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Digital marketing goes through trends just like anything else, but while some of these trends come and go without most people ever noticing, many of them end up becoming permanent fixtures in the repertoire.
The reason for this is that most digital marketing trends come about as reactions to new technologies or new consumer behaviors, meaning they fill a need that’s already begun to emerge.
For instance, the rise of mobile marketing was a direct reaction to the dramatic increase in smartphone use that’s happened over the past few years, especially among consumers who use their devices to shop or do product research.
Although there was a time when mobile marketing was considered trendy, now it’s just a regular—though necessary—tool in the digital marketer’s box.
It’s important, therefore, to keep apprised of the trends that are taking place in the industry. In this article, we explore 5 popular digital marketing trends that are happening in the world of small business.
1. Social Media Marketing
Social media is an extremely important marketing tool for digital marketers, and this is because prospects, clients, and audiences spend so much of their time on these networks.
Around the world, social media users spent an average of 135 minutes a day on social networks, and the amount of time is growing every year. What's more, people don’t just use social media to connect with friends and family anymore, but also to research products and services, connect with the brands they support, and help them make purchasing decisions.
In other words, if you aren't connecting with your audience and your prospects on social media, then your competitors will take advantage of the opportunity.
With this in mind, many small businesses are jumping on the social media marketing bandwagon, and over 70 % plan to acquire new customers in 2018 using this tool, including 75% of those who plan to use Facebook specifically. Here are some of the ways small businesses can use social media marketing to drive growth and gain new customers:
- Sharing interesting and relevant content
- Engaging audiences in conversations
- Using social media for customer service, including answering questions and addressing complaints
- Using social media advertising to reach new audiences and convert prospects
- Building brand recognition and loyalty through engagement, commenting and sharing
- Collaborating with influencers to reach out to new markets and increase recognition and trust
- Analyzing data to better understand the needs, wants, and behaviors of customers and prospects
- Gathering user-generated content to share
- Connecting with audiences on a more personal level and building relationships
2. Voice Strategy
Vocal communication is one of the easiest and most common forms of human interaction, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people also want to use voice when interacting with technology and their favorite devices.
In fact, half of consumers use voice assistants already, and 81% of those people use them in conjunction with their smartphones. Organizations who want to remain relevant will have to adapt to this new take on traditional internet searches, which is why creating a voice search strategy is becoming a top priority for small businesses.
One crucial element of any comprehensive voice strategy is optimizing your content with the types of keywords that commonly appear in voice searches, including long-tail keywords that are relevant to you, words like best and price, keywords in both command and question formats, and keywords that answer the types of questions your customers are posing.
The important thing to remember is that most voice searches are in fact questions, so content should be geared toward providing succinct answers. Another great voice strategy you can adopt is creating an Alexa skill or Google action, which can help you reach customers who use Alexa or Google home voice assistants.
3. Branded and Live Video Investments
Video has been a driving force in digital marketing for a long time because of how engaging it is, and it’s estimated that video will account for 82% of consumer internet traffic by 2021.
But that doesn’t mean video marketing is static, and people are always finding novel ways to engage audiences with video. Two of the popular trends on the rise right now are branded and live video.
With branded content, businesses can take advantage of all the benefits video has to offer—it’s highly engaging, delivers tons of information in a short time, increases conversions, and it’s more appealing than basic text—while also building trust and fostering relationships with their audiences.
Live video is a little newer to the scene, but it’s quickly becoming an extremely popular form of content among consumers and is expected to account for 13% of video traffic by 2021. One of the reasons live video is so appealing is that it’s interactive, and the audience can actually be invited to participate by calling in, asking questions, and being part of the conversation, which is great for relationship building.
Many marketers shy away from creating video content for one simple reason: it has a reputation for being expensive to produce. However, creating video content doesn’t always have to be expensive, discover our top tips for creating outstanding video content on a budget.
4. Novel Content
Content is the currency of digital marketing, and while there are some staple content types that will likely always be around, new kinds do crop up now and again that temporarily revolutionize the way people consume content.
For instance, a growing trend right now is interactive content that allows audience members to actively engage with brands. There are many types of content you can experiment with here, including:
- Animated infographics
- Online voting
Another new type of content that’s making waves is expiring content, and it’s possible this might have been inspired by the Snapchat paradigm, where snaps are deleted after just 24 hours.
Expiring content works in much the same way, being available for only a limited amount of time before being removed from the web. This is enticing because it creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity, and because people don’t like to miss out on things, they’ll make an even greater effort to seek out said content.
5. Blending the Digital with the Physical
Digital may be the way of the present and future, but that doesn’t mean it will ever completely take over—people still love shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, which is why so many businesses still have physical locations.
However, modern consumers are demanding more than ever from in-store shopping, and that includes wanting digital elements seamlessly incorporated into the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. As such, many businesses have started adopting technologies that allow them to digitally interact with consumers who are physically present in their vicinity, and one common way of doing this is with beacons.
When a business uses a beacon, the beacon can send signals to mobile devices within a predetermined geofenced area, such as by sending push notifications or special time-sensitive coupons to nearby potential consumers.
However, beacons can be used for more than just that, and here are a few novel ways that small and large businesses and organizations have used beacon technology to drive results:
- Trade shows installing beacons in the lanyards worn by attendees so exhibitors can communicate more easily
- Retailers using them to enable consumers to check stock and scan products in-store
- Hotels using them in place of room keys
- Sports associations connecting with in-stadium fans via beacons
- Airlines using beacons to update travelers about flight times, delays, and other important information
Digital marketing is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, and this is largely because the technology and consumer habits that inform digital marketing are always changing as well.
For digital marketers and small businesses alike, therefore, it’s important to keep apprised of changes and trends that take place in the industry. It’s too easy to become irrelevant in today’s fast-paced world if you're not keeping up with the competition and your prospects.
The good news is that most of the trends that happen in digital marketing are developments rather than all-out changes, and this means staying at the cutting edge doesn’t require a complete overhaul, but rather a strategic evolution regarding social media, content, voice, and the way businesses engage with their customers online and in the physical world. See our
5 Steps to a Powerful Digital Marketing Strategy, to put the trends into practice.