15 Dec 2015

5 Highly Influential Online Marketing Practices that will Shape 2015

Since the explosion of social media in the digital era, and inevitable melding of it into a powerful marketing force, the speed of change in the marketing arena has continued at lightening pace. The internet opened a whole new window into the world for the purchasing public, but with it came a strong sense of immediacy; consumers could see merchandise right in front of them and few clicks of the mouse, the mail man could deliver it tomorrow. What as the incentive to wait? You no longer had to trawl through hundreds of crowded shops, or dial every number in the phone book to find the particular ‘must have’ item you wanted, but more than that, you no longer had to settle for second best. If you looked hard enough, you would find exactly what you wanted, and in many cases it would be in your hands ready to use the next day.

Not only did this sense of immediacy come with online marketing, it also broadened the purchasing horizons of consumers where they were no longer sold on an item by a local flier or local television campaign, but they could virtually ‘window shop’ and find a greater choice of merchandise in the comfort of their own home or, more importantly, a keener price. All of these factors happened almost at the turn of coin in marketing terms, and have been continuing to spin ever since.

Online marketing has become the ‘norm’ with 97% of all purchases starting on the internet and companies around the world have not been slow to catch on to that. The result is an online marketplace that is massively overpopulated with web designs created to catch your eye, draw you into their site – and keep you there. So does the consuming population fall for it? Yes! It would appear in droves! So much so that of the 97% of all purchases that start online, 47% are conducted on mobile media. The consuming population are so enamoured with online shopping it would seem that it has become somewhat of an addiction. The spread of time for purchases made has been evening out over a 24 hour period and evening out over the seven days, and continues to do so, indicating how much people are always connected online. All of these ‘advantages’ of mobile shopping come in to play when there is a bargain to be had – they use the leverage of online marketing to its fullest intent. For example, on black Friday most of the online sales happened between midnight and 1am. Apparently time and place becomes irrelevant when you are internet shopping and there is a sale on.

So how do you create a web design that cuts through all these stores competing for attention? If it changes so quickly, how can you keep up?

Here are five ways that we expect online marketing to be influenced in 2015.

Content is still King, but now it needs to work hard – and smart.

From now on, content will always be King and this fact will not change in 2015. What will change is that your content needs to work to help you been highly visible in the morass of media available to your consumers on the internet. Up until this year good content alone was the drawing strength that bought people in to your web site and kept them there, leading them through the sales funnel all the way to a sale. What you write and post this year needs to be tuned into the correct search engine optimization (SEO) for your industry as well as guiding your leads to successful sale, but not only that, it also needs to really answer the questions your purchasing demographic wants answered. You need to use all your content to find out where your customers are, what they are saying and what they need to know.

Segmentation will become important to your content as the need to personalize it becomes more prevalent. Your content this year cannot be passive, it needs to successfully reach out to your consumer, so making sure it is relevant to them in an individual way will set you apart from all your competition. Your content will need to specifically target your audience as much as possible to relieve the pain points they may have, as well as be able to guide them across all channels. The need to appear as your leads best friend will be strong leverage, so repurposing content as a tweet, post, email and blog post will add conformity to the message and strengthen your brand to make your company appear relevant and personal.

The goal of King Content should now be to ‘be shared’. Your content, wherever it is, needs to entice the movers and shakers in your industry to become involved. Use your social media to connect and network with them and so that they can do some of your marketing for you. Work with them, share their content and create the kind of space they want to share with, and ultimately for, you.

With great content and social media networking natural, good quality back links will come naturally and your brand will pull away from the crowd.

SEO will share a front seat with ‘in depth’ articles

There are many blogs, articles and news items that cover every aspect of the usefulness of SEO from ‘You can’t live without it’, right through the spectrum to, ‘It’s commercial suicide if you use it’. Here’s the newsflash; SEO is here to stay – it’s just in what form it’s useful. Until bots grow brains and think like a human, SEO will always be a game of technical compliance. The search engines know this and try and make sure that SEO manipulation does not win over excellent, engaging content but it’s a tough and ever changing job. This year ‘in depth’ articles will become more important to the bots, and to you.

With the latest updates to Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, articles with over 2,000 words will carry more search engine gravitas than those with 1,999 words or less (C’mon guys – the line has to be drawn somewhere!). The bots, and therefore Google’s, thinking is that longer articles give more relevant information. In the new updates, the SEO bots can ‘read’ the articles and ‘guesstimate’ by the key word relevancy and density if it answers questions that the chosen demographic want answered. As an added bonus, they can now recognize phrases and evaluate code that were previously invisible, making them highly sophisticated at ensuring more readable content gets on to the front page. Make sure it’s yours.

Although ‘in depth’ articles have more prestige with the SEO bots, don’t panic too much and rush too quickly develop wordsmith’s diarrhea. Search engines only expect about 10% of your web site to be ‘in depth’ articles. It’s an attainable goal on any site, but a word of caution… remember when we said ‘content is King’? Chant it like a mantra! ‘In depth’ articles are 2,000+ words of readable content, not the same content regurgitated over and over again, or the instructions for your oven posted in several languages. If you can’t produce longer articles of engaging, in depth content – employ someone who can. The bots are no longer stupid, just slavish to a strict set of criteria. Play by the rules, and play by the rules well, or move over for those who can.

