The year 2017 is just about over – what are you planning to do for your marketing plan in 2018? As a business owner, you know how important digital marketing is, but there are a lot of pieces to fit together.

And those who aren’t privy to how it all works are more likely to end up with a mess of a strategy. If this is what your 2017 looked like, then there’s hope for you yet.

The New Year is right around the corner, so now’s the time to start planning your digital strategy in advance. This way, your marketing efforts don’t continue on in vain.

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the ways you can get focused and which trends to focus on. Let’s get started!

1. Focus on Your Target Market

You can have a rewarding marketing strategy without a specified target market. The problem is that a lot of businesses don’t have a clearly defined market.

This is a major mistake because it means their message is falling on deaf ears (and blind eyes). Marketing is all about connecting with prospects.

So the first step is to identify your target market. Don’t worry, you’re not the first business that had to refocus their targeting.

The key is to narrow your target market, so your messaging clearly speaks to them. And your audience should know you’re speaking to them.

Let’s review the steps you can take to find out your target audience.

2. Do a Market Analysis

Now, there are key questions you want to ask to determine who your target market is. Collect all the data into a report, so you can analyze it for your marketing campaign.

Some of the questions you need to cover include:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Where are they located?
  • What do they think about your brand right now?
  • What do you want them to think about your brand?
  • What methods will you use to attract them to your product or service?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Is your customer consumers or other businesses?

3. Create a Description of Your Target Customer

Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s time to review them and create personas. But in order to make them, you need to figure out the following:

  • The age and demographics of your target customer
  • The gender of your target customers
  • The income level of your prospects
  • The family situation of your customers (married, single, divorced, widowed, etc.)
  • Whether your customers will save money to buy from your brand.
  • Whether your customers have to purchase your product or service at a specific time
  • Special features your customers find appealing
  • What your customers like and dislike about your service or product
  • Whether your product or service initiates an impulsive or planned purchase

Based on all the intel you gather, it’s time to develop customer profiles you can use for all your future marketing collateral.

Now, you’re ready to prepare for the upcoming digital marketing trends for 2018. Let’s review them.

4. Watch for SEO Trends in 2018

Most of your marketing efforts will go into search engine optimization. Or at least, it should. It’s the one method that yields great results.

For instance, businesses that have a blog have 97 percent more inbound links that those that don’t. And you can’t ignore the fact 93 percent of online experiences start on search engines.

Then factor in that 70 percent of users skip the paid ads in search engine pages results (SERPs). If your website and content aren’t showing up in the SERPs, then you can forget about increasing your traffic.

But what methods should you focus your SEO marketing efforts on? Let’s take a look at the trends we expect to see in 2018.

Prepare for Changes in SERP Features

Likely, you’ve already seen the changes Google is making to its search engine results. For example, the box of info that pops up to the right when you search for a famous person.

Or the slideshow of movies that show up when you type in “top movies of 2017.” And there’s even an answer box that displays answers to your queries.

As you’d imagine, this is revamping how marketers are planning their SEO strategies. For example, writing content based on specific questions, so they can show up in the knowledge panel on Google.

What you should do is watch how these features evolve. See how your keywords show up within these features. Is it helping or hurting your traffic?

Try to get your content featured in the snippet of queries relating to your target keywords. Let’s review this more closely.

Get Ready for the Rise of Structured Data

Now, to boost the chances of your content showing up in the new and approved SERPs, you have to focus on using structured data.

This is a way to format HTML, so search engines know how to analyze and display your content in the SERPs.

Do note that Google hasn’t confirmed structured data as being a ranking signal. However, incorporating this method can help your ranking in a number of ways.

For instance, if you can get your content to show up in Knowledge Graph panels and rich snippets, it can improve your click-through rate by 30 percent.

The diversity that search engines now offer makes it easier for your brand to stand out. You can add this to your marketing efforts is to use one of the approved structured data formats like

5. Make Your Site Faster

Speed is and always will be relevant to your search engine optimization. Google boots any sites and pages that download slowly.

If your website isn’t up to speed, then it will have a negative impact on your ranking. As a rule of thumb, your website should load within three seconds or less.

The way to check your site is to run a speed test. You can use Google’s tool, which is built into the WebSite Auditor. Go to the Content Analysis section and choose the page you’d like to test.

