How Can Businesses Improve Customer Loyalty with Branded Rewards?
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.
You knew it already…
People like free stuff, rewards and competitions. That’s why rewarding your customers from time to time is a great way to keep them close. It’s also a good way to attract them in the first place, often more effective than ads and sponsored posts. People are flooded with advertisements all the time and rarely pay attention to them anymore. Giving your potential customers a chance to try and test your product might make a difference. At that point, it’s all about the quality of your product. If people like it they will remember not just that it’s fine, but they will also appreciate the fact that they got it for free. However, once you got people to use your product or service, you should come up with ways to keep them interested. Having regular branded giveaways and rewards is an excellent way to do it.
Instead of giving regular customers discounts, you should consider providing them with some sort of free service. The math behind it is basically the same, but free service is definitely more powerful and memorable. Discounts are everywhere, and they have become meaningless, sometimes even harmful. Also, the fact that a product or service is on discount doesn’t at all mean that it’s cheap or even affordable. On the other hand, offering them a service that doesn’t cost you much and doesn’t take too much of your time for free, will make people remember you.
A good way to brand this whole process is to give it a little twist that will make people talk about it. You don’t have to put your watermark on something in order to say it’s branded. For instance, you can refuse to charge your customers for some services but at the same time tell them to feel free to contribute to charity instead; just put a box in your shop where people can leave the money for a cause. The word will definitely spread, your idea will be seen as fresh and original, and you will get a chance to help those in need.
Giving away merchandise with the name of your brand to loyal customers (or any customers, for that matter) is also a reasonable idea. It might seem a bit out of date to give t-shirts, pens or notebooks as presents but you can be pretty sure people will use them. At the end of the day they will appreciate this little gift as well, especially when it comes to things you can’t have too much of. It’s true that people don’t pay much attention to words and logos inscribed on t-shirts or coffee mugs, but having the name of your brand around is never a bad thing, especially given that the cost of it is really miniscule.
When it comes to stimulating people to buy more, some businesses choose to reward those who buy big quantities at once. This is not a bad idea, but it’s a short-term solution and it should be teamed up with rewards for those who use your products regularly, no matter how much money they actually spend. Setting up a loyalty program has several advantages that go beyond the simple act of giving free stuff to people. Firstly, it keeps your customers involved at all times. They are not just buying, they are collecting points and playing a game, and the good thing about this game is that the rewards are financially beneficial for them.
Furthermore, giving discounts and free stuff through a loyalty program is a great idea because the more often your customers use it, the higher their benefits will be. What they get as a reward depends only on their loyalty and the longer they use your program, the more reluctant they will be to switch to another brand. If your competition doesn’t offer anything radically better or different there’s a good chance they will stick to you. Not just as a result of a habit but because your customers also see this as a kind of an investment, they too are building something, and they won’t be too keen on starting over.
One way to use gift cards is to make them a part of a loyalty program. It’s fine to keep track of your points or credits via some sort of software or app, but it’s even better to get rewarded with an actual real-world present. It’s a small touch that tells your loyal customers that you care. Of course, you don’t have to use it as a part of a program; you can just give them away on convenient dates and occasions like Christmas or your company’s birthday, for instance. It’s easy to find customized and tailor-made gift cards online, with the logo of your company imprinted, so that people are reminded of your brand every time they use them.
All in all, rewarding loyal customers regularly is a very good idea for your business. In order to make it even more effective, make sure to be familiar with your customers, get to know what they want, what will appeal to them and what will make them stay loyal to you. Once you know that, it’s easy to make a plan and choose your strategy and particular ways to attract new people and keep them loyal to your brand.
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.