I’m not always a fan of falsely demarcating a point in time to discuss trends in digital marketing, online business or any other part of life for that matter as marketing (as in life) is forever evolving.

However, it is good to periodically take stock and recognize the major shifts that have been and are happening – especially those where we are not so absurdly early to know if they will work and not so late to the show that the trend is in full use and rather obvious.

The beginning of the year – 2018 – is typically when my team and I take a look at what we believe will impact our various online businesses and make some adjustments to our digital marketing plans as we enter the Spring.

With that, here are 4 major trends we have observed as having the most significant impact on digital marketing in 2018 – there are others and I hope to hear your version in the comments.

Questions

So the typical method of finding information online, especially when a prospect is researching a product to buy online is to type in a string of keywords (this goes for Google certainly but also holds true on platforms like YouTube and even social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pintrest.

For example, you want to shed 10 lbs you put on over the holidays, most people will type in “lose weight around middle” or some variant of this type of “fact-based” search method.

What has changed (and is changing rapidly) is the advent of voice enabled products like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri (sure to move into the home in the near future), etc…

Not only are we adopting devices like this at staggering rates, we are being hit with mass media advertising around how to use these devices and that means…you guessed it…questions.

I’ve noticed myself using Siri and Google voice on my mobile devices more often and even NOW when I go to google I am typing specific searches in as questions.

Of course the implications for digital marketing in 2018 are to ensure you are producing content, place effort on ranking and are adjusting at least a portion of your paid advertising to targeting the pressing questions that lead people to your marketing, your content, your sales funnels and your product or service offers.

Edutainment

I have to admit I stole this term from CNN chef and reality show genius Anthony Bourdain and admittedly the Edutainment theme is certainly not new – in fact this concept of combining education with entertainment (in various degrees) is the entire foundation (and perhaps savior) of cable TV including A&A, HGTV, Food Network, History and more…

So even though Edutainment is not a new trend for 2018 in terms of large-scale content, what is emerging is the use of edutainment at an individual, small business, micro business level where edutainment is quickly becoming THE new way to attract attention, interest, credibility and eventually buying activity from your market.

One of the early pioneers of using Edutainment with personal branding and marketing is Gary Vaynerchuck who started Wine Library TV on YouTube when there was nothing like it before…there he not only built a massive following, an amazingly sticky personal brand but pioneered an entire movement around using Edutainment as THE foundation for digital marketing.  Although it has taken some time, we are finally seeing the industry shift and 2018 will be a key year in the use of Edutainment as a major digital marketing method.

Multi-Stage Offers & Sales Experience

sales funnelStill, in 2018, the vast majority of websites (e-commerce, digital info products, corporate, service-based, etc…) still offer the visitor one or more offers, attach an online sales process to each product or service individually, check them out and deliver the product or service.

Sure, most businesses today are collecting customer data and many (still shocked by how many do NOT) will keep in touch with that customer via periodic updates and perhaps the odd badly timed or targeted follow-up offer.

A trend that has been growing in online marketing segments is overhauling the front-end customer experience based on a well thought out and ever evolving content and sales funnel.   Here, you offer your prospect their option of channeled content followed by a series of “funneled” offers that provide additional related or upgraded offers until the prospect finally opts to check out with what they want.

On average, when well designed and executed, these sales funnels improve overall sales by anywhere from 20-30% right up to 100% or more AND result in a more satisfied customer who was given the option to get a more refined version or a more elaborate version of what your initial offer contained.

For example, someone who wanted to lose 10lbs in the next 30-days wants the guide on how to get that done, but they then see that for an extra 50% they can get daily email consulting to keep them motivated and accountable and for another bump-up they can receive an accompanying guide to proven diet plans that help them lose weight but also not give up too much of what they enjoy eating, etc…

Multi-stage offers up-front are far more effective than re-approaching your prospect days after an initial sale when they have moved on in their mind to other things or other products…you have their attention when they reach your site, why not make the most of it.

Start by planning our your ideal sales funnel on either a white board, piece of paper or using collaborative tools online and then determine your best path to execution using either manually created pages on your WordPress site (many common themes today support the concept of sales funnels or at least page templates you would typically use to construct your sales funnel) or you can use SaaS type products such as Leadpages or Clickfunnels.

Affiliate Marketing With a Spin…Influencer Marketing

online influencerWhen we started our various online businesses back in the early 2000’s, one of the most powerful ways to quickly reach your target audience was to find existing mailing list holders and sign them up as your affiliate to use email marketing (the digital marketing method of choice back then) so they can send you thousand of visitors, turn them into buyers and share a percentage of each sale with them.

Of course, affiliate marketing has never left us…authority figures who owned large email lists were joined by bloggers, podcasters, high-value content sites and now, web 2.0 social influencers.  These are the people you see dominating your niche on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, Twitter, etc…

As marketing techniques have changed, so have evolved the term where affiliates continue to expect revenue share while influencers will often expect some up-front dollars as well as revenue share to reach their highly valuable and loyal audiences.

In all of this we see a strong shift BACK to paying serious attention to both affiliate and influencer marketing in 2018 and that is why it is included here in our top 4 digital marketing trends of 2018.

Not only is the resurgence in affiliate and influencer marketing brought on based on solid results, it is also accelerated by the increasing challenge content owners are having reaching their audience (constant algorithm changes by Google and Facebook are the culprits here) and the relatively high ad-cost cycle we find ourselves in on the 2-major ad platforms (Google and Facebook – including YouTube and Instagram of course).

As both organic and paid methods of reaching your market become more challenging and costly, we swing back to channeling our digital marketing efforts through affiliates and influencers in 2018.

There you have it, while there are other ongoing trends such as the use of video, podcasting and paid ad techniques, the 4 digital marketing trends listed above are the 4 we have identified as most impactful, most timely with the biggest potential return in 2018.

Do you see others?

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