We’re more than halfway through 2017 and marketers already are looking ahead to 2018 to determine the New Year’s direction for their digital marketing campaigns. Many are wondering if they should stay the course they charted in 2017 or make changes. Here are six developing digital marketing trends to consider, both for the rest of the year and beyond.
Personalized Content: Think Unique Customer Experiences
More than half of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions. What’s more, 47 percent want to review three to five pieces of content before they engage with sales reps.
Clearly, content is the beating heart of every marketing campaign. But as digital marketing matures, so does the nature of content. One of the increasingly important factors in creating content that connects with consumers is personalization—content specifically tailored to both customers’ needs and where they are in the buying process.
Consider These Stats and Facts
- 94 percent of digital professionals believe personalization is “critical to current and future success,” according to Monetate
- Personalized content performs 42 percent better than non-personalized content, according to HubSpot
- Marketers who deliver personalized web experiences are getting double-digit returns in marketing performance and response, according to Forbes’ Publish or Perish analysis
- 94 percent of senior-level executives believe delivering personalization is critical or important for reaching customers, according to PWC’s Digital Services group
Tips to Leverage Personalized Content
- Start by targeting the “low-hanging fruit” in your client data: names and emails—most visitors will share these with you in exchange for valuable content, such as an eBook.
- Once you have this basic data, start lead nurturing campaigns offering prospects access to more great content in exchange for more data.
- Add value to visitors’ personalized experiences by asking: Will this help prospects and customers solve their problems and better understand our solution?
SEO and Content Conversion: Help Them Work Together
Few companies discuss marketing without including a conversation about SEO. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, the two functions have reached a point of conversion, according to a study by BrightEdge. In the survey, 97 percent of digital marketers believe that SEO and content have become more integrated or are converging into a single function. The marriage of content marketing and SEO impacts marketers’ three most important content performance metrics: conversions, engagement and traffic.
Consider These Stats and Facts
- 52 percent of marketers recognize that fluency in SEO is critical to long-term content marketing success, according to BrightEdge
- Organic search drives 51 percent of content consumption
Tips to Leverage the SEO and Content Conversion
- Use SEO data to discover how prospects consume and engage with your content. Identify what generates interest and results in prospects who take action.
- Conduct ongoing customer analysis, because prospects’ interests can change quickly.
- Consider how customers engage with different types of content across channels and devices and at different stages of the journey.
- Always be measuring. Set realistic and concrete goals for your content at every stage—from awareness to conversions.
Social Media Marketing: Sharpen Your Focus
In the coming years, B2B marketing leaders expect to spend most of their time on social media. As a result, social media budgets will expand, according to a TEKsystems 2017 study. Central to the success of this expansion is understanding consumers’ point-of-view: Namely, they want consistent brand messaging and intuitive interactions whenever they encounter a brand or are considering making purchases.
Consider These Stats and Facts
- Facebook continues to dominate social media use, according to Top Rank Blog
- Social marketing is shifting toward emotionally engaging content and storytelling because strong emotions increase content’s “spreadability,” according to Oregon Web Solutions
- By the end of 2017, we’ll likely see most of the major platforms enabling users to create and share video content, create and share live video content and discover news and what’s going on around them (based on location), according to Buffer App
Tips to Leverage Social Media Marketing
- Ask: How do current customers feel about their experience interacting with our brand on social media?
- Determine which networks are most important for your business and spend the most time creating fully fleshed out social presences there.
- Consider dropping or reducing your time on social platforms that aren’t delivering lead generation and brand awareness.
Video Marketing: More is Better
Remember the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words? Consider the new adage about video: Digital marketing expert James McQuivey estimates that a single minute of video content is the equivalent of 1.8 million words. Clearly, video is a critical direction in the future of digital marketing. Cisco Systems’ recent Visual Networking Index report found that video will continue to deepen its dominance on internet traffic with volumes increasing fourfold between 2015 and 2020. By 2019, video will represent over 80 percent of all internet traffic. Viewed another way, the internet will support 3 trillion internet video minutes per month by 2020, which equates to 5 million years of video per month, or about 1 million video minutes every second.
