The internet is part of our daily lives. We use it to inform, entertain and connect, as well as make purchasing decisions. It is so much a part of our lives that the word Google is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary.
It has also changed the way we attract, retain and ‘market’ to our client base. Over the past few years, there has been more of a shift toward starting communication and creating value, rather than just publishing mass marketing messages.
It is an ever changing space, but below are five key trends we see emerging or cementing their place in online marketing for the latter part of 2014.
Content Is Still King, and Bigger Than Ever
We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king’. This is even more relevant in today’s online space. By providing your audience with information that provides insight or entertainment, you’ll engage with them in a way that they find useful. Doing so allows a company to build rapport and trust with your target market and develop a loyal following.
Your content can take many forms: social media, articles on your website or blog, eNewsletters, case studies, videos and more. The content does not all have to be original; sharing other people’s content that is useful, relevant and timely with your contacts can be just as powerful. Just make sure you strike the right balance between shared content and originality, and of course, have permission or the right to share any content that is not your own.
This trend suggests that traditional marketing techniques like television, print and radio ads are becoming less effective. Instead, it’s better to concentrate on producing or sharing valuable, engaging content designed for a specific audience. By providing useful content, you are able to build a positive reputation within their industry. You are also adding value to the relationship you have with your target audience, rather than just ‘pushing out marketing messages’. What that actual content is depends on your audience.
A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words
As consumers are hit with record amounts of advertisements over a huge spectrum of media, it’s becoming more important to make your content eye catching and easily understood. If you look at feeds on common social media sites you’ll start to see another trend: there’s an emphasis on images.
You can utilise this trend on your website or in your blog posts, by using some well-placed pictures to break content up and emphasise certain points. You could also try using Infographics, which combine images with a minimal amount of text to explain a topic and provide statistical information or data from research studies.
While there will always be a place for text-based content, it is pretty easy to see how incorporating images is beneficial to a marketing endeavours.
Simplicity of Messaging
On the marketing messaging front, there seems to be a trend toward simplistic marketing messages and away from complex, in-depth messages. When you think about some of the top brands in the world like Apple and Google, they clearly value simplicity. A large part of many brand’s appeal is a simple, easy to understand message that resonates with their target audience.
While we often reference big brands with large budgets, this still has relevance for smaller businesses that are not interested in speaking on a global scale. Making sure that your message is simple and easy to understand helps potential clients identify your business as one that can help them with their needs.
You can start by clearly defining the products and services you offer, and identifying the target markets that are looking for these and you want to attract. Then create your messaging and content in a way that appeals to them and clearly demonstrates their benefits.
You’ll then need to ensure that your website clearly demonstrates how you can help your target market, and is displayed in an easy to understand manner will certainly increase your response rate.
It is important to be mobile-friendly
It seems like nearly everyone has a smartphone. According to a recent Ipsos study, over 52% of Australians own a smartphone, and that percentage is growing rapidly. Not only that, these users are becoming more reliant on their devices and 58% of them access the internet from them every day. This has implications on how your website looks to your visitors.
The big buzz in this area is Responsive Design. Responsive Design pretty much does what it says, and provides an optimal viewing experience, no matter what size screen you’re using. People who browse while on-the-go have very different needs than those sitting at a desk. Responsive web sites re-organise themselves automatically according to the device viewing them, so that the same website provides a great experience everywhere.
Whether it’s creating a mobile version of a website or utilising responsive web design, it’s important to provide a positive experience to users that are browsing via a mobile device.
Otherwise, you will lose customers to competitors who have adapted to this trend. As the shift from traditional PCs and laptops to mobile devices continues, if you’re not on board, you’re likely to suffer.
If you’re interested in exploring the options we have for sites that are mobile-friendly, just drop us a line.
Social Media Marketing Will Require More Diversity
We all know the big social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, but there are so many more out there, with more sites seeming to appear every day. We wouldn’t recommend to you to be on every one of them, but there are some that you should be looking at to see if there is a fit with your business and target audience.
Social networks like Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr and Instagram have surged in popularity and have provided businesses with a plethora of new options that allow them to produce engaging content in a variety of media forms and build their audiences engagement.
Social media is a great place to foster communication between your business and your target audience. You just need to find the networks your target audiences are using, and strike up a conversation. Like content marketing, it isn’t just about pushing out marketing messages, it is about engaging and adding value to the relationship.
It is also useful to tie your social media activity back to your website, through the use of feeds or icons. We can help you with setting this up, so let us know if you’re interested in exploring this further.
Social Shares and Reviews Will Have More Importance
Since the goal of Google and other search engines is to provide users with the most relevant and highest quality content possible, it makes sense why they would factor in the number of social shares that a blog post, article or product page receives. This means that social media will play an increasing role in organic search rankings now and in the future.
The more people that are sharing a piece of content, the more useful and higher quality it is likely to be. Therefore, its position should increase within the search engine results pages. Besides this, social shares can serve as a stamp of approval (ie, a trust signal) for visitors landing on a page.
When talking about local businesses, reviews are an extremely important part of your mix. Just think about how much credence you put in to online reviews of restaurants, hotels, service providers and more. That’s a big reason why so many businesses are installing social share plugins and encouraging consumers to share and review as much as possible.
You don’t have to spend a large amount of time constantly updating your website and social media profiles, but spending a few hours a month finding, generating and sharing information that is useful to your target market will help you retain your existing clients and gain new ones.
Contact us today if you’d like to find out more about our website services.