As digital marketing evolves, it is important to examine your marketing tactics often and see how new trends might require them to be adjusted to maximize their impact.
Your website was probably one of your first digital marketing projects. Although it may not stem from the 1990’s, it’s probably safe to say that it has been around for a while. And, undoubtedly, it has evolved, morphing from a simple online calling card for your business to a place where you house important information for your customers and possibly even take orders.
Marketing trends prompt such changes – the introduction of online payment systems helped to solidify a website’s value in ecommerce. Advances in networking technology allowed for the support of rich content, making sites flashier and more welcoming. And the proliferation of mobile devices drove the need for making websites more mobile-friendly.
With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to look at what new trends might justify a few tweaks to your site now, and what things you might need to plan for in the future.
What everyone’s talking about
Technologies such as analytics and machine-learning, as well as social media integration, are continuing to drive changes in digital marketing. These will affect websites in these five areas:
- Influencer marketing
- Rich, interactive content
- Ephemeral content
Influencer marketing has been gaining momentum. Using customers and celebrities to comment on and forward your messages does a lot for your credibility. Interest in influencer marketing increased 90x from 2013 to 2016 and doubled in the first nine months of 2017. According to a study by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect, 40 percent of people have made an online purchase after seeing something promoted by an influencer on social media. 2018 promises to be a year where businesses decide to capitalize on this by connecting more deeply with their customers, establishing more digital customer touch points, and finding ways to promote their feedback.
How will this affect your website? To leverage powerful, user-generated content in 2018 businesses will look to better integrate their websites and social media platforms, promoting customer reviews and feedback, as well as enabling customers to more easily share your content.
Rich, interactive content
Rich content, the type that facilitates social user interaction, drives more customer engagement. Videos are a perfect example. They require users to click to play a video and encourage them to leave comments. The less polished, more personal nature of live video breaks down typical advertising formality and allows businesses to interact more authentically with their audience.
An added benefit of incorporating video on your website or on social media is the backend search algorithms that push live video to the top of search results, assisting with organic search engine optimization. Polls and games on Twitter and Facebook are other examples of rich content. Polls are a great way to encourage user interaction while at the same time collecting consumer insights.
The latest marketing buzzword, ephemeral content, stems from the popularity of the social media platform, Snapchat. It refers to content that lasts only a short time – no longer than 24 hours. Ephemeral content encourages audiences to take fast action, based on the fear of missing out. Short-lived content helps to generate a sense of excitement, and even trust, for a brand. It feels more authentic than sponsored ads. Brands will be generating a consistent stream of ephemeral content in 2018 to keep consumers coming back for more.
Incorporating ephemeral content on your website can be a great way to create a buzz. However, it will require a lot of upfront planning and a lot of time dedicated to web updates. At this point, it may still be best to keep this type of content on social media platforms. Instead, this year you might want to work on the integration between your social media platforms and your website.
The use of backend analytics has skyrocketed in the last couple of years due to the value it provides in helping to personalize content for an audience. With analytics in play, companies can have social interactions that adapt the content presented on the screen based on the audience, device type, location, and previous interactions. The calls-to-action supplied via sites that implement personalization, according to a study by HubSpot, have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than generic calls-to-action. Other studies, such as done by Monetate, confirm the business benefit, adding that the ability to respond quickly and accurately to shifts in customer behavior, as well as the ability to offer predictive knowledge based on an analysis of previous purchasing behaviors, works to the business’s advantage.
Machine learning is now adding to the ability to customize ads on social media. Dynamic ads are one of the biggest emerging trends. Facebook offers the ability to analyze which versions of an ad perform best with each audience based on the statistics it gathers, giving advertisers the insights they need to run more effective advertising programs. New tools that help marketers generate different variations of a video ad to align with difference audiences, like Director Mix, are also available for platforms like YouTube.
You can work personalized content into your website in many ways. If you have the programming resources to do it, adding the ability to personalize content can be an exciting addition to your web features. For those who don’t have access to the programming and backend analytics it currently takes to employ such technologies, you might want to wait until the trend evolves a bit more to a point where you can take advantage of scripts and plug-ins developed by others.
Chatbot virtual assistants, like Google Assistant, conduct social interactions with users via auditory or text methods, often for practical purposes such as customer service or information acquisition. They help keep communications close between the brand and its target audience. According to Business Insider, 80% of companies want to integrate chatbots into their strategy by 2020.
Chatbots use machine learning to continuously evolve. Developers are now taking chatbots to the next level by using them to offer personalized services. For instance, by using AI-based chatbot functionality, prominent high street clothing brand H&M has launched a branded chatbot platform called Kik (also used by other brands) that engages with audiences and acts as a personal stylist, learning about your style by scanning your social photos and recommending outfits. However, chatbots are still in their infancy. Without enough information behind them, web site visitors can find them more annoying than helpful. If you do decide to implement them, make sure they are programmed well enough to truly be helpful.
How can chatbots help you on your website? Use them as sales representative, answering questions from your customers directly. Customers can tell you what they are looking for, as opposed to trying to search through all of the pages of your website, and your chatbot can give them the answer they need right away.
Implement what works for you, when it works for you
The world is changing quickly. Whereas we were just talking about the rise of digital marketing and the influences of social media a few years ago, the digital marketing realm is maturing to the point where everything digital is starting to integrate every possible social connection. You’ll want to look closely at your website and social media platforms, keeping these trends in mind, and see what you might be able to implement now, and what might be best to plan for in the future.
We would love to hear more about your experience and what trends you think will be important in the coming year. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on our web design services, go to http://porterconsulting.net/index.php/web-design-sm-enable-0717/