Digital marketing evolves faster than the vast majority of other industries, and to keep up with the latest developments, you need to keep an eye on emerging and future trends to see around corners and anticipate what’s coming next in 2018.

Although it’s crucial to keep up with the latest Google algorithm updates and social media platform changes to stay current, updates are only a small speck compared to the big picture. Today we’re going to take a closer look at the top five digital marketing trends that will affect your marketing strategy in 2018.

Messenger Bots

Messenger bots, which are sometimes referred to as chatbots, are not a brand new technology. In fact, they are already quite popular already, but marketers agree that they’ll be utilized even more frequently in 2018 than they are today. For those of you who aren’t already aware, chatbots are programs that automatically respond to customer queries to help automate customer service processes.

These types of programs have been around for quite a long time, but thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, they are finally usable to such a degree that it feels like talking with a real person. And they’ve evolved so much that in 2018 they’ll be a cornerstone of the majority of support departments. I’m sure you’ve even interacted with a few already, especially if you’ve interacted with a live chat feature on any services-related website.

But why is the trend going to get more popular in the coming year, you ask? Well, Facebook has made these tools available in Facebook Messenger. Because the infrastructure already exists on one of the most popular social media and messaging applications in the world, it only makes sense that more businesses will leverage this tool to keep up with customer interactions.

Marketing Automation

One of the main driving forces that fuels rapid change on the Internet is automation. Things that formerly needed to be handled manually can now be dealt with automatically, which saves tons of valuable time. The WordPress platform is a prime example. In the old days, people had to code their websites one line at a time. Now, the process of building a website has become streamlined and automated. Instead of needing to write code, you simply plug in a theme and any additional tools you want, and WordPress and its add-ons can even generate code for you.

But apart from web design, digital marketing is relying more and more on automation too. Can you imagine having to manually email everyone on a mailing list? What a nightmare! Fortunately, tools like Mailchimp automate the process, saving time and money on a massive scale. Furthermore, social media automation tools will post your content on a schedule that you define. Marketing automation is only going to get bigger in the coming year, so it’s best to adopt automation tools sooner rather than later.

Personalized User Experiences via Dynamic Content

Not too long ago, web pages were mostly static, immovable blocks of text without any advanced widgets or plugins. Database tools slowly evolved to help create dynamically generated web pages, which helped personalize content. But to up your marketing game in 2018, it’s essential to incorporate personalized user experiences via dynamic content.

There are many ways to do this, but the idea is to create a different experience for different types of leads. For instance, you may want to display a special landing page or content menu for new visitors to guide them through a personalized marketing funnel. On the other hand, you may want to display upsell offers and targeted content to returning visitors based on the content they’ve already viewed. The sky is the limit with regards to how much you can personalize the experience.

Video Content Will Gain Even More Ground

There’s no doubt about it – video content is already extremely popular. But in 2018, it’s still going to be trending and will be utilized even more than it already is today. The costs of high-quality video capturing devices have dropped significantly and because video editing tools are becoming more sophisticated and user-friendly. In turn, this removes former barriers to creating video content for small and medium-sized businesses.

Additionally, more people are now aware that video content can be more powerful that solely textual content. Really, both text and video should be pillars of your marketing strategy in 2018, but a video is always gaining more ground as time marches forward. For that reason, it would be a good idea to start mapping out a video content strategy for the new year.

Increased Prominence of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has taken many leaps and bounds, which helps harness the monumental computational resources of computers in ways we never imagined in the last decade. Instead of wasting computational resources on video games or developing AI that can beat a chess master, innovators are using AI to seek the cures for diseases and control driverless cars. It’s not surprising that Google has incorporated AI elements into its search tool.

Even though some AI elements have already been factored into the immensely complex Google algorithm, the search engine is expected to rely more heavily on AI in the coming year. We don’t really know what form the AI will take since we can’t predict the future (after all, who can?), but increased dependency on AI is a trend that doesn’t show any sign of slowing down…yet. For that reason, I’d recommend keeping an even more watchful eye on Google’s updates in 2018 than you did in 2017.

Final Thoughts

The only certainty for digital marketing this 2018 is change, but it is possible to give yourself an edge over the competition by adapting to trends. If any of these trends uncover holes, gaps, and weaknesses in your marketing strategy, it’s better to fill the gaps as soon as possible before the end of the year. Otherwise, you may be giving your competition the only advantage it needs to mop the floor with you this 2018.

Usman Raza is a marketing specialist at Crawford and O’Brien and Co-Founder of Usman Digital Media. Aside from doing dental SEO and helping dentists get new patients, when not working there is a 99% chance he is praying with his family. Follow him on Facebook @usmanraza40 and Twitter @usmanintrotech.

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