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Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses in 2016

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From websites, to social media advertising, to virtual reality, we break down the main trends that small and medium size businesses should be aware of if they want to reach their clients and prospects in 2016 and beat the competition.

MOBILE IS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT:

In 2015, mobile search and usage surpassed desktop, according to Google. A report from ComScore shows that Canadians spend the majority of their digital time on a mobile device. 75% of all mobile purchases by Canadians happened within an hour of searching for a product (Study-Think with Google).

With 30% of all online shopping purchases now taking place on mobile phones, the days of browsing on the go and buying later will soon be over.”, says Cybele Negris who compiled the statistics in the ProfitGuide.com article: 8 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2016, ProfitGuide.com, http://tinyurl.com/h5nrz65

What does this mean for your business? All marketing tactics should be executed first and foremost thinking first in the mobile functionality, e.g. mobile keywords searches, responsive websites (built for desktop and mobile devices and optimized for different screen resolutions)., customized  apps, social media platforms, etc.

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WEBSITES:

  • Personalization of websites continues growing. More companies will be choosing a domain ending in a word related to their field instead of .com; for instance: .shop, .tech, .law, .finance

Personalization is expected to help companies increase their search engines rankings and strengthen the branding strategies.

  • If they haven’t done it over the past years, companies will need to take a serious approach to mobile web design and concentrate their efforts on creating mobile friendly sites, allowing consumers to buy more while on the go.
  • Tip: Add your company’s phone and email on the top of all pages (header) so that is the first thing mobile users see.

WEB CONTENT IS THE BACKBONE:

For a digital marketing strategy to be impactful, it must have content considered valuable, useful or entertaining. Companies wishing to stand out; improve their reputation, and position themselves as experts, need to find out new ways to engage with their audiences using engaging content. Web content not only will separate your company from the rest, but also will help boost your Search Engines ranking.

Here are a few ideas to start working on right now: your website’s text, blog and social media handles posts, newsletters, articles, press releases, white papers, etc. Contribute to your industries groups on Linkedin and reputable websites.

Brand advocates: include user-generated content to build loyalty. Contact bloggers and journalists, let them try your products or services and ask them for honest reviews that you can post on different channels.

DIRECT MESSAGING:

We all know how important is to excel in customer satisfaction and improving their buying experience. Take advantage of all built-in apps and features like the Facebook Business Messenger to provide better customer support.

Other private messaging apps like WhatsApp will be helpful to continue building trust and more personal relationships with your clients.

VIDEO:

  • Video is becoming extremely important to grab and retain attention of customers by using colors, graphics, voice, music and animations. Tell the story of your business in a one minute video or less, and make use of all platforms’ functionalities to engage your audience. Wondering what to share? Here are some ideas: sneak peeks of new products, live-streamed events, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with managers, clients’ testimonials, etc.
  • Part of a good marketing mix is the inclusion of Video Ads with YouTube and Facebook leading the industry. In 2016 will see an increase of video ads on Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms. Tip: Keep your ads short; a Yahoo search shows that 61% of consumers prefer ads that are 30 seconds or less.
  • 3D Video Ads (Read more: http://eepurl.com/bvx9PD)

SOCIAL MEDIA:

•  SOCIAL COMMERCE:  Call-to-action or “buy buttons” are meant to keep consumers interacting with a brand as much time as possible and push to complete the sale cycle without leaving the platform. Last year, we saw a few companies early adopting social commerce (Facebook and Pinterest). In 2016 will see more social media platforms and retailers joining the hot trend.

•  Nowadays you can log in to different platforms using your Google or Facebook account.  More market research providers will offer detailed analysis of audience buying patterns using cross-device tracking.

 Social Media Advertising:

As it has been happening for the past two years, organic post reach will keep declining. (Approximately between 1 to 2% is the average reach of a Facebook Page post). Unfortunately, this means that companies looking for more exposure will have to consider increasing their advertising budget. Social Media companies are offering more in-depth metrics and ads design options to make easier for SMBs to advertise.

As more players are getting into the game (Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest) budget allocation should be done considering in which platforms the target audience spend more time.

“Yes, many young people devote less time and emotional energy to Facebook than they did before the social sphere got more crowded. But this does not mean they are abandoning it, or even that they have stopped using it a lot. Some may now regard it more as a necessary evil than as something they love. Note, though, that being a necessary evil is not such a bad business model.”- according to the article: Trends for 2016: Five Predictions for What Won’t Happen by eMarketer.portadaguia_comercio_electronico_pablo[1]

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

We’ve mentioned before how strategies should be optimized for search engines to help you improve your ranking and start moving your website up to the first results pages; but let’s be clear, it takes a lot of effort and time to perceive results from a SEO strategy.  SEO must be an ongoing process that should be considered in every marketing effort.

Start with website on-page SEO, inbound links (drive referral traffic to your website from other websites), web content, social media hashtags and keywords.

EMAIL MARKETING:

The most cost-effective way to get to your clients and prospects is an email marketing campaign. Your database is the most precious asset, so keep growing your list!

CYBER PUBLIC RELATIONS:

Traditional Public Relations has seen a major transformation over the past two decades.

Reach out to influencers (bloggers and celebrities), gain their attention and willingness to talk about a product.

REMARKETING CAMPAIGNS:

Have you ever searched for a pair of shoes and after that started seeing shoes ads from different stores in other websites you’ve visited? It’s because with the help of search engine tracking tools, companies can target people that have visited specific website of have been looking for specific products or services.

Search engines and media buying companies have more sophisticated targeting tools and in the years to come we will see more personalized advertising. Banners and video ads are more precise based on IP addresses, geo-location and zip codes.

 

OTHERS:

  • Emoji Marketing. Read our article: 2015 The Beginning of the Emoji Era” for more details.
  • Voice Search. “Brands will expand their Search activity to capture this voice search traffic by adding conversation type searches. Examples include: ‘Where can I…?’; “What is the best…?’; ‘How to…?’ Optimising Search activity with these voice questions is an excellent way to get clicks at a lower cost and drive even more conversions with leftover budgets.”-Equimedia http://www.equimedia.co.uk/blog/digital-marketing-trends-2016/
  • Small and Medium size Businesses are slowly adopting customized apps as marketing tools.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): With the launch of virtual reality devices in the years to come, a whole new world of possibilities starts to open to reach targeted audiences.
  • Wearables: 2015 was a breakthrough year for the wearable industry. A skyrocketing adoption is foreseen in the next years with more people buying smart garments, shoes and watches.

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected in the coming years as more appliances connect to the World Wide Web. Marketers will be able to analyse consumption patterns and provide more personalized experiences. (The internet of everything, the new economic wave – The Visionaries Media http://goo.gl/RIjW34

By Aida Guerra, Founder & Digital Marketing Consultant, aida@animacreative.ca