Most savvy business owners have heard of digital trends. The practice of leveraging tools like your company website, social media accounts and email marketing is on its way to becoming the norm for organizations.
Given the influence these vehicles can have, it is no wonder companies are embracing digital as a marketing tactic, and investing precious working capital in it. According to a report released by Smart Insights, nearly three billion people are using the Internet. An equally striking number of Business-to-Business companies – 93 percent – are using social media to encourage interaction through content marketing. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
But some trends are more powerful for small businesses than others – and therefore, more worthy recipients of your marketing dollars and budget. This article will explore four digital trends that deliver a marketing punch:
Separately, each method is powerful. And when your organization applies multiple tactics in tandem, you give your business a real chance to achieve your marketing goals.
It’s All About Mobile
The vast majority of consumers now access the Internet from mobile devices. Social media sees one of the highest percentages of mobile users, with online sales made from tablets and smartphones quickly rising in the ranks. Statisca.com reports that in 2015 over $118 billion purchases were made from mobile devices.
It only makes sense, then, that mobile presents a wealth of possibilities for small businesses looking to increase engagement and sales. However, it is critical that company websites are optimized for mobile. So, how can you achieve this?
Responsive design has become the go-to for many web developers tasked with creating websites that are aesthetically pleasing across all devices including desktops. Responsive website design is an entirely different animal than traditional web design. When building a responsive website, developers utilize a mix of HTML markup and CSS coding to improve user experience and boost SEO results. The latter is especially important because mobile optimization now factors heavily into the algorithmic formula Google uses to rank websites.
One example of a tool responsive websites use is context-aware images. This means the images serve at different resolutions, ranging from larger screens to smaller ones. This is ideal for mobile optimization, as it allows images to scale to change fluidly with the help of updated developer tools and coding languages. The result? Designs look crisp and clear on desktops and mobile devices alike.
Social media ecommerce has been building momentum over the past couple of years, with industry giants like Facebook and Twitter testing their new “buy” buttons. This eases the burden on businesses by eliminating the need to drive consumers to their website for purchases. Consumers can buy without ever leaving their social network.
Ecommerce providers such as Ecwid and Shopify offer small businesses powerful new ways to showcase the very best of their brand; in today’s digitally influenced landscape, savvy business owners know that their social network profiles are the modern incarnation of storefront signage. Furthermore, skillfully managed social media profiles capture the attention of first-time customers, and drive engagement among existing customers.
Of course, the success of this tactic depends largely on each company’s ability to nurture and fortify a strong, receptive audience on its social media platforms. Small businesses who take this challenge seriously – incorporating social media into their marketing strategy – will transform their social channels into revenue generating commerce portals. It is a scenario that looks favorable when backed by smart business finance. Companies can also finally attain real, concrete evidence of revenue metrics for their social media activity – a feat that once seemed nearly impossible.
Content is King
The buzz around digital content as an effective marketing strategy has been growing over the past several years. It is clear that smart content marketing works, and there has been a surge in companies who invest significant working capital in content development. However, many small businesses are confused about how to leverage it correctly.
It starts with getting to truly know your audience. Ask yourself the following:
Understanding your audience allows you to develop content that will capture their attention and keep them engaged – versus throwing content out there and hoping it will “stick,” a mistake far too many organizations have made. And do not feel pressured to know everything about them right away. Carefully observe how your audience reacts to the content you put out there; they will let you know what works and what needs improvement.
It is equally important to understand which content vehicles make the most impact, both across the board and on your audience. For example, videos have become an invaluable content tool for organizations due to its high level of engagement potential and its versatility. For a reasonable cost, you can create a video library that showcases everything from your products and/or services to notable employees. Tossing a fun, lighthearted behind-the-scenes video into the mix reveals the human side of your company.
When you combine video with social media it’s a match made in heaven. Social platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest and Facebook are valuable sources to build brand recognition, assist with technical or customer support, and have the potential to influence buying behavior through video testimonials. But don’t think that getting started with video is expensive. In fact, big brands have applied low budget video marketing with success. This translates to affordable videos that can be easily produced without scripts or fancy video equipment, and allow small businesses an opportunity to build a video presence on a budget.
A fleshed out, balanced plan also involves content like blog posts, webinars ande-book. A blog series gives your audience a more personal view of your company – and that intimate approach can prove particularly beneficial to small businesses.
Before the advent of predictive analytics, personalization was basic. For example, email marketers added the recipient’s first name into the subject line and/or body of messages. Big data has changed the game, ushering in an era of true personalization. When this tactic is executed well, it can increase sales and bolster customer retention.
Predictive analytics provide insight into likely customer behaviors and allow organizations to improve their customer service experience, ultimately cultivating a positive feeling, building loyalty and generating sales. But how, exactly, can you make this data work for your small business?
Predictive analytics are a powerful marketing tool partly because they offer sales associates a real-time, complete view of the products that have interested customers and what they place in their cart. And when customers have a positive experience – whether simply browsing your website or purchasing – they are inclined to return again the next time a need your company can fulfill arises.
Sometimes it seems like digital trends come and go in the blink of an eye, but the aforementioned trends have exhibited staying power. And with a meticulous discovery process of how each of the aforementioned four trends can benefit your company, as well as thoughtful execution, you can leverage these tactics to ensure your small business delivers a big punch.