Every year we see shifts in digital marketing and the potential that it can unlock for businesses across many different industries; as well as the impact it can have on consumer behaviour. Now that we’ve entered 2018, we have another 12 months ahead of us where we will see even further shifts in online activity and a progression in the way we use the digital world to our advantage.

Evolving capabilities in digital marketing means that we’re constantly able to do more, and both individuals and brands are able to use digital means to make even the smallest tasks easier. So, what should you expect to see in 2018?

Expansion of augmented reality

Social media will benefit from a huge shift in 2018, making way for advanced technology that makes each experience seamless. The dominance of social networking is continuing to increase year on year; a study by GlobalWebIndex uncovered that almost every internet user can now be reached via social media, whether they are 16 years old or 64.

Social media is gradually overtaking search as the go-to research tool, which creates a demand for a more robust experience to complete a customer journey. The leap between researching products and actually purchasing them is now smaller than ever before, with the likes of Facebook and Instagram offering customers the chance to buy directly from the social channels.

Due to this, the introduction of AI and chatbots across social channels will become more prevalent throughout 2018, helping browsers transition to ‘social commerce’. The rise of such machines means that businesses need to ensure they have an understanding of this system. There has been a 200% year on year increase in Messenger bots on Facebook; from only 33,000 in 2016 to 100,000 in 2017. Facebook Messenger is able to utilise bots to make suggestions for users, book an Uber for you or recommend local services based on what you’re chatting about. The real challenge in the middle of this is to make sure any investments in AI are focused on solving real customer problems and making sure it remains a personable and relevant experience.

facebook messenger bots

Consumer trust shifts

For a long time, brands have relied on celebrity endorsements to help boost their reputation and to increase sales but this is a tactic that is gradually losing traction. Influencer marketing creates a short-lived burst for businesses, and thanks to a loss of trust amongst consumers, it’s not as effective as it once was.

Consumer trust in mainstream institutions such as the media, CEOs and the government is at an all-time low. Instead, customers are turning to their peers for influence in which brand to invest in. ‘A person like you’ is now a credible source for relevant and helpful insights, with many now believing that individuals are more believable than institutions.

2018 will see a focus on building more authentic engagement and genuine influence, as opposed to paying a celebrity or industry expert for a guest blog or social media post. As customers continue to post their own reviews of services and products, the rise of ‘micro-influencers’ will help companies to reach their targeted community. Apple launched its #ShotoniPhone campaign which involved developing a customer-focused story, sharing real photos that had been taken by real people. It seems that tactics like this are much more influential than buying reviews or endorsement.

Search methods are updated

Search continues to be an incredibly important source of traffic for websites, so it’s in your best interest as a business to keep an eye on how its changing. You will already have heard of voice search, but how much have you utilised it? We can bet not that much. In 2016, Google revealed that 20% of its mobile queries were voice searches. Thanks to the huge increase in Amazon Echo and Google Home purchases, the virtual assistant market is becoming more widespread.

Voice search and home speakers are shifting how consumers engage with content and advertising; it’s been predicted that by 2020, 30% of searches will be via voice. It’s time for marketers to take advantage of brand messages in audio format.

Other search methods include an advanced visual search. Products like Pinterest Lens allow you to search through your mobile camera in a visual concept, as opposed to typing words into a search box. Its methods like this that will revolutionise the way consumers find inspiration and discover new products.


Hyper-targeted, personalised marketing

There has been emphasis on this for some time; making sure your consumers have a personalised experience every time they interact with you is a way to build strong relationships and boost sales. Attention to detail is becoming a more important factor in digital marketing, whether it’s a personalised landing page attached to each advertising campaign, or separate and customised pages depending on what platform consumers have come from.

Thanks to the sheer amount of data that can be accessed, personalisation can be achieved on a bigger scale; allowing brands to collect information and feed it into marketing strategies that are more effective at reaching their desired audience. In 2018, it’ll take more than just putting someone’s name at the top of an emarketing campaign. A personalised experience should be seen across each stage of a customer journey if you want to stand out amongst the virtual noise online.

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