It’s that time again to reflect on the past year and plan ahead for the upcoming. Hasn’t 2018 been an awesome year for marketing? Social media has only become further engrained in everyone’s day-to-day lives, ecommerce is booming and companies are embracing content marketing tactics into their overall strategies for the future. Working in digital marketing, our team has become accustomed to constant change and evolution. It’s just a part of our lives in this industry. We know that being behind on digital updates can result in major consequences, and we thrive to stay ahead of the trends.
Last January, I wrote a similar blog recapping the hottest digital marketing trends that impacted 2017. This year, we’re switching things up a bit by releasing this 2018 recap before the end of the year, and will be releasing another blog soon looking towards the upcoming trends of 2019… so stay tuned! While our team has recognized an innumerable amount of digital trends and changes from this past year, I have highlighted the most noteworthy in the categories of social media, ecommerce and content marketing.
Social Media: User Generated ContentEach of the social media channels has had their own individual tweaks and trends this past year. For instance, Instagram developed additional features for their stories tab, Facebook revamped the News Feed to focus attention on “meaningful interactions” and Twitter proved the success of their decision to extend the character count in late 2017.
However, one trend every social media channel had in common this past year was the explosion of user generated content. It felt like every brand finally saw the light, and realized UGC would only make their job easier by providing great content to share, and it would also enhance the hype and devotion their customers had for their brand. It’s really a win-win tactic for both the brand and its loyal followers. However, it’s important to keep in mind that UGC can be in visual form such as images and videos, and also in the form of reviews on ecommerce sites.
Not only do consumers love the attention that is associated with brands sharing their UGC, but 93% of consumers also find UGC (for instance, reviews on social media) helpful when making purchasing decisions. In fact, consumers are craving for brands to utilize more UGC and 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what to include in the branded content they are posting. Over the past couple of years, only 16% of brands actually gave consumers this direction, and I estimate this is how the use of UGC will expand in 2019. Just think about all of the amazing images a brand like Patagonia would receive if they simply said, “Hey followers, we’d love to see where in the world you’re wearing your Patagonia gear this December! Be sure to tag us in your pictures and stories.”
Customer reviews have proven themselves to be an effective form of UGC that will surely continue to be promoted heavily going into the New Year. Businesses utilizing Twitter reported that they see up to a 26% increase in site traffic when they share customer reviews on their company Twitter page. This is an exciting realization, especially with Twitter being a tricky social platform to garner engagement on.
To recap, the success of UGC has resulted in businesses noticing 29% higher web conversions and 25% higher ad performance when using UGC in their social promotions. This is incredible! The success of user generated visual content fueled an entirely new way to promote products aside from traditional product shots and videos.
How is your company doing with incorporating user-generated content into your social media strategy? If you see a lack of UGC around your brand, it’s probably time to inspire your following and give them the direction they desire.
Ecommerce: ChatbotsThink back to only one or two years ago… how many customer service chatbots did you find on websites compared to right now? This past year, chatbots have become heavily utilized by companies to aid customer service on their website and even develop brand awareness on platforms such as Facebook Messenger. In response, consumers have welcomed chatbots with open arms and 64% of Americans say that their 24-hour service is the best feature they offer.
Chatbots have proven their efficacy over the past year through solid results. Think about this, a great email campaign can perform really well with 30% + open rates, but chatbot messaging sees even stronger performance.
However, don’t forget that in 2018, chatbots have taken on additional forms than simply messaging bots. A new era of chatbots has arrived with their artificial intelligence technology taking the form of voice assistants. While many people only consider chatbots to be the artificially intelligent robots found in messaging platforms, this new frontier of voice-activated chatbot assistance is sure to grow. We no longer are confined to the communication method of typing back and forth with an assisting robot; we can verbally speak and hold a conversation with them.
In a study conducted to research the use of voice assistants for online shopping, 73% of respondents who own a voice assistant have already used it to buy something online and 39% say that interacting with a bot has influenced their buying decision over the past month. Chatbots are not only an amazing customer service tool, they are proving themselves as an effective online sales tool.
While chatbots may not be a feasible option for every small businesses, if you are a larger company and do not utilize chatbots yet, it may be a great ecommerce enhancement to explore for 2019.
Content Marketing: Video StorytellingYes, video became a popular form of content earlier than 2018. However, it only became more popular this past year. Specifically in the form of storytelling. In HubSpot’s 2018 survey, 81% of businesses said they use video as a marketing tool; this is up from 63% in 2017!
Video has proven itself as an incredibly engaging resource for brands, as marketers who use video reported revenue growth of 49% faster than non-video users. Consumers love video content for its ease of use, ability to share information quickly and its entertaining qualities. Video storytelling not only aids in brand awareness but also has proven to result in sales. In fact, 64% of consumers have said to make purchases after watching branded social videos. Imagine if they were user generated branded videos.
Something important to keep in mind for 2019 is that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. This viewing habit is one that many companies have failed to capitalize. Facebook is obviously a heavy player in the world of social media, but be prepared for them to become even more prominent in the video space with the evolution of Facebook Watch.
Of course, there were more trends this year than we could possibility cover in one blog. The good news is that 2018 was a great year for digital marketing, and we can’t wait to see what is to come in 2019.