The internet and the way people use it continually evolves, and digital marketing evolves along with it. New digital marketing trends are constantly coming onto the scene and forcing marketing professionals to wonder what to try next.
But marketers only have so much time and budget to work with, and chasing every trend would be both exhausting and counterproductive. Identifying the trends worth pursuing can be difficult, but after much research and observation, we feel strongly that these five digital marketing trends are here to stay.
2018 Marketing Trends
One of the great goals of digital marketing is to reach the right person with the right message at the moment when it will most resonate. Marketing technology puts that goal within reach more and more with every passing day. And the results are telling.
Eighty percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when provided a personalized experience from a brand. When done well, marketing personalization ensures the messaging your prospects see is relevant to their interests and needs based on at least one of the following categories:
Some types of personalization in marketing are easier to achieve than others. For example, any business that uses Google Ads or does social media advertising can easily tap into the vast stores of data those channels offer to make sure their ads are targeted to people they’ll likely be relevant for.
As a marketer, LinkedIn’s advertisers know to deliver industry-related content to me. And with Google’s remarketing, any marketer can deliver ads to people who have recently visited your website.
And any business that uses a good email marketing software product can create segmented lists to ensure every subscriber gets emails about the specific type of content they indicate they’re interested in.
More advanced forms of marketing personalization require more sophisticated technology to achieve, but can be well worth it. Tools like Unbxed, Personyze and HubSpot’s Smart Content allow marketers to create personalized web pages that deliver up content specific to the search a visitor used to get to the site, or the past pages they visited.
As marketing personalization becomes more common, consumers come to expect it. As other businesses they interact with increasingly deliver relevant messages, failing to do so will make your marketing that much easier to overlook.
For B2B businesses that sell high-ticket items or services to a specific audience, account based marketing is basically personalized marketing dialed up to ten. The idea is to identify companies that are the perfect target for your product or service and focus your marketing efforts disproportionately on them. Instead of casting a wide net, you focus your budget and energy on directly getting your message in front of the short list of businesses that fit right in the sweet spot for your offerings.
That focus pays off. According to research on ABM results, 97 percent of marketers have a higher ROI with ABM than other marketing activities, and it produces a 171 percent increase in annual contract value.
The first step to implementing ABM is defining who your ideal customer is. Consider the attributes common to your current best customers, such as:
Once you have a clear idea of the types of businesses you should target with ABM, create a plan to identify businesses that match your specifications and start reaching out to the relevant contacts. One of the best tools for ABM is something you likely already use regularly: LinkedIn.
You can use it to search for businesses by industry and size, and find contacts at each company by job title. With that information, you can contact them directly through the platform, or create targeted ads using ABM software like ListenLoop or Demandbase.
By making your marketing more focused, keeping close track of your status with each target contact becomes easy. That gives you more power to ensure the content and ads you get in front of them are relevant based on what you know about the business and the interactions you’ve had with them so far.
For companies that do inbound marketing, one of the biggest challenges is getting the content you put so much work into in front of the people you want to reach. You can make use of a number of content promotion strategies to expand the reach of your marketing, but one of the most effective is influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is growing in popularity because 92 percent of marketers who do it say it works. As a result, 39 percent of marketers planned on increasing their budget for influencer marketing this year.
Partnering with relevant influencers pays off for a few good reasons:
As with any tactic, influencer marketing will only pay off if you approach it thoughtfully and strategically.
To get the most out of influencer marketing, prioritize finding influencers to work with relevant to your audience. A fashion blogger can have a massive following, but their popularity won’t do much for you if you sell B2B software. Find the influencers people in your target audience follow and pay attention to. Tools like Followerwonk and Buzzsumo can help with this step.
Before you approach an influencer, figure out what’s in it for them. In some cases, that will mean outright paying an influencer to talk about your product. In others, it could mean helping them build up a reputation for thought leadership by featuring them in your content. You won’t get much response if your influencer outreach is all about what they can do for you; figure out a way to make it mutually beneficial.
LinkedIn’s eBook “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn” features marketing influencers in an “Ask the Expert” section at the end of each chapter. Being included in the resource gives the influencers a chance to show their knowledge and build up their reputation. For LinkedIn, the experts’ insights add value to the eBook, and their content gets more reach from the influencers sharing it with their own networks. It’s a win-win.
The right influencers will help you reach more of your audience in a way that builds more trust—some of the positive associations they have with the influencer can rub off on your brand. As a long-term strategy, it can help you build brand awareness, drive more views to your content, and increase sales.
SEO is a huge part of digital marketing. Any change in how people use search engines inevitably has a big influence on marketing trends. Between the rise in mobile usage and smart home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, one of the biggest trends in search in recent years has been the growing use of voice search.
ComScore estimates that 50 percent of all online searches will be performed by voice search by 2020. Because voice search only reports the top search result, this changes the game for SEO. Where before, getting on the first page was the big goal; now for many types of searches, only the number-one slot matters.
Optimizing your content for voice search won’t make sense for every web page or content piece you create, but considering how people use voice search should now be a part of every content strategy.
A study by Backlinko highlighted some of the most common attributes of the answers that show up in voice search. They found:
To a large degree, that means you want to stick with the SEO strategies you use already. Namely, create high-quality longform content and prioritize earning links. But where it makes sense to do so, include common questions your audience has in the text of the page, with either a short answer directly following the question or the answer in a list format.
For anyone who’s been paying attention, the growing importance of mobile marketing should come as no surprise. Consumers now spend an average of five hours a day on mobile devices. People now do more of their browsing on mobile devices than they do on desktop.
And yet, 50 percent of B2B organizations still don’t have a responsive website. At this point, it’s a given that mobile matters, yet prioritizing mobile in your digital marketing strategy is still a good way to get a competitive advantage.
The first and most important step every business should take for mobile marketing is making sure your website is mobile friendly. A responsive website is the easiest option to make sure your site looks good on all common devices—which, in turn, increases website conversions.
With your website taken care of, your business can consider venturing into some other common mobile marketing techniques, such as:
In addition to specific mobile marketing efforts, you should be thinking about mobile in everything you do. Make sure it’s easy to fill out forms or make purchases on small screens. Structure your pages so the most important information shows high up on the page on mobile devices.
Treat the mobile experience as just as important as desktop, or even more so.
Some digital marketing trends are easier to adapt to than others. And some are crucial for all businesses to take action on (like mobile marketing), while others are better suited to specific business types (like ABM). Carefully consider which digital marketing trends are a good fit for your business moving forward, and work them into your marketing plan. Knowing about them only matters if you put that knowledge to work.