Online Marketing Predictions and Trends
The trouble with online marketing is that it’s always changing, so much so that it’s hard to keep up.
There’s always so much to do as well. How do you know what will really work, and what might be a waste of time and money?
Fortunately, some marketing methods have withstood the test of time and demonstrated that they can give users real results.
In this article, we will be looking at nine of them in detail, and we will also suggest marketing tools that will help you grow your business.
Let’s start with our old favorite, email marketing.
After more than 20 years, certain email marketing practices stand out as the most successful.
And if you think email marketing is dead, you’re listening to the wrong marketing gurus.
Email marketing is alive and well and still converting prospects into customers like crazy – as long as you understand what your audience wants and needs.
Email marketing spending in the US is predicted to rise to more than $5 billion.
Statistics show that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38.
Around 66% of users make a purchase after receiving an email, compared with only 20% for Facebook and 6% for Twitter.
Around 50% of Pinterest users make a purchase of something they have seen on the site.
Email is also one of the most powerful tools for retaining customers.
People access it from anywhere, including mobile phones, with more than half opening plain text emails to see what’s new.
Short emails of no more than 125 words work best.
In terms of technology, some companies report high success rates with interactive emails that are similar to their actual website.
Having said that, some spam filters are still sensitive about images being sent via email, which is why plain text is more deliverable.
Personalization can boost clicks and conversions by around 10% and improve relationships with your customers.
Having said that, you need to move beyond the usual “first_name” tokens to tagging users based on their interests. Surveys can help. So can greater segmentation.
If you have really large email lists, next time you prune the “dead wood”, separate them out into one or more segmented lists and tag them using your email marketing platform technology.
Ask them for more information as well, such as zip code or whatever else would be useful to know about your prospects to help you sell to them better.
The technology is improving all the time; it’s just a case of using it.
Weed out old content and add new emails to the series, for more contact points with your prospects and more links to relevant products they might be interested in.
Video Is Booming
Video is booming, in both live and prerecorded forms. People love videos – not just for entertainment, but for education and marketing as well.
Google Live and Facebook Live have become increasingly popular with users and media alike. The main reason for live video is to help build relationships.
You can show you are a real person and give an inside look at the company.
You can also interact with your target audience, accepting questions in the chat box and answering them online.
It’s a great way to build relationships through your prospects feeling that you care about their needs, and that they know you.
They also help position you as an authority in your niche.
These days, every smartphone can take high-quality video. A tripod to help steady things means you can host video from almost anywhere.
This type of content (not crazy cat videos) makes up about 75% of what people are searching for at YouTube.
If you are a teacher, coach, consultant or information publisher, videos could be the ideal way to market your products and services.
You could post excerpts from your courses and webinars, attractive marketing videos such as whiteboard videos and animations, or screen capture videos.
Screen Capture Videos
Screen capture videos have become increasingly popular with gamers and business people.
In both cases, you are allowing viewers to look over your shoulder to see what process you are following.
Those who play World of Warcraft are always on the lookout for hacks, hints and tips, for example.
If you are launching a new product, seeing is believing. Showing it in action is an ideal way to drive demand and sales.
Screen capture videos are also useful for showing a process, such as how to make a PowerPoint presentation from scratch that even beginners can follow along with.
There are countless marketing uses for prerecorded video. One of the uses gaining in popularity is hosted webinars.
Many people get nervous at the idea of speaking in public or appearing on camera, but prerecording the content takes some of the fear out of offering a webinar to your target audience.
It can help you offer a superior product without any errors, ums and uhs. All you really need is a good microphone and some slides so your audience can follow along.
You don’t have to appear on camera at all if you don’t wish to.
Online education is booming. There are now many popular education sites where you can offer to teach paying customers certain skills or give talks about various topics.
Many of these sites prefer video content, so if you have a lot to teach, this could be a perfect opportunity to show what you know and make more money.
The main thing you will need is content. Let’s look at this next.
The Birth of Blogging
Blogging has been around since 2007 and shows no signs of going away. However, it has made a significant shift from its original purpose.
Those running a blog, or wishing to start one, will have more of a chance of success if they understand the main driving force behind most blogging today.
The word “blogging” comes from “web logging”.
It started out as an opportunity for an ordinary person with no website coding skills to be able to publish content on the internet regularly.
It was all about creativity and the freedom of self-expression.
The trouble with a blog is that once you start it, you have to keep producing content for it. Many would-be bloggers gave up after only a couple of months.
Committed bloggers kept going, but started to think of ways they might be able to make money from all of their content creation.
Blogging helped pave the way for the shift to content marketing. Business owners and bloggers started to realize that all content is marketing.
