Jump Aboard the Digital Marketing Trend Train
No business owner that is involved in digital marketing can afford to sit idle as techniques and technology change around them. If you want to be ahead of the curve in your industry, it is crucial that you understand the trends driving today’s best practices. By being dialed in to the latest news in digital marketing, you’ll be better positioned to pivot with the changes we know are coming. We’ve compiled this helpful list of seven industry trends we all should be ready for in 2017.
Customers like to feel like individuals, so digital messaging that seems generic or general isn’t going to yield high conversion rates. In the past, email marketers have simply added the recipient’s name in the email subject line or intro. This approach will not cut it anymore. Besides, there is no online user who likes to search a website for information that is relevant to his or her needs or desires.
One of the best ways to increase customer engagement and provide a better experience it offer personalized messaging. Dynamic advertising creates custom ads for users based on search terms they have used recently. You already know that the online user is interested in a particular product, and showing them related ads can significantly improve conversion rates.
And dynamic content doesn’t have to be just about display ads and search terms. It can also be about video content. Some advertisers are creating videos for which the storyline, music or images can be altered to match each customer’s preferences and interests. Sure, this requires much more effort in the development phase, but it can reap big rewards if done correctly.
You’ve probably heard of Big Data. Tons of information is gathered about online users each day, but most of it goes to waste. In the past, only large companies who have the resources to hire a data specialist have been able to harness the power of customer data. Fortunately, there are new resources that can put certain features of these tools into the hands of smaller business owners.
Even if you don’t use every single Google Analytics category to create an advertising campaign or action item, you still can glean some powerful insights about customers and their preferences. Over time, practice reading analytics data can make you perfect at finding the info that best serves your needs. You could even add the Google Analytics app to your mobile device so that you can practice honing your skills whenever you have spare time.
Challenge yourself to learn more about analytics and how they work. Look for online tutorials on how to interpret the data. Eventually, you can even learn to customize the information to quickly reveal the numbers that the most important to your needs.
For a long time, photos were the best kind of content to have on a website or social media feed. Now the crown has been handed over to videos, and marketers are taking full advantage. Where photos were a major engagement tool, videos are even better. They are longer, more interactive and can be more creative than static images. Savvy marketers have set their sights on generating videos, and there are several new resources that make it simpler. The best known might be Facebook Live, which broadcasts live action via Facebook. That content then can be viewed later as a regular video file, and it gets much higher marks for viewer engagement than other content. More and more companies also are adding a You Tube channel, which is a free service in many cases.
There are all kinds of formats that video content may take. Of course, whatever you choose should be targeted to your ideal audience, or your efforts will be wasted. Consider tutorials, product demonstrations, interviews, webinars specific to your industry or customer commentaries as potential video opportunities.
It seems that clever, funny or generally entertaining topics get the most traction among viewers. Some companies are combining humor and education into their regularly scheduled Facebook Live “shows” to get potential customers excited about their brands. Once the live video is rolling, the “hosts” can respond in real time to comments and questions from the audience if someone is monitoring the Facebook feed. This level of interaction is appealing to both customers and companies.
This type of marketing targets ads to people who are either in a company’s store at that exact moment or who have been there recently. One company allows app users to save shots of their dressing room try-on sessions and then order what they liked online. Grocery stores can tell when shoppers are walking down certain aisles and then send them coupons pertinent to that aisle.
This tactic might be particularly effective with Millennials, who have grown up using technology and who don’t find it aggressive to be targeted for ads while they are shopping. In fact, nearly three-quarters of them say they’d be open to receiving location-specific ads.
If your brand’s website has an e-commerce portal, you could track shoppers’ previous purchases and then offer them ads based on their preferences any time they enter a bricks-and-mortar location. Although these strategies require a certain investment in technology, the tools are not cost-prohibitive in many cases.
Ever since Google changed its search algorithm in 2015 to give preference to mobile-friendly sites, more and more brands have converted their websites to this format. In fact, the companies that have not are likely to be left behind in the very near future as most internet searching is done using a mobile device. Failure to create a mobile-friendly format basically tells customers that you don’t care about their experience; they are unlikely to patronize your brand as a result.
If you have not already created a mobile site for your brand, you cannot wait any longer. Your competitors might be taking advantage of expanded text ads and mobile bidding, so keeping up is vital to company success. AdWords is poised to be the premier platform for mobile-first advertising, and it should be your chief priority for mobile ads. With Google’s new mobile-focused indexing, having a site that’s optimized for mobile is more important than ever before, no matter what type of content you are planning to create.
Augmented Reality, VR and 360 Views
This type of technology has been embraced by global brands that have the resources to harness its advertising power. However, it is difficult to quantify its impact because it is so new. Still, it is easy to see that consumers are very interested in experiencing virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 videos. That makes the strategy extremely attractive from a marketing standpoint because users are open to viewing these advanced digital messaging techniques.
Probably the most feasible point of entry for smaller brands is 360 video. This tool is available to the layman with either Facebook or You Tube platforms. Depending on what service or product your company offers, you could create 360 videos of new products and built spaces that take the viewer right into the action. For example, if your brand is a construction company, you can offer tours of new homes as if viewers are walking the hallways themselves, opening closet doors and running around the back yard.
Be sure to check out the Facebook and You Tube platforms to see how you can get on board with the augmented reality, virtual reality and 360 video options that are on the market today.
Native ads, those that follow the form of the other information on the website or platform where they appear, are popular for a couple of reasons. First, they are more subtle than display or banner ads. Second, they do not fall prey the various ad blockers than many consumers use on their computers. As the amount of advertising that individuals are exposed to each day rises, people’s tolerance for being targeted goes down.
Those three factors make native content an important tool in the marketing arsenal for 2017. By appearing to be informational or editorial, native advertising is a subtle way to reach the desired audience without hitting them over the head with the hard sell. If you can master the art of native content creation and placement, you are well equipped to boost conversion rates this year. In the past few years alone, this type of digital adverting has quadrupled in terms of revenue; in 2017 it could bring in as much as $17.5 billion.
These seven trends in digital marketing should be on your radar for the coming year. If can master at least a few of them, you can set yourself and your brand apart from the rest of the field. Whether you choose video marketing, data mining or native content to fuel your efforts in 2017, you know you will be on the leading edge of digital marketing tools. And if you find yourself running behind on any of these technologies, such as mobile marketing, this is your chance to catch up to the rest of the online-savvy crowd.