Now that we are settling into the new year, the Marketing Refresh team has taken some time to reflect on what is to come in the next year. There has been quite a few upcoming changes to consider and we have collected our predictions and thoughts on what 2018 will bring to our industry. We all have individual roles and responsibilities that will be affected by the new year’s trends as well as marketing strategies as a whole.
We wanted to share a few of our predictions with you and would also love to hear from other industry professionals on the subject of 2018 marketing trends.
Here is what the Marketing Refresh team had to say:
Terri Hoffman, CEO and Founder – Overall Marketing Trends
One of the first questions I get when meeting with a prospective client is, “how much should be spent on marketing and what should we prioritize.” At Marketing Refresh, we have always been very data focused but one of the exciting opportunities in 2018 is that we are going to be able to assess data in more detail than ever before.
As marketers, we can clearly determine which marketing activities are the most effective so that we can help businesses reduce overall customer acquisition costs (CAC) and get them more leverage for their spend. We are closing the gap on dark data and are able to build a comprehensive closed-loop reporting system that informs data-driven decisions.
This means we can truly find the optimal strategies for each business as opposed to making estimates based off industry standards. In that way, the trend for 2018 is almost an anti-trend — it’s 100% customizable marketing plans to the unique factors of your business.
In that vein, here are the questions leadership teams should be asking themselves as we embark on a new calendar year:
Proper budget and strategic focus:
- How much should we spend on marketing? How should we balance between online and traditional? Should we continue with traditional?
- How does this connect to our overall marketing strategy and resources to execute?
- How should we measure whether channels are worthwhile?
- How long do we test these channels and make adjustments?
Identifying the Proper Team and Resources:
- How do you identify what skills are needed? (Design, copywriting, social media manager, programming, systems administration, metrics tracking and analysis)
- How many hires does that represents?
- Hiring internal resources vs. external – what’s the right mix and what skills should be in-house vs. outsourced?
- Does our message resonate with our audience? Does it give us a competitive position?
- Is this message consistent across all of our channels?
Katy Katz, Director of Account Strategy – Marketing Strategy Trends
Better Understanding of the Customer Journey: Budget restrictions and overuse of experimental “awareness” tactics are going to drive wider research into a better understanding of the actual steps that customers take toward purchasing — and what’s important to them along the way. With so many new opportunities in the last few years, many brands have taken to throwing every new trend that they read about at the wall to see what sticks. Companies will get better at taking a step back to look at the data and identify which strategies truly provide ROI.
Widespread Personalization: As consumers become more used to having their names on coffee cups and customized poke bowls, they are also growing to expect and be comfortable with more personalization online. This is good news for marketers who can take advantage of dynamic content, segmentation, and other features to ensure prospects receive the right message, at the right place, at the right time. I’ve already seen brands start upping the ante with entirely customized paragraphs in landing pages. We can expect to see a lot more of this in the coming year.
Aaron Eaves, Director of Search Marketing – SEO Trends
Structured Data: Google loves it, and it allows you to enhance your content. Pairing great content with a well optimized strategy for your potential site visitors will allow you to rank higher in search results.
Speed: Be the fastest kid on the block. What did Ricky Bobby say, “If you’re not first, your last”. You can have the most well written content and beautifully designed site in the world, and if it’s slow…no one will ever see it. Build and obtain a lean and mean site, and watch your search rankings rise.
Voice Search: The top selling product for one of the biggest shopping days of the year in 2017 was an Amazon Echo. The irony of this is that one of the things you do with an Echo is order more things from Amazon with your voice. As Google and Amazon battle it out with these new in-home devices more and more households continue to add them to their desktops and kitchen counters. Needless to say, voice search is only going to continue to grow and optimizing your site for voice search is more and more important everyday.
Link Building: Although this can get a bad wrap because so many people have done this in the wrong way, obtaining links is still relevant and important for your business to grow.
Lindsay Bartels, Account Manager – Social Media Trends
Visuals: Visuals will be more important than ever for brands in 2018. As social media becomes more cluttered, users are more likely to blindly scroll past unexciting content. Utilizing video will give brands an opportunity to stand out further against stagnant content, whether they use live stream or recorded video.
User-Generated Content: Over 90% of people trust user-generated content over traditional advertising. We have all seen terrible comparison photos of brand images v real life products. Brand generated content is carefully thought out and can be photoshopped, thus making it less trustworthy to users. User-generated content is considered more real and other users are more likely to trust their peers over brands.
Brands can take advantage of this trust by setting their customers and influencers up for successful social sharing – this could be anything from offering a picture worthy item at a retail location or inventing photo-worthy spaces (such as a mural on the outside of their building). Brands.. do it for the ‘gram!
