‘How time flies’ aptly describes what a lot of digital marketers feel as we enter the second quarter of the year.
Towards the latter part of 2017, there were many articles and opinions about the trends to look out for and take advantage of in 2018.
Surprisingly, despite noble intentions, very few marketers have been able to scratch the surface of their master plan for the year.
This could be as a result starting slowly or getting the signals wrong.
Whatever the reason, all is not lost.
In this short read, we will explore a few of the digital marketing trends you can utilize as you plan for the rest of the year.
1. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is not a new development in digital marketing, but has grown to become an essential element in the industry.
In 2017 alone, more than 80 percent of digital marketers made use of at least one brand influencer to achieve their marketing milestones and these businesses are said to have gained more than 60 percent returns on their investment. For businesses who didn’t know to take advantage of this system, the good news is that this trend is set to grow even further.
Word of mouth has always been considered the best form of advertising. Subsequently, many people agree that peer recommendations have always been a strong influence in their buying decisions.
It becomes even more influential when a well-loved star or sports person tells people why they should buy a product or use a particular service. As we move deeper into 2018, Influencer marketing is one of the trends that can deliver seven times more engagement that will complement your digital marketing efforts.
2. Artificial intelligence
A recent study put artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as the third marketing activity that will make the largest impact in business this year. Another study found that marketing teams performing optimally are twice more likely to use Artificial Intelligence in their marketing campaign than those which perform poorly.
What does this mean for digital marketers? It means that they will do well to focus on AI as a tool to improve performance in sales, services and personalized content.
Different forms of AI have long since been used in marketing. However, an increasing number of marketers are using chatbots to engage customers in virtually every aspect of the sales process. In fact, over 1 billion people are expected to make use of a chat app or bot this year alone.
By 2020, it’s expected that roughly 85 percent of customer relationships online will be conducted without interaction with a real person.
Marketers can use AI to make sense of the data they receive, as well as gaining vital insights that help to create better product triggers that would inspire conversion and sales.
Videos have become the real deal on the internet. Every day, businesses are churning out more and more videos in a bid to better engage their customers. According to social media giant Facebook, live videos get at least three times more views than recorded videos.
This shows the huge potential available in video content for marketers to take advantage. Already, it has been projected that spending on video ads this year will grow by 49 percent to hit $18 billion in the United States.
The beautiful thing about video is that anyone with a smartphone and a video app can put together an engaging video in a very short time. You don’t have to be a professional or have professional video equipment to take advantage of this trend.
This is why more and more brands are creating and publishing video content on social media, video sharing platforms and even their homepage. After all, studies show that videos on a homepage or product page can increase conversion by as much as 80 percent.
There is a strong connection between user engagement and videos, suggests Tony, a technical expert at Freeparking , a New Zealand web hosting provider. “We’ve noticed significant traffic to websites that have one or more videos on their homepage; this obviously shows that videos are what visitors are looking for.”
So, commit to creating between four to five videos every month. Whether you make a live or recorded video isn’t overly important.
What matters is that you get started.
Google recently confirmed that about 20 percent of search queries on their platform are voice related and this number is expected to double by 2020. This shows that the world is slowly moving to a voice centered internet age.
Search queries are changing from the regular text based search that we know to sentences spoken on handheld devices. If you’ve been in the marketing industry for even a short while, you will likely agree that more of today’s internet users derive from the Smartphone set. Very few people sit in front of a personal computer (PC) to get information online any more.
While digital marketers are positioning for a mobile driven audience, you should consider the fact that most of that audience will prefer to conduct a voice search because of their busy schedule.
This means creating content that is optimized for voice search. Already, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Voice Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and others are making customers familiar with voice technology in ways that digital marketers must adapt to and take advantage of.
Additionally, creating voice content such as podcasts will serve as a great way to meaningfully engage with customers.
Even though organic traffic still remains the best source of traffic for websites, it’s no secret that lots of sales are clinched based on peer reviews.
In fact, 90 percent of consumers say they are influenced to buy following reviews and recommendations from friends and family.
This means that marketers must put together a solid plan for inviting reviews for their website and businesses.
However, putting a plan in place is not enough, as you’ll need to make sure your products and services will live up to the expectations of your users. This way, you will receive more positive reviews.
Keep in mind that you also need to design your website to allow people drop comments, even if you get to see them before publishing.
To wrap up, knowing the trends to pay attention to is one thing. Putting together a strategy to implement and take advantage of these trends is another.
While you may not be able to implement all the ideas outlined above, it’s important to identify the ones that can work for you and start work on them as soon as possible.
At the same time, keep an eye out for other trends that might pop up or evolve as the year progresses. This way, you will always be one step ahead of the competition.