by James Lawrence on December 1, 2017 | Agency NewsState of Digital

It has come to the time of year where we start to look at the digital marketing trends of 2018. The new year is just around the corner and the rate of change in the digital marketing landscape is showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, the industry will be changing more than ever in 2018, offering new technologies and offering new advantages to fast movers. We’ve comprised a list of the biggest eight trends that we forecast will shape digital in 2018.

The Continued Rise of Video

It’s no secret that video is fast becoming one of the most popular mediums for content consumption and in 2018 this is only going to increase. Big name platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Snapchat are investing too heavily in video for it to fail. LinkedIn has recently announced it will launch autoplay mobile video ads beginning in early 2018, the announcement coming just 2 months after allowing native video content on users feeds. YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-old consumers than any cable or broadcast network does, an opportunity worth investing in.

Taking YouTube, for example, 2017 saw 20% of all video ad revenue in the US going to YouTube. YouTube, being a platform that now has over a billion users that view more than a billion hours of content every day. Influencer marketing has also piggybacked off these statistics, with companies leveraging off the trust built between influencers and their audience to target more niche audiences. Facebook is quickly following suit, introducing Live Video, competing with YouTubes increasingly popular vlogger and content creation community.

Recode forecasts a 25% increase in viewership of mobile video content in 2018 with an expected $18 billion in expenditure. The Wall Street Journal investigated statistics surrounding viewership of video content at the start of 2017, statistics that are expected to continue to rise moving into 2018 and beyond.

 

Mobile Ad Expenditure Forecast (into 2018). Source: Zenith.

More Nuanced Buyer Journey

Gone are the days of simple digital buying journeys. Prospective customers are less and less following a singular channel or using a singular device on the path to purchase. This has made it increasingly difficult to track these buyer journeys and target specific markets on specific devices. Even as Google proceeds to roll out its attribution tool, we predict that this process is still getting harder rather than easier to truly track.

Marketing has one function; to reach the right consumer at the right time, with the right message. Moving into 2018 the circular decision model developed by McKinsey is a more realistic way to view a consumers buying journey (pictured below). A more consumer-driven marketing strategy should be developed using this concept when viewing touch points, moving away from push and focusing more on consumer-driven touch points.

Given consumers constant movement between devices and channels, with the added threat of a decreasing attention span, it’s not going to get any easier moving into 2018 to attribute individual channels to a business nor targeting on specific devices.

 

Programmatic Scrutiny

Neal Sharma, CEO of DEG, estimates that worldwide cloud-based marketing expenditure will reach $141 billion by 2019, a space with rapid growth throughout 2018 no doubt. Reactive action towards fraudulent activity is a major underlying issue facing cloud-based marketing services with the concept of Fraud 2.0 often discussed. This issue and even viewability issues will continue to persist, demanding a reactive behavioural approach to dealing with them.

There is no doubt that as eyeballs continue to move to digital and targeting capabilities continue to be refined that this is the place for advertisers to appear. That said, programmatic and general display ads still have a long way to go in terms of transparency and accountability and 2018 will see lots of developments in this space.

Account Based Marketing (ABM)

ABM is not a new concept in the B2B marketing industry. It is a way to tackle strategic customer engagement and treating an individual client account as a market of its own. Using an ABM strategy to coordinate a personalised message to client accounts will deepen the engagement you have with your clients, assigning a marketer to this strategy will increase upselling sales revenue and will effectively allow you to target smaller audiences within your client accounts. 2018 will see digital marketers working in a more nuanced way to incorporate more traditional ABM methods into their digital toolkit.

Voice Search

With the continued investment in Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant, the largest digital brands are showing that voice search is going to be a key part of the future. The rapid improvement in the technology powering voice search sees users receiving more and more useful search results when using voice search.

With continued adoption by end-users, the challenge for businesses is to adapt your SEO, SEM and AdWords strategies to meet these everchanging concepts. Mary Meeker is expecting voice and image searches will make up a whopping 50% of all searches by 2020, a statistic no doubt establishing itself into 2018.

Chart showing voice command usage relative to time. Source: CreativeState

A More Targeted Ad Inventory For Advertisers

2017 saw massive leaps forward in terms of marketers accessing high-quality ad inventory coupled with improved consumer targeting. The ad platforms powering LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram leapt ahead in 2017 with vast improvements in targeting highly targeted segments.

YouTube, generates viewership’s from millions of different markets and allows for influencer marketing strategies. In-app advertising, more commonly found in free-to-download apps, has increased resulting in 72% total ad spend on mobile in 2017 – a more programmatic advertising approach is adopted rather than cloud-based as mentioned above.

In 2018 we can expect even better access to targeted ad inventory across these platforms, Google and more.

Realising the Role of Data

2018 will see an increased importance for businesses to place emphasis on high-quality customer (and prospective customer) data.  It is no secret that a well-established database is now playing a major factor in digital marketing success. Increasingly email addresses and mobile phone numbers will be used by marketers to build out audiences in platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google to target prospects with relevant content. This, of course, presumes that the right content is being presented to the right buyer persona at the right time of the marketing funnel.

In addition to email and phone data, developing a “cookie-pool” of users that have collectively performed a certain digital action means a better capability to present these users with a relevant marketing message down the line.

Once this strategy has been established in-line with your digital marketing plan, the use of a marketing automation software, such as Hubspot, will allow you to build out “tracks” based on the nurture lists you have set up. These tracks can be personalised based on your buying personas.

Moving into 2018, the basics of well segmented and maintained database will become increasingly essential to an effective digital marketing strategy.

Content – Digital Marketing’s Vital Tool in 2018

When establishing a high-quality digital marketing plan for your business, it is always important to consider the content you will be creating based on your target consumer group and the buyer personas you have established. Brookings has found that 84% of millennial’s don’t trust traditional advertising efforts and it is becoming increasingly clear that consumers want content that will enrich their lives rather than being one-sided sales-pitches from brands.

As mentioned above, the establishment of buyer personas allows for this personalisation – something 2018 will continue to see as important for digital marketers. A great way to establish niche and succinct buyer personas is to interact within the market, establishing consumer experiences and relations, understanding the needs of these markets and targeting them through the right content. Using a more story-telling approach, rather than a marketing approach, will allow for your content to be seen, interacted with and have leads generated, given the content-saturated state of the internet.

Communicating the right message (through story-telling) to the right buyer persona (target group) at the right time (based on their buying journey) will ensure higher-quality leads are generated and a great customer experience is established.

Conclusion

Through our experience and forecasted trends for 2018, we understand the importance of getting back to basics with digital marketing – the right message, to the right person at the right time. This will be the key to generating high-quality leads.

With more places to place your marketing dollar, adopting old-school marketing efforts when implementing up-to-date digital strategies will ensure you and your business are prepared for all the digital marketing trends in 2018.

If you need a hand organising your digital strategy leading into 2018, get in touch with us on 02 8310 2393 or send us a message at any time.

James Lawrence

James is as much a part of Rocket as clicks are to conversions. He gained a Bachelor of Communications and Laws (Honours) at the University of Technology, Sydney and has over 15 years of experience in the digital marketing space. You name it – he’s seen it, tested it and mastered it: from PPC to split testing to the latest SEO techniques. Today, he works to develop lead generation strategies for Rocket’s key clients as well as overseeing Rocket’s own marketing plan.

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