With 2018 fast approaching, we asked 20 marketing experts for the growth marketing trends, tactics, and strategies they see taking center stage in 2018. We’ve organized their responses into 7 categories:
- Data and Analytics
- Paid Acquisition
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Video and Live Streaming
- Other Channels and Strategies
- General Growth Marketing
Check out some of the folks below Thursday, December 7th at the Growth Marketing Conference in San Francisco! Click here to buy your ticket.
SEO and Content
The big SEO trend in 2018 will be Google’s AI algorithm. The days of a bunch of nerdy engineers turning the dials at Mountain View are fading fast. Instead, Google’s AI program (RankBrain) is figuring out if users are satisfied… and shuffling around the search results accordingly. That said, links, on-page SEO, keyword research and the other “traditional” SEO strategies will still be important. But they’ll be less important as time goes on. – Brian Dean, Backlinko
SEO Tip: At its core, SEO is about content and links. Stop trying to re-create the wheel and stop reading so many blog posts. Dive into Google Search Console, see which high intent queries you are getting volume, but have a poor impression-to-click ratio, and optimize accordingly.
SEO Trends: Both of these have been around for a bit, but semantic relevancy and snippets will continue to be huge in 2018. These both take some creative “hacking” or knowing where to look, but can provide step function lifts in your organic traffic and allow you to leapfrog competitors with stronger domains and backlink profiles. – Casey Armstrong, BigCommerce
There is no ‘best” on-average website for all visitors. Copying your competitors is never a good idea, because you do not understand key aspects of their business model, audience, brand strength, or strategy.
So what is the right answer?
You need to actually listen to your site visitors. The best way to do that is to pay attention to what they do on your site. Based on this information, you can change the site experience in real-time. Personalization can pay huge dividends because it makes the visitor feel special and dramatically increases relevance for them. – Tim Ash, SiteTuners
AMP isn’t gaining headlines or a sexy growth hack right now but it’s not going away, it’s steadily gaining steam. In the SEO world, I wouldn’t be surprised if AMP moves from a “nice-to-have” to a “make-the-switch-right-now” over 2018-2019. Even though giving Google control of our site makes me super nervous over the long-term, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a deal with the devil that I’ll get forced into signing. – Lars Lofgren, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
It’s more important than ever to make sure you do a good job targeting email based on actions and other elements of personalization. The era of the generic newsletter is over and click thru rates continue to decline for it. It’s key that the message has some relevance to the customer and addresses their specific user behavior within your product. And you should tie your email to a specific business outcome, not just to clicks on the email.
Also, people still don’t understand the basics of deliverability. Spend time understanding why you need multiple IP addresses, how to monitor inboxing across various ISPs, and what leads to bad and spammy emails. Make sure you are spending the time to deeply understand what drive success of emails hitting people’s inbox. This is especially important if you are growing and changing email providers. It’s very common for this transition to cause problems as you transition your IP addresses, sending domains, and get started on a new email service. – Barron Ernst, Showmax/Growth Consultant
I’m a big fan of Zaius for email marketing right now. They take a B2C CRM approach which allows me to easily spin up behavioral emails based on a seemingly unlimited # of micro-segments. – Dominic Coryell, Grabr
Data and Analytics
I hope more companies will move from a last-touch attribution model to measure ROI from channels, to a first-touch and last touch attribution model. Last touch isn’t a good representation of what drove a potential customer to take action or make a decision. By also taking first-touch attribution into consideration, companies will get a better idea for what channels influence a sale and be better at allocating budget. – Benji Hyam, Grow and Convert
Google Analytics + Salesforce integration could be a game changer for B2B Marketing. Attributing marketing spend in sales-driven organizations is a perennial challenge, and the connection between the two platforms is notoriously difficult and error-prone. We’re optimistic about this opportunity and encouraging our B2B clients to explore it as a top priority in 2018. – Melinda Byerley, Timeshare CMO
Building a platform that can tie together all of your data across channels is going to be a fundamental requirement to growth. The future of growth is in machine learning as it will be used for everything from personalization to activation, from content to marketing. You can’t take advantage of the potential of machine learning without access to all of your data in one place. If you haven’t invested in your data infrastructure, make it happen in 2018. – Nate Moch, Zillow
