Michael Del Gigante is the President, Creative Director and Founder of MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with a leading reputation for developing effective branding strategies, unrivaled creative, and dynamic interactive marketing solutions for some of the world’s most prominent brands.
7 Tactics Every Digital Marketer Should Learn to Love in 2018
Committing to specific digital tactics can be difficult for marketers. There are so many different approaches that it can be tempting to continuously swipe left in search of something better.
While there are quite a few bad matches out there, there also are some strategies and channels that are keepers. These approaches aren’t perfect – some have even broken marketers’ hearts in the past – but settling down with them can lead to something beautiful.
Specifically, every digital marketer who wants to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts should learn to love these seven key tactics this year:
- Fast-Loading Mobile Content
While search engines have been coy in the past about what they wanted, this year they’ve been transparent about one SEO approach that’s sure to work: fast-loading mobile content.
In fact, Google has openly stated that it’s going to roll out changes to its algorithm in 2018 that incorporate mobile page speed as a ranking signal.
There are nuances to this move – the “Speed Update” initially only impacts a small number of queries – but the message is clear: consumers are shifting to mobile, they demand pages that load quickly and search engines are going to give them what they want. Marketers should follow suit or risk losing rank and traffic.
- Online Review Management
Digital marketers are often wary of online reviews, and understandably so. Positive online feedback/ratings can be the wind beneath your wings while negative ones can come in like a wrecking ball.
Despite this ambivalence, it’s become essential for every brand to monitor and manage its online reviews.
Why? Because customers across all verticals increasingly look at reviews—and trust them. Some 97% of consumers say they check the online reviews of local businesses and 67% of B2B buyers say they check vendor reviews.
Put simply: audiences are going to utilize reviews/ratings whether you want them to or not, so you’re better off engaging than pretending it’s not happening.
- Data and Privacy Protection
This year, consumers are ready to demand a little more respect from brands. For too long, digital marketers have taken personal data for granted, enjoying the benefits without securing it properly or thinking too much about privacy.
That’s going to change. In May, Europe’s far-reaching GDPR regulations go into effect. These rules create strict boundaries around what companies can do with people’s personal information and are backed by heavy fines for non-compliance.
While the regulations won’t directly affect most U.S. businesses, they’re a clear sign that many consumers are unhappy with how their data is being treated by firms. Rather than waiting for this frustration to rise to the surface, be proactive and give your brand’s privacy policies and data protection approaches some love.
- Online Chatbots
Online chatbots may not sound like the sexiest use of AI, but they’re currently among the most mature and compelling uses of the technology.
Some 15% of consumers say they’ve already encountered chatbots and that number is expected to jump significantly over the next few years.
What’s driving this adoption? Consumers say they like chatbots for a number of reasons, including their constant accessibility, fast response times and ability to quickly answer questions.
The benefits for brands are impressive, too. Chatbots enable continuous customer service, marketing engagement and sales promotion without maintaining a huge staff. That combination of big scale and small cost is why every brand should think about embracing chatbots this year.
- Voice-Driven Interactions
Talking has always been the foundation of human communication. Now it’s increasingly also how people interact with their devices.
Nearly every smartphone has a voice-activated virtual assistant such as Siri built in and the number of voice-assisted devices such as Amazon’s Echo is expected to reach 69 million in the U.S. by 2019.
This trend has the potential to affect digital marketing across a wide range of areas, from how pages are search optimized (more for natural language queries) to the way in which content is presented (audio friendly).
While the full impact of the shift is still hard to know, what’s certain is that preparing for voice-driven interactions is a smooth-sounding strategy.
- Messaging Platform Engagement
When it comes to digital channels, marketers often ignore messaging platforms and are seduced by social networks, which get more buzz.
That’s a mistake. Over the past few years, a number of messaging services have been steadily growing their user bases and some now eclipse established social platforms such as Twitter in size. For example, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp each has more than 1.2 billion monthly users and WeChat has nearly 900 million.
In addition to building their user bases, these platforms have also been adding features such as sponsorship opportunities and branded accounts. These make them not only robust communication tools but also powerful advertising and customer engagement channels. Marketers should take a good look at the full range of opportunities on these platforms – they may be surprised at what they’re missing out on.
- Branded Video Pieces
Many marketers have a difficult relationship with video. While in their hearts they know the medium has its advantages, they also have their doubts about the cost and time required to create something great.
Our advice is to stick with it. A recent study of the content preferences of different generations found that consumers of every age find video to be the most memorable format, and more than half of consumers age 54 and younger want to see more videos from brands.
In other words, consumers like video content from brands, remember it and want to see more of it. That means that although branded video requires a larger investment, it can also have a larger payoff.
As with all the approaches covered in this post, video requires hard work to execute correctly. That effort may not feel worth it initially, but ultimately you may find yourself crazy in love with each of these tactics.