Digital trends are constantly changing and evolving. And, sure, it can be tough keeping up with the latest and greatest in technology, but it’s also exciting to see further advancements and new ideas. Am I right?

Some trends are just a blip on the radar, with the lifespan of a fly, and others are here to stay a while. As our way of saying “cheers!” to the new year, here are a few of our favorite growing digital trends worth watching in 2018:

1.   Voice-Powered Search

It’s time to get to know SEO’s younger cousin: voice search optimization. Google said voice search made up 20 percent of online mobile searches in 2016. Some estimate the number could grow to 50 percent by 2020. With smart speakers and virtual assistants heating up the market, we’ll see voice-powered search continue to climb.

Marketers are already starting to optimize content for voice-search with long-tail content and keyword phrases. That’s because voice searches tend to be longer and more specific than text searches (because it’s easier to say it all than type it all). Get ready to optimize! 

2.   Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is leveling up and worlds are definitely colliding. To clear up any confusion, there is a big difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual reality uses headsets like Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard to virtually “transport” you into a new reality, blocking out your current world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, augments our current reality by adding something to it. Probably the most common and rampant example of augmented reality are SnapChat filters and Pokemon Go.

But augmented reality won’t just be a function for kicks and giggles. There is serious, practical value in this technology, including advertising and navigation enhancements. For instance, remember when Nokia introduced City Lens? Pointing your camera at a street and pull up all the info you need about shops along that strip – ratings, distance, etc. – will become routine. Same goes for the aisle of a store to find products and sales or viewing your engine with assistance from your augmented reality car manual. There are serious opportunities in this trend – especially for advertising, retail and education.

3.   Dark Social

There’s a weird public-private paradox in the digital world. While we’re broadcasting to the world what we ate for breakfast, we also want to protect our privacy. It’s a tough balancing act. What we see, instead, is users continuing to connect on social media, but targeting their messages to specific people – under the radar of brands and big brother – through messaging apps (like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp), emails, native mobile apps and secure browsing. For example, when you copy and paste this article you found on Facebook and email it to your boss. That’s dark social. Some reports say 84 percent of outbound sharing happens on dark social, which has a big impact on your traffic.

Dark Social isn’t something you want to ignore in 2018. It’s a solid marketing opportunity for your brand.

4.   Micro-Moments

Make every micro-moment count. These are the nanosecond-windows of opportunity you have to capture a consumer’s attention. Google estimates consumers experience these micro-moments about 150 times a day, varying from purchase moments, research moments or discovery moments. More people are making on-the-spot decisions (i.e. deciding where to eat nearby, checking in to a hotel without having to wait in line, making a purchase ahead of time).

What does this mean for brands and content marketing? It means you need to create content or tools to allow people to accomplish whatever they need to in a given moment. Think of your consumer needs, get ahead of it and create provide value and relevance quickly.

5.   AI Technology

The bots are taking over! Ok, not quite. Artificial Intelligence isn’t self-aware by any means, but it’s definitely getting smarter thanks to innovative developers. And while AI Technology isn’t taking over the world, it is starting to take over other things – like cars, website messages and customer service assistance, medical devices and virtual assistant smart speakers. What seemed like a science-fiction vision of the future is becoming more accessible and mainstream.

AI may seem like a fun nice-to-have, but you’d be surprised how much you and your business will rely on this technology. For example, AI will start to automate your customer service and customer interactions with chatbots, strategically automate your email marketing and rapidly analyze your data. While AI may seem emotionless and detached, chatbots and virtual assistants are evolving to be more personal and conversational. Major software companies are already embedding AI into their platforms and, so far, it’s working.

6.   Personalized Content

Let’s get personal… but not too personal. No one is looking to be creeped out by Big-Brother-esque marketing. But people are looking for relevancy. Account-based marketing is on the rise, allowing brands to tailor content to a specific account or account type (think Netflix and its “suggested” content). Consumers want to mitigate the “noise” of irrelevant and unwanted offers. You can leverage this trend by modifying your content to your specific audience and their needs. Don’t know your audience or their needs? Try creating personas to get to know them better. You might be surprised how personalization can drastically increase your numbers.

7.   Internet of Things

Internet, meet things. The ever-growing-in-popularity of IoT or “Internet of Things” is one digital trend we’re stoked about in 2018. More brands are turning to leverage this network of physical devices. Gartner, an analyst firm, speculates there will be more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Imagine a future where your car warns you of heavy traffic or your alarm clock notifies you about your coffee brewing itself in the kitchen. Move over, smartphones. Smart cities aren’t far behind you. What does this mean for your business? It means keeping up with a lot of data. Mobile providers and networks will have to load faster than ever before. And it means you need to start amping up your IT security to protect against hacking.

8.   Data & Analytics

Data, data everywhere. And we mean everywhere. Thanks to many other digital trends we already mentioned (like the Internet of Things, AI, etc.), we’re generating an overwhelming amount of data. With the massive amount of info we generate every minute, businesses will have the power to revolutionize processes and efficiency. It also means precision targeting and personalization. This data-influx will affect all industries – from manufacturing to healthcare. Best to start collecting and find someone who can dig through the numbers with you.

Need help navigating digital solutions? Get in touch with us.

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