If you want to progress in your digital marketing career, read this article. We've cherry-picked 5 important digital marketing influencers for you to follow in 2018 and what their industry predictions are for this year.
1. Neil Patel
Who is he?
He and his family emigrated to California when he was two. Several family members set up businesses in The Golden State, which rubbed off on him.
He started selling CD's at school, using cable black boxes bought from eBay to make a few extra bucks.
After leaving he studied Monster.com's business model and set up job board Advice Monkey, which failed.
"Behind every successful person
Realising the potential of digital marketing, he developed Crazy Egg. A software application that heatmaps
Crazy Egg had limited reach, so he created Kissmetrics. An in-depth web analytics tool that focuses on the 'metrics that matter'.
His most recent venture is neilpatel.com. It's packed with practical resources and anyone interested in digital marketing should visit and subscribe.
"Sometimes when you follow your dream, it opens the door for others to be able to follow
- New York Times bestselling author.
- Wall Street Journal top influencer.
- Forbes top 10
- Entrepreneur top 100 companies created.
- Barack Obama's Top 100 Entrepreneurs under 30.
- United Nation's Top 100 Entrepreneurs under 35.
What Are His Predictions for 2018?
Neil's work as a digital marketing expert is always ‘content focused’, so it's no surprise his developments and focus points are in that area.
- Guest blogging - Use guest bloggers to push traffic to your website. Use someone who writes great quality content and there's a good chance traffic will increase. Visit websites and look at their guest blogs, paying attention to how often they're shared.
- Integrate video - HubSpot reported that 48% of marketers will add a YouTube channel in 2018. 46% will add a Facebook video stream. This is unsurprising considering people watch around 1 hours worth of video every day. Using videos drives more traffic to your blog, which is why he includes them in every post.
- Shifting content roles - Marketing companies/departments have a huge task on their hands. It's not enough to hire several writers anymore. Content is multi-faceted and its creators are too. Look for employees with video production, audio editing and graphic design skills.
2. Mari Smith
Who is She?
Mari Smith took a gamble leaving her Scotland home and flying to America in 1999. With 30 days to find work, she got a job at a baker's decorating cakes before her visa expired.
The digital marketing expert got the break she needed and seized the opportunity. She worked as a marketing consultant until 2007. Spotting the limitless possibilities, she was hooked on social media.
"We must develop a thick skin. With an unshakeable sense of self – and a commitment to being compassionate – nothing will faze you" - Mari Smith
In 2007 she created marismith.com. Her goal was simple. Help professionals and business owners market their products with social media.
Mari is a founder and contributor to the Social Media Examiner. A company that publish articles on how to 'navigate through the social media jungle'.
She's a brand ambassador, speaker, and best-selling author with Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.
"Content is King, but engagement is Queen and she rules the house" - Mari Smith
- Small Business and Facebook Marketing Expert.
- Forbes' #4 Top Social Media Power Influencer.
- Dun & Bradstreet Credibility’s Top Ten Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter.
- Fast Company’s Pied Piper of the Online World.
What Are Her Predictions for 2018?
Mari curates content from social media sites and posts the most relevant updates on her blog. Here are her 2018 predictions.
- Facebook portal device - Facebook is reportedly entering the voice activation market with a portal device. Rumours say the device is going to cost $499 and its primary use will be as a video phone.
- AR-VR - Facebook's Andrew Bosworth tweeted that it would be an exciting year for AR/VR
atFacebook. They partnered with the University of Washington to create an AR/VR lab in January 2018.
- Sequential Ads - Making ads appear less ad-like. Telling stories instead of shouting how good a product is and 'narrowcasting' your audience.
3. Larry Kim
Who is He?
Larry graduated with an honours degree in electrical engineering in 2000. He completed internships at Ford and The Royal Bank of Canada before a four-year stint as a marketing director.
In 2007 Larry founded WordStream. Originally, he used it as a personal automated PPC and keyword tool. The software developed into a full PPC solution and he became a key player in the industry.
Larry is well-known for his work as a tips and tricks author and digital marketing influencer. He's blogged for The Social Media Examiner, INC, Medium, HubSpot, Search Engine Journal and MarketingProfs.
"Be a unicorn in a crowd of donkeys" - Larry Kim
In 2017 he left WordStream and started Mobile Monkey, building easy-to-use chatbots for 24/7 customer communication.
Mobile Monkey chatbots are known for their ease of use with multiple platforms (Facebook, ads, websites), speed and convenience. Their popularity is growing as businesses can be available at all times.
