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Must Know 2018 Digital Marketing Trends and Tips

Must Know 2018 Digital Marketing Trends and Tips

Now we are well past the halfway mark of 2018, it’s possible to see where marketers are having wins across various platforms. We have summarised must know trends for Digital Marketing in one place for you. While it would be a mammoth undertaking to cover all of these or provide detailed instructions for each in one blog, we thought it would be good to take a look at a few of the standout approaches across some of the usual (and a couple of emerging) platforms so far this year and to provide some reading material for each so that you can dig a little deeper.

So let’s jump straight in!

Personalisation in modern marketing is the key to everything.

Despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal (well worth a read if you’re unaware what that is) or the new GDPR laws, no-one saying data based marketing is in trouble can be taken seriously. Customer data based marketing is way too valuable a resource (and way too valuable to the world economy) for any government or other body to want to do away with it entirely and any ethical company who respects their customers should welcome a tightening of the rules around use of this data. There is still plenty of data to go around and even the customers still want it. No-one wants to go back to the old “this is the thing that you want” ways of authoritative marketing where companies tell consumers what they want rather than using said data to create better experiences, products and services. It’s a much better model for all involved.
However the one thing we can say is probably lacking despite businesses embracing this approach, is personalisation through both consistency across all platforms and specificity across individual platforms. That may sound like these things would be at odds with each other, but it’s all about balance. Let’s explain:

Consistency across your marketing:

Too many businesses pass up the chance to increase awareness via consistent branding across different platforms. They get too focused on each particular platform and lose sight of the broader message and branding that they’re trying to communicate. Of course a billboard would require a different approach to a Facebook ad, but we can say from personal experience that consistency with imagery and branding across both increases the effectiveness of both. In our case, the billboard was placed in an area that was likely to be seen by the target demographic and the Facebook advertising (while customised in a technical sense for Facebook and Instagram) used the same imagery and branding targeting those same people, but at different points in their day.
The combination of the two then contributed to organic searches for the brand via Google given that it was reinforced in their minds, while each individual ad drove their leads straight to the website or a phone call.

Platform-specific content:

Instagram ads have different ratio requirements for imagery and video to Facebook ads. Users also behave differently on each platform. LinkedIn is another ballgame altogether and AdWords also targets different data to any of these channels. This is where you need to get specific. As an example, say you have the tagline “product X, making Y easier” and a branded image accompanying the message. This image could be used (with the obviously required technical differences applied) across Facebook, Instagram, on Billboards and in Print Media. It couldn’t be used for Google AdWords other than with Google Shopping or Display Advertising however. This isn’t useful if you’re not offering e-commerce (the ability to buy a product or service online), so this is where you would keep consistency by utilising the “product X, making Y easier” tagline, but would obviously have to try to catch their attention in other ways utilising what’s available within the platform. However even if you’re able to use the exact same imagery and text, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Use common sense.

For instance it’s a current trend in the realm of Instagram advertising to post short videos or imagery that is relatable because it looks like a normal Instagram post, whereas this has not worked well on Facebook for quite some time. This issue can also apply in the opposite direction, where marketers are putting together Facebook posts and not really thinking about being Instagram specific so long as the specs of the video or imagery will automatically push through to Facebook. With that said however, some visual or worded consistency is still preferable.

As a last example, LinkedIn (although it’s very niche and often isn’t suitable for may types of advertising that other platforms are) requires a much more professional approach than any other social advertising. So while your tagline and imagery can likely be the same, the wording and general approach will differ slightly.

There’s much more to all of this, but as a general rule, try to think more carefully about how you can both tie the branding together across all these channels while also being channel specific.

New Google Analytics features

Tracking your various platforms is an obvious part of the process we just outlined, but for the purposes of this blog we’re going to get Google Analytics specific as it has some new data available that is particularly useful.  While data on “users” has always been a part of the platform, they’ve recently decided to put some more focus on this given the dominance that social media platforms have had in this area for the past few years. The first point to make with this is that although they have always assigned a unique user ID to each visitor, there is now a good amount of additional data available per user if you know how to adjust your settings to collect it.

