In the world of online marketing, 2013 held many new changes and trends. Some we weren’t very surprised by, but others really shook up the way businesses use the Web to attract new customers. Here’s a quick look at five biggest online marketing trends that will impact your business in 2014 and how to get the most out of them.
1. The Mobile Web
Last year saw a continued growth in the use of the mobile Web, thanks to record numbers of both smartphone and tablet purchases. In fact, mobile devices now account for half of U.S. adults’ time spent online.
And if you aren’t already optimizing your business website, local listings, and other online marketing for mobile devices, you need to start right away. For beginners, it’s as simple as making sure your phone number, address, operating hours, and website are listed accurately and consistently on both Google+ Local and Yelp listings (which feed mobile results on Google Maps and Apple Maps, respectively) to help ensure that consumers can find you when searching for a business like yours from a mobile device. In order to put your best step forward in mobile, make sure having a mobile-optimized website is on your 2014 to-do list.
2. Big Data
Chances are you’ve heard or read something including the latest business buzzword “big data.” Although local businesses might not have access to data on the same scale as large tech industries, the trend still applies. Every day, consumers are providing all kinds of data to businesses and websites. And even though you may not be the direct source they are giving this information to, there are many ways that you can access it and use it. For instance, on social media sites, comments, shares, likes, retweets, checkins, +1s, etc. provide you with information about what types of content fans and followers find interesting and entertaining. Plus, analytics built into social media sites show details like the demographics of your fans and followers and the days and times they engage most often with your pages. Plus, website tracking software, like that included in ReachEdge, works behind the scenes of your website to help identify where your visitors come from and what actions they take on your website.
All of this information is incredibly beneficial to you, and taking the time to analyze it can help you create and publish content and optimize your marketing so that you spend more time and money on what gets you the most in return.
3. The Evolution of Social Media Sites
Setting up an account for your business on social media sites is only the beginning of being “on” social media. In order to get the most out of your social media sites, you should always stay up to date with the changes and updates as well. For example, in 2013 Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm in order to provide its users with more relevant content. Instagram announced a new advertising plan for businesses using its platform. Also, Pinterest took a step at giving businesses an opportunity to localize pins with Place Pins.
These changes should inspire you to first take a look at your business social media pages to make sure they are all up to date (if you need help with the basics, check out this seven-day social media makeover guide). Plus, as more types and sizes of businesses embrace the use of social media, consumers’ news feeds will become filled with messages from more businesses. Creating engaging and relevant content, like product benefits, information about local organizations you support, and customer testimonials, can help fans pay attention to you and share your content. This year, find what makes your customers love you and promote that sentiment across your social media presence.
4. Consumer Expectation for Social Customer Care
Today, people discover new businesses, ask friends and family for recommendations, find and share coupons, have access to real customer reviews, make purchases, ask for support, and give their praises (and complaints) to businesses – all online and most through social media. This has also shifted the way consumers interact with businesses, creating a new type of customer service called social customer care in which customers turn to a business’ social media page for topics they once called or emailed about.
As the use of social customer care grows, it will become even more important to have someone on your end ready to meet customers’ needs. You can do this by having a person or team of people monitor your social media pages regularly for direct posts to your business or posts that mention your business. If these people cannot directly solve the problem, make sure they have the right contact information for someone who can. Lastly, ensure that all issues are followed up with in at least 24 hours. This benefits both your customer – who now knows you are at least listening to them – and you – who now demonstrates that you put your customers first.
5. Continued Google Search Algorithm Changes
In this recent blog post, we stated that “2013 was a busy year for Google…” and this is definitely not an understatement. Recent features have given more weight in search results to high-quality content from authors who connect their content to their Google + profile. Some SEO feathers were ruffled with Google’s “(Not Provided)” update, which means specific keyword data is not shown in Google Analytics. Hummingbird gave an analytical brain to Google search that answers search queries rather than just matches keywords. And now, Ad Extensions are factored into quality score, so businesses that use the extensions in their search advertising can achieve a higher quality score and in turn, get better visibility on Google search. And in 2014, we can only expect to see a lot more impact from these updates.
These updates demonstrate Google’s continuous effort to provide searchers the most accurate results, not just those that fit a checklist of matching keywords. In order to make sure your business shows to consumers searching for your products and services keep these things in mind:
- Write content for consumers, not for search engines. When you do this, keywords will become part of the copy and not the focus of the copy.
- Use relevant Ad Extensions as part of your search engine advertising to make your ads more usable for searchers.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices to reach consumers on the go.
- Track how consumers get to your website so that you can better optimize your online marketing and advertise for better conversions.
All of these online marketing trends continue to point out the importance of building your entire Web presence. Not only do you need to build your presence everywhere consumers are searching, surfing, and socializing, but you also need to stay on top of the ever-changing best practices to optimize your business in each of those places so you can get the most out of them.
Is your business ready for 2014? What online marketing trends and tactics are at the top of your to-do list this year? Let us know with a comment.