Jen McKinnon
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Our Top 5 Marketing Tactics for 2018

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As we get down to business for 2018, we can look back on what we learned last year (there’s plenty!) and use that, along with the new technology available, to make recommendations to improve your strategy for the new year!

We’ve taken a look into all five of our major web services – SEO, PPC, Social, Content and Web Development – and put together a list of our top recommendations for your online marketing strategy in 2018.

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RankBrain & User Experience (UX)

RankBrain is Google’s third largest ranking factor and, as the Google algorithm continues to advance further in 2018, it will become an even more important factor to consider this year. But what is it?

Simply put, RankBrain is the little man inside the computer that helps Google sort its results. In more detail, it’s the machine learning system that records the percentage of users who click on each result and how long they spend on each page (Dwell Time), then uses the data to determine the rank of each article.

SEO wizards have become so good at bumping pages organically up the ranks that Google has had to find other ways to crowd the results page. Now you’ll see ads, answer boxes and carousels populating the page above the fold (the space on the screen before you have to scroll down), clouding the organic results in an attempt to stop businesses exploiting the Google algorithm.

What matters most to RankBrain, however, is User Experience (UX). The better the UX, the more engaged the viewer. This means that in 2018, SEO specialists will need to put more of an emphasis on making sites appealing to the user. User experience is a combination of functionality and design and can be improved by completing the following:

  • Layout: Simplify the layout. A complicated site deters users.
  • User Interface (UI): UI patterns should be consistent to simplify the way users navigate your site. Ensure your site is forgiving by making it easy to go back and forth between pages.
  • Design: Make the composition of the site clean and easy on the eye by minimising clutter and ensuring design is inviting. Use imagery, typography and colour to attract users.

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AdWords Ad Extensions

In 2017, there were several new extensions added to the AdWords platform to impact the user experience on both web and mobile. The new extensions for text ads include location information, callouts and a click-to-text contact function. Our two favourites, however, have to be the price extension and the promotion extension, both of which are available on web and mobile devices, making more detail instantaneously available to viewers.

Price Extension

The price extension allows you to show a list of products and prices below the main ad copy on Google text ads. This is the first time Google has provided the functionality to show pricing information for multiple products and services in their ads. This feature was only made available for mobile devices from the outset but is now applicable across all devices.

The fight is on! This extension is only an option for ads listed at the top position on any give results page, which will likely spark more competition within the AdWords space and could prompt a surge in the cost per click.

Free AdWords audit online shopping

Promotion Extension

Similar to the price extension, this add-on allows you to display and link to specific offers within your text ads. It is available in both mobile and desktop formats but can only be implemented using the new Google AdWords Interface. The great thing about this extension is that, rather than producing new ads for each deal, you can illuminate the latest offers within your existing ads.

While using this or any of the fresh features, the new AdWords interface will provide you with a preview of your ads for both mobile and desktop!

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 Video is the New Black

Video content dominated the social space last year and there’s no sign of it slowing – it’s trending again in 2018! Since the launch of Facebook Live in April of 2016 (the live streaming function on the Facebook App), and the introduction of the SnapChat-style story function on both Instagram and Facebook, the realm of content marketing has become saturated by video. We have reached a point where we are uploading more video content in 30 days than major U.S. television networks have generated in 30 years. And, on the marketing spectrum, it’s seeing great results!

Videos get 10 times more engagement than images. Already, one-third of web activity is spent watching videos online and, on average, businesses post at least 18 videos per month. Two years ago, CISCO made the prediction that, by 2020, videos will account for 80% of consumer web traffic and we’re well on the way to realising that prophecy. So, if you haven’t made the step up to include video in your marketing mix, now is the time to do so!

With Facebook launching their response to Netflix, a brand new SVOD (Streaming Video on Demand) service, in the not-so-distant future, there’s likely to be potential to feature video ads across the new platform. Learn what your audience likes and wants now by implementing video across your organic content and get a head start on your competition.

Social Media is the fastest growing marketing platform. Every day offers a new opportunity and the potential to reach new prospective customers. If a new feature appears, like the new story function, be the first to jump onboard and get a handle on the new technology before your competitors do!

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Quality Over Quantity

It turns out that, when it comes to content in 2018, less is more. While, in the past, a significant focus has been placed on consistently pumping out some content – any content! – this year, the tables have turned, and we will see high-quality content uploaded less frequently. This stems from a major marketing shift surrounding the concept of purpose.

The purposeful marketing approach centres around positioning the brand almost as its own being, allowing audiences to get to know the brand personality on an intimate level. Feeling connected to a brand has become important to consumers of today, which is why this strategy is gleaning great results. It gives the public a reason, other than pure necessity, to like and follow the brand

Due to the shift in consumer behaviour, it would be wise to ensure your content is more directed in 2018 and that your marketing messages also originate from a social standpoint, rather than just telling customers about the products and services. Exploring what the business stands for – it’s social purpose – naturally requires more depth, so elaborate pieces of content are taking precedence over spending the same amount of effort on multiple pieces of less appealing, less directed content.

With a cut-back in content frequency, businesses will benefit from allocating a more fulsome budget to paid boosting of their high-quality content. This also means that amplification streams, like social media, should be taken into account during content production.

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Chatbots

Have you ever entered a website and been greeted by a small (but incredibly polite) pop-up message in the corner of your screen? “Welcome to our site! We’re online and ready to help.” This is a bot and they are revolutionising the way audiences engage with businesses online.

In the general sense, a bot uses software to perform an automated task. A Chatbot is a bot mutation that allows customers to interact with “the business” via a chat interface, similar to social networks like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Once installed on a website, the feature allows consumers to have a conversation with the bot to retrieve the information they are looking for, rather than browsing the website.

Seem like a pretty simple, text-based service? Not that special? Not terribly intriguing? Wrong! Bots actually provide an invaluable opportunity to interact with customers in a way that they are comfortable with and used to. On average, we each spend at least 50 minutes per day on social media, interacting with friends (and sometimes even strangers) on text-based apps just like these. The mask the computer or smart device has provided its user has become not only prized by the modern consumer but ingrained in our society. So much so, that now many people depend on it, placing a higher value on instantaneous online interaction and disengaging with any transaction that isn’t simple, direct or immediately gratifying.

There are two types of chatbots currently available and each works using a different formula. The first type, Scripted Chatbots, can be programmed to detect themes within questions and respond with automatic replies. The second type, the Intelligent Chatbot, is more instinctive and uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to generate more personalised responses.

Today, online media is all about speed and efficiency. Chatbots are the fastest way for consumers to find the content they’re looking for, whether it’s an answer to a product or service related question, help making a purchase or customer support to nurture existing clients. Not only do these bots provide efficiency, but they simulate the experience the customer would have in store. If you haven’t already, install a chatbot on your site today!

 

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By Jen McKinnon


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