Digital Marketing Trends 2018 – The Winners and Losers

As we work towards the end of another year and having the had the opportunity to work with an array of Aussie and international businesses we started to note a few common trends flowing through the minds of Marketing Managers and how they are spending their budgets digitally.

Everyone wants to be a part of the next big thing… and there is a lot of pressure on Marketing Managers from a lot of people in their own teams “why aren’t we doing this” and “so and so is doing that” and in the world of digital there is always another shiny new object that business owners are being convinced to spend their marketing budgets on.

So, with chatbots, influencers, programmatic, personalisation, social stories, content, voice and more… its easy to see how marketing budgets get splintered or splattered across an array of activity.

And although the future is bright and ever changing with artificial intelligence and some super crazy platforms and tools to assist us – where should businesses be spending their marketing budget?

The answer is simple – most of the budget should be spent on revenue driving activities.

I know you are all thinking – well that’s just obvious! As obvious as it is – it’s quite simply not done. Budgets get split across a myriad of activity that somehow organisations feel they need to be doing or they have been sold into doing – and effectively diluting the ability to generate or maximise channels that deliver the highest return.

Based on what performed for our clients this year – we have come up with our own Winner’s and Loser list!

The Winners

  • Google Search – Although no longer the darling of digital the landscape with CPC’s trending upwards, Google Organic and Google Ads if well managed still has the capacity to drive the most cost-effective ROI and is still driving the most clicks and sales for majority of clients.
  • Instagram – Between the takeover of stories, newsfeed ads, Instagram’s advertising content is now digestible along side organic user content. They have mastered integrating ads to people’s tastes helping businesses reach the 1 billion active users (In September 2018). We haven’t touched on the power of influencer marketing here, but marketing mag has a great piece you can read here.
  • LinkedIn Articles – Promoting articles has outperformed running native ads for our clients this year on LinkedIn. LinkedIn targeting is unique in its ability to directly reach users based on their occupations and the companies they work for, but LinkedIn reach is lower and people are not logging in at the same frequency as other platforms.
  • Native Advertising – it has always been our motto to “market to where you people live online” and we had tested a lot of different publisher activities this year. Some with really great success. We found native content in very targeted niche EDMs to be the most effective, performing much better than banners and standard onsite display.
  • Facebook Video – more videos are being watched on Facebook than on YouTube now. This has required us marketers to broaden our skills with video creation, which generates more engagement than the standard image and text post. Here is great article we found about the rise of Facebook Video.

The Losers

  • Facebook Ads and Organic – Advertisers have struggled with the Facebook algorithm changes that limits the visibility of organic posts in feeds. A lot of resorted to budgeting to boost all posts with small budgets to guarantee that they get seen. Facebook traffic can have high bounce rates.
  • Outbrain – While the reach on Outbrain is vast, there are limitations with targeting. Ads show in so many locations that adding exclusions every day could be a full time job.
  • Programmatic – Nearly all our clients feel they need to be doing programmatic. The data doesn’t stack up and measuring view throughs – that you can’t guarantee where even seen is often double counting. Marketers should look for overall lifts in sales. This is activity is something we recommend after the best performing budget is maximised.
  • Tracking – The biggest fail for us this year is the lack of focus or importance on accurate tracking and measuring of each marketing channel. There is a distinct lack of accountable for each channel or measurement of true costs.

Although we appreciate why marketing budgets are being splintered, the best results will come from highly weighting to the best performing channels to get the most return on spends and then the balance divvied up to the remaining “nice to have” activity.

Milk the ROI cow.