Welcome to 2018.
I have just come back from a holiday with my family in Tenerife where we celebrated a new year.
Whilst out in Tenerife, I was thinking long and hard about what I wanted my first piece of content to be for 2018 for my Warren Knight website.
Every single piece of content that I was looking at, was about “being online”, “putting social media first” and the future of digital.
I decided to sit down for an hour (or two), and write down what’s important to me in 2018, and what should be important to YOU in 2018, and realised one very simple thing.
It’s about thinking digital first.
If you know me, you may laugh as I have a business with that very same name, and two books also sharing the same name.
When it comes to business, the three words “think digital first” has shaped my entrepreneurial journey since 2014, and because of this; I want you to make “think digital first” your mantra in 2018.
I want to share some statements with you that have become a part of my mantra, and can be a part of yours when thinking digital first.
Digital Marketing And Marketing Are One Of The Same
To someone on the outside, digital marketing, and marketing are going to be seen as one of the same. Businesses are not investing in mainstream advertisement (radio, newspaper, tv) like they used to, and that’s because marketing is now seen as digital marketing.
Something I have believed in for a very long time is the multi-channel, inclusive strategy when it comes to marketing. The way I market my business online is through a number of different channels, but they all work together, not separately.
Be More Honest With The Content You Share
As we know, the online world is saturated with content. For your content to be noticed by your target audience, you are going to need to write from a different place.
By this, I mean being more honest with the content you write. The trend for instant, real-time, trending based content is extremely apparent and it’s OK to address this.
The businesses that have a voice, and share their opinion are the businesses that are most respected by their audience, and with respect comes authority, and brand advocates.
Credibility Is More Important Now, Than Ever Before
Similar to what I mentioned above around content; credibility is going to be so important in 2018. To grow your business with the “think digital first” mantra, you need to become memorable and authentic.
This doesn’t mean that you say something headline-grabbing and then because you have a lot of short-term interest that you suddenly have credibility. It doesn’t work like that. Building long-term relationships with your audience, and a brand that is credible and respectable will win in the long run.
For small businesses, there is a great opportunity to build credibility, and to get closer to the target audience communities that you engage with on a regular basis. Communities are what is going to build credibility, so start today; and build your community.
eCommerce Will Continue To Grow
Being online, and having a website is going to continue to not only be important, but become an even more centralised place for your audience to find you online.
There are a number of different things that make a successful eCommerce experience which I have detailed in my Website Marketing Playbook here.
Learn How To Use AI [Artificial Intelligence]
This is not the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last time that I talk about artificial intelligence.
AI paired with chatbots is going to be an amazing way to offer the best customer service on online. Artificial Intelligence will be one of the biggest parts of the “think digital first” mantra in 2018. With chatbots becoming more intelligent, and AI becoming more advanced, communication is going to change throughout 2018.
Whilst all of the above is great, if you don’t know how to utilise Artificial Intelligence for your business, you may fall behind. Do your research (I have written a number of articles on AI) and really understand exactly how you can create an experience that your audience truly want to engage with.
An Audience-First Strategy Is Going To Be Key
This is something I talk about on a regular basis when I run webinars, or speak at an event. Understanding, defining and engaging with your target audience is key.
Having an audience-first strategy means that you are creating content that your audience WANTS from you, and not what YOU want to create as a business.
The above is a given, but there has been a slight change. There needs to be the delivery of the correct message, to your target audience, at the right time and using the right social network to achieve success. To understand how this can be done, do your research and find out where your target audience “hangs out” online.
A Partner-Focused Approach Is Going To Be Lucrative
For me, 2017 was the year of partnership-focused content. I had a number of different partners that I worked with where I ran webinars to their audience. I also contributed to their websites in the form of written content.
This drove unique visitors to my website, webinars, content and ultimately; products. Building my position as a thought leader in my industry was a big goal of mine, and a partner-focused approach enabled me to do this.
Think about how you can collaborate with other businesses in your industry in 2018, and capitalise on a partner-focused approach.
Introduce A Budget For Video
Did you know that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers? Or that 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI?
I have personally experimented with video marketing throughout 2017 with YouTube, and paid advertisement, and have seen great results. I know that some of the social networks have big things in store for 2018 when looking at Video which means it needs to be a huge part of your budget for 2018.
Personalised Advertisement Will Deliver Results
For every webinar I ran, and for every online course I delivered throughout 2017, I ran paid advertisement campaigns. This included both Google, and social. I found that just running adverts wasn’t enough, so I invested in remarketing campaigns.
Remarketing is where you create an ad that in essence, follows someone around the internet wherever they go. The more a potential customer becomes familiar with your business, the more likely they are to purchase from you. This also caters towards delivering personalised advertising.
If someone is visiting your website, and interested in working with you, you can then chose to have your advertisement follow them around the internet, to help bring them back to you.
Target Your Content Towards People, Not Keywords
For many years, a content strategy has been based around identifying keywords that have a lot of searches, but with low competition. This was a very strategic approach, but this will not work in 2018.
You need to put your audience front and centre. Your content needs to be targeted towards people, and exactly how they search rather than what you think your keywords should be.
It is also worth noting that the length of content is going to be a key factor in 2018. Content around the 1,200+ word count are going to be more engaging for an audience and whilst they will spend more time reading your content, they will also have more time to become engaged with you as a brand.
The Think Digital First Process
To wrap this piece of content up, I want to share with you some key points that you should be looking at when making think digital first your mantra in 2018.
#1: Digital Touchpoints
When thinking about the customer service you are delivering, you need to have various digital touchpoints. By this I mean using your social networks, email and website to offer ways in which your audience can engage with you.
I have been testing chatbots for the last few months, and this is going to be a huge part of how I communicate with you, my audience, online.
AI [Artificial Intelligence] paired with chatbots are going to be an amazing way to offer the best customer service on Social Media. With chatbots becoming more intelligent, and AI becoming more advanced, communication is going to change throughout 2018.
#3: Content Creation
I touched on this throughout the article, but creating new, unique and relevant content for your audience is going to be key for your “think digital first” mantra in 2018.
If you’re reading this and thinking “I want more information on thinking digital first” then take a look at my award-winning 5* amazon-rated book; Think #Digital First. It will give you a more in-depth understanding around having a digitally-savvy business.
What do you think 2018 has in store for your business, and what major digital shifts are you going to make?