Thursday 27 November 2014

7 online marketing trends you can't ignore in 2015

As you plan for your 2015 online marketing strategy, here are 7 trends that we expect to see and 7 actionable tips to benefit your strategy.

1) Mobile will continue to grow

During 2014 the amount of time we spend on our mobile has overtaken PCs. In a survey of US adults it was found that on average we spend 2 hours and 51 minutes on our phones vs 2 hours and 12 minutes on computers. Many companies have now moved to responsive websites which resize according to the screen the visitor is using but as we go forward into 2015 further optimisations for mobile will be necessary to maintain a share of mobile traffic.

One huge factor is load time. The average load time for a top 10 Google ranking website is 0.99 seconds. Search Engine Land recently reported that Google is experimenting with ways to favour in search results websites that are mobile friendly. Already Google takes into account user behaviour, penalising websites which visitors don’t stay on for long or look at many pages on – two behaviours which are directly affected by load time. Not only are there ranking benefits from a fast loading website, Amazon reported that for every 100 millisecond improvement in website load time, they see a 1% increase in revenue.

Tip 1: Make sure your website is mobile friendly, that it loads in under a second and that your content is easy to read and looks good on all devices.

2) Local SEO will become increasingly important


Research has shown that 50% of customers who performed a local search on their mobile visited a bick-and-mortar store within 24 hours of their search and 18% of these queries led to a sale. The fact remains that many people still prefer physical shopping to online shopping; there’s something about holding a product in your hands. A report by Accenture revealed that 82% of customers say they prefer shopping on the high street than online. Google understands the importance of providing the best local results to users and they’re fine tuning their algorithm to this end.

Tip 2: Local businesses with physical shops must make use of Google+ and local search so that they’re listed in search results for mobile users. (Oh and make sure you apply tip 1: to having a mobile friendly website!)

3) Specific targeting will be needed for success


The days of scatter gun marketing approaches are numbered. Best marketing results will be seen when businesses break down their customer base into segments and market specifically to those segments with the correct voice and tactics to reach that group. It also means more repurposing of content to promote it in a relevant way to each segment. A targeted approach is essential to make sure ROI of time spent creating and money spent advertising content is maximised.

Tip 3: Speak to your customers; find out their wants, needs, lifestyles and habits then tailor your approach to each group. Make sure that whatever you say fits in with the audience you’re saying it to.

4) Content will be expected to entertain


As more and more companies have embraced content marketing our lives have become even more flooded with content. To stand out from the noise content will need to become more than informative, it’ll need to be entertaining. Investment in video is becoming a must for brands that want to stay relevant and cutting edge.

Content is and will remain the driving force behind inbound marketing – especially since over 50% of 19 to 34 year olds will look at 4 or more sources before making a purchase. Now that the effectiveness of content marketing has been demonstrated, distribution will become just as important.

In 2015 we will see more of a focus on re-purposing and distributing to get maximum value from the content we create. Great content marketers will create different thumbnails according to platform, format restrictions and audience preferences so that campaigns consistently look good across all platforms. We’ll also see the same content being promoted in different ways, for example a topic might start out as an article, then an infographic, and then thumbnails and also as a Slideshare. This really follows on from Tip 3: knowing your audience and being specific with how you target different groups.

Tip 4: When you’ve created a great piece of content promote it across several platforms multiple times. Pull out nuggets of information and create interesting, engaging social posts about your content. Use images and video to create something that will stand out.

5) We’ll see more paid advertising


We’ve seen the rise and growth of social media success with many businesses adopting social for customer service and to reach out to new prospects. Now however there is increasing need to advertise on social platforms. With Facebook’s algorithm update it’s become increasingly hard to get content in front of consumers without advertising. This algorithm change lead to a 44% decline in brand content in users’ new feeds. LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest have followed Facebook and have all launched sponsored ads to put content in front of a specified group.

Tip 5: Budget for sponsored ads on social platforms, even £5 a day can dramatically increase your reach on Facebook. Once you invest, use analytics to measure your success and fine tune your strategy.

6) And more user reviews


Consumer reviews are certainly not a new trend but what we will see increasingly is companies asking customers to share their experiences become brand advocates. User generated content is invaluable. In the words of Jeff Bullas: “Reviews are a source of truth that will live on the web indefinitely”. It’s one thing saying you provide a great product or service, how much more valuable is it if your customers sing your praises for you? According to Neil Patel, customers are ready and willing to talk about great buying experiences: “50% will write about positive experiences, and 39% will write about negative”. Customers want you to wow them, and when you do they want to tell people about it.

There are various ways that you can collect reviews; on Google+, Trustpilot or with onsite review functionality. Collect reviews on Google+ one of the results when customers type your brand into Google will be your Google+ page with your shinning reviews. Companies that grasp this in 2015 will benefit from higher levels of trust and, consequently, better conversion rates.

Tip 6: Start asking customers to leave reviews on your Google+ page. We’ve written a couple of articles on the topic: 11 ways to encourage customer reviews and User Reviews: why they’re essential for e-commerce SEO.

7) We’ll expect increased personalisation

Another trend is increasing personalisation. More than ever customers are expecting companies to reach out to them personally. This is especially true of millennials who have grown up in the digital age and now have money to spend. They expect companies to court them for their business, they want to feel valued and personalisation is one way to do this.

Tip 7: Start sending out personalised follow up emails after cart abandonment. It shows that you do really value their purchase.

Thank you for reading.

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