The average millennial customer has access to a million choices of products and services. Mobility, cloud, social and eCommerce have radically changed the way businesses interact with customers.
Powering all these transformations is digital marketing. It has surfaced as a mandate that all businesses, irrespective of their size, domain and scale must embrace to stay competitive. In today’s digitally connected environment, businesses have only two options – Be a Digital Victor or a Digital Victim.
You are either on the forefront leading the change or will watch as the industry keeps evolving with the customer at the heart of it.
The digital marketing industry as a whole has been undergoing a serious transformation over the past few years. The initial days of keyword stuffing, ezine article submissions, and other blackhat SEO techniques have become redundant.
Here are the latest digital marketing trends for 2018 that businesses can’t help but adapt to.
1. Candor Social Media Content
Social media is slowly losing its sheen as an effective marketing platform. Businesses have overused its ability to reach customers through their newsfeed.
But, guess what? Not everybody likes seeing a totally irrelevant and commercial message carrying advert when all they want is to see what their friends and favorite celebrities are up to.
There is a need for businesses to drop their business-centric social media posts and replace them with fresh, engaging, personal and story-rich content. The growing trend shows that businesses have already started sharing case studies in the form of customer success stories that are more personalized. This candor social media content also has a high recall value.
One brand that really does it right is Shopify. Their honest and straightforward storytelling sure has a ring to it. That makes candor social media the way forward.
2. Video as an Attention Magnet
500 million hours of video is streamed on YouTube every day. 82% of online marketers had integrated video content into marketing efforts in 2016 itself (Buffer). Buffer has also reported in its blog that the value of a 1-minute video is worth 1.8 million words!
Video in any form is all set to become an attention magnet in the virtual space. And, digital marketing is one space where it will have maximum positive influence.
Video marketing helps convey a strong brand message about a product or service within a quick span of time. It proves to be an effective strategy in establishing a connection with users who display consistently shortening attention spans.
Shortening attention spans also make it necessary for marketers to create videos that maximize user engagement. A great video marketer has to have a clear grasp of psychological frameworks that hook people into the story and inspire them to take action.
Along with pre-recorded videos on website landing pages, blogs and social media channels, in 2018, brands can also be seen using live video for boosting their user engagement.
3. Immersive Reality Takes Center Stage
Immersive reality is made up of artificial environment inducing technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. They relay digital snippets over physical objects or locations, thus creating a real-time bridge between the real-time physical and digital worlds of the user.
Immersive reality has a massive potential in marketing since it achieves all the goals that all marketers aspire for: gaining user attention, increasing dwell time and increasing recall value.
In fact, Augmented Reality also has an influence on SEO since marketers would not have to optimize their local SEO presence to connect with users who use AR extensively.
The recent launch of Apple iPhone X with AR as a cornerstone technology is a testament to the fact that the immersive reality is soon becoming commonplace everywhere.
To cite a few real-world applications of immersive reality in marketing, IKEA’s Augmented reality app allows users to place their choice of furniture in their home space to see if the dimensions fit in properly.
Similarly, luxury car maker Audi has rolled out a HTC Vive based virtual reality system at its dealerships that will allow users to give users an immersive experience of the vehicle, its model and specifications.
4. Evolution of Organic SEO
Ever since its initial days, SEO as a marketing practice has been constantly evolving. Google – the most predominant search engine – has been tweaking its algorithm every now and then to keep the search results organic, natural and user-centric.
Quite a lot has already happened and is waiting to happen in the field of SEO in the coming months. The most visible change would be the rise of SERP features. SERP features like featured snippets, star rating, knowledge panels, social media posts, etc. will gain more momentum. Businesses will have to rethink their SEO strategy and invest in marketing tools that will help them stay ahead of the curve.
Similarly, mobile page loading speed would also rise in importance as a critical ranking signal. HTTPS Everywhere, which was kickstarted by Google in 2014, has grown in prominence. Looking forward, every website should have an SSL certificate, if they don’t their URL will be marked as ‘Not Secure’ by Google Chrome. It is safe to install an SSL certificate that will encrypt information exchanged to and from the user and the server system.
5. Artificial Intelligence for Marketing Automation
Artificial Intelligence has seeped into every imaginable business process and marketing is no exception to it. Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry has grown from a $225 million industry to a $1.65 billion industry in just five years.
AI helps marketers perform several of their routine operations with ease. Some fine examples include scaling the content, persuading customers with personalized product suggestions, planning for omnichannel deliveries and much more. AI will play a major role in transforming the terrain of content marketing as a whole.
But, to become AI-ready, businesses must prepare themselves with datasets, better understanding of AI-based search engine algorithms and analytics. Once these basic elements are mastered, AI can be a perfect partner to drive growth through digital marketing.
These are the evident digital marketing trends that are shaping up in the near future. What marketers must understand from the above is that the future of marketing is not just technology; it is how well we use technology to reach the right customer, at the right place, at the right time.
These technologies help achieve that objective with great ease. Marketers must update themselves with the knowledge to use these technologies, as there is a chance of going extinct in a heavily technology reliant future.
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