5 Digital Marketing Predictions to Pay Attention to (and 5 to Ignore) in 2018

Predictions.

At the turn of each new year, we see everyone coming out with predictions about what’s going to be hot.

In my own charming and cynical fashion, I thought it’d be cool to give my top five digital marketing predictions, as well as five predictions you should probably ignore.

When you read these predictions, they will show you where digital marketing and sales funnels are heading in 2018. Some of these predictions may sound far out, while others may seem more obvious if you’ve been paying attention to general trends.

Next year, we plan to do a recap to see which ones were right and which ones we were wrong about.

Until then, let’s look closely into our crystal ball…

Five Digital Marketing Predictions You Should Ignore

1. Social Media Will Remain Prominent and Grow

This is kind of one of those “no duh!” predictions. Tim Hughes of social-experts.net, a social media consultancy, shared his prediction with the website, Hot in Social Media.

“The move to social is both external and internal to companies…My business runs on social, I now get very few business-related emails. With 40% of the world’s population on social media and 21% average year-on-year social media growth, the world has moved to social.”

Hughes is right, and he has great stats to back him up. It’s just that this prediction is a little too obvious. In 2019, 2020 and probably beyond, you can easily bet on continued growth in social..

Moving on…

2. SEO Will Become Irrelevant, and Instead the Focus Will Be on “Great” Content

If you dig around enough online, you’ll see several reputable sites boldly state that traditional SEO is dead or dying, such as Skyword. This is not a new prediction by any means; people have been saying this for years.

Simply put, it’s not true. Just ask Brian Dean over at Backlinko, who created a thorough and up-to-date guide on Google’s ranking system, “rank brain.”

A prediction that has kind of spun off from this “SEO is dying” craze, is the hyper-focus on content.

You know, like we weren’t doing that already.

Just look at Smart Insights’ predictions for an example. When the digital marketing company polled its users on which marketing activity would be most popular in 2018, 20% said content.

I hate to break it to you guys, but content marketing is already part of an SEO strategy. You can’t have one without the other, which is exactly why I think you should ignore this prediction.

3. Facebook Reviews Will Become Key Assets

One of Social Media Examiner’s big trends for this year is how valuable Facebook reviews will be. BlitzMetrics’ founder Logan Young contributed this prediction:

“Reviews drive search traffic for Amazon and they also get the sale. Likewise, reviews are becoming increasingly critical on Facebook, as the platform expands ways consumers can leave reviews.” 

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this prediction, except that business owners have no incentive to buy into Facebook reviews. It’s just one more thing for them to manage.

Plus, why would they trust Facebook now that the pages they invested time and money in acquiring fans for will get little to no organic reach?

I think most business owners would agree on this by saying, “no thanks, I’ve got enough on my plate.”

Let’s keep moving…

4. Blogging Is Dying

This is another somewhat shocking claim that comes up again and again: blogging is dying/dead.

Last year, blogging resource Alex July wrote a whole post on why blogging is dying.

What made him say that? It turns out, July went on Google Trends and searched for the term “blogging.”

Because the term wasn’t searched as much recently, July made his assumption that blogging was dead.

He also searched terms like “blog,” “start a blog” and “starting a blog” and saw similar results.

Does that mean blogging is dying? No! Of course not!

Sure, one source (Google Keyword Trends), said blogging and related terms weren’t as popular anymore. Does that mean you should assume that blogging as a whole is dead?

Nope. Go search for “Content Marketing” on Google Trends, then ignore this prediction.

Sometimes the names for doing pretty much the same thing change, but that doesn’t mean the basic tactic no longer works.

Blogging is still a highly relevant way to drive traffic to your brand and educate your consumers on your products and services (and will be for a long time).

5. Everything Will Stay Pretty Much the Same

Andy Heaps at digital marketing company Return spoke to The Drum and unveiled his digital marketing prediction:

 “The goal of digital marketing stays the same. That is: understand who your ideal audience is, reach them at scale, and connect with them effectively and cost-efficiently.”

