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.

I then turned to Feed­ly to look at what kind of con­tent peo­ple were shar­ing around the new year, and realised that they all had one thing in com­mon; dig­i­tal.

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 cen­tral­ized place for your audi­ence to find you online.

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 uti­lize 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 cap­i­tal­ize 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 per­son­al­ized 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 cen­ter. 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.

#2: Chat­bots

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?