It’s impossible to know what the future of online marketing holds. In fact, if anyone tells you they know for sure…run.
That being said, staying in the know about the latest marketplace trends and statistics will help you create an online marketing strategy for your business that is certain to be more successful and generate more local leads.
However, the Internet is filled with marketing statistics of all sorts – from SEO to local business stats. Discerning what applies to your local business can be a difficult task. The truth is that available tools to reach new customers are moving and changing faster than anyone can predict. So what’s driving the world to move so fast?
A primary catalyst for so much change is the quantity of creative tools available at the fingertips of everyone online. Want to capture a creative video snip? There’s an app for that. How about generate a Groupon for your latest promotion? Easy. And, because of these simple tools, there is stiff competition to market your business online and compete for the attention of every stare, glance and rapid eye movement of the online wanderer.
If you are a small or medium sized business, you can’t fight for every second of online attention because your resources, both time and money, are too limited. You want to spend your money on ensuring you’re reaching your target audience, not just getting a fleeting glance from a passerby. After all, you have a business to run! Having a smart online marketing strategy is imperative.
My recommendation is to make sure your strategy is rooted in best practices. To do so, stay abreast of the online marketing tactics that are producing real results. Here are five trends that I believe are more likely than others to emerge as leading means to reach your most lucrative customers.
So you launched your Facebook Business Page, but now what do you do? That’s simple. You leverage the extremely valuable demographic and interest-based data of the largest social media platform in the world to target your geo-specific audience. Facebook offers a variety of advertising options, which makes it possible to customize based on your audience, products and services or your resources. And if you haven’t joined Instagram yet, you may want to! Facebook bought Instagram in April 2012 and is another trending advertising platform. Instagram offers advertising in the form of “sponsored posts,” and these posts should be a part of your online marketing strategy. If you haven’t already set up your Instagram Business Profile, you need to do so!
Search is Going Social
Social networks are becoming increasingly integrated with search engines. What does that mean? When consumers conduct keyword searches the content you post (and share) from some of your social media platforms now appear in search results. For example, Pinterest has recently expanded its algorithms to advance the means for business reviews to show up in searches. A presence on social networks is a must for any small or medium sized business owner, not only to share content but to be uncovered in the first place.
Target Your Market
You’re running a successful business and have a great team, but now mysterious stats stand between you and clients? Google Analytics, consumer data reporting, algorithms…feel free to hire a statistician just to confirm your blank stare is warranted. With so much data out there, tools have moved beyond delivering data and into providing actionable information. There are a variety of tools available right now that can connect you to local clients. Consider implementing tactics like pay-per-click, business directory optimization or online video advertising to feed more data into the algorithms designed to figure out your market.
And after targeting is…retargeting. In short, once your customers have found you online, don’t let them go. Studies have shown that only 2% of new website visitors are converters, so consider tools that focus on the remaining 98% of the traffic. There are online tools that can track visitors to a website and then follow them around cyberspace and whisper in their ear at the near-perfect time. Have you browsed through an online department store site, only to have that pair of shoes that you almost bought show up in your Facebook feed? Is it mind reading? No, it’s retargeting.
With the development of Apply Pay and the reliance on cell phones, mobile payments will have a steep increase this year. Starbucks has written the business case study for building brand loyalty through a mobile payment platform. But whether you’re competing with them or just need their products to compete, recognize the genius. Start looking into different platforms and hardware that your business can invest in to accept mobile payments. Besides, nobody will miss the concept of keeping track of their entire life in wallet.
There are hundreds of options online for marketing your business to local customers. Don’t feel avalanched. Instead, recognize these trends and build an online marketing plan based on best practice. Oftentimes the biggest hurdle for getting started is time. Consult with an expert and consider investing in an integrated dashboard that combines these clever tactics into a single intuitive platform that is easy and fast to use.
Laura Cole serves as The Berry Company’s Vice President, Marketing and is responsible for all Digital and Print products, pricing and packaging, internal and external communication, research and advertising. Ms. Cole is a 13-year veteran with Berry, joining in 2001 as a Sales Representative. She has held numerous roles in Sales and Operations with the last 10 years in Marketing. During her time in Marketing she has managed Field Marketing, Product, Performance Based Programs, and Pricing. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Nebraska- Lincoln.