The face of digital marketing is continually changing and evolving. Today’s shoppers are more savvy than ever, with a keen eye for blatant advertising efforts and little patience for lengthy content. The quicker you can get to your message, the more likely you are to connect with your audience, whether you’re showing off your new product in a matter of seconds or answering critical questions about which toiletries are best — as they’re posed via smartphone directly from the drugstore aisle.

If you want to keep up with the fast evolution of the digital marketing industry, it’s essential to follow along with developing trends, check in on time-tested strategies, and poise your team for quick responses to your customers’ current needs. Here are a few of the important developments to follow.

Personalized Experiences for Online Visitors

Image via Flickr by Matthew Wilkinson

Content marketing is nothing new, but now visitors are demanding something more from the experience. They want content that’s personalized for their preferences and carefully curated to cater to their needs at first glance. The smarter your content delivery, the happier this demanding audience will be.

If you’ve visited Amazon or hopped on to Netflix recently, you know all about today’s trend toward personalization. There are always a few thoughtfully picked products or shows neatly highlighted at the top of the page for you. In the past, producing customer-focused content was a more generalized process. Companies always evaluated their clients’ needs and preferences and tailored their content appropriately, but they couldn’t do this on a person-by-person basis.

Thanks to the rise of optimization software, however, digital marketers can now tailor experiences for more one-of-a-kind personalization. Though this is still a complex and time-consuming process, it’s worth experimenting with now so you can stay at the cutting edge of this trend, as personalization technologies will likely become more advanced in the future.

An Emphasis on Micro-Moments

Today’s consumers are showing an increasing reliance on their mobile devices for fast answers in the moment. Google reports that mobile searches containing the word “best” have increased more than 80 percent in the last two years. Growth for this search term is more pronounced for low-consideration products than high-consideration items. People want a quick, in-the-moment answer to common queries about which everyday items are the “best” ones to buy. For instance, mobile searches for the “best toothbrush” have increased over 100 percent in the last two years.

Digital marketers can cater to this trend in 2018 by providing bite-size pieces of information that are carefully organized to meet these consumers’ needs in the moment. Mobile responsiveness is essential in this area, as is careful optimization for the terms and phrases that your key audience is looking for. If you can get your answers into Google’s featured snippets, you’ll enjoy top placement for fast on-the-go questions.

Bite-Size Video Content

The immersive visualization available in video content makes it a prime pick for advertising. You can connect quickly with your viewers and make a bold statement in a matter of seconds. Video platforms are wildly popular, particularly among younger viewers. There are now more teens watching YouTube every day than there are watching daily cable television.

Though video is more visually engaging than text, it still can’t be relied on for holding the audience’s attention for long. Facebook identified six seconds as the ideal ad length. In testing with Tropicana, the social behemoth found that six-second ads returned higher brand metrics across the board than those that were 15 or 30 seconds in length.

Live video streaming is another trend marketers can capitalize on in the video market. Influencers are using live streaming across multiple platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to connect with their audiences in a more personal way. From product promotions to live prize drawings, the opportunities for engagement with a live stream are endless.

Marketing Through Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) offers a seemingly endless range of opportunities for digital marketing. Though the everyday consumer isn’t yet sporting wearable virtual reality technology as they stroll the streets, most shoppers do have a smartphone handy, which can make valuable use of the same concepts. If you’re not jumping on the AR bandwagon by 2018, you may be falling behind. Robert Scoble, author of “The Fourth Transformation” said, “Users will start expecting brands to have mixed reality experiences in 2018. The big money will show up in 2020.”

Many companies have already put AR technology in place to enhance shoppers’ experiences. The US Postal Service offers an AR app that triggers charming animations when scanning a collection box. IKEA is making brilliant use of AR to let shoppers preview how various pieces of furniture would look in their home. You can pull your digital marketing into the real world in fresh and creative ways by leveraging the possibilities available with AR.

Value-Packed Advertising

Consumers are increasingly aware of advertising tactics and don’t give marketers much credibility for providing honest or valuable information when it’s clearly framed in an ad. What your customers want to see in 2018 is something useful that they can really sink their teeth into.

Readers want to find pieces that go beyond a product description or blatant ad copy. In one survey, 55 percent of respondents indicated that they value how-to advice and suggestions for products. Nearly half of respondents indicated that they value companies that comment on current events and topics. If you’re catering to a younger audience, your content will have a bigger impact with a humorous slant, while older readers prefer an informational tone. Shareable content continues to be important, as customers are more likely to take action when information reaches them through a friend or trusted group.

Catering your digital marketing efforts to the changing face of the modern customer will help you achieve the success you’re after in 2018. Stay on top of these and other trends as they develop so you can curate content that’s sharp, concise, and carefully tailored to suit the needs of the individual shoppers that you want to reach out to the most.