The biggest challenge facing brands online is the ability to stand out from the crowd. Put simply, it’s become a very crowded and very competitive space. Winning online today is less about being the most technical savvy and more about understanding your customer journey. To maximize your chance for success in 2015, consider these five important trends.
The ability to not only create, but effectively distribute great content will separate companies from the pack.
Creating great content (e.g. blogs, articles, case studies, video) is both difficult and time consuming. Furthermore, without a great method to distribute your content, whatever you manage to create is effectively useless.
Smart distribution includes, but is not limited, to the following:
using the proper keywords in your content so users can find you in search engines
repurposing your content for different distribution channels. For example, turning a blog post into an email you can send out to your database.
developing relationships with influencers in your space who will talk about or share your content.
segmenting your audience lists and delivering targeted content designed for them
paying to boost your content’s exposure on social channels (more on that below)
Not only will effective content distribution give your brand tremendous exposure, it will build high quality, natural links back to your website. Search engines reward sites with good links, making the payoff from good distribution even higher.
Executing a solid content distribution plan is as important as creating the content in the first place. Sound like a lot of work? It is. But brands capable of executing great content creation and distribution will break away from the pack.
SEO will become less of a stand-alone strategy, and eventually be reduced to a technical checklist
SEO was once considered a “black magic” form of marketing. You really didn’t know what your SEO company did to get your site to appear, nor did you care. Today, SEO is less about exploiting search engine loopholes (that’s the “black magic” part) and more about ensuring technical compliance with search engines. This means building a website with clean code, relevant content, and a good user experience. Google has very advanced methods for evaluating these attributes, and will reward sites that do it the best.
Social media will no longer be free
Consumers are bombarded by marketing and advertising everywhere they go online. As the space becomes more crowded, brands open their pocket book to buy their way to the front. In turn, this creates an even more competitive landscape for anyone trying to reach their customers.
Meanwhile, Facebook continues to refine their Newsfeed ranking formula, limiting how often brand content is displayed. The only way businesses can increase their reach is to pay Facebook to show the content more often.
A more crowded competitive landscape combined with social websites trying to maximize their revenue is an expensive combination for brands. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be effective, but it does mean you’ll have to pay.
The most effective mobile experiences are created as stand-alone entities
Imagine for a minute that traditional websites no longer exist. The only way to reach a customer online is through a smartphone or tablet screen. How would that affect the way you present your brand online?
Most brands don’t think like this. They take what they already have (a traditional website) and reformat it into a mobile-friendly version (also known as responsive web design). While this is the most economical approach to becoming mobile friendly, it’s not necessarily the most optimal for the user. Users navigate, click, and consume information differently on a mobile-based device, so it only makes sense to build the experience from the ground up, putting user behavior at the centerpiece of your design.
More brands will look to marketing automation solutions to maximize lead generation and close rates
Marketing automation tools like Hubspot and Marketo are gaining popularity throughout the marketplace. These tools can be programmed to deliver marketing messages to users based on their unique attributes and behavior. A few examples of marketing automation in action include:
receiving an email with a discount offer after abandoning your shopping cart
visiting a website for a second time and seeing content addressed to you
downloading a case study from a potential vendor, visiting their site again, and immediately receiving a follow up email with additional content
The technology behind these systems makes marketing automation a very scalable and cost effective way to capture and work leads through the buying funnel.
With a landscape more competitive than ever, a strategy focused on lead generation and maximizing close rates is vital to an effective online marketing program.