The words on the page attract the search engines and can give the site owner free traffic. Every blog post has the potential to be a winner in the traffic lottery.
Content such as sales letters, reviews and testimonials drive sales.
Non-fiction articles, posts, recipes and so on can provide the context for selling something, such as kitchenware or a book of recipes.
The Future: Marketing and Money
Most blogs are not run for the sheer love of it any longer, but for marketing and monetary gain.
Businesses have added blogs to their sites to offer their expertise and help position them as authorities in their niche or industry.
Savvy online entrepreneurs blog in order to create content about their niche, with a link to a relevant product.
Even complete beginners to online business who start out as affiliate marketers earning commissions can create content quickly, add a link to a useful product, and earn money through a program like Amazon Associates.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform, and with good reason. It’s easy to use and offers many free themes and plugins.
Themes are templates that determine the layout and appearance of a blog.
You can have navigation on the left or the right, or a magazine format with the titles of the posts laid out in a grid.
You can even have photo logs (plogs) or video logs (vlogs) if you are not a great writer.
Plugins are little mini-programs that add functionality to a blog. Popular choices include an eCommerce store or auction site.
Once you have an interesting blog with great content and commercial potential, it’s time to start spreading the word about it.
Facebook is a good place to start, and we’ll look at that next.
Facebook Is Number One
Facebook has more than two billion registered accounts, and more than one billion unique visitors every month.
Contrary to those who say Facebook is dying and Snapchat and Instagram rule, the truth is that the latter two sites still don’t have the same level of traffic.
Facebook’s Many Marketing Opportunities
Facebook is a hive of marketing opportunities, and all of them are growing.
Here are a few of the main ones to consider when you are putting together your marketing plan.
* Your Page/Promoted Page
Create a detailed page packed full of information about your business with content relating to your niche.
A great page on Facebook gives you the chance to be discovered and to gain followers. Facebook also allows certain ads.
You can turn your page into an ad in order to get followers. The more followers you have, the more people will see your content, and perhaps like it or share it.
* Your Posts/Boosted Posts
Your posts should be useful and link to your content at your blog. Facebook allows you to turn posts into ads as well.
See which of your posts have received the most engagement, and boost them.
* Facebook Messenger
This has grown in popularity and is continuing to be:
* A convenient way for people to connect with you quickly
* A way to set up a chatbot easily
Chatbots are also growing in popularity. They are like an autoresponder in an email. Someone sends a message and they get a reply back.
With chatbots, you set trigger words and then a reply to the person that is likely to fit the topic of the trigger word, such as “refund”.
It’s a way to automate customer service and marketing and can save a good deal of time if you set it up correctly.
* Facebook Groups
Create a closed group about your niche or business, and invite people or offer it as a customer bonus when they buy a related product from you.
Remarketing allows you to tag a visitor to a product page at your site. If they buy, great.
If not, the tag can trigger ads to appear to them for that item for the next 30 days. The tag is called a pixel, and you can create one in your Facebook Ads Manager.
Facebook now owns Instagram. Let’s look next at some ways to market there successfully.
Instagram is now owned by Facebook and is being transformed gradually into a site businesses can use for marketing, even as it preserves the fun of sharing pictures with family and friends.
Facebook and Instagram Ads
If you run an ad through Facebook, you can (if you wish) save time and effort by cross-promoting it on Instagram. It will be reformatted to suit the site.
You can get a significant number of mobile visitors in this way.
An Inside Look
Customers and prospects love to feel they know you and are getting insider information.
Photos and videos of who you are and what you do can help build relationships with your target audience.
Fresh and Fun
The content you post will only be visible for 24 hours unless you pin it to your account.
This means your account can stay fresh and fun and create the perception there is always something going on.
Storytelling is a very popular marketing trend. Stories on Instagram combine photos, video and text for a unique view of a product, or your brand.
Who Uses Instagram?
Instagram and its competitor Snapchat are favored by those 18 to 30, though 45- to 54-year-olds are starting to use Instagram more and more.
There could be several reasons for this.
Young people are on Facebook too, contrary to popular belief, and use it to keep up with family news and any friends who also use it.
Now their families are joining Instagram to keep up with all the young people’s pictures and videos, and to share their own.
What marketing tools work on Instagram? Here are a few:
* Hashtags – Create a unique hashtag around a product or service to stimulate interest and track your success.
* Instagram Live – Businesses are having increasing success with this tool when used like a trailer for a movie, giving a sneak preview of what’s coming up.
* Contests and giveaways – These always work well, particularly at a visual site like Instagram, with a photo of the tempting prize.
