Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see into the future? In both our personal and professional lives, the ambiguity of what’s to come is a hurdle we have to face time and time again. This year, I’ve decided to try and cut down on some of the guesswork by doing my research into what we as marketers can expect in the year to come. Here are the top three trends I think will most impact digital marketing in 2018.
Surprised? I’m sure you’re not. Over the past several years, influencer marketing has been an increasingly important part of many companies’ marketing strategies — and 2018 will be no different. We should expect to see some shifts in these influencer campaigns, however, including more long-term partnerships, higher budgets and more real-time content.
In the past, influencer partnerships for many companies have been one-off and one-directional. Brands would reach out to influencers for a couple of sponsored social media posts around a specific campaign, but once those posts were published the partnership fizzled out. In 2018, you can expect to see more ambassadors — influencers who live and breathe their brand partnerships. Relationships between the two parties will be more genuine and reciprocal, and will last for longer periods of time.
As one could imagine these lengthier, more complex partnerships will also come with bigger price tags. Additionally, since these influencers will be promoting the same brands more frequently, these new partnerships will require more variety in terms of the types of content they create. As such, we can expect to see influencers leveraging the “Live” feature of various social media platforms more frequently, adding to the authenticity and credibility of their endorsements.
Alexa, Siri and Cortana, oh my! If you haven’t had enough of these chatty virtual assistants you’re in luck, because they’re not going anywhere. These digital helpers are integrated into tons of products that have become essential parts of our lives – both at work and at home. In fact, they’re so prevalent that ComScore estimates that more than half of all searches by 2020 (just two years away!) will be done via voice search. This will completely revolutionize many of the strategies and tactics marketers have come to rely on, specifically in terms of SEO.
Voice search will change how marketers create content. We’ll need to put a stronger emphasis on long-tail keywords, and will need to address our audience’s common questions head on. Additionally, content and keywords across the board will need to take on a more conversational and natural tone. When creating website copy, we’ll want to incorporate consumer questions into the text itself followed by a succinct and straightforward answer, and then an elaborated explanation. The condensed information at the top of the page will be optimized for voice search, while the detailed information that comes afterwards will be optimized for Google’s ranking algorithms.
Similarly, the rise of voice search will increase the importance of local searches and local SEO. Oftentimes when people use voice search they’re looking for quick answers about something that’s happening right then — like finding the nearest gas station or figuring out what the weather outside is like. This makes incorporating local keywords into content and ensuring your business is included on third-party review sites and local directories more important than ever before.
Measurement and Reporting
According to a recent survey by B2B marketing attribution and forecasting company BrightFunnel, 91% of marketers agree that measurement of their efforts is a top priority. Only 13% of those surveyed, however, rank their current measurement abilities as excellent, while 40% say their measurement tactics needs improvement. This is especially startling when you consider that 75% of this same group have lead-, account- and/or revenue-based quotas to meet.
Hence, measurement and reporting being featured in this list. As companies increase their investment in digital marketing in 2018, so does the need to understand the impact these efforts are having on the bottom line. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t is critical for marketers not only to drive success for their initiatives, but also to get buy-in on their strategy and approach from their executives and decisions-makers.
In the year to come, we can expect to see an increase in the KPIs and metrics brands measure their successes by. The days of relying on last-click attribution data are behind us, and we’ll continue to see more data being collected and analyzed earlier and more often throughout the customer journey. Lastly, the more Artificial Intelligence gains popularity amongst marketers, the more the ways we engage with our data and adjust our campaigns will evolve as well.
Where do we go from here?
The continued rise of influencer marketing, the voice search revolution and the revitalization of measuring and reporting are just three of the many trends I expect our industry will be focusing on in the year to come. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that trends are just that — the general direction in which things are moving. There’s no way to be sure that these themes will define digital marketing in 2018, but what is for sure is that we can expect our peers to explore and test the limits of all three in the months and years ahead. Marketing, after all, is not one-size fits all — it’s all about figuring out what works for you, your company and your customers.
Senior Marketing Analyst