It’s a brave new world in internet marketing. The best digital marketing tips from just a few years ago may no longer prove relevant. Yes, social media still dominates, but today’s most effective campaigns look little like the leaders of 2013 or even 2016. Live streaming, wearables, and machine learning allow forward-thinking business leaders to gain an edge over those still attempting to grasp basic digital marketing concepts.
Ready to update your company’s marketing strategy? Reach a broader audience by implementing these up-to-date digital marketing tips for startups and small businesses:
Artificial and Intelligence and Machine Learning
Touted by Entrepreneur as “the future of marketing,” machine learning will begin to play a greater role among businesses of all sizes and across a broad range of industries in 2018.
Machine learning brings the oft-mentioned but rarely acted upon concept of ‘real time’ to life. Businesses can access and analyze critical data almost immediately, using it to spur more effective marketing solutions. Tweaks based on gathered information could include critical language changes on social media or prompter responses to trending replies. These adjustments ensure that businesses present the right message to the right customers.
Machine learning is one of 2018’s most cost-effective marketing hacks. Automatic email updates and scheduled social media posts dramatically reduce communication costs. Businesses that effectively implement machine learning slash overinflated marketing budgets.
While research presented by CBS Interactive (highlighted in the infographic below) reveals a clear reluctance among small businesses to embrace machine learning and predictive analytics, owners’ attitudes may change in 2018. The aforementioned budgetary benefits of machine learning will be easier to embrace now that machine learning technology is more scalable. Open source tools such as Apache Mahout allow startups with limited resources to integrate revolutionary machine learning algorithms.
Harnessing the Power of Predictive Analytics
The genius of Steve Jobs: he determined what customers wanted before they knew they wanted it. Today, digital marketers embrace this concept via predictive analytics.
By gathering extensive data on customer behavior and patterns, experts can make increasingly accurate predictions about customers’ future behavior. These predictions guide everything from product development to email marketing.
Long a hallmark of Amazon and other large internet retailers, predictive analytics plays an increasingly significant role among small to midsize companies. For example: customer information may influence pricing models among small internet retailers. Funnel-based analytics will help startups reach out to clients at the most opportune times.
Behavioral Email Marketing
In fitness, experts advocate for training smarter, not harder. The same concept applies to email marketing. Repeated emails won’t necessarily elicit a response; more often, they’ll actively annoy recipients and prompt a visit to that dreaded unsubscribe link. The solution? Trigger-based marketing, which will overtake email campaigns in 2018.
Detailed customer analytics help companies discover what motivates prospects to move forward in the sales funnel — and what causes them to drop out. In turn, these findings can determine which actions prompt email interaction. For example, an email may be sent whenever the intended recipient:
Downloads a free white paper or case study
Leaves an item in their digital cart but doesn’t check out
Browses a site’s FAQ page for a certain length of time
Refers another prospect to a company’s website or social media account
Email marketing experts from Poland’s SARE illustrate the process effectively with the following graphic:
Like machine learning, trigger-based email strategy allows for streamlined marketing. It provides immediate value to customers while reducing marketing burdens for small businesses.
Develop an Effective Video Marketing Strategy
After building a YouTube empire, Logan Paul ended 2017 with a huge scandal — and almost immediately bounced back. In the past, a scandal of similar scope could destroy an influencer. While small businesses should avoid emulating Paul’s controversial behavior, there is something to be said for his overarching social media strategy. He intuitively understands the power of video integration in today’s mobile world.
As Logan’s equally controversial brother Jake Paul points out on Edfluence, the key to video marketing is telling a story. Videos should not be purely promotional; they should feature an intro, a hook, conflict, and a compelling resolution. As Paul has discovered, the longer viewers linger on a given video page, the better the brand’s core message will sink in. A small investment in video creation services can lead to significant improvements in traffic, conversion rates, and long-term customer engagement. It can even help brands bounce back from scandal — or avoid it in the first place.
The Live Streaming Revolution
In 2018, businesses will continue to chase the ever-enticing viral video, but it may no longer be the dominant marketing strategy. Increasingly, marketing experts will look to live streaming to hook consumers.
Although first launched in 2015, Facebook Live is just starting to hit its stride in 2018. In a notable 2016 quarterly earnings call, Mark Zuckerburg revealed that over 500 million people watch videos on Facebook every day. Statistics from Google Trends indicate steady growth in searches for ‘Facebook live’ since its inception.
Facebook Live is far from the only streaming opportunity, of course; many companies have also enjoyed impressive results from Periscope, Twitch.tv, and YouTube Live. This Business Insider infographic demonstrates how top streaming services stack up:
Integrating Wearable Technology
Once deemed a passing fad, Fitbit and Apple Watch have secured the adoration of an impressive niche. In a recent press release, Fitbit revealed that it reached 25 million users in 2017. The company foresees further growth in 2018, especially as the lines between smart watch and basic wearable continue to blur.
No matter their categorization, wearable devices provide a wealth of information about users’ daily habits. Although primarily used in a fitness or health care context, their role will soon expand to include all facets of everyday life.
In the right context, wearables can dramatically improve customer engagement. An exciting example highlighted by the American Marketing Association: Degree teamed up with television show So You Think You Can Dance to better understand dancers’ speed, acceleration, g-force, and heart rate. This marketing effort captured the imagination of millions of viewers while showing wearables in a new light.
Disney understands that wearables can increase both customer satisfaction and spending, as evidenced by the success of the MagicBand. This ingenious device allows Disney guests to charge merchandise to their hotel rooms, thereby increasing their proclivity to make impulse purchases. Similar wearable integration may be possible on a smaller scale.
Wearables experienced their first explosion in 2015 and are now poised for a second wind. Experts at the International Data Corporation believe that market growth will expand as smart wearables become standalone devices — no longer requiring close connection with a separate mobile device.
Digital Marketing Tips 2018: Core Themes
From wearables to Facebook Live, the most critical digital marketing tips and tricks of 2018 share two key commonalities: emphasizing personalization and customer engagement. These concepts feed off one another; a personalized experience is more likely to engage customers — and engaged customers are more likely to share details (leading to further personalization and even greater engagement). In 2018, data-driven techniques will supplant previous models, delivering transparency and accountability to marketing strategies in all sectors. Ultimately, only relevant and high-quality content will win the hearts and minds of today’s discerning customers.
A content producer and digital native, Stephanie Lica understands and appreciates digital marketing’s rapid evolution. She enjoys researching and writing about mobile technology, wearables, and the cloud.