Digital marketing is an agile field and one that doesn’t stand still. Trends move on and techniques that worked well in 2017 may not cut the mustard in the new year. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and ensure your brand stands out, it’s crucial that you move with the times.
To help, we’ve put together a roundup of digital marketing tactics you need to know about for 2018. Some are popular concepts that have evolved over time and others are slightly more unorthodox. As a bonus, we’ve also thrown in a few tactics that worked this year but won’t in 2018. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Hot digital marketing tactics for 2018
1. Get personal
We’re not talking about simply including the recipient’s name in an email here. Personalization can go far further than that and is a tactic that more brands will adopt this coming year. It’s been reported that only 5% of brands do this ‘extensively’ which is a surprisingly small figure given the impact it can have.
As consumers, we are experiencing personalization more and more, whether we realize it or not. Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist and Netflix’s ‘Recommended for you’ are both designed to enhance user experience and reinforce brand loyalty.
Thanks to reporting and more comprehensive data, brands now have an abundance of information ready to take advantage of. However, the sticking point with personalization is that most businesses are unsure of how to implement it well (without looking creepy).
So, how do you do it?
Start with data. This is absolutely key. After all, how do you get personal if you don’t know the first thing about your audience? Gathering data will enable you to understand customer habits, behaviors and preferences. This will also help you to grasp what they’re looking for and what they want to see.
To collect data, think about the attributes you want to learn about most. This could be anything from spending habits to interests and hobbies. Don’t send out a lengthy questionnaire, simply ask questions now and then in a discreet way that won’t bug customers.
From this data, you can then create buyer personas which will help you to meet their specific needs or pain points. Here’s a handy guide on how to create them.
Once you have your personas, map out your content based on their needs, pain points and interests. Your content should then reflect this and be distributed to each type of customer in a personable and relatable way. Here’s some examples that work.
2. Let consumers take control
Way before marketing strategies even existed, word of mouth marketing was a powerful way of driving business results. In fact, it’s still classed as one of the most important and valuable forms of marketing.
Taking this a step further, brands are now encouraging consumers to talk about their experiences online. Coined as user-generated content (UGC), people are increasingly engaging with brand hashtags and sharing images and videos based on their experiences.
Brands such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks have already proved that this tactic is content marketing at its best. ‘Share a Coke’ was one of the most impactful campaigns in recent years and was predominantly driven by UGC. People flocked to social media sharing over 500,000 photos with the #ShareaCoke hashtag and the brand gained 25 million new Facebook fans. Coke consumption increased by 7%, making it the beverage giant’s most successful campaign to date.
How do you do it?
The problem with UGC is that a lot of brands are unsure of how to encourage it. It is easy to set up a hashtag but if no one sees it or has any reason to use it, your campaign will sit dormant.
This type of content is therefore all about creating a buzz. You have to share media that’s going to get people talking. Here’s a few ways brands are successfully encouraging UGC.
- Using popular hashtag trends
- Providing rewards
- Running competitions
- Asking questions
- Giving away freebies
There’s no magic formula with this one and coming up with a genius campaign like Coca-Cola’s is not easy. However, with some experimentation you could hit on something great. Remember that social media is where people’s eyes are nowadays so it’s the perfect place to get attention and encourage sharing.
3. Leverage the power of instant messaging
Digital marketing in 2018 will be all about speed. Gone are the days when companies could take a day to respond to emails. Consumers now expect real-time communication 24 hours a day, which is where instant messaging comes in.
1.3 billion people now use Facebook messenger and there are approximately 2 billion interactions with businesses per month on the platform. It’s quickly becoming one of the most important forms of communication yet few brands are using it to its full potential.
As we enter 2018, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve with this one as it could really set your marketing efforts apart.
How do you do it?
Firstly, choose your platform with care as each one has its own pros and cons. Here’s a handy guide to help.
Once you’re set up, there are plenty of things you can do to harness new customers and build loyalty. Here’s a few ways brands are already seeing success from it:
- Customer service
- Geolocated promotions
- Customised messages
- Tailored promotions
Thanks to the number of people already using instant messaging, it’s set to be a powerful tactic over the coming year. Just remember, above all, to stay personal. It’s no good blasting out generic messages as they will most definitely be ignored. Think about how you can be relatable and take a targeted approach that will be noticed.
Tactics that are worth a try
If you’re willing to be a little unorthodox and take a leap outside of the box then there are a few tactics that can really get you noticed. Yes, they are a bit riskier but who gets noticed staying 100% safe?
