At the end of each year, it is always fun to predict what trends we will see in 2018. During 2017, we saw an emphasis on content, marketing automation and social media. The rise of in-home voice-first devices and companies choosing to break the mold of traditional ads will influence what we will see next year. Take a look at what we think 2018 will bring and what you should focus on as we ring in the new year.
1. Voice Search
The use of voice search is growing and being implemented on mobile phones, tablets and desktops. According to Google, 20% of their mobile searches are done by voice (SearchEngineLand). This affects SEO because typed searches are a lot different from voice searches. Instead of a typed search of “Packers game score”, people instead say, “Did the Packers win today?” It will be interesting to see the effect voice search will have on your website traffic and organic search rankings. It may be more useful to use a conversational tone on your websites and to provide FAQ pages that propose popular questions regarding your industry (Forbes).
Celebrity endorsements aren’t the only influencers anymore. Social media stars with a large following are now becoming the new norm for influencer marketing, also known as micro-influencers. Because of the trust they have established with their followers, they provide a less staged, more genuine approach. Here are some types of marketing tactics that companies are using with micro-influencers that we predict will only grow:
Sponsored Videos/Posts: This tactic has been around for several years but it is continuing to grow. This involves the company paying the influencer to speak about certain products in their video or post. It has proven to be much more cost-effective than paid advertisements and digital ads (Forbes). Also, many companies just send free products (PR packages) to the influencer in the hope that they will use or mention the products on their platform.
Instagram Stories: To some people, Instagram stories are just an imitation of what Snapchat provides. However, this medium is now more popular than Snapchat. Facebook claims Instagram Stories has 200 million people using it every day while Snapchat has 160 million users (CNBC). Because it’s an easy to follow platform, and it has the ability to hashtag and link within the story, companies can pay an influencer to mention their product. Again, this makes it feel less staged and more sincere.
Event Marketing: We will see more companies in 2018 turning to event marketing or experimental marketing. This means creating events around their brand or new products and inviting influencers to attend. The hope is that influencers will start to establish a relationship with the brand and will share this experience with their followers.
3. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation was on our 2017 trends list, but we feel that this year it will see even more growth. On average, 49% of companies are currently using a marketing automation tool and that number is only growing (CMO). Following the life of the lead and having the ability to plan effective touch-points is something companies are seeing as very effective in converting leads to sales. The goal of marketing automation is to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time, thus converting more contacts into leads and converting those leads into sales. It provides a great resource for lead nurturing and combines the marketing and sales processes.
In addition to optimizing for voice search there are some more 2018 SEO trends to be watching for as we move into the new year:
Security: Because of the data breaches that occurred in 2017, security for the user on websites is going to be essential. At the end of this year, we saw Google taking action and implementing new warnings on forms if your website did not have an SSL certificate. This change was only on the Google Chrome browser, but we predict this will possibly grow to include other browsers.
Meta Descriptions: Google recently announced they have expanded their meta description limit from 160 characters to 320 characters. This allows you to provide more information about what your web page is about. Your meta description should still inform and interest the user with a short relevant summary (Google).
5. Voice Assistants
More and more voice assistants will be making their way into the homes of consumers, with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home being the most used. As we move into 2018, we predict marketing methods on the voice assistant platforms will become very popular. It is predicted that 33 million voice-first devices will be in circulation by the end of 2017 (VoiceLabs) and this number will only continue to grow. By 2022, 55% of U.S. households, about 70 million, will have at least one smart voice assistant in their home, creating a huge opportunity for new marketing efforts (TechCrunch).
Currently, with voice-first devices, there isn’t a great way to advertise or promote your products. On Amazon Alexa, brands are able to offer voice-only deals that are exclusive to Amazon, but these are negotiated with vendors and are not paid opportunities. Google Express’ products are recommended based on relevance, consumer order history and other preferences. There are currently no paid opportunities offered (AdAge). We predict more brands will be creating skills (Amazon Alexa) or will set up voice ordering with the devices, as Domino’s currently is with their pizzas. In addition, more could start following the lead of Burger King and run a video ad/commercial that triggers Alexa or Google to provide more information about the product or service (MarketingWeek).
The world of marketing in 2018 is still unknown, but as technology and the consumer evolve, so should the way you market. Being one step ahead and prepared for what is to come can only better your marketing efforts. In summary, we will most likely see a shift to voice and a genuine approach to marketing, so be mindful of these trends as we move into the new year.
Ocreative was established in 2003 as one of the early pioneers of digital advertising and design in the Midwest. The company is made up of bright, honest, digital innovators and creative gurus, carving out a niche for themselves and their trusting clients. Along the way, Ocreative has grown to become more recognized as an award-winning, full-service, integrated marketing agency. Ocreative gets big results for its clients, and that puts big smiles on everyone’s faces. Even though the agency’s office is in the Midwest, its clients are located throughout the United States. Ocreative’s portfolio includes expert marketing and strategy, advertising and design, websites and digital marketing, video, and multimedia.