Choosing the Best Advertising Channels for your Small Business
The year 2017 has brought many new tech trends into the digital marketing sphere. Mobile phone optimization and Big Data in particular have been a huge hit and continue to rise in popularity. Yet, the main question that’s on everyone’s minds right now is:
"What new digital marketing trends can we expect from 2018?"
Seeing how the pace of new scientific discoveries and technological advancements increases with each passing year, it’s safe to say that we have a lot in store for digital marketing this year. So, let’s dive a bit deeper and find out what these trends are and how best to utilize them in your marketing efforts.
Since the dawn of man, storytelling has played a huge part in the survival of our species by allowing us to pass down important information from one generation to the next. This form of communication is so embedded in our nature that we still use it today for great amusement and joy. Snapchat was the first to utilize these ‘stories’ in its design which paved the way for other social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, to do the same.
Its no surprise, these two are now one of the most popular social media platforms today with a fully integrated stories feature that entertains millions of users worldwide. As such, marketers need to tap into this newfound ‘fountain of youth’ to refresh their marketing efforts and greatly increase their social media presence by doing so.
Authentic influencer strategies
Although this form of marketing isn’t anything new and has been around for years, its increasing popularity is pushing it to the forefront. Namely, authenticity is absolutely essential when it comes to influencer marketing, and as such, influencer campaigns that feel somewhat forced or unnatural will backfire completely. People have become a lot more observant of these influencer strategies and are now turning towards micro-influencers for more authentic and honest content instead.
Every modern digital agency has already moved onto these new pastures to find the right micro-influencers for their clients and thus effectively increase their brand awareness quite considerably. What’s more, there’s also the need for strengthening the bond of influencer-brand relations by renewing deals with the same influencers to hold onto them as much as possible. There’s always the threat of a rival brand snatching influencers away from you.
Video content still reigns supreme
Video content is set to overtake 80% of the internet’s traffic by 2019, which is just around the corner. This insatiable demand for video content can be seen even today; for example, 82% of users on Twitter exclusively watch video content. What’s more, 90% of them do so from small hand-held devices. While on YouTube, this number is around 60%. In addition, 1 billion hours of YouTube content is being viewed every day, which amounts to a playlist of around 100,000 hours in length.
Also, live streaming is another thing worth mentioning as this form of video content is highly engaging for viewers and offers more interaction than the average video. Hence, the numbers don’t lie, the desire for more video content is out there. Marketers need to use this info and adapt their content accordingly if they’re to generate positive results this year. You can use online platforms such as 2 Easy and find the best companies to outsource this task to.
Advanced use of AI
AI has already been used in the form of chat-bots last year and to great success. This year, however, chat-bots are on a totally different level and are providing a more personalized experience for customers than ever before. With the use of AI and customer profiling, brands can now pin-point the exact preferences of their customers and gain insight into what their target audience looks like.
This, along with the use of predictive analysis, enables marketers to focus exclusively on the creative parts of marketing as they leave the most time-consuming, logic-based, processes to the machines. As a result, this not only saves valuable time and money, but allows marketers to craft data-driven strategies that yield the most fruit, as well as better ROI rates.
Privacy and security issues
Due to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes in effect on May 25th, companies will no longer be able to gather client data from EU citizens (their location, e-mail) without their explicit consent. Moreover, they also need to state what exactly this information gathering is going to be used for. As such, companies will need to adapt to these regulations sometime in 2018 to avoid penalties or fines of any kind.
Additionally, the increasing use of ad-block is significantly lowering the impact of display ads on platforms that haven’t disabled such technology yet, and are losing revenue as a result. Data breaches are yet another pressing concern as cyber-attacks increase in frequency, year-in year-out. Therefore, marketers need to be prepared for these privacy and security issues and find ways of tackling them if they’re to have any success with their digital marketing efforts this year.
All in all, marketers and brands will need to update their tech and evolve if they’re to stay in the game this year. The popularity of certain media, such as video, proper influencer strategies, and smart AI are just some of the things that will play a huge role in the year 2018, so keep a close eye on them.