1. Be provocative
Ok, you definitely need to have boundaries when it comes to this. But, being provocative and a bit taboo can is a great way to grab attention. Maybe even go viral. It’s a tactic more commonly used by non-profits and charities who use the shock factor to get their message across.
By actively violating consumer expectations, brands can leave a lasting impact that people remember. It directly increases publicity and if executed well, can lead to an increased customer base. However, it’s important to remember that shock tactics can alienate certain proportions of your audience so proceed with caution.
Domino’s cheeky valentines stunt was a classic example of a provocative campaign that definitely got people talking. To celebrate ‘the lonely singletons’ the pizza giant set up a Tinder profile for those who ‘fancy a date with Domino’s.’ They got plenty of ‘matches’ and interacted with 234,355 consumers. Added bonus: it cost next to nothing – just 0.00008p an impression.
This type of marketing can work for any type of product, you just have to really think outside of the box. Get your team involved and have them come up with some unorthodox ideas – the crazier the better.
2. Find a channel people aren’t using yet
Ok, this may seem a little risky and a royal waste of time but if it works, it can really pay off. Finding a channel that isn’t as noisy or saturated as others can put you at a great advantage when it comes to getting noticed.
The number of channels available is growing at a rapid rate, presenting marketers with new and unexplored avenues. This has paid off for businesses that were early adopters of podcasts, Snapchat and LinkedIn publishing.
Such avenues are still relatively unsaturated and provide a lot of potential for brands to set themselves apart. Have a think about your USPs as a brand and the channels that would suit you best. If you want to position yourself as a thought leader then publishing some long-form content on LinkedIn’s Pulse could work wonders. On the other hand, if you want to appeal to generation Z in a fun, punchy way, then why not explore Snapchat.
3. Go Live!
Since launching in April 2016, Facebook Live has grown in popularity with businesses and individual users alike. The videos have 3x more engagement than standard video, making it a great way for businesses to communicate.
It’s a fun and authentic way to talk to people which can get your brand story across in a personable way. The key selling point being that it’s all in real time.
However, before you start, be sure to have a clear strategy in place and a set of ground rules for those representing your brand on the platform. After all, this isn’t a one-way form of communication. You’ll be expected to interact with users in real time. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Tactics that won’t work as well
As things change so rapidly in the digital marketing arena, your strategy must too. Sticking with the same old tactics will have an adverse effect and leave you lagging behind the competition. So, here are a few methods that won’t work as well as they once did in 2018.
1. Marketing automation
This comes back to adopting a more personal approach as brands that rely too heavily on automation could run the risk of appearing robotic. It’s ok to use this technique to your advantage in some circumstances but it should be used sparingly. Otherwise, your social media will appear too staged and impersonal.
2. Text-based SEO strategies
The way we search is changing thanks to an increase in multimedia sharing on image and video platforms like Instagram and Youtube. People expect more than text-based results and Google’s algorithms are changing accordingly. It’s therefore important that you step away from purely text-based SEO strategies and incorporate other forms of multimedia.
3. Focus will shift from quantity to quality
Thanks to the number of blogs and articles now online, it’s difficult to stand out. Users have limited time spans so 2018 will see a clear shift towards quality. Focusing on specific pain points and queries will be key to keeping content relevant.
4. Drip campaigns
Like automation, consumers can see right through impersonal mass email campaigns. Hitting a potential customers inbox with a generic message will just get lost in a sea of other promotional emails. If you are going to run an email campaign, think about your buyer personas and target accordingly. Here is a good read that goes through some interesting email drip campaign examples and shows you have to use it effectively.
There are plenty of other techniques and content marketing myths circulating that may be holding your efforts back. Here’s a helpful roundup that will help guide your strategy in 2018.
Ready or not…
When it comes to digital marketing tactics in 2018, it’s all about getting personal. Consumers warm to authentic brands that communicate a relatable message so the days of mass email campaigns are long gone.
Speak to your audience like you would an old friend. Address their interests and pain points in a way that shows you genuinely care. Provide useful content, share valuable knowledge and be authentic.
Stepping away from defunct, impersonal tactics will show your ability to evolve as a brand in an ever-changing world. This, in turn, will set you apart and leave your customers wanting more.
Ryan is an SEO Specialist at the Bradford based Digital Agency Harrison Mann. He enjoys keeping up to date with the latest in all things digital and search.