FIVE Important Digital Marketing Developments for 2018 Cecily Giancaterino Feb 13, 2018 ∙ 8 min read CRM Wondering what new and interesting marketing trends 2018 has in store? Join us as we investigate 5 interesting digital marketing trends to watch out for this year and the tools and tricks to help you maximise their potential. With the holidays behind us and a whole year ahead, many business people naturally turn their mind to what lies in store for 2018 - in terms of business, customer interest, and (most crucially for this article) marketing.Though we may not have a crystal ball, we can hazard a guess as to the marketing trends that are worth keeping an eye on this year. Join us as we check out FIVE digital marketing developments that we feel all businesses should watch during 2018, as well as some accessible tools to help you get each job done. Make 2018 the Year of Strategy, Planning & Analysis Many companies fall into the trap of "shiny thing syndrome" - jumping feet-first into hot new platforms and tactics without a second thought. If this sounds familiar, 2018 might be the time to adopt thorough research, strategy, planning, and analysis practices, to help you decide which marketing methods to pursue and how to adapt them to your company's needs.Take a measured approach when assessing new and interesting marketing ideas, and harness the power that comes with thorough market research and careful planning. New marketing methods and practices need to be completely compatible with your organisation - in terms of client fit, final results, and internal manpower needed. There are a wide range of tools out there that make market research and team collaboration easier than you may think.Online questionnaire tools like Survey Monkey and Google Forms make it very easy to ask your audience about what they want, and easily seek responses over email or social media. In terms of planning and collaboration, tools like Asana, Trello and TeamWeek are all great solutions to help you lay out a plan, collaborate on work, and see a project through to completion. New, Longer Meta Descriptions Near the end of last year, it was discovered that Google had tweaked the length of meta descriptions that display on search results pages. The grey explanatory text that Google displays under each search result has almost doubled to a maximum of around 300 characters (as opposed to the previous 155 character limit).This change highlights the human element of meta descriptions in search - by displaying more text, it gives searchers more critical info on whether each result is relevant to them, and provides webmasters with a larger platform to persuade searchers to click through high-quality, keyword rich content.Changes such as these give webmasters a great opportunity to review their current meta descriptions. Keyword research tools such as Answer The Public can help you investigate interesting, fresh key terms, and looking at Google Search Console can give you insight into what terms people are using to find your website. You can then use this information to craft fresh, new meta descriptions to fit the new parameters. Ensure that your website's CMS (Content Management System) and plugins are updated to allow you to enter longer meta descriptions. Be Aware of Featured Snippets and the Knowledge Graph Frequent searchers should be aware of Google's "featured snippet" and "knowledge graph" functionality. Featured snippets are the highlighted explanations, lists, or tables that show up at the top of Google's results, and the knowledge graph displays above or alongside some search results, and can take the form of business details, opening hours, maps, etc. In both cases, Google's algorithm seeks out what it finds to be the most relevant and informative information, potentially answering the searcher's question without them even having to click a single search result!This kind of exposure is understandably significant to marketers. If your website features any particularly relevant questions or data, there are ways you can format that data to maximise your chances of appearing in a featured snippet. In terms of the knowledge graph, it's crucial that every business claim and fully fill out their Google My Business listing with accurate contact details, opening hours, address, and map pointer; if your organisation relies on foot traffic, a Google My Business listing is absolutely essential. The Growth of Voice Search As more and more homes welcome voice-operated devices with heavy search functionality such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, it's likely that voice commands will have an impact on the way marketers optimise for search effectiveness. When searching through such a device, the response presented is usually the most succinct and explanatory answer that the device's search engine can find - which brings us nicely back to featured snippets and the knowledge graph.Savvy marketers need to keep an eye on how voice search may impact on-page optimisation during 2018 and beyond. As more and more people are asking their devices whole questions, companies may start optimising for longer tail keywords, and may even start optimising for whole questions and answers!As well as becoming familiar with how featured snippets and the knowledge graph works, it could also be worth your while starting to use whichever voice-operated assistant works with your smartphone. Make yourself aware of the kinds of questions you can ask it, and the kinds of responses you get from different types of queries. Explore Other Content Marketing Formats As a media format, video is absolutely booming. Tech experts Cisco predict that video will account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021; and that it would take more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video shared over the net each month in 2021 (Source: Cisco). Now there's a statistic to wrap your head around!Needless to say, if your company isn't creating video in some way, you could be missing out. YouTube reigns supreme as the go-to video sharing platform, but creating professional looking video can call for high-end equipment - which usually comes with a high-end price tag! However, live video is far cheaper to produce. In order to broadcast on platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter's Periscope, all you need is their app and a compatible device.Blog posts are still a popular way of sharing information, but have you ever considered converting existing blogs into an audio podcast, infographic, or a video? Using other forms of media to supplement existing content can be an interesting way of updating older information, or maintaining interest in a popular piece.But long-form media isn't all you have to choose from; shorter formats could be worth a look too. Longer-form blogs, podcasts, and videos can take a long time to create, edit, and publish; and can drain time and resources, especially in smaller organisations. If this sounds familiar, shorter form content can be equally as useful to keep your audience talking about you. By sharing "micro-content" such as images, animations, and short videos over social media, the aim is to encourage small, shorter-lasting bursts of interaction, which feeds into an ongoing hum of engagement in between larger blog post or video releases.There are a plethora of online media creation and editing tools available to help diversify your content formats. Audacity is a great free sound recording and editing tool, Canva is a good go-to for creating professional-looking images, and presentations can be created and shared through Google Slides and distributed through Slideshare.Whatever happens in 2018, managing ongoing enquiries and maintaining relationships with clients and prospects is unlikely to go out of style! 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