- Search Engine Land Search Marketer of the Year
- US Search Search Marketer of the Year
- The Top Most Influential PPC Marketer in 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2013
What Are His Predictions for 2018?
In 2018 Larry is focusing on productivity and wrote an article on productivity hacks. Here are some key points.
- Cut meeting times by 25% - Meetings are vital to business life, but how often do we spend talking about pointless things because we like the sound of our own voice? Get the necessary out of the way and get on with it.
- Know when to delegate/outsource - Know when there's someone who can do something better than you, whether they work for you or not. You might learn something as well.
- Stop multitasking - You can't do everything at once. Give each task your full attention and the quality will improve.
4. Ann Handley
Who is She?
Ann always wanted to be a writer and craved the interaction and community that content provides. As a
She wrote to pen pals, creating different lives and personas to wow her far away friends.
After graduating with an honours degree in journalism, Ann achieved her dream of being a writer in 1985. After 12 years in
In 1997 Ann and Andrew Bourland saw a gap when digital marketing was on the rise. The duo created
"Good writing serves the reader, not the writer. It isn't self-indulgent. Good writing anticipates the questions that readers might have as they're reading a piece, and it answers them" - Ann Handley
In 2002 she became Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs. They provide educational programmes teaching skills that create lasting business relationships.
She’s a Wall Street Journal best-selling author and keynote speaker.
- LinkedIn Influencer
- Forbes' Top Thought Leader
- World's first Chief Content Officer
- One of IBM's 7 people shaping modern marketing
What Are Her Predictions for 2018?
Ann is adamant that you can't be a good marketer without being a good writer. She recommends 12 books to improve writing skills in 2018.
- Don't put it off - At some point writers need to stop thinking, pondering and
write. You'll never have a story without words!
- Think outside the box - Whilst everyone is gobbling up the most popular story, have a rummage in the background. You may uncover an unexpected gem.
- Simplicity - Beginning, middle, end. Strong characters, simple prose. That's all a story needs, keep it simple.
5. Rand Fishkin
Who is He?
Before he became the ingenious Wizard of Moz and digital marketing expert, Rand Fishkin had been studying the web since its inception. In the 90's he was making websites for professional service firms in Seattle.
He acquired his SEO knowledge contributing to forums in the early 00's. He outgrew the forums and started to post to a website in 2004, which would become Moz.
In 2004 Rand founded SEOmoz, which gave him a platform to post his SEO tips and software.
"SEO is no longer just a job title, it has become part of everyone’s job description" - Rand Fishkin
As the company increased in popularity, it's values and services started to change. In 2013 Rand changed the name to Moz, feeling the name represented the company's direction.
In 2011 Rand and Dharmesh Shah created Inbound.org. A website where marketers can share relevant material and knowledge. He sold his shares to inbound giants HubSpot in 2014.
- Valued at $120 million dollars in 2016.
- Featured in Businessweek's Best Young Tech Entrepreneur
What Are His Predictions for 2018
Rand sets out a grading system for his predictions. In his article about 2018 SEO predictions, he assesses 2017's first. And to prove the wizard is human, he did get some wrong!
- App popularity fades - If you're going online with your business or re-developing your website, then easy to use websites are the way forward. Unless your business or product is app based (e.g. games).
- A Challenge to YouTube - The battle of Google and Amazon continues after Google pulled the YouTube app from Fire TV. Could another tech giant exploit a gap in the market?
- SEO software stutters - Google are making rank tracking more difficult and increased competition could lead to casualties.
Who to Watch Out For
Lilach Bullock - This London based digital marketing expert is already a household name. Endorsed by Neil Patel's Kissmetrics, BBC, Amazon and The Telegraph. 2018 is going to be a big year for her.
Honours - Forbes Top 20 Women Influencers; Global Champion Award for Outstanding Contribution and Leadership in Business; No 1 Digital Marketing Influencer by Career Experts; Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle
Shama Hyder - Known as the Zen Master of Marketing by Entrepreneur and Millenial Master of the Universe by Fast Company. She's CEO and founder of Zen Media, a keynote speaker, author and TV personality.
Honours - LinkedIn Top 10 Voices in Marketing 2016; Inc Top 10 Women to Watch in Tech 2015; Forbes 30 Under 30 2015; Fuzion Top 20 Influential Women 2013
We interviewed Shama to find out what her predictions were for marketing in 2018 and got some fascinating results, here they are: