The Five Forces Driving Digital Marketing in 2018

5 strategies for digital marketing success

As the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve, we’re starting to see a few clear patterns emerge related to the forces that will shape your company’s business in 2018. From personalization to A/B testing to brand voice and other concepts, these are the five trends impacting the way you do business online over the next few years.

Your Brand’s Voice Through an SEO Lens

Did you know that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine? That’s a staggering number if you stop to think about it. Today, the Search Engine Results Page – specifically page one of Google – is the place to be if you’re going to be seen by prospective customers. With the first page now containing ads and local three-pack listings, this precious piece of real estate is getting more valuable by the minute.

Search engine statistic
SEO, when done right, is hard work. It’s a rapidly changing discipline that changes so often you can sometime feel like you’re walking a tightrope. Keeping up with Google’s algorithm changes is a full-time job, especially in a world where there are multiple device types, ongoing SERP changes, new competitors and an increasingly complex buyer’s journey. To remedy this, we strongly suggest better integration between SEO and paid search efforts. When you take care of both sides of the coin, you’re protecting against algorithm updates and other unknowns as well as incremental traffic and conversion.

Our tips for making sure your brand’s voice isn’t drowned out:

  • Optimize: Focus your efforts where organic opportunity is high but your page isn’t optimized to capture the most traffic.
  • Create: Make sure to create content for organic-friendly topics to get in front of customers and increase conversions.
  • Defend: Maintain your strong position. When performing well on organic-friendly topics, it’s critical to monitor and maintain performance to continue driving traffic, conversions and revenue.
  • Collaborate: When organic opportunity is lower, work with paid search to drive traffic, while also optimizing for the best organic real-estate.

Personalization

In a nutshell, personalization is content that’s tailored to certain customers based on geography or other demographic information they’ve shared. Personalized content can be found on Netflix or Spotify, for instance, where recommendations for music and movies are made based on a visitors’ previous activity on the site. Personalization aims to account for where a user is within their journey while attempting to aid them in solving a problem.

content personalization
For better personalization of your brand and products, think about the unique thing that makes the visitor part of a specific target audience. Also, consider who they are, where they’re coming from and whether they’re new or returning. Did they enter your site through Google, a banner ad or some other point of origin? A visitor has a unique problem to solve, and personalization can help users achieve their goals while better understanding your company.

Most importantly: Avoid being “creepy” and don’t over-personalize. Allow users to break out and explore additional experiences beyond the ones you’re suggesting. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to personalization success.

 A/B Testing

With A/B testing, two versions of a page are displayed randomly to a user, with the page that performs better winning. A/B testing can extend to web pages, display ads, email and other content users interact with.

First, you establish a control set, then determine a hypothesis and create variations of the content to determine the best performing variation. A/B testing can be used across a variety of content types from Call to Action (CTA) button colors and styles, headlines, copy, images, layouts and more.

One of the main benefits to A/B testing is that it prioritizes real-world data over opinion, letting the customer’s voice be the loudest in the room. Speculation is virtually eliminated with A/B testing. If done diligently, A/B testing also leads to greater and greater conversions.

ab testing
Some A/B testing tips:

  • Use active verbs in copy (“download,” “get started,” etc.)
  • Be specific: “Get My Travel Guide” is likely a better CTA than “Learn More”
  • Keep it short: Copy should be easy to read and digestible at a single glance.
  • Create a sense of urgency (adding the word “Now” has been shown to boost conversions).
  • Focus on mobile audiences.
  • Make the CTA the star of the show. Don’t make it compete with negative space.
  • Images and placement matter. CTAs should be above the fold for more eyeballs.

If you’re interested in starting your own experiments, Google Optimize has both free and paid plans, and is a great option of small businesses.

Social Influencers

We’ve talked a lot about social influencers in recent months, and it’s hard to overstate the importance of these pied pipers of content. With a single tweet or Instagram post, a social influencer can drive thousands of new customers to your site or put your brand front of mind to audiences you might not have ever reached before.
 
Visit Reno Tahoe website design

See how we used social influencers to boost engagement and visitors to VisitRenoTahoe.com
 
Needless to say, influencers wield a lot of power. A McKinsey study found that word-of-mouth influence doubles the sales of paid advertising and boosts the customer retention rate by 37 percent. This even works at the micro level, with ION finding that 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference.

Still, it’s important to work with the right influencers. The first step is to make sure your brand actually aligns with the influencer’s audience. A vegan blogger, for instance, wouldn’t make the best spokesperson for a chain of steakhouses. Seems obvious, but more than one brand has made this sort of mistake. Also, when working with influencers, aim for authenticity – never try to influence in a negative way.

A successful engagement with a social influencer can impact your SEO positively, improving your site’s ranking, boosting your keyword placement and improving your content engagement. Yes, it can be a little hard to pin down specific measurements of an influencer’s impact, which makes some marketers nervous about the rise of influencers. Still, according to TapInfluence, 73% of marketers say that they have an allocated budget for influencer marketing. For this reason, determining the budget you should spend on an influencer isn’t black and white. Your budget should depend on the value influencers bring to your business/ product.

Some tips for working with influencers:

  • Treat the influencer like a contractor – they are professional content creators and like to be considered as so.
  • Allow the influencer to have some level of creative freedom in the content they create, however ensure that they have a clear direction for the type of content you are looking for them to produce.
  • Not all influencers are right for all brands. Make sure the influencers audience and brand matches your businesses audience and brand.
  • Be sure that the influencers you contract have a large following to help increase your brands reach.
  • Do your research. Chose an experienced influencer professional whose values and brand align with yours.

Create Once/Publish Everywhere

A “create once, publish everywhere” approach aims to make your content scalable across a variety of media platforms – from blogs to tweets to Facebook posts and other emerging media. As the media landscape shifts, your content should shift with it, maximizing your potential reach.

When taking this approach, work with an outline or content calendar before creating content. Identify how often you’ll publish and stick to it. For social channels, make sure your content retains a consistent brand and voice. The best way to show your readers that you’re not interested is to not update your blog and social channels regularly.

When measuring the impact of your content, skip the vanity metrics. Page views don’t mean anything if you’re not getting real conversions from real customers.

create once publish everywhere
Finally, consider adding video into your 2018 marketing mix. With 74 percent of all internet traffic pointing toward video it’s now the number one medium. Create a YouTube channel for your brand and use tags that lead people back to your channel for more engagement.

As you kick off 2018, use these above tips to get ahead of the game and capture a greater share of market. Then, sit back and watch your conversions soar.