Maximizing the analytics of your online marketing will not be optional

2015 will be the year that businesses will need to maximize every lead that even wanders near the sales funnel let alone wanders in to it, and the only way to know who they are and how close they came, is by making the most of your analytics. Email open rates, click through rates (CTR’s), calls to action (CTA’s), cart abandonment – literally any client interaction that does not result in a sale needs to be tracked so you can adjust and refine your mixed marketing media and collateral to be more effective. Being where your customers are has always been the goal but with good tracking, they won’t be able to hide from you anywhere!

Marketing automation programs will become more valuable as they offer the kind of analytics that make the difference between a 3% success rate and one in double figures. Not only does automation provide the analytics you need for growth, they offer the personalization necessary to maximize the leverage of great content. Which do you think carries more impact; an automated marketing email with a great sales offer, or a personally addressed marketing email that offers a coupon for the very item you keep going back to look at. You chose. If you’re looking to easily increase your ROI (return on investment) this may just be it.

Responsive web design will rival SEO in importance

Responsive web design has been slow in take up. Many businesses look on it as a luxury. It’s the, ‘we already have a web site that brings them in, what do we need another one for? Can’t we just make the same pages smaller?’ No, not really. Very soon web page viewing will be predominantly performed on mobile devices and standard web pages do not display the information in a readable format. Consumers are making a conscious choice to switch their internet interaction over to mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, for ease of use and because of their dependency on constantly being connected. 65% of emails primary openings are on a mobile device and over 43% of those are opened within 15 minutes. Your first impression is still is your only impression so if the page is opened on a mobile device and isn’t readable, the delete button is right under the users finger and their first port of call – you can only view so many emails on a mobile device, so why keep the stuff you can’t read?

The way that mobile content is navigated also differs from a site viewed on a desk or lap top. Speed is essential as viewing may eat into their mobile data diet, and simplifying menus and maps is priority for easy navigation and small screen viewing. Making a responsive web design may be more costly, but it means more chance of success. Mobile viewing a as primary resource will not decrease in 2015 so at some point you will have to make a responsive web site anyway – why not now? The rising generation had a mobile smart device four or five years before they had a lap top, so why expect them to switch preferences now just to view your site? Science has already proven after 21 days of repeated action it becomes a habit, after six months – it’s a personality trait. Be where your audience is, and chances are, they’re not in front of a lap top 12/7 like they are their phone.

If you want to pull away from the crowd then budget in making your web design ride the crest of the wave of responsive design. You’ll be way ahead of the competition, and they won’t even realise it until you’re in the position they want.

Mourn the passing of free social media advertising

As the online market place becomes more and more crowded, companies begin to open their pocket books to buy space to compete for the most customer exposure. This in turn creates a more competitive landscape with everyone now vying for the top spot to catch customers, and the cycle continues. It’s that law of economics that drives marketers to look for a marketing opportunity everywhere, and leveraging social media was no exception.

Until recently social media marketing was free. When the owners of social media web sites realized how valuable and versatile their medium was to marketers, they created marketing strategies of their own. For too many years we have gotten too comfortable with the free marketing mileage gained out of networking sites, but those days are definitely over and we have to accept it. Facebook have chosen to have a newsfeed ranking system and to get access to the full potential of consumers on it – you will have to pay. The fees are flexible but ‘free’ will not be an option. Twitter also has paid advertising and its continued success means that paid promotion will never go out of style, but it does add value to your marketing. There’s a veritable gold mine in paid advertising on social media sites and now the can is open, the worms are crawling out with gusto. Only by tracking your ROI can you really decide which platforms work for you and where you spend your money for best effect.

All this social media capitalization does not mean you can’t be effective, it just means that you will have to pay.

The online marketplace will continue to become more crowded as each day goes on, but by taking the time to look at what you have, what your strengths are and how best to deploy them you can pull away from the crowd. These five strategies are focussed on increasing the amount of incoming leads you’re your sales to work with, but also to convert more of those leads into successful sales. 2015 has to be the year that your marketing didn’t work harder – it got smarter.

 

Resources:

Immersion Active Facts and Figures http://www.immersionactive.com/resources/50-plus-facts-and-fiction/

Ecommerce turns 20 http://www.nexolutions.co.uk/news/

Why Online Retailers Are Losing 67.45% of Sales and What to Do About It http://www.shopify.ca/blog/8484093-why-online-retailers-are-losing-67-45-of-sales-and-what-to-do-about-it

Emails open rates are great for marketers http://venturebeat.com/2014/01/22/65-of-all-email-gets-opened-first-on-a-mobile-device-and-thats-great-news-for-marketers/

http://arcreactions.com/track-content-learn/