Ask the Experts Digital Marketing Trends 2018

Ask the Experts – Digital Marketing Trends for 2018

Ask the Experts Digital Marketing Trends 2018

In 2017 personalization in marketing automation got smarter and smarter. It was a big year for Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and it was the year Instagram Stories exploded. With the shift to 2018 comes changes in digital marketing, whether we’re ready or not. New digital marketing strategies are entering the marketplace every day, as technologies emerge and user behaviors demand a more integrated experience. How will your company evolve this year?

Here, 4 International Experts share how 2017 shaped the world of digital marketing, and what they think will be the biggest trends to watch in 2018.

Liam Hennessy – Digital Marketing Strategist/Media Analyst, 6H Media

I think customer service (or “customer experience”) very slowly crept in and has started to dominate the domain of marketers as well. Since social media allows real-time interactions with brands, last year it became all the more important for companies to keep a friendly and informative face.

In terms of SEO there are some interesting indicators: “linkless” mentions of brands on sites may very well become a Google ranking factor (this is already the case on Bing). The recent collapse of net neutrality in the States, however, could very much be a game-changer in terms of content marketing and SEO. ISPs may decide to limit website speed and content unless users pay premium, having considerably adverse effects on SEO efforts in the USA. Should this be the case, marketers may have to get very creative and technical about displaying their content on the slowest speeds. On an international scale, however, this is unlikely to be an issue – at least for the time being.

Liam is a digital marketing strategist, copywriter and general lover of wine and travelling.

Michael Shipley (“Ship”) – President and Co-Founder, Kahuna Marketing

For nearly a decade now, mobile has been the next big thing in digital advertising, and for nearly a decade now it has not lived up to the hype.  While there is no denying the growth in mobile consumption, and its value in a balanced marketing plan, it has simply been another screen for text and banner ads.  That changed for me in 2017 however, with Google’s integration of Nearby Notifications on Android devices.  Now it’s easier than ever to reach consumers on mobile screens, and connect online advertising with in-store engagement.  While location data has been available for years, integration into the OS means there are no special apps required.  On top of that, there are no media fees associated with the Nearby Notifications.

Looking ahead to 2018…this will be the year of Amazon. Not only has it established itself as the bottom of the funnel for retailers, but it has emerged from the 2017 holiday rumble as the leader in smart home technology and services.  With a recent announcement of the expansion of its search and video advertising products, Amazon has put the industry on notice.  They have the platform, the consumers, and the cash to disrupt in 2018.

Kahuna Marketing is an online advertising agency based in Hawaii.

Rachael Piper – Owner, Rachel Piper Consulting

I think particularly in the digital media discipline data remains king. We historically backed ourselves into a data corner and I don’t foresee us breaking free of that. At first people were not convinced that spending advertising dollars online was a good idea, but now according to recode as of 2017 digital ad spending (41%) has surpassed TV ad spending (35%) for the lion’s share of media spend and it is predicted to make up 50% of ad spending by 2020. In addition to users spending more time digitally, I believe that a major contributor in convincing Advertisers to spend their media budgets digitally is the accountability that digital provides.

CTR (click through rate) was the early holy grail of digital KPIs (key performance indicators). I believe this was the wedge that helped break open the digital media door because we were able to point to hard numbers and say “X amount of impressions drove Y clicks for a CTR of Z” and thus measuring the impact of advertising down to an impression-level was introduced. As with anything (especially anything digital) in order to remain relevant, it must evolve which I think has been a continued obstacle for our digital media discipline.

It is a process; for example, CTR (click through rate) is no longer the end-all-be-all when it comes to measuring digital media’s impact/effectiveness. Now we have to have a lot of conversations around how CTR and Conversion Rates often are not positively correlated or how CTR and Video Completion Rates often have an inverse relationship because one either clicks or completes the view, not both. We’ve evolved enough to know that CTR is no longer the all-inclusive metric to measure the impact of digital media, but we also haven’t replaced it.

