Wouldn’t a luminous crystal ball be great? At least some cool super-powers would be nice. Who doesn’t want to look into the future and make all the right decisions in 2018?

So we created the next best alternative–we asked our media experts, who are constantly living/breathing/working/talking niche with hundreds of publishing professionals (just like you).  They gave us their sense of what the new year looks like.

What can we expect in 2018? Read on for insights into driving revenue with audience development and digital strategies, new innovations and more.

Melissa Chowning, Audience development and digital marketing mentor Melissa Chowning Media, on ROI:

 “2018 will be the year of the reader, the audience, the consumer. Publishers are going to be turning to their audiences more than ever as a potential source of revenue as they are watching print advertising decline. Statistics that once were the holy grail (such as page views and unique visitors) will be replaced with metrics on loyalty and engagement. Niche publishers have never chased reach but even more than ever they will be looking to cultivate focused and specific audiences that they can turn into brand loyalists.” 

Christopher Lester, Digital Strategist for C4ward Strategies, on the digital domination:

“Marketing Automation and Email Marketing lines will completely blur. This will happen on three fronts. 

  • ESP providers are no longer thinking about email and automation separately. They’re continuing to develop email solutions with automation at the heart. 
  • Consumers expect brands to understand them and create a seamless, timely experience or they move on. 
  • Marketers are listening and continue to get better and better at their job. 

Emails will become more interactive and will function as a microsite. 

  • The ability to create an in-email experience via gifts and advance coding combined with a microsite approach create an in-email experience like we haven’t seen before. 

We will finally stop talking about “mobile friendly design” and refer to it for what it is: “table stakes” 

  • The days of a forgiving consumer are over. Mobile optimized or responsive design is not enough, mobile adaptive is more than a buzzword, it’s the expectation.”
 Rob, O’Regan, Director of Content Marketing Strategy with global tech publisher IDG Enterprise, on content sourcing:

“Influencers” will be a prominent media buzzword in 2018. Publishers should look for new ways to bring their niche communities into the content development process – through crowdsourcing, meetups, or online forums. These programs not only build loyalty and engagement, they also serve as a source of editorial content. Publishers can also capture sponsor dollars through influencer marketing programs in which influencers are paid to promote a brand or product. There’s wisdom – and revenue – in the crowd.”

Rob Ristagno, CEO of Sterling Woods, on what new innovations can help you increase lead gen:

Sterling Woods is helping clients use chatbots (LINK) to grow their email lists and convert leads into paying customers.  A chatbot is a program designed to simulate a conversation with human users over the Internet.  It’s a form of artificial intelligence that really engages your audience.  The good news: it’s not hard or expensive to implement.  Chatbots are a way to stand out in the age of overcrowded inboxes and display ad blindness.”

And in the sales realm, we asked sales veterans Nancy O’Brien and Ryan Dohrn to weigh in on data-driven selling with the right products:

Nancy O’Brien, associate publisher of Aviator International News and ad sales guru, on data:

“The biggest trend for publishers I see is the demand for data from our customers.  Many of them are no longer satisfied with just buying advertising but are looking for lead generation and expanded data on those leads.  If publishers are not looking at that as part of their business model they may be left out of the game in the coming years.”

 Ryan Dorhn, Sales trainer, coach, author and  owner of Sales Training World, on moving away from social media:

“Social media, as a primary advertising source, is losing steam. Advertisers are not seeing ROI due to over saturation of other businesses using social and they are now looking back to traditional media companies for help and advice. Media companies with quality digital options, beyond social, will see a nice uptick in revenue if their sales teams are creative and well-trained. 

Publishers that draw a line in the sand and refuse to publish press releases from public relations firms that are not actually “news“ are going to excel in the next few years. Sponsored content opportunities that are thoughtful, priced correctly, well promoted and feature significant reader benefit will garner excellent ROI for advertisers. Unfortunately, many publishers’ sponsored content opportunities are misaligned and lack best practices. This will cause them to get further and further behind as this opportunity continues to expand.”

What’s your growth plan for 2018? Tweet us! 

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About this blogger: Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Niche Media. A former sales director and corporate marketing hack, she has now found nirvana in writing and wrangling quality content. Diana is a food, wine, art and SF Giants enthusiast…who sometimes gets carried away.

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