The digital landscape is ever-evolving, which means that marketers must constantly stay on their toes and remain open to new ideas. While the nature of this sector can be a challenge, it can also bring real rewards — if you know the right way to harness your power. By keeping up with the latest trends and maintaining a flexible strategy, you’ll ensure your marketing campaigns achieve those coveted milestones this year.
While there’s a lot of advice out there that may promise overwhelming success, it’s best to hear it from the experts. Here are just three “musts” to include when you’re developing digital marketing strategies this year (and beyond), according to industry professionals.
Embrace the Internet of Things
According to recent estimates, the number of IoT-connected devices is poised to reach 75.44 billion by 2025. That means that the average consumer is more willing than ever to purchase and use smart devices. It stands to reason, then, that business owners should prioritize this new type of connectivity, too.
For one thing, digital assistants are becoming more commonplace. Consumers utilize these devices to find the answers they’re looking for online, which means that voice search will continue to increase its impact. Search queries differ between voice search terms and text search terms, which means you’ll need to start optimizing for voice search-enabled devices — especially if you want to dominate local rankings.
While you will have to put some work in, your organization might already have a good foundation for voice search results.
Explains Erin Schnittker of Forge Digital Marketing: “A very important part of local search is something many business owners forget about: Siri. This helpful robot that lives in so many of our pockets often helps us find the closest coffee shop, bar, or boutique. Here’s the secret: Siri pulls localized data from platforms like Yelp! So if you have an excellent, highly reviewed Yelp page, chances are your business could be shown in voice search results.”
That doesn’t mean you can rely solely on what’s already there, of course. You’ll need to make an intentional effort to ensure anyone using a digital assistant can easily find you, whether they choose to type or talk.
What’s more, you might actually want to embrace cutting-edge technology yourself. If you own a brick-and-mortar store and want a new way to connect with local consumers, a Bluetooth beacon might be an innovative and exciting way to go about it. These scannable devices can send instant notifications to the smartphones being used by customers in close proximity, thereby driving traffic to your site in a low-cost way.
As Vanessa Baker of Fast Forward Marketing notes, “We see low energy bluetooth beacons for the Internet of Things/Places being the most effective SEO strategy in 2019. Beacons are one-way transmitters that are used to mark important places and objects. Typically, a beacon is visible to a users device from a range of a few meters, allowing for highly context-sensitive use cases. Google’s beacon platform is designed to make it easy to incorporate these kinds of use cases into your own apps and venues, whether or not you maintain a widely distributed app… Registering your beacons with Google will make it easy to take advantage of new Google products as they are announced. While Google doesn’t mention it specifically, it would make sense that having an active Google Beacon will help increase the location accuracy of the customers who walk through your door, allowing to potentially better track Store Visit Conversion Tracking in Google Ads.”
Riley Kearl mentions that, “CMO4Hire helps marketing teams think better together, Data Intelligence solutions that help you make faster, better decisions for your business.”
Essentially, embracing IoT will allow you to connect with your customer base in ways never before seen. Since consumers are inclined to invite this kind of technology into their everyday lives, businesses can benefit when they come up with creative ways to reach their target audience.
Don’t Get Stuck in Your Strategy
The worst thing a digital marketer can do is to become stagnant. In order to stay relevant in this highly changeable sphere, your strategy needs to be extremely adaptable and diversified. That means marketers need to be courageous in their willingness to go out on a (well-researched) limb and admit when their formerly successful tactics are no longer cutting it.
As Omar Budeiri of Big Cat Agency explains, “Questioning the form, embracing the new part of the medium, is precisely where forward motion happens. I believe this is the year that algorithms and formulaic processes take a backseat and un-learning becomes more important than learning.”
Diversify your digital marketing strategy explains Chris Wielinski of Think Cre8tive “With the rising costs of PPC and similar display advertising, SEO is becoming more and more important. Your ultimate goal for your website should be to rank on page 1 for relevant ROI-focused keywords in order to keep your business growing.”
If that sounds more philosophical than you expected, refer to this simple advice from Josiah Bryant of Bryant Digital: “Following ‘best practices’ never achieves breakthrough results. Be creative with your creative. Try new things.”
“Jeff at the Brand Build creates an SEO case study that showed the power of creating consistent content to generate increased website traffic.”
The idea of ditching those so-called tried and true techniques for something a bit more daring and personalized is echoed by Phil Brinks of Brinks Web Solutions. “Digital marketing is about balance — balance from the standpoint of what the client needs are, as well as the balance of products offered within the appropriate budget. Long gone is the one-size-fits-all model that plays out the same way for everyone, no matter the industry. There is no magic button; digital marketing is about finding that balance and customizing it for each client while providing consistent results.”
Creating and maintaining a tailor-made strategy is key, particularly as Google algorithms change and trends fall out of favor. That’s why it’s also important to not put all of your eggs in one basket. That said, you don’t want to completely forget about the building blocks of SEO and ensuring that your campaigns aren’t doing anything to negatively affect search rankings. By adopting a diverse strategy that ticks all of the boxes, you’ll be more likely to provide the results your client is after.
“When working on your SEO strategy, it’s easy to forget the human element of SEO. With SEO, you need to remember that it’s not just about keyword stuffing,” describes Kristin Wagenknecht of 3 Waves Media. “In fact, creating quality content that your reader can easily digest goes over better with Google than target keywords smeared throughout your website will. Your audience should always be in the back of your mind when working on your SEO process. Utilizing a headline generator tool can assist with bringing your content more clicks.”
“Don’t write content that you think Google will like, write content that your target audience can actually use,” describes Morgan Murphy of Modsnap Design & Marketing. “When you create content specifically for your target audience, they invest their time in you, which increases shares, mentions, and overall brand recognition – all things that Google values.”
Says Jason Oeltjen of Decisive Design, “Our strategy for SEO in 2019 centers around technical on-site cleanup and speed enhancements, building authority for authors (after the MEDIC update), de-indexing thin content, optimizing salvageable content, generating high-quality new content, and building high-quality, authoritative backlinking portfolios.”
“My top SEO recommendations for 2019 is to create quality content that is shared on social media and with reputable publishing companies for link building,” says Tim Ashawa of Ingenious Business Marketing. “Content that focuses on educating and informing the reader are shared frequently. The Internet is filled with information, and great content always rises in SEO rankings when many share it. You can drive lot’s of traffic to your website with great content, but if your website design & loading speed is not optimized, you’ll lose many users who are impatient, and SEO rankings because of high bounce rate.”
Digital marketers certainly have a lot to juggle; they need to consistently embrace what’s new and exciting without automatically dismissing the foundation of SEO. On the other hand, marketers also have to be brave enough to acknowledge when outdated techniques need to be replaced with something more innovative. Investing time and energy in relevant education on an ongoing basis will prove beneficial, while teams that aren’t too timid to shake things up have the potential to reap major rewards.
Gain Consumer Trust
Customer loyalty may not be what it once was, but that doesn’t mean that consumers are afraid to get behind brands and stay true to them. Because there are so many choices for consumers, brands need to show exactly why they’re deserving of ongoing patronage. It’s not enough to objectively have the best products or be a local mainstay for generations; businesses need to do more to show and provide value.
For many marketers, demonstrating that value comes down to building trust. As Brent Purves of Stir Marketing points out, “Businesses need to inspire confidence in consumers. There are many ways to build this confidence, but among the most effective is to actively pursue positive online reviews. Why? Because today people trust online reviews, in many cases, as much as recommendations from friends and family.”
Encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews can be a great way to build brand awareness and reputation, but it’s certainly not the only way to do so. Providing valuable content can also demonstrate brand goodwill, as Ulf Lonegren of Roketto explains: “I’m often asked, ‘How do you create content that actually stands out and gains traction?’ A key difference maker for us has been creating content that is truly actionable with clear direction to follow. As simple as it sounds, this one thing will make your content more meaningful than 99% of everything else that exists online. Put in the extra effort, and make sure you’re marketing something that actually matters to your audience.”
That idea is backed up by David Fitzgerald of Alevo Digital, who recommends that marketers “Become a true resource to your audience through content that can be shared and measured… By doing so, search engines will reward your content with higher placement based on its influence. Build authority, relevancy, and influence.”
Don’t forget that stellar content isn’t always about copy. When you’re trying to build a following and forge connections with consumers, particularly on social media, you need stellar images. As Randy Bryan of tekRESCUE stresses, “Really good pictures get really good traffic. People love good pictures. If it’s an option, it’s one of the best ways for businesses to interact with their customers.”
Another way brands are building consumer trust? Influencer marketing. While the returns aren’t always what you hope for, particularly if you choose the wrong influencers to promote your products, the gains can be pretty great. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, nearly half of all consumers depend on influencer recommendations, while almost three-quarters of people trust social networks to guide their purchasing decisions.
It’s no wonder, then, that marketing rockstars are recommending that brands delve deeper into these kinds of mutually beneficial partnerships on a variety of platforms.
Chris Casarez of Your Marketing People urges: “Create and maintain relationships with content creators. Don’t think only in terms of transaction, but in terms of providing and exchanging actual value. Think outside of typical organic search. Many content creators have moved to YouTube and are no longer blogging. When it comes to content, think outside of your direct offerings. What useful content/resources can you provide people? Think online tools, FAQs, how-to guides, etc.”
Holly Byck of OptiRev points out how influencers (and the insight they provide) can fit into the larger marketing picture: “We believe in the ‘digital storm.’ If consumer behavior is looked at as a funnel, destination is the first deciding factor, then the room was the last buy. All digital channels are the influencers, swirling around the consumer. Only understanding the demographics of a consumer is not enough. Engaging in their digital sandbox with a consistent effort will funnel your asset to the top.”
Geoff Radcliffe of postlaunch.co extols SEO professionals to keep usability and readability in mind when optimizing a client’s search presence. “SEO in 2019 shows that you cant search engine optimize every website. Usability and readability scores are some of the most important factors many SEOs overlook. Great SEO without usability can mean that people will visit your site but have a hard time converting once they get there. If you make it hard for people to find a call to action, or if your content is difficult to read, your site won’t provide any value to the search engines or potential customers. Make your site easy to navigate—with quality content, fast site speed, and attractive navigation.”
Jon Tsourakis of Oyova says: “Do It for People. Forget about algorithms and computers. Focus on the people searching and consuming information. Make sure your content is irresistible. I mean really take the time to create something that captivates and moves your audience whether a headline, body copy, video, meta description — you name it — all of it should be stellar. Don’t settle for mediocrity here. Next, your website or blog should be the definition of intuitive. Your customers shouldn’t have to think while on your website. You should always be one step ahead of them, shaping everything to provide the best user experience imaginable. When you work both of these into your practice, your online presence will blossom because people will share your content with others and stay on your site longer. And both of these have an immense impact on your search rankings.”
In a saturated marketplace where virtually all decisions are made online, relying on local reputation or outdated marketing tactics to foster trust won’t achieve your desired results. By turning to the resources consumers use and leveraging them to your advantage, your brand can stand out among a sea of competitors.
With only six months left of 2019, there’s still plenty of time for digital marketing strategies to evolve. But for now, these concepts are “musts” for the success of all kinds of campaigns.