It’s the beginning of a new year, and that means now is a great time to take stock of your current approach to promoting your business online. Digital marketing is a fickle beast, which means what worked well for you 12 months ago won’t necessarily work today. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of the latest trends. Here are four of the most pressing realities facing digital marketers today—along with some suggestions for how you might use them to grow your business.
Social media is becoming more divided by age.
Consider the age of your audience and the social media platforms they are most likely to use. The age of the average Facebook user continues to skew older, with the highest growth among users age 55 and older, while younger people tend to spend more time on Instagram and Snapchat.
When making the leap to a new platform, you should be prepared to offer up the kind of content that platform is known for. For example, if you’re used to primarily sharing blog posts on Facebook but are looking to grow your brand on Instagram, you’ll need to consider how you might use images and short video clips (one minute or less) to grow and maintain your audience on that platform.
Providing useful content will help you build trust with your customers.
Giving customers content they can really use is incredibly important. Blogs, video posts, and infographics that are directly relevant to your customers will inevitably be shared, drawing in new potential customers while establishing you as a “thought leader.”
Continually providing information your customers can use will keep them coming back. Regularly update your blog and social media platforms with relevant content.
A blog post that addresses a specific issue or concern commonly faced by your customers will show off your expertise, build trust, and increase the likelihood you’ll be recommended to a customer’s social network.
Video remains key to a successful digital marketing strategy.
Video is still one of the most widespread and effective methods for reaching your audience, and that’s not likely going to change any time soon. It’s an important component of any social media strategy, as it allows you to visually convey information in a way that text and images on a page simply won’t.
Live video on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram allow a business to engage with its customers directly—encouraging transparency and helping to build trust in the brand.
You might film a video Q&A session to impart information about a topic. This builds trust in you as an expert and makes clients and prospects more likely to check in with your website and social media.
If you’re in real estate, virtual tours or open houses can be a great way to show off a piece of real estate before someone is able to visit the site in person. Increasingly, they’re even replacing traditional tours, especially for people who are renting or buying before they’re able to visit an area.
These tours can also be extended to the area surrounding the home or office building—think parks, shopping areas, and so on—to drive home the idea that this is a desirable place to live or work. You can film these videos ahead of time or “go live” if you want your customers to be able to ask questions on the fly.
Artificial intelligence is becoming all the rage.
It’s getting more and more common for websites and mobile apps to be the first step in establishing a relationship with a customer. Many businesses are getting high tech about this—making use of artificial intelligence to gather information about users and tailor an online experience made just for them. Think about how Facebook populates your news feed with stories from people you interact with the most, or how Netflix and Hulu use your viewing history to suggest new things for you to watch.
Some companies also use “chat bots” or automated messaging to answer commonly asked questions from their customers. Though it’s less personal than responding manually, this can be useful for promptly assisting customers with complicated issues, when a simple FAQ isn’t going to do the trick.
Even if fully automated messaging isn’t right for you, there are ways to take advantage of this idea on a smaller scale. For instance, you can set up an auto-response on your email or your brand’s Facebook page, giving users some general information and letting them know when they might be able to expect a more considered, personal response.
The key takeaway here is to personalize your messages to customers, whenever possible. Customers—especially millennials—tend to respond well when they feel they are being spoken to directly. Try addressing these customers by their first name in your emails and other communications. Even if you’re using mass-mailing software to send out a newsletter, there should be an option to add the customer’s first name to the subject or body of the email.