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Digital marketing: 2018 and what to expect moving forward

Last year, we posted a blog listing some of the biggest digital marketing trends and made some predictions on what we expected to see in the new year. Now that we’re halfway through 2018, it’s time to see if any of these predictions actually came true. Read on to find out.

1. The onward march of mobile domination

Back in December, we said that brands would focus on mastering micro-moments in 2018. According to Google, a micro-moment occurs when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something.

They’re impulsive moments when decisions are made and preferences are shaped. So we predicted the most successful brands in 2018 would be the those who had the ability to correctly anticipate and address these moments by providing the right information at the right time to the customer in need.

This means that useful, quick, on-touch access to the needed information will become the basis of acquiring customer trust and building long-lasting relationships. Therefore, we expected to see a significant rise in mobile-first websites, which are pivotal in offering consumers instant information upon immediate request.

What actually happened

No surprise to us, mobile has become even more dominant in 2018 with a mobile-first future in sight. So far, 2018 has been the year of Google updates including the mobile-first index. In March, Google officially announced its new mobile-first indexing, which makes sense considering mobile search is increasing year-on-year.

Under the update Google will show your results from the mobile index, no matter what device you’re using. This means the mobile version of your page’s content will become the starting point for what Google includes in its index and the baseline for how it determines rankings – so businesses need to make sure they’re websites are optimised for mobile, now.

For the rest of 2018 and beyond, we expect to see businesses adopt mobile-first best practices to prepare for pending changes to Google’s algorithm. This means making sure their websites boast a UX that’s optimised no matter what device the visitor is viewing from.

2. The evolution of AI

In 2017, we saw marketers turn to AI to better service their web visitors. This included using AI powered live chat tools to communicate with customers. And even though chatbots were not a new concept, it really blew up last year.

Proving itself to be a high converting medium, chatbots became a must-have for service and marketing. Businesses began 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 adopted the technology at a high rate.

Therefore, we predicted that as this technology got ironed out, more brands would continue to embrace AI. Furthermore, brands who embraced AI sooner rather than later, were the ones we expected to gain an advantage over their competitors in 2018.

We also predicted to see even more personalisation with AI, with brands able to develop customised targeting strategies thanks to the tremendous amount of data collected from social networks, online purchases and mobile app downloads.

What actually happened

AI came into its own in 2017 and in many ways we’ve seen similar trends continue in 2018 in a digital media context. For example, we’ve already seen more use of smart automation and conversational AI.

The conversational revolution began in 2016 with Facebook’s announcement to build chatbots on Facebook messenger, and it looks set to continue. In fact, the conversational trend indicates there’ll be more research on emotional sensitivity and translational technology in AI.

With an estimated 85% of customer interactions to be managed by AI by 2020, personalisation is the ultimate goal and could use some help. So far in 2018, AI is being used to enhance familiar experiences and will continue to make your life better in ways you may or may not even notice, but it still has a way to go.

3. The rise of video

In 2017 the demand for video content grew at an incredible rate, with 52% of marketers saying that video was the type of content that generated them the best ROI. As a result, we saw brands truly embrace video as a way to gather and share information with their loyal fans and followers.

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

From Facebook Live to Instagram Stories, live video was a great way for brands to get the attention of their target audience. Therefore, we predicted to see an increased shifts towards video content, especially on these platforms. In particular, we expected live video to gain momentum, given its ability to build transparency, create organic interaction and enrich the customer experience.

What actually happened

With approximately two-thirds of marketers saying they would increase the number of live events they hosted in 2018, we expected to see streaming sky rocket in 2018. So has it? Yes it’s true, live streaming is growing fast given its potential to reach thousands (if not more) new customers with a click of a button.

In fact, according to a recent survey, 82% of consumers said they favoured live video over other types of social posts and that they spent three times longer watching live videos than pre-recorded ones.

And this trend has been reflected in our marketing spend, with 81% of businesses currently using video as a marketing tool in 2018, up from 63% in 2017. Furthermore, 99% of those who already used video said they would continue to do so in 2018 and 65% of those who didn’t use video said they planned to start in the new year.

So how did this all come about? “Video first” was a term coined by Facebook to refer to a growing phenomenon: consumers not only want to consume video, but also produce it. As a response, social networks are continuing to make it easier for us to consume and broadcast video, by constantly bringing out new features.

This year so far has seen plenty of updates to video capabilities across a plethora of social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and we only expect to see more roll out as the months go on.

Get your business ready for the second half of the year by staying on top of these trends. Have a chat to Bang Digital about refining your digital strategy.