The 2018 digital race is on

From Salt Bae ‘spicing up’ his video with 2.4 million views in 48 hours to Taco Bell destroying a Snapchat record with a filter that turns people into tacos, breakthrough creativity in 2017 has set the bar high for the year ahead. The race is on for digital marketing in 2018 – but in what direction?

Countless updates across the digital spectrum can quickly dilute your marketing efforts as you haphazardly try to check all the boxes. The headless chicken will certain not win the race. The goal is to stay focused on trends that will keep your brand on course.

The surge of internet penetration in South Africa is fuelling online consumerism and the boom of e-commerce sites like Bidorbuy and Takealot. Local internet users are spending more than five hours a day online on PCs and tablets, and three hours on mobile phones. Here’s what you need to know to get ahead in the digital marketplace.

  1. Think mobile-first, think ‘on-the-go’.

Smartphone acquisition has leaped from 52% in 2016 to 63% in 2017 and mobile continues to drive on-the-go consumerism. Breakthrough mobile-first strategies are essential to spot, meet and exceed ‘on-the-go’ needs with personalised real-time relevance.

  1. Intrusive ads must fall

Consumer patience is wearing thin when it comes to unsolicited ads. High data costs in South Africa make consumers even more intolerant of bothersome and irrelevant pop-up ads, auto-play videos and excessive retargeting, particularly on mobile phones. Refer to Google’s Better Ads Standards and Best Practices Guide to create a better overall ad experience.

  1. Content in context is a must

Online attention is scarce and contextual marketing is essential to be seen and heard in the online space. It considers the who and how of online searches and places timely content where it adds optimum value. To create personalised and on-point messages that don’t fall on deaf ears, be sure to take the user’s needs, habits and goals into account.

  1. Give digital content a human heart

Good content gains attention but great content drives behaviour. It speaks to the heart, from the heart, and is highly shareable. To create action-inspiring emotive content, first identify the human element of your brand and craft authentic stories around how the product or service improves real human lives.

  1. Embrace the supremacy of video

Video is the most powerful engager, tutor and brand storyteller around. Consumers are much more likely to make a purchase if they’ve seen a video of product benefits in action. Video is the future of content marketing and it’s about time the “video is expensive” stigma is exposed. Consumers don’t expect Hollywood blockbusters but will shut you down in seconds if you fail to deliver valuable content. The video wave is hitting South Africa and some are already enjoying the benefits.

  1. Hit the mark with on-target marketing

Programmatic advertising continues to improve with ever more sophisticated algorithms that automate and fine-tune online ad spend. Refine your aim with consumer-centric media buying strategies that gets your ads in front of those who have shown an interest in your products or actively seek similar offerings.

The digital marketplace is in a constant state of change and determining the right course can be challenging. The key is to meet your consumers where they’re at with a product or content offering that improves their lives. The race is on and digital-first strategies that are agile, on trend and on point, will break through the noise.

This article originally appeared on for #BizTrends2018

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