2018 Digital Marketing Game Changers

It’s no secret that digital marketing has solidified its rightful place as lead-generating, conversion-getting, revenue-boosting weapon for modern marketers. In 2018 digital marketing continues to evolve with new tactics.

With the proliferation of online marketing and the noise consumers have to fight through to get to the right products, it is more important than ever to be relevant and earn the trust of your audience.

With all of the trends and resources available to digital marketers, how do you know which ones should get your time and attention?

2018 Digital Marketing Trends

Here are 15 digital marketing trends that are changing the game for digital marketers in 2018.

1. Digging into the customer journey

Digital marketing is all about collecting data, but how are you using that data? Consumers have more choices than ever before, and smart marketers look for every opportunity to differentiate the customer experience. Customers have never been more empowered to demand exceptional experiences. They expect to be treated as individuals and for businesses to understand their problems and proactively offer a solution to them with very little effort on their part.

Digital data collection affords marketers the opportunity to collect data at every stage of the customer journey to better understand it and to improve customer experience. Take what you know and create a customer journey map. Not only will you better understand customer expectations, you’ll be able to more accurately predict future buying behaviors.

2. Video marketing

Video is one of the fastest growing marketing channels today. Done right, video is an effective, memorable way to boost brand impressions. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words still rings true today. Consider using video for product how-to’s, your FAQ and even short product review videos. Center your video content around your story—not around selling. Don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor, either. The videos that go viral aren’t dry, boring marketing content. Get your creative juices flowing.

One more pragmatic tip: don’t forget to link back to your website in your video to drive traffic and generate leads.

3. A focus on the right influencers

As online video content continues to infiltrate digital platforms, companies are taking a closer look at how they are working with influencers. Instead of casting a wide net, fish for influencers that truly align with your brand and your audience. Otherwise, you run the risk of coming across as disingenuous and unconcerned with solving problems for consumers who are actually interested in your products and services.

As a bonus, targeted influencer marketing is a great vehicle for cross-promotion. By engaging with brands who complement yours, you’ll gain exposure to their audience and naturally broaden your reach.

4. Augmented reality as a marketing tool

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t just for video games anymore. Many organizations are using AR in conjunction with their social media platforms to engage with consumers. Retailers are using it for virtual fitting rooms. Home improvement companies use AR for interior design planning. Find the angle that fits your brand and use it. In addition to making people talk about your business, it gives you one more opportunity to collect data and get your message in front of a broader audience.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two rapidly evolving 2018 digital marketing trends
Virtual reality and augmented reality are quickly changing the ways brands interact with their consumers.

5. Targeted ads

We’ve all heard that humans have a shorter attention span on average, than a goldfish. For this reason, your ads need to appeal directly to your target buyer. It requires some research on the front end about who you’re marketing to and where they get their information, but it’s worth it. Unlike commercial advertising, that puts the same message in front of every single television viewer tuned in to that channel, digital advertisers have the advantage of catering to a specific audience. Don’t waste time on platforms or messaged your audience doesn’t care about. You’ll never reach them. Use demographics, and your visitors’ browsing history to customize the user experience on your website. When it comes to branding trends 2018 audiences expect an experience that feels custom-made for them.

6. Live streaming

Live streaming is a new flavor of video marketing that has recently taken off, with the proliferation of platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and others. Instead of recording a video, live streaming allows you to engage with your audience in real-time. By doing so, you “ditch the script” and show yourself as a relatable, human brand, and connected to your audience. It’s also a good way to create excitement around an event and to quickly gather sentiment data from your audience to see what kind of impression you’re making. This is definitely one trend to keep on eye on in the world on 2018 digital marketing.

7. Conversational chatbots

If you’re unable to support 24/7 support, chatbots are a great way to extend customer service hours and provide a better experience for your customers. Chatbots are more intelligent and intuitive than ever before, and an efficient way to address common customer support questions. They are easy to set up, easy to program, and most importantly, easy to modify on the fly. While they were considered trendy when they were introduced a few years ago, more organizations than ever rely on chatbots to differentiate their customer experience and offer continuous support to their customers.

8. A personalized experience

Mass email blasts and one-size-fits-all landing pages no longer cut it. In the hyper-competitive digital world, consumers have plenty of choices. They gravitate to the brands that differentiate themselves from the masses. Understanding your target audience and writing your email and web content to solve their problems will make you stand out. While it’s impossible to deliver one-of-a-kind messages to every consumer, you can deliver a unique experience to subsets of your consumer population if you understand buyer personas. It will pay off in the form of brand loyalty, more referrals and a higher lifetime customer value.

Personalized emails and landing pages are essential in 2018.

9. Contextual behavior tracking

Contextual marketing or behavior tracking takes the data that consumers provide online and uses it to drive future behaviors, such as making a purchase or downloading a piece of content. As General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) measures become more stringent for websites, marketers need to find new ways to track user behaviors and still remain in compliance. Contextual behavior tracking automates which ads and content consumers see, based on previous behaviors and browsing information. By using an automated system, marketers can stay compliant but still drive viewer behavior to create more conversions with 2018 digital marketing efforts.

