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The Future of Digital Marketing For Small Businesses

How should small businesses plan for future marketing trends? The digital space is becoming even more complex due to the ever changing technology. It’s absolutely critical that businesses and marketers respond to the change. It’s not only an exciting time for Digital Marketing, but it’s a complicated time that’s full of promise for the companies that invest in it. The future of digital marketing includes new technology, data trends, and emerging marketing channels. Explore the hottest trends driving the latest marketing strategies:

The Customer Journey

HOT:  Businesses are enjoying a multichannel marketing process where a customer’s journey to make a purchase is more complex than ever. It’s not one step, but it’s mutli-touch points. Customers may see an ad in Google, then visit the website but not buy until they see their 5th Google display ad days later.  It’s important to review complex attribution models that give customer insights. These customer insights will give companies information on how customers expect to be interacted.

NOT:  The customer journey is also no longer in a nice neat funnel format, where someone takes a linear step after step. And, the old adage of the last click no longer applies, it’s the combination of a variety of touchpoints that now drives a purchase.

dataData-Driven Marketing

HOT:  Due to the growing complexity of digital marketing there’s more reliance on data to drive results. What kind of data are we talking about?  Consumer data – like sales transactions, social listening and surveys – see Comscore for measuring audiences, brands and consumer behavior. Competitor data allows companies to compare their advertising versus their competition. Check out Compete to measure your company’s advertising performance versus your competitors. And for performance data for digital campaigns explore Optimizely to deliver the right experience for every customer.

Marketers  can no longer look at marketing as an “art” – although there is still some art involved in your branding and planning, the scales are tilting more towards a science with the use of data analytics driving a good portion of marketing decisions.

Hyper Personalization

HOT: With all the data you’re gathering you need to do something with it. One of the most popular ways businesses use data is to personalize communications and products to meet customer’s needs. Personalizing messages through email marketing is one key way to make this happen. Consistently targeting the right customer with the right message will not only get better results, but it’s what customers now expect. Explore <email company name and web link> for more information email marketing campaigns that are more effective by using enhanced targeting and personalization.

NOT:  Generic messaging will turn your customers off. Use data to be more specific with messaging through digital display, email, and SMS messaging. This will encourage the right interaction and message for each specific customer.

Holistic Marketing

HOT: Engage customers through a holistic marketing approach by building integrated marketing campaigns to support consistent messaging throughout every platform.  What does this mean? It means your social media promotions and messaging match to what’s on your website, landing pages and paid search marketing. Creating a holistic approach so that messaging is supported throughout all your marketing campaigns.

“Building an integrated approach to support your marketing campaigns is no longer a nice to have. With the multi-touch approach needed, each marketing platform should support the other for one seamless experience.”  – Jody, West Loop Marketing 

NOT: Messaging and brand positioning differing by platform is the old marketing model where marketers optimized campaign performance by best performing no matter if it meant that the brand was not cohesive across channels. This creates a disjointed experience for the consumer and is no longer acceptable or practical.

Content Marketing

contentHOT: Content Marketing is not just for big businesses, it’s a strategy every business should employ. Key reasons to invest in content marketing is to consistently update website content, engage a target market, and extend a business’s reach. Start with a content strategy that’s built off of customer insights. Content can range from white papers, infographics, videos, blogs and articles. The future of content creation leans towards authentic, thoughtful and relevant interests. There are companies that can help with content creation and strategies. Explore services from Contently or Skyword to help you get your content strategy off the ground.

It’s no longer about the quantity of content a company can produce, but it’s the quality. One great article that drives thousands of visits to a website and ranks well in the search engines can be worth more to a company than 100 articles with low ranking and visibility results. Don’t waste time creating content that has no relevance, no authenticity and no interest to your target market.

“To maximize traffic growth and value for your website, it’s not about producing MORE content, but instead creating MORE VALUE with the content you produce.” – Bill Ross, CEO of Linchpin

Marketing Automation

HOT:  Emerging very quickly onto the scene has been marketing automation platforms like Marketo and Hubspot. These software platforms make it possible for companies to manage very complex customer touchpoint interactions with the right messaging targeted to the right customer. When is it time for a company to invest in marketing automation? The time is right when a company has an influx of leads that they need help scaling and creating effective marketing communications.

NOT: Don’t spend the money on a marketing automation platform if it’s just to manage one form of communication. A good use of marketing automation is when a company has strong lead flow and an integrated marketing approach is needed to manage complex customer touch points with various marketing approaches.

Mobile Marketing

mobileHOT: Look for advances and uses around the Mobile Wallet. According to Mark Tack, Vice President of Marketing at Vibes, a mobile marketing leader, mobile wallets and push notifications “are new and exciting areas for mobile messaging.” Consumers are more likely to use coupons saved to their mobile wallets than if they saved them elsewhere.  Also sales teams will be adopting mobile in a big way to help make it into a valuable sales tool raising the level of performance.

NOT: Gone are the days of random mobile advertising but in the future look for more strategic approaches and uses of mobile in apps, as sales tools and in mobile wallets. Quality in mobile advertising is increasingly becoming more important than quantity. This will lead to improvements in more positive experiences with a brand.

Video Innovation

videoHOT:  Watch for branded content to really take over YouTube, in the future you may not even know a video is an ad. Potential competitors are entering the video space. Social video platforms like Vine and Periscope are giving YouTube a run for its money. These social platforms give brands a personality and consumers can start putting faces to brands like never before.

NOT: Although consumers are probably not quite ready to cut the cord with their cable TV, the future TV is up in the air. Consumers have hundreds of stations they pay for but don’t even watch. Look for different models of watching TV to be introduced in the future.

Conclusion

Watch the digital marketing landscape closely because the technology is moving fast. As marketing continues to grow in complexity so will its effectiveness. In the future, companies that invest in authentic and well integrated marketing campaigns will come out ahead. Companies who remain true to their brand and their customer will be rewarded. It’s about the engagement that a brand creates, the interaction that marketing encourages and the promotion to the right target market that will drive that ultimate goal of a happy and satisfied customer.

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