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7 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2018

Happy New Year from the team here at MRS! We’re looking ahead to what the future holds for digital marketing. 2018 promises to be a big year in all aspects of digital marketing. Compliance changes like GDPR are promising to transform our inboxes, while Facebook continues to amalgamate as many services as possible into its Messenger platform.

Here are our predictions for how the digital landscape is going to change in 2018.

#1 The fight for website visitors will be more fierce


Our Predictions for 2018

  • Competition online will be higher than ever
  • Email marketing will get a boost
  • Pop-ups will go pop
  • 2018 is about values and authenticity
  • Paid search will evolve
  • Voice search will continue affect search
  • Personalised content is where it’s at

Competition for a digital audience has never been more fierce. We’ve seen Google AdWords competition get tighter this year and this shows that it’s going to be tougher to reach your customers online. We also saw Facebook run out of ad space this year. You need to make sure you are getting you as much value as possible from those hard-earned visitors.

Do you know the value of your traffic? We know that a data-driven approach to marketing yields the best results, but how that data translates to the customer journey will be the key to digital marketing success in 2018.

Set up your Analytics thoroughly to know where your consumers will be on every step of their purchasing path, learn what appeals to them, and design your marketing to appeal to them at every point along their journey. Conversion rate optimisation will need to be on point in 2018 as the competition for site traffic is dialled up to 11.

#2 Email marketing will get a serious boost

In 2018, the GDPR compliance regulations will come into force. This has the potential to render databases of customer data utterly useless, so make sure you’re prepared.

The result of these forthcoming changes will be that our inboxes will *fingers crossed* be victim to far less spam and cold emails. This means that not only will people be paying more attention to their inboxes, but it will raise the bar of quality across the board for email marketing. There is an opportunity here for brands to increase their email open rates when the spam is cut away.

2018 will be a year where authenticity and transparency will be more important than ever. Higher quality email marketing campaigns will make this already potent channel even more effective. So for those worrying about their email lists for next year, remember: it’s quality over quantity.

Your customers want to know that they can trust you to provide them with quality content and services in exchange for their personal data.

#3 Brands will be rewarded for blending in

Quality brand interactions will be more important than ever in 2018. It’s all about putting the right information in front of the viewer when they actually need it.

Platforms like Google and Facebook continue to crack down on disruptive pop-up and click-bait ads as users continue to expect a better web experience.

Most users find interruptive ads frustrating and irrelevant when they are browsing a website and instantly an out-of-context ad pops out of nowhere. Native ads are one solution to this user experience issue. They facilitate brands to market their offerings in a non-disruptive way that blends in seamlessly with the environment a user is most comfortable with.

Another great example of this is Facebook. Facebook ads allow your brand to seamlessly slide into your audience’s lives without being blatant. In addition to investing in effective paid social like this, you should make sure that ad placements you make are subtle. Otherwise you may risk damaging your brand.

I would urge SMEs to diversify their marketing efforts as the lines between media types blur. For smaller businesses it’s very easy to rely on one or two parts of the digital marketing trifecta: paid media, owned media and earned media.

More and more, converged media is becoming the norm as consumers become simultaneously wary of blatant paid media and oblivious to the likes of Google and Facebook, whose paid media is sidling its way into the sea of owned and earned media unnoticed. A seamless blend of all three media types set brands in good stead to adapt to whatever the marketplace throws at them in 2018. Don’t rest on your laurels folks!

— John, Strategy

#4 Brilliant brands will shine as Facebook cracks down on cheap tactics

Facebook is cracking down on “engagement bait” posts. This means that businesses using Facebook to grow an audience have fewer “quick win” tactics to get the word out.

What they’re essentially saying is that they don’t want businesses to bait their audiences to like/react/comment/share their posts to gain wider visibility. This could be through incentives (winning a prize) or by baiting for votes (e.g. asking to vote with Facebook reactions).

Brands with a consistent tone and attractive content will stand above the rest in 2018. Look to influential brands like Innocent for inspiration. A consistently engaging tone and high quality content will be the future of social in 2018 as the social platforms work to keep their environments relevant and valuable to users.