Instagram Stories: Storytelling is important for any brand and one easy way for brands to connect their audiences is to utilize “Stories” on Instagram. Snapchat was once the most popular tool for sharing Stories, but Instagram is blowing Snapchat out of the water with daily user totals surpassing 200 MILLION. Users will see brand stories in between their friend’s stories – giving brands a huge opportunity for more visibility.
James Caldwell – Content Marketing Trends 2018
Content Length: Gone are the days of 300-400 word blogs that meet the minimum threshold for acceptable content.
Because of the hyper-speed of our culture, the mentality for the last several years was that shorter blogs were better. However, in 2017, content creators came to the realization that Google rewards content that has more meat on the bone that provides readers with rich, useful information.
Infographics are In Style: Everyone loves a good infographic. It makes key information stand out for your readers and it’s easy to craft an entire blog around that information. Plus, if you have an awesome graphic design team like at Marketing Refresh, you can create very professional infographics that convey information in a compelling way.
Gary Griffin, Visual Media Manager – Video Trends
Video is King: Technological advances have made it easier and more efficient to incorporate high-quality video content into blogs. This is a useful tool for two main reasons:
1. Video enhances your content by making the information come to life, oftentimes through a personal touch. For example, have the CEO of your company record a first-person explanation of your product or solution that can be dropped in a relevant website blog.
2. Video keeps readers on your site longer, driving up your Average Time on Page metrics. This is an important metric that Google uses to judge whether readers are engaging with your content. The higher the average, the more likely that your content will rank higher in search results when users search for your keywords.
Brett Myers, Graphic Designer – Design Trends
Flat Design: Flat Design is still going strong in 2018 and will more than likely continue to surge in popularity.
Since around the time that Microsoft 8– flat, modular and heavily grid-oriented– was released, the utilization of flat design has grown exponentially. In 2018, we will likely see an increase in the usage of duotone gradients (ex: Instagram, Asana) and 2D, monotone icons (ex: Facebook, Twitter), two mainstays of modern website design.
Animated GIF’s on Websites: The animated GIF was created in 1987 and, driven by the evolution of social media, has become an incredibly popular on the internet. With that, animated GIF’s have become very widely used, particularly to explain interactions (human/human, human/tech, tech/tech, etc.), on websites and apps. As the internet continues to evolve in 2018, we can expect to see increased employment of the animated GIF in a wide range of contexts.
Custom Illustrations: Dribbble and similar sites that allow designers and illustrators to easily share and receive feedback on their work have helped stimulate a sharp increase in the number of designer/illustrators (that is, designers who are also illustrators). What this means in 2018 is that we will likely see a wider, more diverse, application of illustrations across many platforms and media.
David Klotz, Creative Director – Design Philosophy and Best Practices
Function over Form: Continuing our philosophy of Function over Form design principles, we will work to create the best visual solutions that exceed the client’s expectations/needs. It’s the cornerstone of every design/visual based project here at Marketing Refresh. We ask ourselves what the purpose is, and from there, we can determine our driving force that will guide the design and creation. The ensures our clients are getting the best designed product that functions well. We will achieve this by following the trends below:
User Interface: Having a clean and organized UI/UX on your website is of the utmost importance. You have to give your user the information that they are seeking quickly and easily or they will lose interest and leave. This is especially important for mobile websites. Google is even taking measures to optimize websites for user experience, making it also important from an SEO standpoint.
That being said, the design is only a part of the equation because in order for it to be successful, the content/copy needs to be clear and concise. This will continue to be achieved by working closely with our copywriters and content strategists to make sure the overall layout meets easily navigable content on every single page of the website.
Maintain and Improve Branding: In the past few years, there has been widespread adoption of content marketing. Many companies have gotten on the digital marketing bandwagon — whether through blogging, social media, email marketing, or any of the dozens of other strategies that are at our digital disposal. However, an offset of this enthusiastic adoption has been the tendency for companies to “run without a map” — it’s been common for brands to neglect a comprehensive brand strategy throughout their digital marketing efforts. We expect this will change in 2018 as it becomes more challenging for brands to stand out. It is no longer enough to simply create a post for a post’s sake. Companies will need to have a well-conceived brand strategy and utilize it throughout their digital marketing programs to stand out from the competition and grow their digital presence.
For example, when it comes to search optimization it used to be enough to just prioritize the text content of a website over the design and functionality. Since search algorithms have improved and the search engine competition has increased — having quality standards will be more important than ever before to optimize for both rankings and conversion. You must maintain a consistent brand and that extends through design and functionality.
Your Digital Marketing Agency For 2018
The Marketing Refresh team is dedicated to staying on-top of industry trends that could affect our current and future clients. It is our duty to our clients to ensure that we are using the best marketing practices for their perspective industries. If you are not sure where to start with your 2018 marketing strategy, contact us today!