Consider These Stats and Facts
- 63 percent of businesses are using videos as marketing tools, according to Wyzowl
- 65 percent of business decision-makers visit a marketer’s website after viewing a branded video, according to comScore
- The average video retains 37 percent of viewers all the way to the end, according to Vidyard
- 92 percent of people who consume mobile videos share them with other people
- Video is shared 1,200 percent more than both links and text combined, according to Simply Measured
Tips to Leverage Video Marketing
- Assess how much video content you currently use and the ROI. If you haven’t done enough, expand production.
- To make your videos as memorable as possible, ensure that you’re keeping them in line with your brand strategy.
- Boost your SEO by adding video to your landing pages, website and content offers.
- Experiment with different lengths and subject matter for your videos.
Mobile Marketing: Time to Get “Mobile Friendly”
It’s full steam ahead on mobile marketing in 2017—and beyond. For one thing, Google’s announced mobile-first algorithm is expected to launch in early 2018. With this change, Google will primarily index mobile content and use it to decide how to rank its results, regardless of whether you’re on desktop or mobile. There no longer will be any type of “mobile-friendly” adjustment done just for mobile users.
Consider These Stats and Facts
- 69 percent of digital media time is spent on mobile, according to comScore’s 2017 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report
- Worldwide, $143 billion will be spent on mobile ads in 2017 (twice that of $71 billion in 2015), according to Moinstall
- Location-targeted mobile ad spend will grow from $12.4 billion in 2016 to $32.4 billion in 2021, according to BIA/Kelsey
Tips to Leverage Mobile Marketing (From Google)
- If you have a responsive or dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you should not have to change anything for Google’s upcoming mobile-first algorithm.
- If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site, including making sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
- If you’re a site owner who has only verified your desktop site in Search Console, add and verify your mobile version.
Digital Advertising: Dominating the Future
If you’re not yet engaged in digital advertising, now is the time. According to a new report from Facebook and IHS Technology, by 2020, media buyers will spend $84.5 billion on mobile advertising, with mobile accounting for 75.9 percent of all digital ad spend globally.
Consider These Stats and Facts
- Facebook’s advertising revenue in Q2 2017 reached $9.16 billion, up 47 percent year-over-year
- Twitter’s ad revenue fell in early 2017 by 8 percent to $548 million as advertisers pulled back from the social media platform
- LinkedIn earned nearly $1 billion ($975 million) in sponsored ad revenue in the first quarter of 2017
Tips to Leverage Digital Marketing
- Experiment with ads on different social media platforms to see which perform better for your brand.
- Leverage advanced ad-targeting tools, such as location-based advertising, which put your ads in front of users at the moment they’re in your area of interest.
- Privacy is a real concern for all customers, so be sure to enable opt-in and opt-out in your advertising.
The future developments in digital marketing are approaching at blinding speed. This is no time to rely only on what’s worked in the past. Now is the time to start planning for—and even implementing—the leading trends that will impact digital marketing success in 2018 and beyond.
Executing With Excellence
After my last article on social media tips for beginners, I thought we could step a bit deeper into the depths of the social media ocean and come up with a few pearls of wisdom. Some of these tips can be executed right away, but others will take time and you’ll need to build upon your skills in order to reap the full benefits. You’ve already gotten your feet wet, so now it’s time to dive right in with 10 more tips to take your social media game to the next level!
1. Remember the Reason
Relationships are the name of the game in social media, so no matter how badly you want to master this new craft for your business, don’t forget to approach it with a spirit of helpfulness and friendliness. The point of social media is to put a human voice and face to your brand. Don’t let the stuffiness of day to day buying and selling overwhelm your presence.
2. Collect Data
This is one of the most valuable functions of social media. The data you can gather on your demographic and target audience is priceless. In addition to the standard age and gender questions, you can find out what makes your customers tick. You can find out what their pain points are, what their questions are, what they relate and react to. Don’t let this data go by the wayside. Record it and return to it often.