We also often have predicaments where a Client wants a cool, integrated Native brand awareness buy, but expects that to drive the same ROAS (return on ad spend) as a programmatic buy, which is not likely but also isn’t to say the Native buy wouldn’t be effective. So we need more understanding that different digital media tactics yield different results and a better data-backed understanding to show how it all works together.

All that to say, we did see some advancements in 2017 in terms of telling a more of a complete story with cross-device data and “closing the loop” offline with more accurate location-based data and in some cases being able to directly tie back to offline purchase data.

This is great and much more advanced than traditional media, but it is also problematic because we’ve set this expectation that we’re measuring everything. However, in reality, the data we currently have only tells us bits and pieces of the whole story. We are still a long way from where we want to be, albeit digital does tell much more of the story than traditional media. Which isn’t to discount traditional media because it all plays a role and works together, but traditional media hasn’t historically had to sing for its’ supper the same way digital has. Digital has built its’ worth on its’ accountability and therefore the responsibility lies on its’ shoulders.

So for the love of all things pixelated, I hope we see an accurate, digestible, platform agnostic, reasonably priced attribution-modeling tool emerge in 2018. I’m also curious to see how we go about tracking and measuring ads in the emerging AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and Hologram, etc. worlds in the (near) future.

Rachael is owner of Rachael Piper Consulting, specializing in Digital Media since 2012.

Marion Chloé Theis – Marketing + Business Coach for Women Entrepreneurs

I really felt a turn operating in marketing in 2017: from faceless corporations and brands, we switched to a more personalized approach in targeting, but also in messaging.

With plenty of new tools & technologies – chatbot, re-targeting, Facebook ads – it is now possible, more than ever, to make your marketing highly targeted.

But technology without strategy is useless. If your marketing is bad offline, it’ll be bad online as well – the only difference is, more people will see it. Global brands are only starting to understand this, but when you’re mainly online – like in my clients’ and my case – it is crucial to have a clearly defined and powerful marketing identity.

On a global level, marketing switched from B2B and B2C to a « H2H » approach: a Human to Human one. Personal branding has been growing immensely this year: we don’t talk only about business anymore, but we talk about people (us and our customers) and to people. We brand ourselves but not in a corporate, polished way.

We also stopped selling and started building relationships instead. Relationships based on value first, with content strategies at their core. Yes, the goal is always to get clients and make money. But it’s done in a different, subtle way. To get people’s trust, you first need them to believe in your expertise and that’s exactly what content does.

Facebook groups are certainly a proof of all of this: mixing personal and professional interests, they allow like-minded individuals to connect and support each other. But (even) more than a community, they’re also a fantastic branding tool to use. Facebook groups are the ideal combination of personal branding, relationship building and content creation and represent to me perfect illustration of the year 2017.

I definitely believe that 2018 will bring even more depth to personal branding, storytelling and putting value first – and also more opportunities to make it sustainable and scalable.

We’ll make a step further down the road of authenticity, taking a learner approach instead of an expert one. Saying we’re struggling when we are struggling, showing people the not-so-glamourous side of managing a business and a brand is, as surprising at it may seems, what is going to get us more clients.

Showing vulnerability is what makes us connect as human beings. Being authentically you in how you run but also market your business is what’ll make you stand out. It’s a step forward in relationships building, a more intimate one.

Technology-wise, I see Instagram & Facebook stories allowing just this. These snippets of your daily life will make you and your brand appear more human, more lively, more relatable. Whatever you choose to share, don’t overthink it and be as natural as can be – because you’re the best at being you. They’re a powerful tool to reach an audience and get them to like and trust you easily – and it’s pretty fun to do!

I also see chatbots playing a major role in 2018. It’s relationship-building scaled to a whole new level. Of course, chatbot in and of themselves won’t make or break a business. But they might just be the piece that makes your audience turn into customer. Being able to deliver content directly to a client’s Messenger is really, really powerful.

In 2018, you’ll want to have a place in your ideal client’s daily life while not spending too much time doing so – which means automating and speaking to an audience. If you follow these two rules, then 2018 will be the year of your marketing breakthrough!

If you liked this post, I have more marketing ideas for you! Get your free downloadable guide to sharing your content with the world:



6 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Business

For many of us, the end of the year is a time to wind down, relax, and enjoy time with your loved ones. I am a big fan of this practice of mindfulness and being in the moment!

For many small businesses, however, the year’s end is an important time to look back at successes and missteps, analyze sales data, and plan out a marketing strategy for the coming year. Maybe you’re wrapping up projects with clients in the next few weeks, pushing to meet end-of-year goals or gearing up for a big kick off for a new business promotion?

If you’re in the latter boat, consider some of the most effective (and foundational) marketing strategies for small business.

Marketing Strategy: Branding/Identity

There’s never a bad time to take a good, honest look at your company’s branding and identity. Your company name, website, logo, colors, imagery and other graphic elements should all work together to communicate your strategic positioning to your customers.

Are you trying to exude a feeling of luxury? Safety? Reliability? Your branding is an essential tool for casting yourself in the desired light. If you’re feeling wobbly on your branding, consider hiring a good freelancer or a branding agency to help you refine things.

If your brand is already rock solid, I recommend creating a brand book to better communicate yourself to partners, vendors, and internal teams. Make sure your brand is properly applied to all documents both internal and external.

If you need a recommendation for a good designer to create your brand book, let me know! I can point you in the right direction. If you’re feeling adventurous, use a tool like Canva, Powerpoint/Keynote, Adobe PDF Writer, or Pixlr Editor to create your own.

Marketing Strategy: Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about making yourself discoverable on the web and adding value for your potential customer or client. It is not about spamming them with sales pitches!

With content marketing, you position yourself as a helpful expert in your field by sharing valuable information that matters to your ideal client. Content marketing pieces include your blog, social media, email marketing, white papers, reports, ebooks, etc. (more on these “Lead Magnets” below).

For example, if you’re in the real estate business, you might find that there are a lot of searches for tips on buying a home. Then you would write a post for your website’s blog about things for first time home buyers to look out for. Next, you can share that post on your social media and LinkedIn profiles, and send it to your email list. Your customers and potential customers will appreciate the helpful knowledge and will keep you in mind for when it’s time to act.

Check out this post I wrote geared towards commercial real estate tenants to get the idea.

Marketing Strategy: SEO/Local Search

SEO is complex and ever-changing – so don’t be surprised if you’re not able to do this one all on your own. There is so much value in a good SEO/local search expert, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty competitive out there!  So getting started with Google AdWords couldn’t hurt either.

However, there are some low-hanging fruits that you can definitely self-squeeze to improve search rankings. Some of the main factors that influence your search engine ranking include keywords, content quality, links to and from your site (through subject expertise, collaboration and partnerships), mobile-friendliness, security and user experience.

The #1 easiest thing you can do for better SEO is to have a consistent, informative, keyword-friendly blog. Google loves websites that consistently push out new content. I specialize in blog creation and management for a variety of business categories, if you want to chat about this.

digital marketing strategy: build your email list

Marketing Strategy: Build an Email List

Don’t have an email list? You’re missing out! An email list is a crucial part of modern digital marketing and one of the most powerful tools you can have. The people who opt-in to your site are expressing interest in you – now it’s your move!

Another purpose of email marketing is to stay relevant in people’s lives before they’re ready to buy what you’re selling and to stay “top of mind” for word-of-mouth opportunities. It’s also great for promotions tailored to your best customers.

Key tips for email marketing: Keep it short and sweet, and only reach out when you’ve got something important to say. Add an email signup form to your website and social media profiles today to collect more leads! I am a big fan of MailChimp for their fair prices, helpful chat support, and excellent online knowledge base.

Marketing Strategy: Lead Magnets/Content Upgrades

You’ve probably been involved in a lead magnet exchange before without even realizing it. A lead magnet is a digital piece such as a PDF guide or free ebook which you receive in exchange for your email address. These “content upgrades” are a great way to accelerate your list building efforts. You can repackage a piece of content you have already created, or better yet, create an item that is a complement to an existing blog post or article.

Of course, lead magnets are branded with your logo and web address, and now you can follow up with these new leads via email. Lead magnets can be offered on your website and distributed automatically using your email marketing provider. Or, you can use them in your advertising to increase click-through rates.

Marketing Strategy: Be Social

But do it strategically. Social media can be a great source of exposure for your business, and it’s made businesses more human, thank goodness! At its best, social media is integrated with all your other strategies – it meshes with your branding, serves an outlet for your content marketing, it helps build your SEO through review and links, and drives traffic to your website.

While almost every small business owner I know is aware that they should be using social media, many are not sure how to go about it.

Rule # 1 – You don’t need to be everywhere. Figure out where your customers hang out and go there. It could be more than one, but it doesn’t have to be all. Once you’ve decided where to focus your energy, commit to it. Be consistent. Consider hiring a pro to help you create and share content on a regular basis. Too often, it’s added to the existing job of an admin or another role within your organization, and it falls by the wayside.

All of these strategies are proven and cost-effective. Most of them, you can implement yourself, if you have the time. However, calling in a professional like a good freelancer can help you learn the ropes, and can actually save you time and money by doing it right the first time.

If you like this article, I have a treat for you! Get your free downloadable guide to sharing your content and getting more views:

The Newest Trend in Growth Hacking – Instagram Engagement Pods

An easy way to get more engagement on Instagram

With what feels like a billion people on the world’s most popular photo sharing platform, it can be tough to stand out. Thanks to the new timeline format, getting attention for your brand is even more of a challenge.

In June 2016, Instagram scrapped the chronological feed in favor its new algorithmic timeline. Now, instead of seeing all of your followers’ posts in order, you see the most popular posts of all your followers, as determined by Instagram’s own formula.

The new algorithm is somewhat like a “rich get richer, poor stay poor” economy, and not everyone loves it. Bloggers and businesses have definitely complained that it’s made organic reach harder to get.

Recently though, bloggers, businesses, and influencers have found a way to fight back. They are banding together in so-called “Instagram pods” in order to kick the Instagram algorithm’s butt!

What is an Instagram Pod?

An Instagram engagement pod is essentially a private group message within the Instagram app or another messaging app (such as Telegram or What’sApp). In these “secret” communities, group members take care of each other like a family or friend circle, helping each other to grow their presence on Instagram.

Pods typically consist of around 10 – 20 members who all follow each other upon joining the group. Each time you post, let the group know via direct message. Everyone in the pod is then expected to like and comment on your post, ideally as soon as possible. You, of course, must do the same for the other members.

Benefits of Joining a Pod

The first and most obvious benefit is the added engagement. The reciprocation of likes and comments is a clever way of boosting activity on everyone’s posts. The more attention your post gets, especially within the first five minutes, the higher up it’s pushed in your followers’ timelines, giving it a better chance for even more engagement.

Members also say that the groups provide a sense of community. Participants encourage each other and sometimes share stories, ideas, and tips with each other. You may even make a genuine partnership with someone you might not have otherwise met.

The Downsides of Joining a Pod

The most immediate downside is, all that liking and commenting can be a lot to keep up with! Sometimes you might be busy or just not in the mood, but members who don’t do their part may be deleted from the group.

If you leave the pod, your engagement may go back down. Ask yourself how will it affect your brand reputation in the long-term?

