Digital marketers have finally realised that acquiring vast numbers of followers on social media platforms simply isn’t always practical or effective. Instead, greater focus needs to be given to engagement and high quality content, to help promote your business more meaningfully.
So, what does the future have in store for digital marketing?
Content is king
High quality, genuinely relevant content is more desirable than ever. With Google's recent updates, marketers have recognised the value of creating original content which has real value for the reader.
Apart from the increased SEO benefit, this approach can help you to become a trusted authority in your industry. Once people trust in your knowledge on a particular subject they are much more likely to get in touch about your products or services.
Brands using content simply to gain links will be penalised by Google – instead, marketers can succeed in gaining a combination of the best reach, discussion, and quality of links to further their SEO campaigns by producing genuine, great quality content.
Another strategy is producing engaging images and videos which are then shared for you by the audience. Last year, we saw lots of brands getting creative with content, producing interesting images, infographics, and videos which encourage user engagement and social sharing.
One thing that is often ignored by agencies is to remember that brands are powered by humans! It is, consequently, important to show a human side wherever possible, be this via social media platforms, branding, web copy or blogs. Consumers don’t respond to a corporate machine, but instead to a more relatable human voice with character. Personality is key!
Nowadays, brands are often defined by what people say about them, as opposed to what brands say about themselves.
Less is more
Design is pivotal to making your digital marketing look current and relevant. The fashionable flat look that is currently flourishing lends itself to simplicity and clarity of message which in turn improves user engagement.
Less information on the page is far more appealing to the user, and makes page content much easier to digest. With smartphones and tablets taking over the world, the elimination of clutter on the page and more simplistic graphic design is only going to increase in the coming year.
Thanks to the widespread use of mobile devices marketers will have to ensure that the brand experience is the same for consumers on a smaller screen.
Location-based marketing is set to flourish, with real-time location data collection possible through smartphones. This kind of marketing provides an opportunity for brands to enhance their customer offering, with high street brands now able to deliver store-specific content in real time.
Watch out for in-store augmented reality and much greater integration between mobile apps and ecommerce websites. Multi-channel ecommerce is set to continue to grow and requires a cohesive strategy to ensure that you don't simply duplicate your offering across multiple channels. You need to play on the strengths of each specific channel to maximise its benefits, yet also ensure all channels are integrated.
With the onset of one-click purchases on larger smartphone screens, mobile e-commerce is set to grow exponentially. (See "How will iPhone 6 affect mobile ecommerce sales?")
With Facebook and Twitter having both raised their game with sponsored ads, we can expect to see a continued expansion of this form of customer targeting. Advertisers are becoming more inventive in enticing user engagement by giving away free information or inventive offers.
Brands will invest even more money in getting ads displayed on social networks, and with Instagram’s recent introduction of ads, opportunities will continue to grow.
With an even wider range of platforms to choose from to promote their brands, social networks are an exciting way for companies to understand how they are perceived and increase brand awareness.
Real time engagement
Companies are always looking for methods to intensify their speed of interacting ‘in the moment’ as they aim to reach their consumers in a novel manner to stand out from the crowd.
Conversational posts on Twitter and Facebook full of enticing offers and free/interesting content are an excellent method of creating conversation with audiences, and this is only going to increase.
Visual influencing is also set to boom in the next few years, with apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp vying for the top spot as the main communication channel for sharing moments.
In summary, the key to the future of digital marketing is interaction and engagement. The main advice I would give to clients is to invest in the following:
- Content - make sure your copy, images and videos are of the highest quality.
- Design - keep it clean, simple, mobile friendly and decluttered.
- Sponsored ads - Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and the other main platforms have significantly raised their games. The user targeting and tracking of ROI is far superior to how it was just a year ago. There is now no avoiding some sort of paid for digital marketing, so embrace it and start feeling the benefit.