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#6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2018 Banish staid assumptions of consumer behavior, embrace the cutting edge research and surf the digital waves for business success.

By Santosh Kanekar

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Digital Marketing is no longer a "If" but "how much" question.

In 2016, in the US, Digital Ad revenue had crossed TV and Mobile. In 2020 US spending on digital advertising is set to hit $173.5 billion.

Unless you are staying in a cave, you must have embraced the digital way. But with so many technologies and options and each one changing rapidly, one needs to adapt quickly or get stuck with has-been options.

The question is: Are you in touch with the fast changing trends? How do you navigate the constantly changing landscape?

Fear not.

Use these 6 Digital Marketing Trends, banish staid assumptions of consumer behavior, embrace the cutting edge research and surf the digital waves for business success.

#1. Mobile First

We crossed the inflection point last year with Mobile being the primary means for everything. 80% of "near me" search now originates on mobile. The "I want to know" "I want to do" searches are dominated by mobile.

80% of Facebook Ad Revenue now comes from mobile Ads!

We don't need stats to convince us about this. Look at yourself. What is the first thing in the morning and the last thing in the night which you do? Check your mails/messages. Where do you check them? On your mobile.

We check our Messenger or WhatsApp messages through the day. Occasionally, we may explore LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

What happens when you are looking for a movie or a recipe? You open the browser on your mobile.

Businesses need to embed "Mobile first" thinking in all their digital marketing plans. So all those banners (who sees them anyway?) and optin forms which you design so artfully for the desktop, if they are not responsive, it will be a poor UX for your customer.

What should I do?

At the very least, make sure your website and all digital campaigns are Whenever someone presents a digital campaign or idea, think how it will look on the mobile.

#2 Chatbots

A chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. You must have seen them popup when you visit a website which sells digital information products.

Research by Gartner says By 2020, 30% of our chats will be through Chatbots. 60% of the millennials said they have interacted with chatbots in the past one year.

Chatbots are increasing in usage because customers are no longer satisfied with sending emails and waiting for "we will reply in 2-3 working days" message. We communicate instantly and there is no reason why companies should not do the same.

Facebook IQ study on the use of mobile messaging found that 56% would rather message than call a business for customer service.

Chatbots bring urgency into the conversation and help in thespeedy resolution of customer issues. It also assists in navigating the customers from the Top of the funnel all the way through discovery and sales process.

Chatbots are here to stay and the faster businesses adopt them, the better they can hope to retain their customers

What should I do?

If you have a website, you must lookup the several chatbot options which are available in the market. Have a basic one setup which can redirect customer queries to offline human interactions. This will help you in understanding how to setup a more sophisticated one in the future.

# 3 Everything Video

Video has exploded and there is more to come. I talked about this in 2017's trends, but it is still picking up pace.

Facebook and LinkedIn are now heavily promoting native Videoi.e. Video created inside these platforms and hence the thrust on Live. Facebook has a stated aim of unseating YouTube as the leader in video.

As a business, Video helps you in making real connections with your prospects and give more value to your existing customers

What will increase in importance is Video SEO. Google is already working on enabling search for videos which will pick up content inside the video and not just the headlines and descriptors. With more people consuming and creating avideo, the current text-based SEO will dramatically change.

What should I do?

As a business, there are many aspects of your firm which you can highlight through video. Find out what is the key activities which deliver value to your customereg for a restaurant, it could be the way you source ingredients for your Chef's specials. Can you make videos around it? If you are a B2B which prides on your R&D, can you make your R&D Head explain how the research work is engineered to customer delight.

#4 Social Chat

While Advertising on Google and Facebook News Feed are still important, there is a significant change in digital behavior. What's that?

A significant amount of time on social media is spent on Chat. Witness the meteoric rise of Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat.

According to BI Intelligence, more people are using the top four messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber) every month than the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn).

But, I can't advertise inside WhatsApp? You may say.

That could change but the savvy marketers have found ways of marketing inside Facebook messenger.

Neil Patel got 88% Open Rates and 56% CTR in a Facebook Messenger campaign. Those are eye-popping results!

1.3 Billion people are on Facebook Messenger alone, with 2 billion messages sent per month.

Also, Facebook has now opened Ads inside Messenger. Now you can have a user click the ad and get directed to your chatbot which could even complete the sales process. How cool is that!

WhatsApp is also talking about introducing solutions for business shortly.

What should I do?

You could start by sharing helpful content through Facebook Messenger. If you have an e-commerce site or a website where you can direct traffic, then use Messenger Ads to then drive the click through to your site.

Related: 7 Facebook Messenger Marketing Strategies You Can Try Today

#5 Influencer Marketing

Seth Godin said, "People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic"

Influencers are individuals who have asignificantimpact through their social following. 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities.

With micro-influencers now walking the Cannes Red Carpet, Influencer Marketing is only going to gain momentum. While much of it is still getting celebrities to post on Instagram, there is more to it than just that.

Influencers leverage the principles of likeability for influencing new and existing consumers. Their followers follow every step the influencers take and want to know how their day shapes up. With Instagram stories, they get a slice of what is happening every day.

With the right brand fit, each day becomes a story to be consumed. Unlike celebrity advertising, Influencers interact one-on-one with their fans and give that special touch even if they have a million followers.

What is essential is weaving in Confluence Marketing i.e. blending Content Marketing with Influencer Marketing as Millennials can spot a phony from a distance. Stay Authentic.

What should I do?

Whether it is YouTube or Instagram, there is an Influencer out there who can spread your message and shape the story of your brand. Research how the biggest Influencers are weaving the brand story within their life. Apply that to micro-influencers which you can catch early in their fame curve.

#6 Machine Learning and AI

I recently read this tweet "If you want to raise funds, say AI. If you want to hire someone say Machine Learning."

Reality is they are both gaining ground and have moved from white coat labs to real-world marketing. Need example?

Kafka Apache is a machine learning solution that allows brands to better understand customer behavior. At present, Kafka handles more than 1.4 trillion messages per day for LinkedIn, helping the business run efficiently and make critical decisions based on insightful data.

You read it right: 1 trillion per day. That is the power of machine learning. Along with AI-powered Chatbots, there is real opportunity to use the millions of data bits which are generatedeveryday. E.g. your stores have data on your customer - their buying preferences, time of day, day of the week, frequency, size of theshopping basket. And this is just the start.

Does this mean humans are out? No

In a survey amongst top marketing pros, 97 percent said the future of marketingwouldactually be a combination smart people armed with machine learning

What should I do?

Decide on what insights you need before you jump into big data. This will identify the information you need realtime. Use machine learning apps to get this information to you. The business which measures has a higher chance of success!

Equip your Digital Marketing in 2018 with the best resources by riding on the massive trends.

Santosh Kanekar

Startup Mentor, Leadership Coach and Author

Author of Stop Reset Start, Growth Rocket Launcher, and Leadership Coach, Santosh Kanekar founded BeLive Corp, which advices many Global Hedge and Alternative Funds based in New York, London, Singapore and Hong Kong. He regularly advises Startups on Business Planning and business acceleration.

He has coached hundreds of individuals and businesses to deliver high-performance results and launch their own Growth Rocket.

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