Your Own ECommerce Store
Instagram is experimenting with allowing users to create eCommerce stores inside Instagram.
This leverages word of mouth about products people love and also emulates the trend on another visual site, Pinterest, where more than 50% of users click to buy what they see there.
Instagram will be on the rise in 2019. Where does that leave Twitter? We’ll look at that time.
Is Twitter Still Relevant for Business?
Statistics show that the popularity of Twitter is plateauing, with no significant new growth as compared to other social sites.
This could be due to the rise of Snapchat and Instagram, where you can basically “tweet” gorgeous content complete with words and hashtags, and post video as well.
Twitter has started to offer all those options too. They have also made a couple of significant updates that can help users get their message across.
A Higher Character Count
Until recently, 140 characters was the limit for each tweet. Now it is 280.
Stringing Tweets Together
Those who need more than 280 characters can now string tweets together into a series.
Some businesses have started experimenting with this, particularly in relation to marketing using storytelling – another popular trend.
Images and Video
Images can enhance your tweet. Twitter has also rolled their popular Vine video functionality into Twitter.
You can record, import, upload and go live in a similar manner to Facebook and Instagram now. There are also video ad options.
Images and video help followers get to know you better, and they are highly shareable.
Is Twitter Still Relevant for Businesses?
If you have spent time and effort building up followers, it would be foolish to abandon your account. The criteria for any tweet should be “What’s new?” in your business.
New products, services, events, awards, projects you are working on, and surveys of your customers are just a few of the newsworthy types of items you can tweet about.
Twitter can also help raise your profile if you use the following tools:
* Hashtags – Hashtags can be buzzwords you create yourself, or tags already being used to promote a niche, idea or industry. Users can click on a hashtag to see the latest content published about that tag, giving you more visibility.
* Chats – Engage in chats, and create them yourself. Invite people you think would be good at discussing the topic by using the @ symbol.
* Use a Scheduler Judiciously – Schedulers for social media like Buffer.com and Hootsuite.com can help keep things ticking over, but always check your preloaded tweets to make sure nothing will cause offence. There have been huge backlashes against seemingly insensitive tweets when certain news stories have hit, or when it has appeared someone was tweeting during a major event like a funeral.
* Sponsored Pages and Tweets – As with Facebook, you can use your page as an ad to get more followers, or boost your most successful tweets in order to spread the content more widely.
Social media advertising has impacted the world of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
The Present and Future of PPC
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is alive and well, and can work for your business provided you set your goals and budget and are prepared to track and test your success until you come up with high-converting ads.
But the landscape of PPC has changed in the past couple of years, with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter leading the charge to take market share away from Google AdWords, the 1,000 pound gorilla of PPC.
There are other competitors as well.
Top search engines Yahoo! and MSN combined forces to create the Bing advertising system when both of them were struggling.
They are still a viable PPC option for small businesses that are of interest to a younger, techier crowd, and to women.
Facebook and Twitter
There are three PPC options on these social sites:
* Sponsored pages
* Sponsored posts/tweets
* Creating an ad from scratch
Sponsored pages will promote your page in order to get more followers. More followers means more of your content visible to more people.
Sponsored posts/tweets means you can push out your best content to non-followers in the hope they will be interested and start to follow you, or even share your content.
Creating an ad from scratch will require an image related to the content of the ad, a headline, description and URL to send them too.
Using all three of these methods at the same time can help grow your following and your business, and all for only pennies on the dollar compared to Google AdWords.
This is because social sites let you be very specific about your intended audience.
If you want to reach women 45 to 54 who love cocker spaniels, set these parameters when you are creating the ad and you will soon get hundreds of followers.
Facebook offers a variety of ad formats depending on the goal. When you create an ad, they will first ask you what you goal is.
If you want to grow your email marketing list, for example, then they would help you set up a Facebook Lead Ad, so people could sign up right inside Facebook.
Amazon is now selling ads on their site, and has captured about 3% of the PPC ad market share, with a profit of nearly $4 billion.
With this level of success in such a short period of time, they are sure to grow and expand.
If you are already selling products on Amazon, this could be a great chance to boost your sales even more.
What about Google advertising? We’ll look at it next.
It’s Official — Google AdWords Is Now Google Ads
Google AdWords became Google Ads by combining its system with DoubleClick Ads and Google Analytics 360.
The merger has resulted in the new Google Marketing Platform and users now have the Google Ad Manager.
The main advantage is to try to combine all of the ad formats available (text, visual, video, and so on) and have your reports right at your fingertips.
The new smart ads system will help marketers create ads a lot more quickly so they can launch them fast and start getting results.