3. Act On Your Data
When you find a new nugget of wisdom about your audience, don’t just write it in your notebook. Act on it. Adjust your efforts to fill this need, answer this question, or offer the type of information that their craving. This will help you produce quality over quantity in terms of content.
4. Focus on campaigns that run across all social media channels
As we discussed in the last article, you shouldn’t try to build a strong presence on all channels. Stick to 3 or 4 to start off with. Create a campaign that can be translated onto all your targeted platforms. But beware, you can’t typically take the same photo and content and successfully post it on all channels. Different word limits, ideal photo sizes and key hashtags will differ on these channels, so adjust accordingly. Keeping the message the same on all channels will promote easy recognition of your brand and it’s values.
5. Research Repeatedly
We covered researching before planning in the last article, but research should be a regular part of your social media journey. Continue to research your competitors and see what is and what is not working for them. Research the best hashtags to use. You can find this on sites like iconosquare.com or hashtagify.me. Using appropriate hashtags can spread your content much farther than your immediate followers.
Test different image shapes, sizes, fonts, colors and even emojis to maximize your reach or gain quick recognition with your followers. Sometimes the small things make you stand out and can break through the clutter in a newsfeed or timeline. In our “Before and After” and “This or That” posts, we found that if we made our image twice the height of a standard Facebook image, our reach would triple or even quadruple! This happens because more than half of all Facebook users are on mobile. When you view this post on mobile, it entices you to click to see the “after” or the “that” image that you can’t see due to the size. The key is to put the “AFTER” or “THAT” text in the middle of the photo, so that people will understand that there is something to see below. When people are constantly clicking on your image, they’re telling Facebook that they value your content, and Facebook recognizes it as more important, making the reach skyrocket. In addition, those who click your post are served more of your content in the future because Facebook knows that they feel it is relevant. Without testing, trial and error, and closely monitoring the way that our fans are interacting with our content, we would have missed this awesome realization!
7. Use calls to action!
As in any advertising medium, use calls to action and a sense of urgency to drive your potential customers into the buying funnel. While social media is not all about buying and selling, but when your posts directly relate to your products or services, there is no harm in adding a simple call to action. It can be as easy as “Click to shop more of these _____” or “Sign up today for more ways to save!”. Getting them to convert to your website or email list is the name of the game. Guide them in the right direction with a little encouragement!
8. Use contents to grow reach, engagement and the “fun factor”
Simple giveaways can be extremely powerful. Many contests will tell fans to like, comment and share to have a chance to win. These posts can get hundreds of thousands of interactions, with most of the giveaway prizes worth only a few hundred dollars. That kind of engagement is worth every penny.
9. Make it trackable
Make sure that if you’re promoting contests, giveaways, discounts or specials on your social media accounts, that you have promo codes associated with them for your sales staff. This will allow you to see how many people are claiming this discount in store. This allows you to see which channels are working well for your target audience, or what categories are especially of interest.
10. Cross Promote Social Media Channels With On And Offline Channels!
I can’t stress this one enough. If you are going to take the time to use social media, make sure you get the biggest reach possible. This can be done by sending email blasts about your social activity, putting social share and follow buttons on all of your blogs, images, products, and pages on your website, putting social icons in your email signature (all staff should have this with an invitation for the recipient to follow for “Daily Design Inspiration” or whatever your company provides via social media.) You can also tie this to your other advertising channels, such as TV commercials, radio ads, or in store signage. This makes it easier for customers to follow you no matter where they are when they see your message or interact with your business.
Good luck in your social media journey! If you have patience, persistence and dedication to follow the tips that I’ve laid out, I’m confident that your social presence will continue to rise daily. Don’t lose faith if things don’t take off over night. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t burn yourself out in the beginning. Have a plan and pace yourself so that you will be sure to endure in your efforts for years to come. Pleasant posting!