Why is it essential for small and medium businesses (SMB) to keep track of 5 trends in digital marketing? Research has shown that 42% of major worries for SMB owners is “finding new customers”. The marketing landscape has changed significantly over the past few years. According to an article in the Forbes magazine, buyers today complete nearly 60% of the purchase decision process even before they engage into a conversation with a sales person from a company.
The internet has proven to be a disruptive force – not only in the area of marketing but in all spheres of business, in general. The avalanche of information on the web has provided consumers with enormous clout in the buying process. They, almost always, turn to the web to find brands and products to fill their needs. Gone are the days when SMB owners can say “this is the way we have always done it, why should we do anything differently?”
Time was when digital marketing meant having a website. The world of social media opened up a few years ago and changed the canvas like never before. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Thanks to new technologies, new tools and the ever changing sands of social media. All of these played a big part in raising the bar in the world of digital marketing.
With the shift in the buying process, getting relevant and compelling content out there became of paramount importance. Marketing departments became publishing houses with the amount of content required to make an impact in the web world. Blog writers and social media experts became full time jobs in businesses.
SMB owners get overwhelmed with these changes. Many still have not grasped the full extent of the tsunami sweeping the marketing world. In an earlier blog post we had given enough fodder for small businesses to start down this road. Fact is even if you do not have the expertise in-house or the means to hire someone full time, you have to get help.
As the new year stands in waiting to dawn upon us, we scoured the web to give you a list of 5 trends in digital marketing the experts and practitioners are talking about.
- Content, content, content…
Content will continue to be the backbone of digital marketing. But, as Ann Handley of MarketingProfs says, “there will be more focus on empathy and customer experience.” Good writers will be in great demand. Wordsmiths will play a big role in the way the world at large will look at your business – they can make you look smart or stupid. Much like an iceberg, make sure your business uses the best words to convey depth under the surface.
Mike Dodgson of Toronto-based Revive Solutions states that, “The greatest benefit to developing a digital marketing plan is our ability to track performance and experiment with our content. We start to gain the valuable insights into the inner workings of how our business engages the customer, and how it influences our sales and bottom line. “
- Conscious integration …
While traditional means of selling and marketing will never die, digital marketing will, as Brian Solis of Altimeter Group says, ”force businesses to bring disparate groups within the business to the table so that customers get ONE experience about the brand wherever they are in the lifecycle.”
In an earlier blog post we had already stated that the onus of marketing in today’s world no longer rests on just the marketing department, but on the entire company. SMB owners will have to continuously integrate their entire operations from a marketing perspective so that the ONENESS of the marketing message comes through.
As Josh Hayter, President of Josh Hayter Consulting states, “The key to good marketing is giving potential customers information and communicating with them in the way that they want. Irrespective of how they want to communicate – email, phone, Twitter, Facebook or other social media – you need to be there with the same consistent messaging.”
- Text will get increasingly replaced …
It is an established fact that over 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and the brain processes visuals many times faster than text. Visuals involve images – both still and moving. So getting the best and relevant picture or video as part of your content strategy will increase the chances of your prospect engaging with your business / brand. According to AC Nielson, 85% of the internet users in North America watch videos online and the majority of the 25-34 age group are avid video followers online. So, the trick is to create catchy images and videos that evoke emotion, besides telling a good story.
As, Ekaterina Walter of Branderati says, “In the age of infobesity and increasing digital noise, visual storytelling will continue to emerge as a strategy for nurturing and growing vibrant and engaged communities.”
- Mobile will dominate …
According to You Tube, mobile devices make up over 45% of all of global video watch time. Not only that. According to a report published on Search Engine Watch, a recent study by Telemetrics found that over 46% of consumers exclusively use mobile devices for their search. And, this study also finds that over 80% of local searches done on mobile devices convert to sales. This compelling piece of data cannot be ignored by small and medium businesses.
Google’s recently conducted a study on the New Multiscreen World. This report shows that an overwhelming majority of consumers expect a business to be within walking or local driving distance from their current location. And, one out of three smartphone users search for a business contact information on their mobile devices.
More consumers today want information on the go. It thus becomes imperative for small and medium businesses to ensure that their web presence is mobile friendly. No, small and medium businesses should start with a “mobile first” strategy for their digital marketing efforts.
- Calls will be the new clicks …
According to a smartphone users study commissioned by e-Marketer.com, there will be over 2 billion smartphone users in the world by 2015. The tremendous growth has been made possible by the evolution of smartphone technology and the availability of 3G and 4G networks across the world.
What should be noted, however, is that over 79% of internet users access the web from their smartphones. And, this is a critical number to focus on.
Prior to the advent of smartphone, web tracking was done through placing cookies and other tracking codes on web pages. This allowed businesses to see who visited their web pages and, possibly, measure the length of time they spent on the page.
With the paradigm shift in how people search for information, mobile devices and smartphones have become of paramount importance. We stated earlier that more and more smartphone users are seeking to contact businesses through their phones. They search the internet for contact information and immediately make the call. What then becomes relevant is the ability to track such calls and gain insights from them to pursue further action on the sales process.
So, should all the frighten and overwhelm the small and medium business owner? In some ways it can. But as an owner you cannot allow it to frustrate you. There are several cost effective ways in which you can help yourself and your business. We, at Instant Imprints,have several SMB partners who can help your business weather this storm and come out ok. Among them: Josh Hayter who helps SMB with the overall strategy for digital marketing. Mike Dodgson who is a lead generation expert. He has in his arsenal several tools and approaches that can help your business surf this digital marketing waves without any problem.
So, what are you waiting for?