It’s December - you know what that means. Everyone wants to talk about the new year.
I guess you can include me in “everyone”, because my main goal this December is to get you and your marketing strategy ready for 2018. We’re going to kick it off by talking about marketing trends we expect to see in the coming year.
Some of these are general marketing predictions for 2018, while others have a specific local focus; still, they will all probably affect your business in some way.
So, read on to learn about the biggest marketing trends we expect to see in 2018.
The Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Grow in 2018
AI is not new - in fact, you probably already interact with marketing AI on a regular basis when you see ads in search results and on social media. And, 57% of marketers already use AI.
However, the use of AI for marketing is only going to grow as the technology improves. It's projected to grow by 53% in the next couple of years.
Live Video Usage and Viewership Will Continue to Soar
Like AI, live video is nothing new, but it's growing exponentially. Everyone wants a piece of Facebook Live.
And, it isn’t just popular with marketers. People love watching live video too. In fact, 80% of users said they’d rather watch a live video than read a blog post, while according to Facebook, live video gets 3x more views.
Here are a few tips for getting started with live video:
- Use live video at events to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at the event.
- Show off holiday displays and sales in live video.
- Use live video to introduce your followers to your employees.
- Advertise an exclusive sale or promotion to anyone who watches your live video.
Whatever you do, make sure your employees and any customers who are in your business at the time are aware that you're filming to avoid any mishaps. It might be better to film a live video during off hours, though, since you can’t edit live video and people will see everything as it happens.
Mobile Video Consumption Will Grow
If your website, and your marketing strategy more broadly, isn't optimized for mobile yet in 2017, 2018 is the year to start. Put simply, search engines will penalize you if your website isn’t mobile friendly.
Besides, it’s no secret that consumers spend much of their lives staring at their phones.
In 2018, mobile video consumption is expected to grow by 25% (and video consumption is supposed to decline on laptops and desktop computers for the first time ever), so get ahead of the competition now by planning a mobile video strategy.
Live video (see above) is a great place to start if you’re a DIY kind of business owner.
Customer Experience Marketing Will Increase
Customer experience marketing is exactly what it sounds like - making sure the customer has a good experience when you market to them.
And, it’s gaining popularity; 68% of marketers say their business is increasingly focusing on customer experience in marketing.
Customer experience is hugely important. Customers see your business or brand as the sum of experiences they’ve had with you. This could be anything from in-store customer service to finding your local listing online or seeing one of your business’s ads on Facebook.
Creating a great experience for the customer is more likely to help you gain brand loyalists. If they search for you online and find two different listings, or they receive bad customer service while making a purchase, they’re just not going to use your business again.
Get Ready for Mobile Everything
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but mobile is kind of important.
But don’t just listen to me droning on like a broken record, here are the statistics:
- Mobile is the most popular way to browse the web (51.4%)
- Laptops come in second at 43.4%
- Somewhere around 70% of searches are projected to come from mobile next year, so if you’re not working on your business’s mobile presence, you’re only marketing to 30% of those searches
Content Marketing Will Become Even More Important
Content marketing isn’t a trend. At least, I hope it isn’t. If it is, I’m out of a job when the fad dies.
But, it’s getting bigger, and it’s no wonder - 70% of people said they’d rather learn about a business through an article than an ad. And, content marketing is cheaper than many other forms of marketing (plus it can produce more leads).
Remember, content marketing can take many forms - from blog posts to videos and infographics.
It’s kind of hard to do it all yourself while running your business, so if you don’t have time, consider outsourcing your content creation to streamline your process.
Voice Searches Will Continue to Grow
Consumers can use voice search just about anywhere now: phones, smart speakers, laptops, tablets, desktop computers. Seriously, it’s everywhere. And, by 2020, 50% percent of all searches will likely be voice searches.
Optimizing for voice search tends to include long-tail keywords and conversational phrases ('best pad Thai in Columbus' vs. 'Thai Restaurant Columbus') that people would be more likely to say out loud.
Content marketing makes optimizing for voice search a little easier because it’s not as hard to work those conversational keywords into a blog post as it is to try and stuff them into your website content most of the time.
The Surge of Advertising on TV (but not TV as we know it!)
Facebook, YouTube and Amazon (among others) have their own TV series' now. Netflix and Hulu have exclusive shows you can only see on their platforms. Television streaming services keep winning Emmy awards.
And, since we know that people are watching video on their mobile devices, we know that people are seeing these shows. And, there’s more to come in 2018.
What does this mean for the future of television advertising? Well, as TV migrates to the digital world, so will savvy business owners, opting for social media and YouTube ads rather than local TV commercials.
Strategic Social Media Will Become Your Best Chance at Reaching Followers
It gets harder and harder to reach your intended audience on social media, with updates and changing algorithms. And, honestly, no business is safe - you'll have to fight for your social presence.
That’s why 2018 is going to be the year for strategic, actionable social media plans for local businesses and large brands alike.
Get started by building a solid social media base so that you can amp up your social strategy in 2018.
We'll Be Marketing to Generation Z in 2018
Everyone loves to hate marketing to Millennials, but Generation Z can now start taking some of the heat.
In 2018, lots of businesses will want to start focusing on Generation Z marketing, so you might as well get started now, because the generation spans almost 20 years. We’ll be marketing to these consumers for decades to come.
Transparency Will Become One of the Most Crucial Elements of Marketing
Transparency and trust are already a big deal when consumers look for local businesses.
Everyone reads reviews. They search for your social media profiles. They Internet stalk you because they want to know everything they can possibly know about you before they come to your business.
And, the Internet is catching up. People can leave reviews on your social pages and profiles. Google recently added an extra layer of verification and trust to home services businesses with its Local Services Ads.
You’ll probably see more acts of transparency in 2018, so beef up your review marketing strategy and start giving consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Add a human element to your marketing so that you’re more than a logo, a product, a service. Bring the transparency in 2018 and you will be rewarded.
The Digital World Will Continue to Go Hyperlocal
Local: everybody’s doing it and so should you.
No, really. The digital landscape is making it easier than ever for local businesses to interact with consumers. Google Posts rolled out to all businesses in 2017. Facebook Local gives consumers a more localized social platform.
And those Local Services Ads make it easy to prove you’re trustworthy. Let’s hope we see more of this local focus in search results and social media in 2018 and beyond because this gives local businesses the chance to compete with even the biggest brands for consumer attention.
With all these local advancements, I’m predicting that big brands will focus on local marketing - getting all their locations ranking in the local pack in search results, local events, local social media pages, etc.
That means local businesses will need to be more on top of it than ever. You might be able to compete with big brands, but you’ll have to fight for it in 2018.
So, make 2018 the year that you build your best digital marketing strategy. Think local and digital and you're off to a good start.