From the growth of Voice Search and Video Content to increasing use of A.I. - 2017 has seen a number of exciting developments in the digital marketing sector, but what’s in store for 2018?

I recently presented a webinar for Integrated Live, touching on the key trends in social media, SEO and paid search, sure to engage target audiences and increase online sales for 2018. 

Social media

Entirely mobile-focused with geo-targeting

Social Media marketing needs to be entirely mobile-focused for 2018. Why? Think about how often consumers engage with social media channels via Desktop? The answer is very rarely, supported by the fact Facebook now makes 84% of its advertising revenue via mobile devices.

On average mobile users trigger 75 separate user sessions each and every day, resulting in approximately 3 hours of screen time. For digital marketers, this provides us with 75 different occasions that we can use to engage directly with consumers.

This is where geo-targeting comes into play – which is the process of sharing or promoting different content to a website user based on their geographic location. This is particularly beneficial for businesses with storefronts, where a coffee shop, for example, can show a special offer ad to ‘local’ consumers within a five mile radius to ensure they convert and come into store, rather than purchase coffee from a competitor. This is what we call a ‘geo-conquest’.

Research has shown that with geo-targeting campaigns, the costs are generally lower and conversion rates are higher, enabling marketers to ensure their advertising budget is as effective as possible.

Ultimately, I predict that geo-targeting will grow significantly in 2018.

Video

Video isn’t going anywhere in 2018, and will eventually take over search. Look at the growth in Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, the World’s second largest search engine. In fact, statistics have revealed by 2019 80% of all internet traffic will be video related.

Haven’t yet utilised video to promote your business or brand? I suggest you jump on board and quickly. It costs nothing to create a YouTube account and upload video content.

Remember, everyone is selling something in business, so use video to create innovative, engaging content, that will directly target and interest your stakeholders.

One tip to remember is that businesses often try to be all things to all men, they use too many social media accounts, and fail to implement a clear and effective strategy for all of them. Utilise the most relevant channels to your brand and master them. This is one sure fire way to social media success.

Chatbots

I predict that the popularity of chatbots will soar in 2018.

In case you’re new to the table here, a chatbot is essentially a live chat box ran by artificial intelligence. It’s extremely clever in that it learns from user experience to build out answers and engage directly with consumers.

Due to cost savings and increased online interaction, the use of chatbots is likely to increase dramatically over the next year, and according to reports will power 85% of customer service interaction by 2020. Statistics have also advised that chatbots will be responsible for saving £8 billion by 2022.

SEO

Mobile-first world

Over 60% of users now search online with mobile devices – from using social media, right through to online shopping and even banking. Users are therefore ‘trusting’ their mobile devices more and more, with desktop figures quickly declining.

As a result, Google is creeping ever closer to the implementation of its Mobile-First Index, which will rank mobile responsive websites higher than those which aren’t for the same keywords. The main thing to focus on here is the word ‘responsive’, where ensuring your website is programmed to ‘respond’ to different mobile devices is key.

If you don’t have a mobile responsive website, make this change as soon as possible – aside from adhering to Google’s index requirements, you will also increase engagement with the 60% of consumers now using their mobile devices over desktop for online search.

Machine learning

Machine learning will continue to grow in 2018 through Google’s latest algorithm update ‘Rank Brain’. This algorithm learns from search experience to increase relevancy, providing website users with the most relevant content for their search terms.

Rank Brain takes into account how users are searching and with what devices. As a result, good SEO will be reliant on the creation of quality content, placed on reputable websites with a high D.A. or Domain Authority. The great thing about Rank Brain is that it is swiftly removing black-hat SEO tactics, and benefitting web users as a result.

PPC

A lot of users have questioned what is happening with PPC? Particularly as Google are hiking costs up, compared to social media ads? In short, paid search remains a very big player in the digital marketing mix, with the following key for 2018:

Mobile first

Again, a ‘mobile first’ strategy is just as important for PPC as it is for SEO and social media. Ensure all of your PPC campaigns effectively target mobile users for maximum results and ROI.

Google shopping

Google shopping is really starting to dominate and will continue to grow well into 2018. The great thing about Google Shopping is that you can be a small style vendor and still compete with and beat the larger retailers for the same search terms and related products.

Cost of Google ads

The cost of Google ads have continued to hike in 2017 – the good news? Google has advised that it will provide more tools in 2018 to help digital marketers target more refined keywords, with improved conversion tracking.

I always believe that any business starting out should use Google AdWords first, as negative perception with cost aside, it successfully and quickly demonstrates the level of search or demand for your product or service and how target audiences engage with it.

In conclusion, 2018 is going to be an exciting year for digital marketing, particularly as technology continues to grow and develop, where a focus on mobile, A.I and video will be key to success.

 

By Mark Wright, director at Climb Online


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