Another year has come and gone. Goodbye, 2017, and hello, 2018. Now that we’re almost a couple months into the new year, we want to share with you what’s going on with the latest trends in digital marketing. Without staying up on the current trends and the best practices, then it will be difficult to keep building brand awareness online. To stay ahead of the game and to make sure your digital marketing strategies are up-to-date, read on to see what marketers are looking forward to in 2018.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/126052185@N03/14438817967

Augmented Reality

If you’ve had the experience of using a Snapchat filter or playing Pokemon Go, then you have had the experience of using augmented reality. Augmented reality is used when a computer image is laid over a visual of reality, such as a selfie. The implications for marketers as augmented reality becomes more commonplace are huge. Innovative technology and 3-D imaging makes it possible for real estate buyers to tour a property without ever leaving their computer. In a similar fashion, travelers seeking hotel accommodations can see the floor plan and amenities offered at the hotel on their computers or their smart phones. It makes it a lot easier to be able to explore a product and/or a service without having to travel to check it out. With augmented reality as a marketing tool, people can make purchases remotely and they can make sure they’re getting exactly what they are looking for in a product or place.

Interactive & Compelling Conversations

Content that is specific to your target market is what will resonate most with your audience. Creating top quality, original content can take enormous amounts of time and effort, but when it pays off, it’s completely worth it. In digital marketing, you always have to consider your audience. Nike’s Facebook page is an excellent example of a brand that knows its audience. Rather than just posting photos of its products, Nike’s content on Facebook is a variety of sports news, inspiring photos for athletes, and sports history. See the example below in which Nike directs its audience to a documentary.

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/nike

Rather than just trying to sell to its audience, Nike engages its target market’s core interests. Another example of an interactive brand on social media is Playdoh. In the Instagram post below, you’ll see that Playdoh shares a creative and colorful photo of a pizza made of Playdoh. Using some imagination, the photo is also in celebration of National Pizza Day. To engage with its audience, Playdoh captioned the photo with the question, “What’s your favorite topping?” Interactive content like this that speaks to the fun and creativity of a brand community is more engaging and performs better. Other types of interactive content include polls, quizzes, contests, surveys, calculators, and giveaways.

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/playdoh/

Increasing Response Time

When interacting with customers online, customers on social media and on your website expect top notch customer service. Gone are the days when we used to pick up the phone to ask a question. What this means is that customers are looking for assistance through Facebook Messages, Chatbots, email, FAQ pages, and other digital resources. Be sure that you have a plan in place to respond in a timely manner to your customers. Otherwise, customers may become frustrated, move forward with one of your competitors, and/or write a negative review about your brand. Most of us can’t be at the computer 24/7, so be sure to have a plan in place to tackle this work. Take turns with your staff on answering questions or even consider setting up automatic replies, so that customers know you’ll get back to them soon.

Educating Consumers

No one can get away with posting click-bait 50 times a day. Today’s consumers are highly educated, and they thoroughly research products and services before purchasing them. When it comes to publishing content online, remember that consumers in 2018 want valuable, educational information. One company that does a great job at educating its audience is Whole Foods. With a highly saturated market, knowing how to eat healthy and how to make the right decisions in the grocery store can be overwhelming. Whole Foods’ blog post on 4 Easy Ways to a Build Better Breakfast For Babies and Toddlers is an example of how the company uses educational content to connect with its target market. The blog appeals to Whole Foods lovers and parents who are wondering what the best options are for their families.

Making People Laugh

No matter what you’re selling or providing, and no matter what your niche is, people always love to laugh. Bring a smile to people’s faces, and they’ll start to associate your online activity with happiness. Everyone these days is overloaded with content and information, so why not add some positivity to someone’s day?

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/barkbox/

Above is an example from Bark Box that celebrates both pets (the target market for the company is dog owners) and Valentine’s Day. The post doesn’t illustrate Bark Box’s products and offerings, but it connects with audience members who love dogs, who love cute content, and who are in the mood to celebrate a holiday.

Going Behind-the-Scenes

Chances are there are events and activities going on behind-the-scenes at your business. Believe it or not, these moments are opportunities to upload content to your social media accounts. Are there events with the community and/or exciting industry events that you take part in? Film these moments, take snapshots, write captions, and upload them. Live videos are one popular and engaging way to share with your audiences. Other forms of behind-the-scenes content include meet the team features, webcasts, and how-to videos. For example, how-to videos on how to use your product are effective for highlighting product features and helping consumers find the answers to common questions. Make your behind-the-scenes videos interactive by asking your audience how they liked the video. What worked and what didn’t work? As you learn what works for your audience, you’ll continue to improve and see higher rates of engagement.

Geotargeting

According to NewsFlash, in this year we will see the accuracy of location-based advertising improve. Location-based advertising is a digital marketing strategy that results in higher rates of engagement than other paid advertising options. Remember the Disneyland filters on Snapchat? Location-based marketing encourages consumers to engage with the advertisement as well as check out local businesses and services. Geotargeting isn’t just convenient because of location; geotargeted ads are more relevant to the consumers who receive them. The increased engagement and relevance means that marketers are getting more bang for their buck when it comes to paid location-based advertising on social media. A trend like this that serves both consumers and marketers (as consumers will be seeing ads that are more relevant to their needs) is a win-win.

Photo Credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Navigator-Navigation-Google-Maps-Map-Location-Gps-2049643

Digital Assistants

Today, when it comes to seeking help online, it probably isn’t another live human being on the other side of the screen assisting customers. In today’s fast-paced world, marketers have to use digital assistants wherever they can and wherever it makes sense to do so. You’re probably familiar with Alexa, Cortana, and Siri, but have you ever chatted with a chat bot when seeking the answer to a question? Artificial intelligence is continually improving as the technology evolves. In fact, the more customers talk to certain bots, the better the bots become at answering their questions and providing helpful information. The bots aren’t perfect and it’s obvious that they aren’t human; but it’s a positive outcome when a customer gets information they need at the tip of their fingertips without having to wait for someone to answer or pick up the phone.

The images of a chat with And Chill is an example of a chat bot. And Chill recommends movies to users based on their movie preferences and favorite genres. The bot even asks questions like, “Why is that your favorite movie?” to improve its recommendations.

In the above chat box, the And Chill chat bot even uses a screenshot from Star Wars. Did you ever imagine in 2017 that your customers could be chatting with a chat bot that sends images and gifts to lighten the mood?

As you plan your digital marketing strategy for each month of the new year, think about which upcoming trends you’re going to utilize in your content scheduling and paid advertising budget. Test your efforts and see how your results improve. Until next year!

Interested in learning more about the latest trends in social media? Feel free to contact us today.

Square 1 Group is a boutique web development company that crafts beautiful, efficient websites for clients in a variety of markets and fields. Our team is on hand to provide individualized services and maintenance and support. Furthermore, we offer services ranging from social media marketing, search engine optimization, content creation, to lead generation.