaign without any coding. Marketers will be able to A/B test several versions of a landing page in a way that’s much easier than before, so it’s a tool worth taking advantage of in 2018.
Shopping Made Easier
In the upcoming year, the distance between consumer and cash register will continue to shrink. Google is unrolling a feature for AdWords that allows businesses to provide inventory information to prospective buyers. Wondering how many more rose bouquets the local florist has in stock? You could find out right at the top of the SERP page with an ad that’s far more useful than a sales pitch. This information provides real-time value to the consumer, so businesses that are interested in the feature will need to commit to regularly updating data. If you can’t commit to inventory updates, Local Services Ads are a great alternative. Simply verify your business credentials with Google, and your business name could start appearing at the top of mobile search rankings alongside a checkmark that adds trust to the buying process.
Social is Diversifying
Just five years ago, social media marketing meant having a presence on Facebook, Twitter and, if you really felt ambitious, LinkedIn. Today, there are endless opportunities for businesses to utilize new applications and technology to connect with their audiences. Within certain industries, it’s essential to maintain a presence on a wide range of social platforms to stay in touch with customers and give your brand a voice. In 2018, businesses will give that voice a loudspeaker on social.
Storytelling as Strategy
Snapchat may have pioneered the idea of fast video content with an expiration date, but Instagram and Facebook stories have jumped on the bandwagon as well. It only takes a smartphone to create promoted stories, but you shouldn’t jump into them without a strategy in mind. Think of your business like a wise old grandparent (stick with us) — what would your brand say to its grandchildren? What pieces of information does your company possess that are sure to be useful to consumers, and how can you turn that content into a story to make it interesting? The possibilities are endless, just be sure to have a direction in mind.
While it may be in its infancy, augmented reality is becoming mainstream. Apple’s ARKit and Android’s ARCore software development kits have made it easier for developers to create applications that take advantage of AR technology within mobile devices. Snapchat is one company diving right into this new visual domain with its AR Trial Ads. As opposed to a regular Promoted Snap, these ads encourage the user to interact with virtual objects on screen. Some companies are testing the waters with ads that allow users to move and resize virtual representations of their products on-screen to see how they’d look in real-world environments. Even if AR doesn’t seem beneficial for your business today, it’s worth keeping an eye on.
The rise of mobile devices has amplified the importance of video for businesses. It’s never been easier to quickly find videos online that explain a topic and share that content with friends on social platforms. But it’s not just prerecorded video that’s taking the marketing world by storm, but live streaming as well. Facebook Live is a fully-fledged platform that gives anyone the chance to build an audience and interact in real-time. Businesses that are interested in having conversations with their customers in a format that feels more personal and human may want to consider a live Q&A session or facility tour in 2018. Google is also expanding their video advertising through YouTube, with assets like bumper and TrueView ads that offer advertisers an extensive breadth of capabilities and audience reach.
Expect the Unexpected
The most exciting thing about digital marketing is that it never stops evolving. While we have listed certain opportunities that are likely to arise in 2018, there are countless others that will appear out of the blue. At Rocket55, we see these changes as welcome opportunities to provide clients with an edge over the competition. If you’re looking for a team that stops at nothing to stay on top of the latest in digital marketing, reach out and say hello. We’re excited to take advantage of everything 2018 has to offer.