At this point in the year, it`s important to consider what’s coming and – more importantly – what effects that might have on our marketing plans and decisions. The big question we’ve got to ask ourselves is: Will 2018 be different from 2017? Will there be huge upsets that will change the landscape?
Here we’re going to look into some of the biggest things to consider so you’ll be as ready as you can be as we start this new year.
The revocation of net neutrality
The recent decision to revoke net neutrality is going to be huge – and, unless you’re an internet behemoth, not in a good way. This is the situation. The big corporations who can pay for it will be able to speed up their internet connections while smaller businesses will in all likelihood experience a dramatic slowdown of internet speed.
And that’s a huge deal, since page load speed has been shown to have a big effect on how long people stick around a website and by extension the bottom line.
In other words, though this might have been announced as an attempt to increase competition and make the net fairer, in truth it’s going to do the opposite. Which is great, if you’re already on the inside, less advantageous if you’re a smaller company trying to make it out there.
The (continuing) evolution of Google Search
Then there is how Google will interpret search queries in the future. Recently, it’s become clear that Google’s Search algorithm uses grouped content pillars and topic clusters so that when people make searches, they are more likely to get what they’re looking for.
So what are these, I hear you ask. Well, the idea is that your websites have a number of pages devoted to a specific topic, with them all interlinked together so that people can learn about different aspects of that topic on the different pages.
A topic pillar, in the meantime, serves as a central page which points to a bunch of other ones. In this way, people can learn a great deal about the theme and then go on to other pages to find out more.
What this means for you is that it’s time to re-explore your content and make sure that you’ve got these types of topic clusters on your page and that you’ve written up comprehensive content pillars which point to other content out there (including, obviously, your own). Doing so will pull far more organic search traffic from Google and since that’s still free, that’s most desirable.
The first Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven marketing tools will start to make their presence felt
As big data and the AI that it inspired continue to grow, the tools they’re creating will become more affordable to smaller companies. These, in turn, will allow for far more insight into how, where and what marketing we should do.
That means you should definitely consider jumping on board this bandwagon in 2018, by using the tools and the options that are out there for you. It really doesn’t matter what kind of small company you are, whether you sell widgets, internet services, or are the translation company of choice. AI-driven marketing is going to become more important – so why not move in early?
The emphasis on being up to date
Another big change that’s crept into website design is the realization that content is ranked on freshness. In the past, most companies would maintain a website for one year, or perhaps a year and a half. Then they would redo the website in its entirety over a several-month period after which they would wait for a long time again to rebuild.
That makes sense financially since it’s a one-time expense and you don’t have to constantly monitor your website. However, it isn’t such a good strategy for ranking well on search engines, as this means that your content is seen as old and therefore less relevant by search engines.
It turns out that a better strategy is to constantly add and change little bits of the site over time. In this way, the search engines consider the content on the website as continuously fresh and are more likely to rank it highly.
One of the best strategies to do this is blogging, of course. This creates a constant stream of new content that search engines can crawl and share with their users.
Have you heard? Facebook is going to follow in the footsteps of Netflix and YouTube and launch Facebook Watch. And, as Facebook still plays a central role in many people’s lives, that means there is bound to be quite a lot of attention for the new platform in 2018 – yes, even if it ultimately does end up flopping, it should certainly form a part of your marketing strategy.
So, if you’re thinking about upping your video content (and are already a seasoned creator) then why not try out this new platform? Because it always pays dividends to be in a field before everybody else has moved in – for, as they say, the early bird gets the worm.
Don’t forget the other options
With 2018 poised to change the internet a lot, it might be a good idea to think of the other options still out there. Newspapers, TV, radio, direct mail and billboards are still very effective ways to get to customers and can often work wonders if you want to aim your content at a specific audience.
For example, older adults are still far more likely to check their snail mail and open everything that comes in the mailbox. That means that if adults are your audience, you might be better off attempting alternative routes as other people leave them behind again. After all, there is always an advantage to zigging when the rest of the market zags.
Whatever you do, don’t continue doing what you’ve always done. Yes, it might have worked well, but we’re going through an interesting time right now and there are a lot of new options on the table. Many of these developments will eat into or change the effectiveness of what you’ve always done. And that means that even by continuing on the course you are on right now, there is a good chance things will become less effective going forward.
The best way to make sure you’re resistant to shock is to not put all your eggs in one basket. By that I mean that you create multiple marketing media routes to your audience. These will make sure that if one area booms you’ll easily be able to move more resources into it. Similarly, when another market falters you’re not overly dependent on it.
For the rest, it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open and your ear to the ground.
Margaret Reid is a self-driven specialist who works for The Word Point in addition to writing informative blogs.