Joining a pod increases the percentage of your followers who will actually see your post in their feeds, but it does not guarantee sales or more conversions. Other members of the pod are after the same thing you are and are not likely to become your customers. Consider a trail period with a goal of X% increase in conversions. If you don’t hit your goal, ditch the pod.

instagram pods engagement

How to Join an Instagram Pod

Want to join a pod or start your own? There are a few ways to go about it. You might reach out to merchants or bloggers in your area via email to build a pod of like-minded business owners. A lot of pods are also formed via a private Facebook group, Twitter inquiries, or Instagram direct message.

It’s probably a good idea to build or join pods that focus on a common theme, such as travel, fashion, food, sports, etc.

The Future of Instagram?

Who knows if Instagram will start cracking down on pods like they did with engagement bots. Technically pod members are not breaking any rules, but it could be seen as gaming the system.

However, if you’re thirsty for some added engagement, willing to give back, and not scared of feeling like you’ve been transported back to a high school clique, you may want to give it a try!

No matter what happens, it is nice to know people are out there trying to help each other.

Do you engage in Instagram pods? Have they helped or hurt your business? I want to hear about your experience!

Are you using Instagram for Business? Learn how to get the most out of the world’s most popular photo-sharing platform.


instagram product photography

How to Get the Most Out of Instagram for Business

9 Useful Tips for an Awesome Instagram Feed

By now, you know you need to be marketing on social media. Starting out on Instagram can be overwhelming, from knowing what to post, when to post, how to use all the features, and what the heck is a hashtag!?

Why Instagram?

The simple answer – it’s where your customers are!

As of April 2017, Instagram currently has over 700 million monthly active users. 70.7% of US businesses are using Instagram in 2017. Therefore, it’s likely that your competition is there. And if you’re not, you may just be overlooked.

  • 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram.
  • 1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses.
  • 75% of Instagrammers take action after being inspired by a post.

Based on that, I’d say it’s worth the effort. You might even have some fun! I’ve put together some tips for maximizing your Instagram for Business account.

Optimize for Business

First of all, make sure you’re set up as a business account! It’s easy to switch over if you’re still using a Personal Account. Just click the “Settings” button on your profile page (it looks like a little gear), scroll down and click “Switch to Business Profile”. You’ll then be prompted through the whole process of adding a description and basic contact info.

A business account gives you insights about your stories, posts and followers. You can create paid promotions to drive engagement. Plus, the platform uses your contact info to create call to action buttons like “Call”, “Email”, and “Directions” so your clients can reach out to you directly from Instagram. Analytics are in the top-right corner.

Use Instagram Stories

They took a page from the Snapchat book, and it worked! The feature was released in 2016 and has taken off like wildfire. With Stories, you can post a series of images and/or videos that will show up in a slideshow format under your “story” tab. Stories disappear in 24 hours, but don’t worry, you can always start a new one! Start a Story by touching the camera icon at the top left when on your home screen.

Instagram stories are great for boosting engagement and brand visibility. Big brands have reported up to 6% higher engagement with Stories over static posts. And, if your fans view your stories, your static posts are likely to show up higher in their feed.

Share the moments of your day, including behind-the-scenes clips, work in progress, or highlights from events. Give fans a more in-depth feel for your brand by showing your staff clowning around or by giving a tour of your HQ. You can embellish pictures and videos with emojis, captions, hashtags, customized stickers, and even lenses.

instagram stories tips features how to

Engagement is Key

I recommend taking at least 20 – 30 minutes per day to engage, ie follow, like, comment, and mention others. Who, you ask? Engage with other pages that might share your same audience, and pages within your location, industry, or target age demographic. Interact with events that might be happening in your realm. Search popular hashtags and interact there.

If you have a storefront, you can also search yourself as a “place” and engage with anyone who has tagged a photo at your location. If there’s ever press about you or events you’re involved in – be part of the conversation!

Posting a genuine comment on another user’s page keeps you in peoples’ feeds, on their minds, and creates reciprocity. It’s like the Beatles said – “…in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

PROTIP: Posts that tag a location get 79% more engagement!!