To do this, you simply need to:

  • Click on the “Admin” wheel on the bottom left of your screen while logged in:
digital marketing
  • click on Property Settings:
  • Scroll down and ensure “Enable users metric in reporting” is turned on:
Google Analytics Enable User Metrics | Hydra Digital

Once you’ve got all of this setup, you’ll gradually (the data won’t populate retroactively) begin to see data on things such as pages viewed per user, events triggered, their lifetime value, acquisition dates and a whole range of other great stuff! We won’t go through it all here because this video from Measureschool explains all of it fantastically and gets into a few more of the newer features in Google Analytics..

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

Not sure what that is? Check out our previous blog on this. If you’re still/back with us then you’ll be aware that many businesses are unsure how this will affect them. While that blog will explain it to a large degree and this will obviously not affect Australia as much as Europe, compliance is the safest option, so let’s drill down on the main point for marketers:

What constitutes consent? The big takeaway from GDPR is that you can never, ever, under any circumstances market to anyone whose details you obtained without their express and conscious consent to being marketed to. Even if you did obtain those details with consent, it needs to have been made clear to them exactly what their data will be used for. You can’t gain consent for one purpose and then use it for another. But what does that mean exactly?

Basically, at ANY point during which you collect ANY information on your customers that will be used for marketing purposes, you need to make it abundantly clear and must have them opt in for that marketing. You’re also not allowed to have a preselected opt in option that requires them to opt out. A simple assumption that they will read the terms and conditions of submitting their data is no longer acceptable.

Sadly, this will also signal the end of some forms of referral based marketing. If you’re someone who offers anything to a customer in exchange for a friend’s details, you are in direct violation of these rules if you then use those details to market to that friend given that they did not opt in. So be very careful in how you deal with the data you obtain as the consequences are pretty substantial! So how does this help you win in marketing? Well compliance helps you dodge some rather hefty fines, so we’d chalk that one up as a win. For more info on this, visit

It’s time to get onto video marketing!

For starters, creating video has never been easier. You likely have a high definition camera in your pocket and it’s really not hard to edit them these days. That’s a whole other blog, but luckily Tech Radar have already written it for you.

When it comes to the why of it though, just take a look at these stats:

  • A full 81% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool (up by 18% on 2017)
  • 99% of those people have seen enough value in it to say that they have no plans to stop
  • 65% of those who aren’t using video marketing have plans to do so in the near future
  • One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words in terms of communicating information
  • Nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store
  • Using the word “video” in an email subject line was found to increase open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%
  • Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t

You can view these statistics and much more over at Biteable and hubspot.

LinkedIn is really hitting its stride

LinkedIn is a platform that hasn’t been without its problems. It would be fair to say that they’ve seemed unsure exactly what it is that they want to be for a long time. But these days the channel seems to be settling into its identity with a great community for advertising within certain niches. It’s definitely still not for everyone advertising wise, but for the right people it’s a veritable goldmine.

In particular, the effectiveness of video marketing on LinkedIn is on the rise. While its PPC platforms are certainly getting better in leaps and bounds, the biggest increase on the channel is definitely in video marketing. It makes sense, it’s a platform for professionals and experts across any industry imaginable and those people are starting to use it to share knowledge and network in a big way.

The best part is there’s no secret we need to relay to you on how to take advantage of this. Jump onto the site, watch a few videos from people in your industry and others, then start doing it yourself. The benefits will make themselves clear in no time.

Google Shopping has also hit its stride!

We’re certainly not saying that Google Shopping hasn’t been important since its inception, but it certainly has had its problems where user friendliness and just plain practicability is concerned. This has all steadily changed over the past 2 years and if you are an e-commerce site then it is definitely time to get your head around this highly effective part of Google AdWords.  Not only is it actually proving way more effective for broader search terms than any approach to such terms ever has been thanks to smarter AI integration and improvements to the platform, but for retail industries the spend on Google Shopping Ads is now far higher than it is on traditional text ads, which speaks volumes without being aware of any technical improvements.

But to elaborate on those broader search terms, what the platform has gotten very good at in particular is reaching people higher up the sales funnel and converting them very effectively. In the end what this means is increased sales opportunity given that you can now target keywords previously considered less likely to convert.

More on this over at Search Engine Land.

Next up, a few emerging platforms and tools!