It’s interesting to hear Facebook is going to be cracking down on ‘engagement-bait’ tactics in the coming year.  This means that moving forward; there will need to be more creativity and authenticity with social media posts to stay above the competition.

In order for brands to build a strong audience and reach more of people, cheap tactics need to be given up. It seems the stronger, more creative brands will come out on top in 2018, rather than the brands that rely on #FreebieFriday.

— Jade, SEO & Social Media

In 2018, influencer marketing will also continue to grow, but there are concerns that the power of influencer marketing will diminish as a result. As digital influencers straddle the line between influencer and celebrity, the most vital element of influencers — authenticity — will begin to be undermined.

The reason users put so much value in influencers is that they are seen as authentic reviewers and not tied to “evil corporate marketing”. But the bigger influencer marketing gets, the more the cracks will start to show.

#5 PPC pros need to ride the wave of change or wipeout

User attention span is at an all time low and we’re seeing more ads online than ever before. For PPC to be effective in 2018, ads need to have singular purpose, with a very specific goal and goal conversion action in mind, whether it be a mobile or desktop experience.

Automated bidding strategies will continue to get smarter and incorporate more AI learning. Currently the automated strategies provided by Google are somewhat crude and struggle to adjust to issues such as seasonality and sentiment, but that will change in 2018.

 As Google continues to maximise its revenue through ads, we will only see an increase in paid advertising opportunities. The key for successful brands will be to implement a comprehensive paid search strategy that takes advantage of new technologies and automation tools.

By being there first, brands will be able to consolidate their position before the market levels out and realises what’s going on. PPC profs will have to adapt to these innovations or fall behind.

— Kian, PPC

#6 Voice search will  impact SEO & PPC

Google says that 20% of its mobile queries are voice searches, and that number is only going to increase as consumers get used to talking to their phones and smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo.

Last year this wasn’t a concern, but by the end of 2018, we expect voice search to start making significant a impact on search. According to comscore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Search marketers need to prepare by creating content that captures these types of search queries, and has a deeper consideration for modern linguistics and semantics.

For PPC, voice search will cause a fundamental shift in how we structure ads with DSAs and Keyword Insertion becoming more essential in a world where natural language is used to conduct search. This will aid advertisers in improving relevancy as natural language searches provide a clearer idea of what a user’s intentions are. One challenge of this will be managing search volume and interpreting  the nuances in regional dialect.

#7 Personalised content will win more conversion in 2018

Impersonal email shots and ads are going the way of the dinosaurs. We have the ability to capture data to create hyper-targeted content in 2018 and users are coming to expect a personalised interaction at every stage of the sale funnel.

Mass personalisation will become a reality in 2018. 1 in 4 consumers are willing to pay more to receive a personalised product or service and now the access to Big Data, and our ability to analyse it, has reached a point where we can deliver.

Delivering personalised content to your customers is easier than ever. So instead of a simple “Hi [[FIRSTNAME]]!” email, you can tailor content to be even more unique. An analysis of their buying behaviour can allow you to target them with specific upsell opportunities. For example, “We hope you’re enjoying PRODUCT X, maybe you’d like PRODUCT Y to go will it.”

Consumers are willing to pay more for a personalised service and will be more likely to convert if they feel loved and that their personal needs are being met.

In 2018, personalised landing pages should be connected to every one of your advertising campaigns. Attention is a currency, and building a personalised connection with prospects will be critical for digital marketing in 2018.

Get ready for 2018

As you get stuck back into work in January, give some thought to your digital marketing activity in the year ahead. There’s so much going on in the industry next year and you need to keep up or get left behind. Stay ahead of the competition and look to implementing personalised, highly targeted marketing to your customers. 2018 is going to be all about quality content, quality interactions and quality customer journeys.

If you’re looking to drive sales in the new year, get in touch. We have the expertise to keep your customers converting  by providing the cutting edge experiences your audience demands.

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