Mix Up Your Content

In addition to still images, try mixing in some videos, boomerangs, and slideshows (posts with multiple photos).

Boomerangs play a one-second video forwards and backwards on a loop. They are really fun and easy to make. All you need is the Boomerang app and a little bit of motion.

Another aspect of mixing it up – instead of posting only product pictures, try mixing in images of your team, location, signage, events, or things that inspire within your industry. All are great ways to expand your content offering. Depending on your audience, you might even throw in a meme or two.

PROTIP: Instagram photos that feature faces get 38% more likes than those without.

Host a Contest or a Giveaway on Your Profile

The prize can be big or small; it doesn’t matter. People love free stuff! Consider offering a few freebies of your product or swag like a branded t-shirt.
The key to a good contest is to keep it simple. A formula I have used with success is to ask fans to 1. Like the post, 2. Follow your account and 3. Tag a friend in a comment. Then choose a winner at random. Be sure to let followers know when you’ll choose the winner, and then follow up. You can announce (and tag) winner in the comments or make a separate post to give them a shout out.

You can gain lots of new followers and lots of engagement this way, and your fans get something out of it too.


Speaking of contests, try partnering with other brands or influencers for one! Partnerships are an effective way to promote your Instagram contest to both of your audiences, and also share each other’s followers. Once you find a cool business to partner with, organize a giveaway or series of giveaways and use the same steps as above, asking people to follow both accounts.

Everyone benefits from the cross-promotion and you can even make the prize bigger. You can also try collaborating on events or general posts. This doubles engagement & associates your brand with other (potentially prestigious) brands.

Embrace the Hashtag

Hashtags are one of the most misunderstood features of social media. Trust me, they work!

Hashtags identify a topic of interest and are searchable. So, when you use a hashtag on your posts, it’s indexed by Instagram and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users. Click on any hashtag within the platform to see what I mean.

Every industry has some popular hashtags that you can use to garner engagement. Get creative and come up with a few that are unique to your brand. Use them consistently and you create a living archive of your best posts or products. Include the hashtag on your profile page bio to encourage people to use it.

PROTIP: Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.

Reward Your Followers

As a way to show your appreciation to followers, offer them first dibs on new promotions, products, events, or company news. Post a teaser photo or series of photos to create anticipation, and let them know that you are putting followers first!

Keep Your Profile Updated

It can be easy to forget about your social profiles when updating to a new office phone or address. If you do, however, you could miss out on new prospects!

In addition, update your profile photo every once in a while to keep things fresh. To make things easy, schedule a profile photo update in your content calendar every 3-4 months.

If you have a blog, update the link in your bio to feature new blog posts. Then post an image from the blog directing people to your website via the profile page. It’s all connected!

Ready to join the fun and get started on Instagram? Still have questions? Get in touch! I’m here for ya’.

Read about the latest trend in Instagram engagement


trends in digital customer care ebook 2017

Trends in Digital Customer Service 2017

Our digital marketing landscape is always changing.

In 2017, the business world has become increasingly digital. With developments in mobile apps, social media, email marketing, online ordering, and selling directly from your Instagram page, the lines between storefront and e-commerce shop are becoming increasingly blurred.

For some, keeping up with the constant evolution of online marketing is an inconvenience. For me, it’s an exciting challenge. Keeping up definitely keeps things interesting! One thing that’s not going to change anytime soon: today’s customer is a digital customer.

What can we learn from our digital customers in 2017 and beyond? How can we use technology to better serve them?

I am happy and honored to be included among 10 international experts discussing this subject in the ebook 2017 Trends: Social Customer Service Trends by 10 International Experts (in English and Spanish!)

international expert digital media rebecca rosenbergdigital customer care trends 2017

Thanks to my colleague Billie Sastre for putting this together.

Read the entire ebook here.