Time to get excited! Christmas is on the way and we’re on the cusp of a fresh new year.
We’re going into it full of positives. Overall, 2017 hasn’t been that bad of a year (well, if you ignore the politics of the thing…) and 2018 looks set to be a much brighter one. Especially for us; you may have noticed the site has had a refresh, and we have a lot of ambitious goals we’re looking to fulfil in the year ahead. Our new employee, Lauren starts in January too.
So, we’re going to be a little bit different in this, our last post before the holidays begin.
You may have seen a lot of prediction posts popping up across the internet already, telling you where best to focus your time marketing over the course of 2018.
They’re fun to write (and hopefully read) but we want to go off on a tangent a bit. Digital marketing and a lot of the sums of its parts – especially search marketing – can often change. In fact it’s arguable that change is the most consistent part of online marketing.
Get a strong, organic, bespoke and ethical digital marketing strategy down, though, and those changes can represent significant positives and creative opportunities if you and your agency are on the ball. Most importantly, a flexible digital strategy could go a long way to getting you significant results and growing your business.
With that in mind we’re going to take a look at 2016’s most popular predictions for this year, why they were a bit off-the-mark, and how they could actually be beneficial for your marketing efforts in 2018.
1: The death of local SEO
WordStream didn’t mince its words in January when they predicted the death of local SEO. As they saw it at the time, we’d fully say goodbye to a local way of doing things; their reasoning being that Google Shopping/Product search would be far too strong for local businesses and local organic packs.
The powers that be had other ideas though, with the European Commission (EC) putting paid to that theory by fining the search giant a whopping €2.42 billion for giving itself an “illegal advantage by abusing its dominance in general Internet search” through its shopping services. Google says it has changed the way it displays results, with the EC partnering with an SEO firm to keep a continual eye on what Google does.
Local SEO though, in our mind, is something that will never phase out and should be a key part of every company’s marketing efforts, no matter what their background or industry. It’s a creative strategy that goes beyond what Google decides to do with its search engine, including practices such as social outreach, transparent data collection, content marketing and other methods.
2: Native advertising will dominate all
A post on Advanced Web Ranking in March suggested that native advertising would become ‘dominant’. “Web marketing experts will agree that native ads bring not only larger reach but also manage to convert more users,” it read. While it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment and native’s virtues, like all forms of marketing, it’s how you use it and who you show it to that matters.
Native advertising is hugely effective, especially when utilised creatively in a bespoke content marketing strategy. It’s miles away from being ‘dominant’ though, especially when compared against the almost-immediate benefits of a paid social and PPC strategies targeted towards the right people.
Again, it depends on how you use native content and where it fits into your wider marketing strategy. The biggest example of this can be seen at BuzzFeed, one of the world’s most popular websites and practitioners of native. Toward the end of the year they’ve had to diversify their marketing strategy after going all-in on native. A lack of diversification has also seen the company lay off 8% of its U.S. workforce.
3: Firms will be GDPR-compliant
You’re not going to hear the end of GDPR during different stages of 2018. You’ll likely see a number of posts warning people about its effects during the run-up to its roll-out on 25 May, while you’ll probably see a huge number of posts during the second half of the year complaining that it’s legislation that nobody has heard about.
We’ve written about GDPR before. The new EU-wide legislation (which will still affect UK businesses post-Brexit) will give people more power than ever over their personal data, with firms that don’t comply subject to fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual turnover. In December 2016, The Drum predicted that ‘organisations will prepare and start implementing GDPR initiatives’
Confession: this is a bit of a cheat. See, The Drum aren’t really wrong, some businesses have indeed been implementing GDPR initiatives. It’s on the list though because we don’t think anywhere near enough businesses have been doing it, with statistics suggesting most are woefully ignorant about the legislation.
Most SMEs are totally in the dark over what GDPR is and means for their business, with certain industries including (astonishingly) most of the legal sector heavily under-prepared. Only 25% of UK law firms are ready for GDPR with less than six months remaining.
If legal advisors aren’t prepared for the biggest data marketing change in generations, then how on earth is anyone else supposed to be?
How a bespoke inbound marketing strategy can help during 2018
The above predictions fall into three key areas of inbound marketing: search marketing (or SEO), content marketing and data collection.
Though the online marketing industry often changes and new methods are introduced on a regular basis, those key disciplines along with many others that fall under the inbound umbrella are core disciplines that, when performed in a bespoke and creative manner targeted toward your market, could deliver incredible results and accelerate your business’s growth.
That will be no different in 2018. The key to marketing success next year – as it has been every year – is to know who you are as a business, focus on your key demographics, and build a creative digital marketing strategy that targets them through the most relevant channels so that they discover you organically and stick with your brand for the long-term.
Web Presence will help you do that in 2018 and beyond. We’re digital marketing specialists as committed to your growth as you are. Speak to a Web Presence representative today to find out more.
Working as a Digital Marketing Consultant since 2004, Lee helps SMEs win more business through developing effective digital marketing strategies. He is a dedicated Liverpool FC fan, dog lover and loves long country walks (and a cheeky pint) with his dog, Banjo.