Everybody wants their site to rank first, but with so many new sites popping up every day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to achieve this goal. The internet is like a vast ocean, you need to keep your navigation up to speed or you risk getting your ship lost at sea. Add in the pirates and buccaneers that want to plunder your ship and you get the idea. Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your ship afloat, updating your maps (SEO) even more so. Otherwise, people won’t be able to find this landing page of yours you keep talking about. Still not convinced? Take a closer look.
What exactly is onsite SEO?
Onsite SEO is practice of optimizing whole web pages to generate more relevant traffic and rank higher in search engines such as Google. This means both the HTML source code and page content need to be optimized in order to be on the top of the list. Either you or someone else needs to take care of this feature if you wish to have a stronger online presence.
The main thing is, Google hates repetitive, irrelevant content and often penalizes pages that keep doing the same old. What it simply can’t resist is new, relevant, quality content that users find more interesting. Throughout the years, Google has become more and more sophisticated, to the point of becoming so intelligent that you need to employ a full-time ‘babysitter’ to watch over your website. Because it really is like taking care of a baby.
Your website needs constant ‘baths’ to keep it clean from various viruses and infections as well as regular diaper changes to update its protection from filthy hackers. Neglecting these simple needs will probably cause Google to go social services on you and take your website away from you and put it in a new home, the last page of Google search.
Tags, links and descriptions
Another reason why you need to keep updating your onsite SEO is because various tags, links, descriptions, keywords and content require some special attention. Meta tags are what gives search engines information about your page. Using them properly is important if you want to have a high rank. Title tags for one should be kept short and descriptive, as Google has a 70-character limit. Next, meta descriptions are another thing that needs some closer inspection.
Mainly, a good description is needed to attract the proper audience and if the content of the site changes, this also needs to be updated to be in sync with the audience in question. However, the thing Google simply adores, are links. Regularly improving your internal and outbound links, and removing old toxic links, will ensure that your website has a better position on Google. Just don’t put links in every sentence, as it will do more harm than good for your rankings.
Had enough? Well there’s plenty more where that came from, this of course was just the gist of it, a ‘bootcamp’ if you will. Devoting a lot more time and research is needed to fully comprehend SEO. If you are to avoid some of the sharp rocks that lurk below the surface, this Hong Kong SEO company argues it ends up being cheaper when you outsource it than do it yourself.
To strengthen that point, you need to know that Google updates how its search algorithm works all the time, and what was the right way of doing something yesterday, won’t be so today. SEO is like trying to step into the same river twice, by the time you get in the second time, the water has already flown downstream. The same thing happens with SEO, by the time you learn the ropes of the trade and get the hang of it, new rules and updates come along.
It goes on like that indefinitely, as Google is always trying to perfect their algorithms further, and as it’s becoming more intelligent, it’s harder to keep track of what actually works and what doesn’t, without the right training and expertise in the field.
Doing regular maintenance to protect your website from cyber-attacks is a no-brainer. Nobody wants to expose their website, as well as their business for that matter, to such attacks. Without regular maintenance, your websites defenses will be outdated and easy prey for cyber criminals. Hackers are always looking for new ways to exploit a website, without the latest software installed, all they need is a small breach and they’ll get inside and cause havoc.
Consequently, when such an attack does occur, you’ll wish you hadn’t built your house not with sticks and straws, but with bricks instead. Moreover, you’d want to do scheduled maintenance simply because of the fact that you need to do regular backups, just in case a pesky hacker does get through. You don’t want info to be leaking, but having no info at all and a crashed site is far worse.
In conclusion, if you think that your site is the only one out there, think again. There are plenty more fish in the sea, and if you don’t want your site to be on Google’s endangered species list (the last page of Google search), consider doing regular onsite SEO and general maintenance from now on.