In the Technical factors section, you will find Page speed (desktop). If your pages aren’t loading fast enough, you can improve it by removing or compressing image files and removing unnecessary plugins.

6. Relevance Is the Key to Quality

Google is all about high-quality content. But what determines whether or not content is quality? This is important to know so your marketing efforts aren’t wasted.

One way Google identifies good content is based on its relevance. Latent Semantic Indexing allows Google to do this. Google bots crawl billions of web pages looking for keywords and the context they’re used.

Then Google learns which terms relate to one another and then decides if the content is comprehensive. A good reason to write longer articles and landing pages filled with lots of great information and insights.

If your audience finds it relevant, then they will share it, which sends more ranking signals to Google.

7. The Takeover of Voice Search

Technology continues to transform how we do research, shop and communicate. It’s no surprise Google is implementing new technologies to improve user searches.

One, in particular, is voice search, which is growing in popularity. Already 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults are using voice search daily.

This is likely thanks to the majority of people using mobile devices to use the internet. Voicing is faster and more convenient than typing on a little screen.

Also, this changes how search queries are done. Rather than seeing odd key phrases like “dental implants Houston,” you’re getting terms like “where are the best dental offices in Houston?”

In other words, the search queries sound more conversational. What this means is you’ll have to focus your optimization on sounding more natural. The day of using odd keywords are slowly fading away.

One tool you can use as part of your marketing efforts is Rank Tracker. This will help with researching the queries voice searchers are likely to ask.

8. The Internet of Things Takes Content Off Screen

We went from desktops to laptops to tablets to smartphones. And now, we’re seeing content offered off the screen.

Take for example Siri, Alexa, and other digital assistants. You can ask them questions using your voice and it responds to your query. No screen needed.

How will this change your marketing efforts? Well, for the time being, it will have a slight effect. However, everyone still uses screen search for the time being.

But don’t overlook formatting your content to match voice search, so it’s used by digital assistants.

9. Include User-Generated Content in Your Marketing Efforts

Consumers today loathe advertisements. Instead, what makes them purchase a product is hearing from other satisfied customers.

It’s all about social proof. One way you can leverage this is to make it easier for your prospects to find it. For example, you can display reviews on your website. Or post videos of testimonials on your YouTube channel.

A lot of people head to social media platforms to find social proof. It’s a good idea to post reviews and testimonials here as well. Also, try to engage customers in conversations to make their comments about your brand authentic.

Stats show 83 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. In other words, people they follow on social media. Another 66 percent trust other consumers’ opinions found online. This is where your reviews and testimonials come in.

10. Create More Video Content

Focusing your marketing efforts on video creation is ingenious. It’s one of the most consumed types of content on the web. In fact, users watch 5 billion videos daily on YouTube.

However, this isn’t the only platform users are consuming video from. Other sites you want to include in your video marketing efforts are Facebook and even Instagram.

Fact is, videos yield more engagement, such as likes, shares, and comments. This is especially true on Facebook. At one point, Snapchat was the “it” factor for consuming video.

Then Instagram Stories blew it out of the water with more than 200 million people uploading video content. That’s 50 million more than Snapchat.

11. Invest in Influencer Marketing

Starting out on social media can be overwhelming. It’s why some businesses overlook adding it to their marketing efforts. However, there’s a way to boost your followers and engagement quickly.

Building relationships with influencers in your industry is the key. Another option is to pay influencers outright to share your content, mention your brand or promote a product or service.

The key is to find influencers with a large following of your target audience. Otherwise, your marketing efforts are null and void.

12. Implement 360-Degree Videos

It’s important to keep a close watch on virtual reality as more people purchase devices for their homes. There are different ways businesses can add it to their marketing efforts.

For example, they can create 360-degree videos of their products, services, or storefront. This also works for you if you have a restaurant you want to showcase to prospects.

It’d also be useful in real estate for showing off homes for sale and for rent. Whatever your industry, you can use 360-degree videos to give a realistic demonstration of your offer.

Build a Solid Marketing Strategy for 2018

There’s no time to waste – it’s time to put together your digital strategy for 2018. Using expert services for your marketing efforts may be your best option for maintaining a competitive edge.

At Top Spot, we have all the services you need to begin and improve your digital marketing strategy.

This includes online marketing, local marketing, web design and consulting.

Contact us today to learn how we can make your 2018 a marketing success!