Amazon has finally hit Australia

This one is huge. Amazon already boasts an audience of over 300 million and expanding into Australia will only further cement it as a true force in global retail. We really don’t think we need to explain why you should be taking advantage of this if you can sell products online. Whether you’re an individual seller or a large company, this lucrative channel is now open to you.  From the ability to have “sponsored products” (the retail version of a sponsored Facebook post, or “Amazon PPC” for lack of a better term), to the fantastic “FBA” (Fulfilled By Amazon) service that allows you to store items in their warehouses for faster delivery, it’s about to take off in a big way, so get onboard! This will be especially useful for smaller companies who might struggle a bit with distribution and reach in a purely retail environment.

Lifehacker have a great article on how to sell products via Amazon if you want to know more, but trust us, this retail giant has been doing what it does for 24 years and it’s incredibly intuitive and user friendly.

But being a 90’s kid, this next one makes me the happiest when it comes to emerging channels.

Virtual Reality advertising is now possible on YouTube!

That’s right! VR advertising is now a viable option. For those not in the know, whenever you view YouTube on a VR device, you can actually search for virtual reality content! They’ve been quietly supporting it since early 2015 and with the introduction of PSVR (Playstation VR) and the release of the next generations of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, it has really started to take off.  Obviously this isn’t something for everyone yet despite projections that it absolutely will be inside of 5 years. The demographics for users is decidedly tilted toward gamers, innovators, and early adopters, but if you’re one of the lucky businesses who needs to reach these people then it’s absolutely something that you should explore. The market itself is set to jump by a whopping US$125.5 Billion dollars from 2018 to 2019 and is expected to increase to US$215 Billion by 2020.

Within 5 years it’s expected that it will be a part of everyday life for most and given that in its current infant form it is registering a 27% increase in emotional engagement over normal video (which as per our outline of video marketing above is already well beyond other forms of marketing), investing in this channel is far from a gamble. In fact if you’re able to utilise it to reach the demographics currently there, it’s pretty much a sure thing that you’ll see vastly increased results.

Incidentally, if you’re a business in Brisbane looking to dive into this area, drop us a line!

As for the last emerging platform worth talking about, this will likely be the most transformative in the years to come:

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

How on Earth could a business use AI to enhance their marketing and online presence? Glad you asked! To quote Forbes “Machine learning is taking contextual content, marketing automation including cross-channel marketing campaigns and lead scoring, personalization, and sales forecasting to a new level of accuracy and speed.” To put that more simply, AI can learn things from data that humans either can’t or that it would be too time consuming to look into and turn that into better products, services, systems, customer experiences, pricing and an almost limitless number of other benefits.
From smarter software, to better search results, to intuitive social media and even self improving websites, AI is starting to take the best parts of marketing and customer intelligence to create scenarios where the time from analysis through to recommendation and then action can be almost instantaneous.

If you thought digital marketing itself was a revolution thanks to its in depth data and the opportunities that provides, AI is going to supercharge the whole thing and have you making money hand over foot! AI is already deeply embedded in advertising platforms like Adwords and when used correctly is showing great results for businesses as long as you have enough traffic and activity to teach the machines.

For a full report on what’s currently possible with AI, click here.

And last but never least:

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – The mobile revolution is in full swing

If you’re not sure what we mean by “the mobile revolution” then we’re pretty sure you must have been living under a rock for the last 10 years, but to summarise succinctly: Mobile online activity far outweighs desktop activity and has done for a long while now. In particular, mobile search has exceeded desktop search since 2015. We already did an in depth blog on the latest development, which is Mobile First Indexing, but to speak on the wider implications of it all and how you can benefit from it in an SEO sense, our prediction is that it will now be safer to lean towards lower word counts (800-1200) in time and focus much more on a simple mobile user experience. We’ll leave it to the previous blog to explain it in more detail.

You can also find a detailed rundown on how to approach the Content Marketing aspect of SEO for 2018 in another previous blog here.

But 3000 words and 18 pieces of reference material in we can imagine you’ve got a lot to think about and hopefully a lot to put into action! The key with digital marketing is not just knowledge, but action. Talking about how great your data is without making any efforts to use it to move forward and have even better stats to talk about is a disappointingly common trap that many businesses fall into. Don’t get distracted, get motivated!

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