Optimize your content for mobile. Not only are users viewing content on their mobile devices at an increasing rate, they’re also becoming more comfortable going through the entire purchasing process from their smart phone (as opposed to switching to desktop to buy). Shoot vertical videos, use images/headlines that have stopping power, don’t ask users to leave social and go to a site with bad loading time since most are using data and will abandon the request if load time is longer than 3 seconds.- Logan Young, BlitzMetrics
Paid acquisition will continue to be a viable tactic for many, and a required one given the diminishing reach of organic social and other platforms. Competition is increasing, so CPMs and CPCs are as well – this will require the most successful paid marketers to better leverage data (ideally first-party data for segmentation and lookalike audiences), and/or to better monetize their services which in turn enables higher spending via paid acquisition. Paid acquisition is a tool in the toolkit, but don’t let it be the only one — if you do, the only long-term winner is going to be Facebook/Google. – Brian Rothenberg, Eventbrite
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The cost of doing machine learning is really low. All the algorithms are available on open source and cloud platforms. It is a matter of finding the most interesting data to use for insights. The data can be trained to better identify who has a higher probability of being a great customer or predict churn and allow companies to be proactive. – Will Bunker, GrowthX
Machine learning and AI will create smarter systems. If they are exposed via APIs that will empower the growth marketer even greater acceleration and experimentation potential. – Oli Gardner, Unbounce
Video and Live Streaming
Video will become central to the modern marketer’s strategy– not some side thing or freelancer project. Central means that the company produces video as their primary form of content, produced by the company themselves (not hired actors), and edited by an in-house team. – Dennis Yu, BlitzMetrics
The boom of live streaming is going to heavily depend on internet bandwidth and improving speeds. I don’t know if we are going to make leaps in access and speed in 2018, but the moment the streaming experience is as seamless as a prerecorded video, it will take off. – Tony Tie, Expedia
Other Channels and Strategies
One of the bigger challenges for marketing is internal not external – the sales organization. “He Said, She Said” in-fighting over leads kills the pipeline and only leads teams to play it safe. Build alignment by have shared goals (revenue, touches to closure, lead to closure duration, etc.) that both teams own and share responsibility. You are one big team driving growth so act like it. – Todd Wilms, The Consultant’s Collective
Focus on improving your brand. Work on improving your image, trust and authority. This is the stealth CRO hack that no one can steal from you and it will improve your conversion rates across the board. When people are familiar with your brand and your brand looks/feels sharp, trustworthy, friendly (and not some fly-by-night operations)…guess what? You’ll close more deals, sell more products…..you’ll grow! – Sean Work, Crazy Egg
Be pro-active and lead your customers to their desired outcomes with actionable insights. The most successful companies generate the majority of their revenue with existing customers. Find ways to grow with them! – Sean Sheppard, GrowthX
If you build a chatbot, make sure the customer knows this is a bot. NO bots are good enough to “trick” people into thinking they’re real… that’s called ‘Passing the Turing Test’ and Facebook Messenger won’t do this anytime soon. Instead, make your chatbot so *obviously* a chatbot, that your prospects and customers will get a “kick” out of interacting with it. –Ryan Kulp, Fomo
General Growth Marketing
There are certain marketing channels that are incredibly specialized like paid marketing, email marketing, and SEO where a world-class practitioner is worth their weight in gold. As growth marketing matures, I think we’ll see less generalized ‘growth marketing’ roles in teams and more focus on building teams with channel experts. – Ada Chen, Notejoy
The majority of companies will get growth wrong. Instead of focusing on “how can we build a better product and deliver more value to customers,” the focus will remain internal. They’ll still be trying to figure out “how do we get more money from our customers?” The allure of VC money and front page headlines that our society so prizes are only distractions. As a consequence, they will miss the real revenue opportunity.
However, I’m very bullish on the growth marketing movement in the long run. I think companies will wise-up. The smartest companies will re-think roles, responsibilities, and relationships of the growth marketers, and they will be given more responsibility for the customer experience. – Brandon Redlinger, Engagio
Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses.