The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.
Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:
Email marketing will need to become smarter
Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.
Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable
Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.
Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.
Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever
It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.
Big Data for personalization plays a key role
Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.
Visual media matters
A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?
A few more tips:
Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.
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About Sunny Popali
Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.
As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.
Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.
Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.
1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines
Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.
However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:
Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.
2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify
Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:
Sending and receiving emails and messages
Researching products and services
Reading or writing reviews and comments
Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
Visiting news and entertainment websites
Using social media
Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.
This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.
3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms
Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.
This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.
However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.
4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age
In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.
However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.
However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.
5. Content production must reflect quality and variety
More and more businesses are focusing marketing efforts on content. This means that, as customers have more content to choose from, competition is going to increase significantly.
In 2016, content will remain King, with an increasing focus on variety and and quality. When companies are creating their content marketing strategies for 2016, they may wish to consider the following when they make their final decisions:
Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.
Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.
6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement
Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.
For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.
Developing and executing a social media strategy is hard work. It can take hours and days just to get your first plan together.
But it’s important to take the time to do it properly. An effective social media strategy will drive more web traffic for you, help you build deeper customer relationships, and improve your customer satisfaction, retention, and ultimately sales.
So what does a successful social media strategy look like? Here are 8 steps to help you create one.
Step 1: Understanding your audience
The foundation of a successful social media strategy is understanding who your target audience is and why they use social media. To do this, you need a combination of demographics and psychographics.
Demographics are statistics and descriptions of a group of people, such as their location, age, gender, income and education level, religion and ethnicity. Keep in mind that not all of these statistics and descriptions may be relevant for your business.
If you have your own website, there are several ways you can determine your audience’s demographics. For example, you can use Alexa or Google Adwords. If you don’t have a website yet, find a competitor or similar site and use that for your analysis.
Psychographics explain your audience’s lifestyles, values, opinions, interests, and attitudes. You should try to answer these questions about your audience when doing your analysis:
Why do they want to learn about your product or service?
How important is your product or service to your audience? For example, is it part of their job or is it a personal interest?
How do they like to learn and get their information from? Is it video, audio, text, etc., and on what device or channel?
What questions do they typically have about your product or service?
How knowledgeable are they about your industry and product or service?
Psychographics play an extremely important role in the success of your social media strategy, so as challenging this may be, you want to make sure you do this part really well before moving on to the next step.
While there’s no tool that can directly get you the psychographic information you want on your target audience, there are a few places you can go to do this, such as Subreddits, community forums, and comments from a popular blog that is related to your topic or product/service. Read through questions and responses people post, and record any observations you may find about your target audience.
Step 2: Targeting your channels
When starting out, you’re probably eager to get on every available channel out there. But it’s a good idea to start with one to three channels, and focus all your efforts on those than spreading yourself too thin trying to do everything. You will get quicker and better results if you focus your time and effort on your 1-3 key channels, then expand as your business and team grow.
So how do you determine which social networks you should start with?
You need to find out which networks your audience hangs out, then start narrowing down based on age. You want to start with the channels where your audience demographics match with the social network demographics.
Age doesn’t give you the full picture though, so you want to look at your competitors and see which top social networks you should focus on. You can try to do this with BuzzSumo or Ahrefs.
Step 3: Developing your content strategy
Now that you have a better understanding of your target audience and the channels they use, it’s time to build out your content strategy. Think more than text and include blog posts, videos, infographics, quotes, quick tips, and pictures.
The right kinds of content will depend on your target audience and the channels you choose. It’s also important to share content produced by others as you don’t want to seem overly self-promotional. There’s no golden rule for how much non-promotional content you should share for every piece of promotional content you post, but you want to err on the side of being non-promotional when starting out.
What types of content should you share?
You can start by compiling a list of popular keywords for your topic or product/service. Use Adwords Keyword Planner as a starting point. Then go to BuzzSumo or Ahrefs and enter your keywords, and sort by the channel you’ve selected to focus on. This process will take some time, but it’ll be worth it at the end because you’ll have a list of proven topic ideas that your audience will be interested in.
Step 4: Growing your followers
The most effective way to get followers is by following as many individuals as you can. Don’t try to buy fake followers because this will not get the people you want to see, read, and re-share your posts to actually engage with your content.
As the number of your followers grows, you can slow down on the number of people you follow. The exposure of the content you share will start to help you earn followers and traffic itself. Check out this post from Quicksprout for resources on how to get new followers for various social media channels.
Step 5: Getting the most out of your content
Now that you’ve started growing your following and readership, you must be really excited about producing and sharing more content, right? You want to be careful with how much content you share though, since you don’t want your followers or readers to think you’re a spammer and stop following you.
Twitter: No more than 3 times a day. Engagement on average decreases slightly after the third tweet.
Facebook: No more than 2 times per day. The number of comments and likes drops significantly after the second post.
LinkedIn: 20 posts per month, which is about once per weekday. This will allow you to reach about 60% of your audience.
Google+: No more than 3 times a day.
Pinterest: 5 times a day, or more. Top brands on Pinterest who adopted a multiple-times-per-day posting strategy have experienced steady or rapid growth.
Instagram: 1-2 times a day, or more. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram does not experience a drop-off in engagement for posting more.
Blogs: At least 2 times a week. Companies who increased blogging from 3-5 times a month to 6-8 times a month have seen almost doubled growth in their leads.
You should always test the frequency of posting to see what works best for your audience. You may need to share more or less than these numbers, so do try testing it out to optimize for your strategy.
Step 6: Automating for success
The key to social media success is consistency. But if you find that the best time for you to post is 5 a.m., it may not be feasible for you to consistently get up every day at 5 a.m. to post content. The easiest way for you to post consistently is to use tools. There are lots of free and paid tools out there to help you automate your posts, such as Hootsuite and Buffer.
Step 7: Maximizing traffic
New content takes time and resources to create. To maximize the efforts you put into producing new content, you want to be sharing old posts as well as new content. This can help double and in some cases even triple your traffic.
You don’t want to be sharing the same post four times a day though. For example, on Twitter, you may wish to promote an old post 2-3 hours after your first tweet, then promote again the next day, next week, next month, and so on.
To maximize traffic, you should also use different descriptions when promoting old posts. If you use the same descriptions, your followers and readers will likely see these posts as spamming and will ignore them. You’ll also want to reach out to influencers in your network and encourage them to share the post with their audience. This will help you gain even more exposure for your content.
Step 8: Tracking results
To see what’s working and isn’t working with your social media strategy, you need to monitor your efforts so you know what to improve on in the future.
You want to record all your social shares, such as impressions, shares and clicks, to see which content pieces and social media posts are getting the most clicks and engagement and are pushing traffic to your website, and which ones are not. Google Analytics, Buffer, and Hootsuite, for example, are great tools to help you collect these stats.
When you track these numbers regularly, you’ll learn what gets the most clicks and reads, and you can go back and revise your strategy to improve your results.
I hope you’ve found these 8 steps to a successful social media strategy helpful! If you have any questions or would like more information, contact me on one of my social channels below.
Just as once-novel voice recognition technology is now a ubiquitous part of human–machine relationships, so too could mood recognition technology (aka “affective computing”) soon pervade digital interactions.
Through the application of machine learning, Big Data inputs, image recognition, sensors, and in some cases robotics, artificially intelligent systems hunt for affective clues: widened eyes, quickened speech, and crossed arms, as well as heart rate or skin changes.
Emotions are big business
The global affective computing market is estimated to grow from just over US$9.3 billion a year in 2015 to more than $42.5 billion by 2020.
Forrester found that emotion was the number-one factor in determining customer loyalty in 17 out of the 18 industries it surveyed – far more important than the ease or effectiveness of customers’ interactions with a company.
Insurer Humana uses artificial intelligence software that can detect conversational cues to guide call-center workers through difficult customer calls. The system recognizes that a steady rise in the pitch of a customer’s voice or instances of agent and customer talking over one another are causes for concern.
The system has led to hard results: Humana says it has seen an 28% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 63% improvement in agent engagement, and a 6% improvement in first-contact resolution.
Employers could monitor employee moods to make organizational adjustments that increase productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction. Happy employees are around 12% more productive.
Walking on emotional eggshells
Whether customers and employees will be comfortable having their emotions logged and broadcast by companies is an open question. Customers may find some uses of affective computing creepy or, worse, predatory. Be sure to get their permission.
Other limiting factors
The availability of the data required to infer a person’s emotional state is still limited. Further, it can be difficult to capture all the physical cues that may be relevant to an interaction, such as facial expression, tone of voice, or posture.
Get a head start
Discover the data
Companies should determine what inferences about mental states they want the system to make and how accurately those inferences can be made using the inputs available.
Work with IT
Involve IT and engineering groups to figure out the challenges of integrating with existing systems for collecting, assimilating, and analyzing large volumes of emotional data.
Consider the complexity
Some emotions may be more difficult to discern or respond to. Context is also key. An emotionally aware machine would need to respond differently to frustration in a user in an educational setting than to frustration in a user in a vehicle.
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About Christopher Koch
Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing.
Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.
In 2012, Dollar Shave Club burst on the scene with a cheeky viral video that won praise for its creativity and marketing acumen. Less heralded at the time was the startup’s pricing model, which swapped traditional retail for subscriptions.
For as low as $1 a month (for five two-bladed cartridges), consumers got a package in the mail that saved them a trip to the pharmacy or grocery store. Dollar Shave Club received the ultimate vindication for the idea in 2016 when Unilever purchased the company for $1 billion.
As that example shows, new technology creates the possibility for new pricing models that can disrupt existing industries. The same phenomenon has occurred in software, in which the cloud and Web-based interfaces have ushered in Software as a Service (SaaS), which charges users on a monthly basis, like a utility, instead of the typical purchase-and-later-upgrade model.
Pricing, in other words, is a variable that can be used to disrupt industries. Other options include usage-based pricing and freemium.
Products as services, services as products
There are basically two ways that businesses can use pricing to disrupt the status quo: Turn products into services and turn services into products. Dollar Shave Club and SaaS are two examples of turning products into services.
Others include Amazon’s Dash, a bare-bones Internet of Things device that lets consumers reorder items ranging from Campbell’s Soup to Play-Doh. Another example is Rent the Runway, which rents high-end fashion items for a weekend rather than selling the items. Trunk Club offers a twist on this by sending items picked out by a stylist to users every month. Users pay for what they want and send back the rest.
The other option is productizing a service. Restaurant franchising is based on this model. While the restaurant offers food service to consumers, for entrepreneurs the franchise offers guidance and brand equity that can be condensed into a product format. For instance, a global HR firm called Littler has productized its offerings with Littler CaseSmart-Charges, which is designed for in-house attorneys and features software, project management tools, and access to flextime attorneys.
As that example shows, technology offers opportunities to try new revenue models. Another example is APIs, which have become a large source of revenue for companies. The monetization of APIs is often viewed as a side business that encompasses a wholly different pricing model that’s often engineered to create huge user bases with volume discounts.
Not a new idea
Though technology has opened up new vistas for businesses seeking alternate pricing models, Rajkumar Venkatesan, a marketing professor at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, points out that this isn’t necessarily a new idea. For instance, King Gillette made his fortune in the early part of the 20th Century by realizing that a cheap shaving device would pave the way for a recurring revenue stream via replacement razor blades.
“The new variation was the Keurig,” said Venkatesan, referring to the coffee machine that relies on replaceable cartridges. “It has started becoming more prevalent in the last 10 years, but the fundamental model has been there.” For businesses, this can be an attractive model not only for the recurring revenue but also for the ability to cross-sell new goods to existing customers, Venkatesan said.
Another benefit to a subscription model is that it can also supply first-party data that companies can use to better understand and market to their customers. Some believe that Dollar Shave Club’s close relationship with its young male user base was one reason for Unilever’s purchase, for instance. In such a cut-throat market, such relationships can fetch a high price.