Yes, Yes, Robots, Sure. But What Else Does 2018 Promise for Small-Business Marketing?

Jan 2, 2018 | Stephen Jackson

No matter what kind of business you’re in, at this point it’s pretty much a given that you’re involved in some form of digital marketing. From email blasts to social campaigns — blogs to good ol’ fashioned banner ads — digital marketing is everywhere, and those who harness its power enjoy a remarkable ROI from their efforts.

The thing is, the world moves so fast that trends in digital marketing change quite rapidly. And while many things might not entirely apply to a small operation with a modest budget, there are certainly larger movements afoot that anyone trying to drive conversions online (or otherwise) should be aware of.

Let’s take a gander at some of the trends that appear to be bubbling up in 2018.

Privacy and Cybersecurity Take a Front Seat

2017 was a pretty heinous year in the area of cybercrime. From WannaCry to the infamous Equifax breach, once-ironclad security measures proved to be quite porous. And if you are talking to people online, this will be front-of-mind stuff for them in the year ahead. Europe is introducing the General Data Protection Regulation — which is basically the most comprehensive data security legislation ever — and the U.S. will likely follow suit.

So how does this affect your marketing strategy? Well, if you’re into any sort of content marketing, cybersecurity will probably be a highly clickable topic, and there will be all sorts of opportunities to share with your audience the great things you’re doing to help keep your customer’s data safe — which is something you should already be doing: In addition to the attached ethical responsibility, a data breach on your site is terrible optics and could be devastating to your business.

Data is King

It’s no secret that data is driving strategy in basically everything these days, but one place where it’s really going to take off (more so than it already has, which is a lot) is in the area of tracking your customer journey. Platforms like Hubspot are set up pretty well to help you track users interacting with your site, and of course there’s always Google Analytics nerding it up to high heaven. 2018 will be the year in which you need to have a strong grasp on data reporting in order to more precisely talk to potential customers, so it’s time to either start reading up or ponying up cash to get someone to do it for you.

Ads Will Become Even More Targeted

In an unfortunate way, the 2016 election showed us the power of targeted advertising on social media. And while you’re small business is (hopefully) not looking to influence overseas politics in 2018, it can certainly use highly targeted Facebook and Instagram ads to speak directly to the people to whom you’re marketing.

Robots Blah Blah Blah Robots

Automation in marketing has been a godsend in recent times. While you are likely already automating something to some extent (for example, using a MailChimp drip campaign), the robots are getting smarter by the minute and you should enlist them in the coming year. Most notably, the rise of the chatbot is a belwether to the way in which users prefer to interact with your company and learn more about what you and your product has to offer.

Gen Z is Here

If you’re still racking your brain about “how to sell to these Millennials,” I’ve got bad news: that ship has already sailed. However, Gen Zers turned 22 this past year with a whole new set of needs and values — not to mention they’re also the most savvy consumers ever to exist. Early estimates show that Gen Z cares more about how you can help them, not what you can sell them — but there are many more new rules of engagement that you’ll need read up on if you’re going to compete.

Videos, Videos, Videos

The stats behind why you need to be creating video content are staggering. Branded video content is shareable, digestible, and informative. There’s also an ever increasing number of easy to use video making solutions like Canva and Adobe Spark that can allow virtually anyone to create this kind of media (even you!) so there’s really no excuse to not create some videos in 2018.