Digital marketing: A year in review

It’s been a big year for digital marketing and we can’t believe it’s almost over! As the digital world continues to adapt and evolve, so too must the brands and marketers who work within it. Read on as we countdown the biggest digital marketing trends of 2017 and make some predictions on what we expect to see in 2018.

1. The onward march of mobile domination

There’s no doubt about it: mobile is shaping modern day consumerism in a big way. Spending almost 3 hours a day on our mobile phones searching whenever and wherever we need information, it’s no surprise 2017 saw the emergence of the smartphone as the customer’s most valued shopping partner.

Whether it’s searching for a product, checking product reviews and making product recommendations, mobile has allowed for smarter, faster and more intuitive information at our fingertips. And with 96% of users reaching for their smartphones to conduct this on-the-spot research, it makes sense that brands and marketers put their focus on reaching customers on the device they use the most in 2017.

This year we saw brands beginning to bring their products out of their website and directly onto the Google search results page for further exposure. With Google Shopping, businesses can showcase product information to consumers, including pricing, discounts, offers and the location of the nearest store. This helped them to sell products to the shoppers who matter most – the ones looking for what you offer.

Brands who wanted to stay relevant in today’s connected culture also leveraged the power of social media use on mobile. Integrating shopping through Facebook Checkout, businesses can connect and sell their products to millions of Facebook users with the Shop Section. Easy to use and free to set up, it’s a great option for brands looking to create an immersive experience on Facebook and was a big development in 2017.

What we expect to see in 2018

With there being more devices than people in the world and each person on average checking their phone 100+ times a day, we expect brands to focus on mastering micro-moments in 2018. On-the-spot decisions are made in micro-moments and whether it’s checking emails, social media or push notifications, monitoring these touch points and their impact in the lead up to the micro-conversion will be a priority in the new year.

The most successful brands will be those that have the ability to correctly anticipate and address these impulsive micro-moments by providing the right information at the right time to the customer in need. Therefore, a useful, quick, one-touch access to the needed information will become the basis of acquiring customer trust and building long-lasting relationships. As a result, we expect to see a significant rise in mobile-first websites, which will be pivotal in offering consumers instant information upon immediate request.

2. The evolution of AI

2017 was the year we looked more to artificial intelligence (AI) for a helping hand. A way for consumers to navigate the increasingly complex online world, brands and marketers turned to AI this year to better service web visitors. Using AI powered live chat tools to communicate with customers, they were able to optimise their services by answering frequently asked questions and providing immediate information on products and services.

Even though chatbots were not a new concept in 2017 and brands have been working with messaging for a while now, it really blew up this year. With 1.3 billion users now active on Facebook Messenger exchanging more than 2 billion messages per month with businesses, chatbots have become a must-have for service and marketing. Proving itself to be a high converting medium, we saw a surge of B2B live chat interactions across a wide range of industries.

Businesses have begun to understand that AI chatbots are becoming an essential tool in modern inbound marketing campaigns, especially for moving leads down the funnel to become customers. And as this technology gets ironed out, it’s predicted more brands will continue to embrace AI, with 75% of developer teams to include AI functionality in at least one application or service.

What we expect to see in 2018

Next year we expect to see brands continue to look at AI solutions to assist in marketing, sales and customer support. To do so, they need to see where AI can help them and put plans in place. It’s these brands who embrace AI sooner who’ll gain an advantage over their competitors who don’t. From saving costs to accelerated growth to simply making their organisation better, early adopters will be the ones to reap the benefits that AI sows in 2018.

Another AI solution we expect to see in 2018 is even more personalisation. Using AI algorithms, companies are able to collect the maximum customer behaviour data, analyse it and then develop customised targeting strategies. And thanks to the tremendous amount of data collected from social networks, online purchases and mobile app downloads, this information is readily available.

3. The rise of video

In 2017 the demand for video content grew at an incredible rate. 52% of marketers felt that video was the type of content with the best ROI and as a result, we saw brands truly embrace video as a way to gather and share information with their loyal fans and followers. Simply put, audiences want content that’s going to satisfy their information and entertainment needs in one easily digestible snippet, and video achieves this.

In identifying this trend, all the major players in the social media arena stepped up their game this year in a bid to increase usage and drive engagement on their respective platforms. This saw 2017 become the year of updates on social with highly engaging video features roll out throughout the year.

Brands began to capitalise on all these features, using the platforms to drive further engagement as it made them become more personable and relatable. From Facebook Live to Instagram Stories, live video was a great way for brands to get the attention of their target audience. Using these platforms to live stream everything from announcements to events, the approach aims to keep followers engaged with their brand by bringing these moments directly to their screens in real time.

What we expect to see in 2018

In 2018, we expect to see an increased shift towards video content and in particular, live video, as consumers continue to gravitate toward authentic, live-action visual storytelling. In the inundated world of content, live streaming has become a valuable tool for marketers as it allows brands to build transparency, create organic interaction and enrich the customer experience.

What makes live video streaming so exciting is that it’s a digital connectedness that’s never been offered before and provides brands with the unique opportunity to stand out and build meaningful consumer and professional relationships. So with approximately two-thirds of marketers saying they will increase the number of live events they host in 2018 as they begin to recognise its potential, we expect to see streaming sky rocket in the next 12 months .

Honourable mentions

The influencer marketing takeover

With consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, preferring content that feels less “staged”, influencer marketing was the hot topic this year. Ideal for brands interested in connecting with prospects via social media, a influencer marketing strategy is a great way to create compelling content that appears to be more natural and organic. And with nearly 95% of marketers who used one in 2017 believing it was effective, we can expect to see even more in the new year.

Augmented reality back on top

Augmented reality is a relatively old technology that started going viral in 2017, thanks to a big boost from social media. With the Snapchat selfie lenses bringing the idea of augmented reality back into focus, this year saw other competitors in the social sphere play catch up with their own facial filters. At its current adoption rate, augmented reality seems to be the medium to watch and we can’t wait to see wait to see how the concept expands in 2018.

The power of personalisation

Offering a personalised online experience was a vital digital marketing strategy in 2017 and is only expected to go from strength to strength in the new year. With consumers demanding more from brands, they expect a personalised experience across all touch points in their journey. Using automation to branch out to people based on behaviour, interests and demographic, brands were able to achieve this.

So, what do you think? Were these the trends you saw in digital this year as well? If your business wants to strengthen its digital marketing efforts in 2018, contact Bang Digital today. As a dedicated digital marketing agency. we care about your brand and want to help you thrive in the digital space.