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2018’s top 9 digital marketing trends to act on

The digital environment is dynamic! Digital marketers are always looking for the next trend, to slight changes or new features on the various digital platforms. From increasing engagement and views of videos to high popularity of ephemeral content to increasingly intelligent AI, we will look into the top trends in 2018.

Mobilification
Image that you forgot your mobile at home. Yes! It’s like you are having a mini panic attack. We will be having a very difficult day without our mobile. And it’s not even about no longer being able to call your bff for some latest gossip. The feeling is like you are disconnected from this world. It’s the fear of FOMO and more than that. So, what’s big brands and companies doing about this mobilification? Nothing or not enough.
There is a need for a concise mobile marketing strategy. It’s as basic as properly using SMS marketing, Messenger marketing and WhatsApp marketing. It’s also about a mobile responsive website design or landing page. This mobile-based communication is preferred as it is clutter-free; unlike social media platform and also clients feel important due to this direct, one-to-one communication.

Video, video and video
Videos – The king among contents on social media. Undoubtedly 2017 was the year of video but 2018 will be even bigger as digital marketers, companies and brands are aware that videos’ reach is higher than text or photos. In a mobile-first culture, video is our main consumption. Not doing a short video is no longer an option.
This rising importance of videos can be seen by looking at hoe Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media platforms are investing in videos to help generate more engagement and leads and build followers. Our brain is programmed such that we prefer video over text or photo. Video helps tell more compelling stories and hence video marketing should be incorporated into all aspects of customer experience. This leads to getting your point across faster and can also improve sales. So, if you have yet to use video for social media marketing, start right now!

AI – Chat Bots
AI is vast, but we will concentrate on chat bots. We still are years away from creating a ‘Winston’* which have great conversational skills, can take important decisions on its own and can correctly portray human emotions. But if Elon Musk is asking the US government to start working on laws to monitor the creation and use of bots, this means that bots are in the process of becoming more and more intelligent. Chatbots are no longer the robotic, clunky machines they once were. There are bots that can provide an instant connection with customers from all over the world – solving customer issues and even ordering a burger or book your hotel room.
Facebook has been heavily investing into AI and Messenger bots and according to Facebook, use of Messenger bots are a sure way of creating more leads and, they tend to convert a higher number of sales leads into actual sales. Chatbots give brands the chance to interact quickly with their audience in a way that feels personal. As bots become smarter and more human-like you can customize your brand voice and send personalized messages directly to users. Facebook reported that they now see 100,000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger, offering a whole new platform for marketers to connect with audiences. The good thing is that you no longer need to know coding to create a bot. There are lots of platforms out there which help you to create and personalise your bots. So, go ahead and create your chat bot!

Ephemeral content
Ephemeral content – commonly known as stories! We are fan of and we consume more and more stories! Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have made stories more popular. YouTube joined the bandwagon with ‘Reel’. Ephemeral content is shared up to 24hrs and then disappear forever. More and more brands and celebrities are using stories. Brands have a separate strategy for their ephemeral content marketing.
Let’s take as an example how brands market themselves on Instagram. Their Instagram feeds are full of curated photos or mini videos. These contents are sleek, beautiful and sometimes have a feel of ‘too good to be true’. However, their stories allow them to be more authentic. In short, Instagram profile is for the best, high-quality content and stories for more real-time content. Because of the nature of stories content is lost within hours, making your followers take fast action and marketers gain from it. Having stories that appear at the top of your follower’s feed helps keep your brand at the top of their minds. There are 250 million stories every day, you need to find ways to make yours count.

Voice search
Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are being used more and more to search for information. However, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa took Voice search to a level that Siri could not even dream of. Amazon Alexa lets you buy products from Amazon and Google Assistant can help customers find a local service. It’s estimated that by 2020, over 50% of search queries will be voice-based. As the voice recognition algorithm improves, the popularity will rise and potentially take over text-based queries.
So what? You might be tempted to say. But this increase in voice search will affect how we do SEO. Digital Marketers will need to be able to optimise contents for voice search. When optimizing for voice search, it is important to note that the majority of search results are provided by featured snippets. Therefore, you need to optimize your content to achieve as many featured snippets as possible.

Increase in cost of social advertising
If earlier on, organic reach provided steady traffic and engagement to your Facebook page and posts, this is no longer the case. In this world of increasing social advertisers, companies and brands need to spend on social advertising for a better brand positioning. Since a few weeks back where Facebook announced that it has changed its algorithm to ensure that your feed is no longer populated with only companies and brands posts but more that of your family and friends, digital marketers need to spend big time to be able to reach more people and get a high engagement rate. So, CMOs and CEOs, get ready to shell out the big money to spend on your digital advertising.

Influencers
There is no need to explain what influencers are and influencer marketing is no longer a new thing. More and more brands and companies are using social media influencers to promote their products and services. However, for a small country as Mauritius, we need to be careful as to who is really an influencer. We cannot label each and everyone having more than 5k followers as influencers. It’s the engagement which counts. One can have more than 10k followers, but we need to check out how many likes and views they get and it will be great if we can ask ‘influencers’ the engagement their Insta stories get.
Also, customers prefer more authentic reviews of products and they can easily detect paid reviews. Digital marketers will need to rework their influencer marketing strategies where their products and services are featured in a more organic way.

Augmented Reality (AR)
It’s high time to thread; if not dive into AR. The use of Augmented Reality on mobile devices provides a niche and engaging way for marketers to reach their target audience – it’s quick, easy and very interactive.
We are already seeing huge development in the AR field. Apple has announced the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone X which provides users with new augmented reality experiences. Snapchat has already rolled out a new AR feature allowing users to their Bitmoji and project themselves or images into the real world through the app’s camera. Hence, you can be sure that other social channels such as Facebook will soon launch features integrating AR into their platforms.
Similarly, brands could soon project their products into the homes of social media users through special filters. For example, IKEA rolled out ‘Place’ an app for users to preview furniture in their home before buying. This is a great way to increase conversions by showing customers how their products will look in the surroundings of their own home, before buying. For those who follow the TV show ‘Recherche appartement ou maison’, look out for realtors who use AR to help potential clients projects themselves in a room.

Data
We cannot stress enough how data is important to make sound marketing and sales strategies. The essence of digital marketing is data. Digital marketers can gather data about customers and potential clients. Using these data, we can enhance marketing strategies and make sound recommendations to companies and brands. With digital marketing, we can collect even the small and what can for now appear insignificant data to personalise our communication and marketing approach to each and every customer.
Sphere Media can pride itself on gathering data for each of our clients since 2012; a year where digital marketing was at its nascent phase. Since then, from time to time we update the database for all our clients. We always stress to our new clients the importance of our database management service through which we can be multi-platform in our marketing strategies and can personalise our marketing information depending on the customer and the customer path.

It’s a new year with lots of happening in the field of social media and digital marketing. To keep your brand ahead of the curve, you’ll need update your content and strategy to reflect changing consumer desires. Whether you’re introducing chatbots for customer service or starting a Facebook livestream to promote your new product, you’ll want to keep a close eye on these developments as the year progresses.

Sphere Media will ensure that you and your brands are kept up to date with these trends and to ensure that these trends do work for you and your brands. So, contact us on 433 8020 or via email: digital@spheremedialtd.com or inbox us on Facebook.

*Winston is an AI developed by Kirsch, a genius scientist in Dan Brown’s The Origin. Winston is the super intelligent AI which has human-like conversation skills and can appear to have human-like emotions which sometimes rivals that of mere mortals.

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