One of the best ways to use a quick campaign is to split test a new sales letter for a product, or survey new product ideas.
You can drive hundreds of people to a page within a day, get them to “vote” by buying or completing the survey, and refine your marketing based on the results.
The Image Picker
The Image picker allows you to choose a number of images and split test them to see which one is the winner.
It’s similar to Facebook’s option of choosing up to five images at a time for one ad and running it until a clear winner emerges.
The Google Ad Manager
This will help advertisers reach people on TV, Apple News and more.
The Google Marketing Platform
This combines ads and analytics, so you can see what is working according to your metrics and fine-tune your campaigns based on those metrics.
Google Sheets Integration
Google are now offering a plugin so you can integrate their version of Excel, Google Sheets, to create detailed reports on your ad campaigns.
You will also be able to add notes to keep track of key changes made, the results of split tests, and more.
This program is a free download that allows you to make changes to your account on your computer, without having to open a browser.
You can check all your campaigns and make multiple changes.
You can also sort by search terms used, which can help you produce content around those terms, and filter your results by ad type.
One of the biggest trends that is going to impact your Google organic (unpaid) and add traffic is voice search. Let’s look at this next.
Voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are growing in popularity, with around 67 million devices being used in homes and offices in the US alone.
This trend is likely to continue, especially when nearly 70% of users report that they would never consider doing without such a device again.
The voice-activation aspect means people will no longer be entering searches manually in Google or any other search engine, on their desktop or on their mobile device.
The voice-activated assistant’s criteria for what is relevant is likely to be very different.
The results might also be very different because of the words used when a person is making a query.
Studies have shown that their results tend to use what are called long-tail keywords and keyphrases, ones that are not as popular as more common searches, but which can uncover a range of search terms that marketer might not yet have content for.
Check Your Google My Business Listing
If you are a bricks and mortar store, be sure to check your listing and make sure it is as detailed as possible.
Studies have shown that a large percentage of voice searches are local in intent.
Snippets are those quick bullet points that have started to appear at the top of search engine results pages.
Your page might not be in the number one slot for a search term, but you can get your snippet even higher than that spot by creating content that specifically answers the kinds of questions a human being would ask a voice assistant.
Around 70% of voice searches are snippets.
These Devices Are Gathering Data
Every query gives these devices more information, to customize a person’s search.
This also means Google and Amazon are getting more search data, to help serve up better results. Use keywords, and clusters of keywords, to drive traffic to you.
Think about how people would find your site, and what is useful at it, without a keyboard or screen.
If you’re not already looking ahead to voice search, it’s time to evaluate how to integrate it into your marketing plan.
No one has the ability to see into the future with 100% accuracy, but here are some tools that have been trending which look set to grow even further.
This tool offers 1,000+ integrations from one popular program to another, such as transferring the subscribers generated by Facebook Lead Ads to the list of your choice in your email marketing platform, such as MailChimp or AWeber. Use the pre-sets to get started, and customize the automations as needed to streamline your most common marketing chores. There are free and paid tiers.
This is still the top tool for seeing what is going on at your site in terms of traffic, what visitors are doing, and so on. It’s free to use.
Get news and content related to your site or topics you are interested in by setting alerts. The results will be sent to your Gmail account. Again, it’s free to use.
Google Ads Keyword Tool
This can help you plan ads, and content, and is free to use. It’s inside your Google Ads manager.
This can help you monitor the chat about your site across a wide range of social networks. There are free and paid tiers.
This software allows you to queue up your content for a range of social media sites. Prices start at $29 per month to register ten social accounts. For less clunky functionality, even if fewer accounts, try the free or paid editions of Buffer.com.
This shows you what content related to your niche is hot on social media, and can also help you spot trends.
Dig deep with this tool to learn more about what keywords are working at your site, and those of your competitors. You can get ten free searches if you register at the site. The lower subscription tier is around $100 per month.
This tool can help you visually map the most common questions about a topic. It has a free and pro level of service and can be ideal for planning new content for your site or blog.
In this article, we have looked at some of the best practices and major changes for some of the top marketing methods which have been proven effective for businesses of every size in every niche.
From email marketing, to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to pay-per-click advertising, there have been significant changes that you need to keep your eye on going forward.
Google in particular will always be worth paying attention to because of the huge potential it offers for both free and paid traffic.
The new algorithm change might already have changed your positions on the main search engine results pages, for better or worse.
The merging of Google with other ad networks and technologies will lead to major and ongoing changes which will definitely impact you if you already using it.
If you are just starting out, the system promises to be easier than in the past.
One thing is for sure – online marketing is booming, so master these trends and tools and see what a difference they can make to your business.
To your success!