Where to direct your marketing efforts
Modern businesses are willing to spend a fortune on their branding, from designing their logos to crafting the right language for all online and offline content, and the bill can often go as high as $50,000 according to Forbes, if not even higher. However, the ROI for a strong branding strategy is practically immeasurable, including your reputation in the eyes of your customers, all the way to continually attracting new clients despite the strong competition. But how can small businesses match such investments and where does all this effort come to life? Small businesses entering the already oversaturated market have an arduous task of maintaining their existing clientele and making sure their visibility is growing outside of the word-of-mouth realm. And opting for the right advertising channels is precisely what you need to give that fine-crafted brand voice substance and a megaphone to reach your vast potential audience.
Mind the learning curve
Unless you are a manufacturer of toothbrushes, your future customers likely don’t include every person on the face of the Earth, and as such, you need to make sure you keep getting to know your audience. Use surveys, create a customer profile based on your success thus far, do your homework on their behavior on different channels, and discover where you’re likely to find them and what can grab their attention. Placing your ads in the right place and the right time can make all the difference and bring you more profit and long-term loyalty than randomly assigning funds to all possible channels of communication. If your customers are likely to listen to the radio, then aim for their favorite shows, but keep in mind that you simply don’t have the luxury to be everywhere at all times.
Use your social footprint
The main perk of running a small business is that it can maintain a genuine impression of understanding its community, and base its social media actions on relatable conversations. And depending on your business and where your customers can be found, using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and similar media is a wise way of spreading the word of your latest promotions, as the popularity of these social networks is only growing. But tread lightly when defining the right balance between your promotional posts, ads and simple updates that don’t put an emphasis on your brand. Studies have shown that if you overuse your social presence to promote your products and services, your efforts will ultimately backfire, as almost 60% of research respondents stated that too much promotion on social is the most annoying step a brand can take. Hence the need to use the social wisely and in moderation, to keep your audience happy.
A personal touch
Not every business, big or small, can go all out and set up and entire event devoted to the community, but you can still make yourself visible and memorable at fairs and charitable events with the help of branded promotional merchandise, free samples of your products as well as free trials of your services. If you’re a baker, sampling cupcakes is the best way to include your future customers in choosing the perfect recipe, while a local car mechanic can stand out with a fun keychain, or a branded cap. It not only shows your generosity and gives people a chance to test before they buy, it also helps them remember you, your logo and most importantly, your demeanor during that one-on-one conversation. Notepads, calendars, mugs, pens, umbrellas, you name them, if they have a purpose, your giveaway will be appreciated and remembered for a long time. And unlike a fleeting TV commercial, a well-designed USB drive with your name on it will outlast many other advertising efforts.
Enter the blogosphere
One of the more underestimated methods of reaching out, blogging is slowly emerging as the powerful tool that it truly is and more businesses are starting to utilize it to find and engage with their clients. Smaller businesses in particular can greatly benefit from a consistent blogging strategy, as research shows that 81% of US customers trust the information they gain from blogs, and it’s a brilliant place to offer an occasional promotion, without devoting your entire blog strictly to that purpose. Less direct than actual ads on Facebook, but with more potential to help you connect with your audience, a well-written post is the best way to shape your voice, gain authority and establish a trusted reputation in your field. Not to mention that optimized blogs make your website much more visible and loved by search engines, making your business more accessible to your potential customers.
Let your customers promote you
If your business already has a few satisfied customers, no matter your field, their word will have high value in your community, and perhaps even beyond. You can encourage them to fill out your questionnaires and leave feedback of your service, or ask them for a review while handing them a complementary product, and ask them if they would feel comfortable for you to place their comments on your website. And while it is a valuable way to promote your business via your own website, it would be even better if you could find your way onto a reputable review website (think TripAdvisor and the like), where your customers’ voices have even more relevance for those who search for a similar service. Hand them a pamphlet or a flyer explaining what you’d like them to do, along with a coupon for their next purchase or that complementary cupcake, and they will likely be more than happy to endorse your business.
Orana Creative Contributor
Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She's a contributor Orana Creative and BizzMark Blog.