The above is partly true, but nothing will ever stay the same in digital marketing. The goals we set, the methods we go about chasing them: these are always in flux. Whether it’s evolving SEO algorithms, changing metrics or a new social media platform, digital marketing will never stay the same.

Ignore any predictions that say otherwise.

Now let’s jump into which predictions you SHOULD pay attention to…

Five Digital Marketing Predictions to Pay Attention to

1. Predictive Customer Service/Intelligent Marketing Automation Will Evolve

Customer service will continue to evolve in 2018 according to customer service company Nuance.

“Customer service creates a ton of data. In 2018, this data will be harnessed more than ever to fuel new AI engines. Predictive customer service will let brands anticipate what you need or may do, before you even know, by analyzing and detecting the patterns of billions of customer engagements over time.”

2. Marketers Will Realize They Can Use LinkedIn to Quickly Build Organic Reach

When it comes to using social media for organic reach, many marketers rely on the obvious platforms. I’m talking about Facebook, Twitter, maybe even Google+.

Well step aside, Facebook, because 2018 is the year of LinkedIn. Whether uploading SlideShares, publishing searchable content or boosting your posts on users’ feeds, LinkedIn is a great platform for building organic reach.

BlitzMetric chief technology officer Dennis Yu explained more about this prediction to Social Media Examiner (link above):

“There’s so little competition on LinkedIn, so much traffic, and such a weak algorithm that people who use the ‘hero story’ formula will get loads of traffic. It’s a perfect storm of a social network that’s transitioning from a job search site to a true professional community.”

Yu shares one of his own posts, which got 4,000 interactions and 800,000 views.

3. Tools for Smart Funnels Will Get Better

A few years ago, I wrote a guest post for Crazy Egg introducing smart funnels. Here’s an excerpt:

A smart funnel is best defined as a fully-integrated website design that recognizes each visitor and shows different content and offers based on where each visitor is at in the sales process.

In that article, I recommended tools like Active Campaign and OptinMonster, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. Today, there are plenty more tools, such as ClickFunnels, that make it easier than ever to make your own smart funnel.

I believe that’s only going to improve this year and in the future.

4. Live Video Viewership Will Continue to Increase

Social Media Today also acknowledged the prediction blogging is dead and that video killed it.

That’s not true, as you already know. You shouldn’t stop publishing blogs and only make videos. Instead, create an even mix of both.

That’s what we’re doing on our blog at AutoGrow. I’ve introduced a video series called Five-Minute Matt Hacks that I intend to produce weekly. Of course, we’re still publishing blog content as well.

Whether you prefer live video (such as on Facebook or Instagram) or prerecorded content (on YouTube and the like), don’t sleep on video this year.

5. Expect More Promoted Posts on Instagram

Taylor Loren at Instagram scheduling company Later writes, “if you want to maintain high engagement and reach on Instagram in 2018, you’ll need to get familiar with Instagram advertising.”

Even Instagram influencers have had to get on board with promoted posts. According to Loren, “many Instagram influencers are already starting to promote their own posts in an effort to maintain their engagement and stay relevant.”

If you’re not yet familiar with how to promote your posts on Instagram, it’s probably time to learn.

Conclusion

For more digital marketing tips throughout the year, and to see if our predictions come true, sign up for AutoGrow’s newsletter.

2018 has just begun, and already there’s a deluge of content marketing predictions. Some of them are inaccurate (blogging isn’t dying, nor is SEO) and should be avoided. Others though, are worth focusing on.

To review:

  • Predictive customer service will likely become more personalized this year. By drawing on a customer’s history with you, your company can provide instant, accurate solutions to customer problems.
  • Both LinkedIn and Instagram will be social media platforms to focus on. On LinkedIn, there’s untapped organic reach opportunities. To keep your audience’s attention on Instagram, you’re going to have to start learning to pay for promoted posts.
  • Video is an ever-growing important part of your marketing arsenal. It should not replace blog content, but rather supplement it.
  • Smart funnel tools will become more intuitive and easy-to-use this year.

Which of these predictions were your favorite? Are there any you think definitely will or won’t come true? Why? Let me know in the comments.

Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused,

—Matt

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