In the past few years Digital Marketing has grown into something that cannot be ignored. It seems every brand is quoting Disney’s The Little Mermaid saying, “I want to be where the people are”, but the one place Ariel didn’t look was online... The digital landscape has been growing steadily since the 90’s making the Internet the place to be; you can find people surfing and engaging with content as much as 9 hours a day!
To ring in the new year #digital style, we’ve put together a list of top trends to step up your online presence as we welcome a New Year chalked full of innovation and creativity!
1. Good Content Still Matters
And it’s never going out of style! Developing great content is an essential component of digital marketing. Gone are the days when you could post whatever you want, whenever you want and expect good results. The mistake many people and brands make is failing to recognize that social media is more complex than it seems and requires a well thought out strategy that compliments your identity to achieve success. How are you going to make sure your content is not only seen by your community, but resonates with, and is remembered by your target audience? Quality of your images is always going to matter, especially as we get more and more visual with less and less patience to read the content we are exposed to each day. Equally important is knowing your audience. The audience that sounds perfect to you in theory may not be the audience that is engaging with you in reality. The reaction to this should be to; a) re-evaluate who you are attracting and/or b) research and experiment with how to attract other demographics. Social media is no longer the new kid in town. There is a rising trend of people and corporations taking it A LOT more seriously. Don’t make the mistake of posting for the sake of posting. Consult with a digital marketing professional for strategy and content creation to ensure you’re being effective in your online efforts!
2. Show Your Human Side
Let’s address an elephant in the room. It’s no secret Facebook continues to navigate a bumpy road with the maintaining of user’s trust. The news has been plagued with negative messages towards social media regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Twitter bots, fake follower accounts, and constant questioning of privacy, security, accuracy, and transparency. Yet still social media remains massively popular with billions of users engaging every day multiple times a day. Social has made several steps towards transparency as well, implementing processes to improve areas that sparked concerns. But users are still skeptical of the inner workings of social media, questioning whether large followings are real or fake or if they are being responded to by a bot or having an authentic conversation. As a result, consumers’ level of trust has lowered with an increase in demand for personalized content. According to Hootsuite, “50% of brands agree that the need to personalize content and experiences is becoming a key challenge in their online efforts”. Brands need to go back to their roots and define their brand story to be considered authentic and real online to reconnect with the trust of their followers. People are desperately looking to connect with people rather than being bombarded with blatant sales initiatives. They want to be a part of a community and buy from people that align with their values. Smart brands are focusing less on maximizing their reach and more on generating high quality, transparent content for their current and prospective followers to engage with. It’s no longer how large your following is, it’s about developing intimate, meaningful dialogue with your targeted audience groups and creating communities to share passion for your industry and product/service in a space that allows 2-way communication and real time engagement.
3. Video Is Best
Video exploded in 2018 and has surpassed all types of content in terms of engagement. Younger audiences are pushing this trend towards more visual marketing techniques. Pairing video with digital marketing gives your brand super powers, providing incredibly accurate and valuable user metrics. Whether you're creating videos for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or even your own website, when done effectively, it is an incredibly effective digital marketing tool to capture and keep your audience’s attention amongst all the content clutter. Think about it, you can capture and convey a lot more in a video than a still image, such as showing your brand's personality, which goes a long way with your target audiences. Still not convinced on the videos?! Tell me, what do you do first when you open Instagram? Watch people’s stories or scroll through your feed? Do you stop to watch videos more than you pause on a still image? Facebook’s own chief product officer stated that ‘stories are set to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends within the next year”. In fact, “Social media is pivoting from a text-based platform originally designed for desktop use (think early Facebook) to mobile apps that enable users to capture experiences in the moment” And what better way to do that than stories? Stories are overwhelmingly visual and meant to be created and consumed on the go. But remember, in order to capture the value of video content, be sure to invest in equipment or a reputable company that will produce high quality content!
4. Sales Funnel Email Marketing
No, I didn’t just return from a decade in the wilderness. Yes, email still has an important role in your digital marketing strategy. It continues to be a key component in communication with billions of users. No matter how much we say we hate giving away our emails to stores (trust me spelling my 12-letter last name every time is not fun) we still get these emails and don’t mind learning about promotions, sales, new products, events, etc., if it’s done correctly. Email marketing has evolved so much over the past few years and has turned into a powerful tool for sales funnels and remarketing techniques. Brands have to step up their email game, eliminating generic marketing emails containing heavy calls to action with boring copy and transitioning towards automation and more importantly, personalization. It’s like reading a book, how many of us would rather read something talking to us not at us? Marketers must ensure that their emails are focused on specific content, sticking to a limited number of topics and targeting specific audiences with matched interests. Basically, emails need to have strategy. Each copy should have a specific goal, leading the consumer through the decision process in the hopes of driving action. Email marketing is a great compliment to social media taking them off your platforms and into your strategically designed sales funnel creating a list of warm leads for your sales team.
5. Optimize ads with time investment + creativity
By now, almost everyone has adapted to the pay to play algorithm of social media leading to a new era of increased competition for bids forcing marketers to dig deep and get creative. According to Hootsuite, “marketers are increasing social ad budgets (up 32 percent in 2018 alone) and producing more ads than ever before”. One in every four Facebook pages now use paid media. The cost of ads is rising to remain competitive and forcing brands to think outside the box…and honestly that’s not a bad thing. It’s time to pull out the thinking caps and get creative in your messaging and visuals. Research will also help keep you competitive in this space. It’s best to test out ad components organically to monitor analytics and see which content is worth boosting. Lastly, going with the trend of personalization and high-quality content, it’s important that ads have the goal of sparking discussion and engagement amongst your audience instead of simply broadcasting your message. Now more than ever we are seeing brands invest in content creators well versed in photography, videography, graphic design, etc. to enhance their ads performance in paid social bids. A/B testing with audiences, creative, and messaging is becoming the norm to ensure every dollar is accounted for and each campaign is optimized giving us data to improve our strategy each time.