10. Native content

Know where your audience is reading your content and make sure your advertising and content is in the right context. Integrated content boosts engagement and makes it far more likely that your message will get shared. Don’t take the short-sighted approach of marketing for one demographic and one platform in 2018 digital marketing. Native advertising should be so unobtrusive and natural that it feels like it belongs in your audience’s content stream. For example, have you ever read a “sponsored ad” while you were scrolling through your news feed? The best ones don’t require you to think before you look at them—they are contextually relevant and easily draw in readers. Before you know it, you’ve clicked on the sponsored content and engaged with the brand. Aim to be that ubiquitous in your audience’s newsfeeds.

11. Track cost-per-experiment

There is a never-ending menu of channels and tactics and metrics available in the world of 2018 digital marketing. Instead of banking on one set of tools, smart marketers experiment, test, and adjust. Decide what metrics are most important to your success and then pick a few tactics or channels to support them. If they don’t perform well, pick some different tactics that deliver a more desirable result. It isn’t failure to admit that a strategy isn’t working the way you’d hoped. It is a mistake, however, to stubbornly plod ahead with something that isn’t working, when instead you could be reaping positive results with something else. An easy way to give your strategy an edge is to incorporate some A/B testing on the front end of each new tactic to see what content variations perform best. 2018 digital marketing is about adjusting your campaign.

12. Use analytics to your advantage

Analytics means much more than web traffic or search rankings for today’s digital marketer. APIs and integrations have opened the door for businesses of all sizes to better predict which tactics will work for them. The data extends beyond just web performance and you can slice it a myriad of ways. For example, how is your social media strategy performing? Cross-hatch that data with your PPC ad spend. Are you spending the right money on the right platform? With a smorgasbord of analytics applications and web tools—some that integrate with a simple click of the mouse, marketers can test their hypotheses and measure success at every stage of the buyer journey. This is especially helpful if you have to fight for your budget dollars. With analytics, you have the data to support your budget request.

13. Don’t forget about voice

As Alexa, Siri and Google Home gain popularity, smart marketers look for ways to gather data and insert their brand influence into voice platforms. Understand what searches are looking for and how they ask for it will help you optimize your content and be found in voice searches. A couple of quick tips:

Analytics tell marketers a variety of important pieces of information especially in the 2018 digital marketing world.
Analytics are an essential part of any marketing campaign. Metrics determine where you focus your efforts next.

• Don’t overlook opportunities for sponsorship as a way to reach the millions of consumers who use voice search technology.
• Try long-tail keywords that are more conversational in nature and that match how voice-searcher ask questions. For example, try a keyword string like “What is the best shoe for hiking?” instead of “hiking shoes.”

14. Machine learning

Machine learning has gained popularity over the last few years as a smart way to strategize and automate marketing efforts. Marketers can collect all of the data in the world, but if they don’t use it to their advantage, it’s all worthless. By analyzing performance metrics through both historical and real-time reports, machine learning algorithms course-correct marketing strategies. Digital marketers are using machine learning to optimize SEO, PPC campaigns and even refine content marketing strategies. Eventually, machine learning may impact the way we tell stories as algorithms make recommendations on how we reach our audiences.

15. Content marketing 2.0

When it comes to content trends 2018 is full of experts with opinions on how it should be done. Content marketing should be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy. It is no longer just about creating a library of long-form content, however. As discussed above, consumer attention spans are decreasing, and the way buyers want to see information is constantly evolving. Present digital content in short, consumable bites and on a variety of platforms. Use it as a multiplier to place the same message in different platforms, the way consumers want to read it.

As the 2018 digital marketing landscape changes, it will become increasingly important to remain agile, creative and aware of new technologies. Don’t be afraid to get outside of the traditional marketing box to reach your audience in new ways.

In 2018, digital marketing will no doubt present a brand new crop of trends and strategies to watch. As you test the digital marketing waters, pick a few of these game-changing strategies and test them out with your brand. If you’re a smaller organization, take advantage of automation and analytics to act as an extension of your team. Well-established brands can learn from the smaller grassroots marketers who thrive on personalization and storytelling to differentiate themselves online.

Consumers have more choices online than ever before. Your job is to be the brand they choose, thanks to a smart, agile 2018 digital marketing strategy.

What are some 2018 digital marketing tips that have worked well for you?

Avatar for Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo is a certified HubSpot Inbound Marketing expert, Senior Brand Strategist, as well as a lover of family, friends, and life. He enjoys good health, Tae Kwon-Do and discovering the most influential marketing trends.

Avatar for Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo is a certified HubSpot Inbound Marketing expert, Senior Brand Strategist, as well as a lover of family, friends, and life. He enjoys good health, Tae Kwon-Do and discovering the most influential marketing trends.