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We love reviewing innovation in marketing. It’s interesting to see ‘what’s hot’ and ‘what’s cool’, but to keep it practical and actionable as we like, we’re equally interested in which communications and transformation techniques will make the biggest commercial improvement for businesses.
A good example of the commercial impact digital technology and media can have is Dominos. Dominos UK only took its first mobile phone order in 2010 when online sales accounted for less than 30% of revenue. Eight years on, Dominos have a market share of more than 50% with digital transactions accounts for more than 80% of sales and the UK smartphone app accounting for more than two-thirds of those sales.
In this review of digital innovation, We take a look at examples of the latest marketing techniques leading companies are deploying which are likely to be adopted as trends across businesses next year. To structure our review we will look at these new techniques and technologies across these 8 key digital marketing communications techniques which form the digital channel essentials toolkits used to structure our planning templates in our members’ area.
1. Digital marketing strategy and planning trends
A key trend in overall digital strategy development is the ongoing popularity of digital transformation programmes. Within digital marketing strategy, there is continued interest in developing integrated digital marketing strategies across multiple channels. Digital transformation programmes are a response to the challenges of digital silos in some companies where there has been a failure to integrate digital across a company. Instead, we recommend using a customer-centered approach to audit your approach for different personas across the lifecycle as shown below.
From digital marketing to multi channel to omnichannel marketing
This visual highlights a broader trend in marketing, which is the wider use of ‘omnichannel communications’ centered around the customer to describe marketing strategies outside the retail and travel sector where the omnichannel term originated.
“Multichannel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omnichannel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omnichannel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!”
2. Marketing strategy and planning
Ultimately, it is the business, marketing, and brand development strategies which drive the growth of a business, so it is important to have a sound marketing strategy and branding in place before working on the digital tactics.
The key trend here is the way digital technologies and media offer the opportunities for digital disruption. Yet digital marketing is not always used as a disruptor. As we discuss in Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice book, digital marketing is more often used for market penetration than new product or market development (these are the classic Ans off growth strategies.
Creating mobile responsive website designs for the dominant use of smartphones is now old news. We see future innovation in digital experience in the areas of speed and personalization and conversational user interfaces based on improved insight. Google has long proclaimed the importance of download speed and despite the widespread use of RWD, performance Google’s benchmarks shows that many businesses are falling short of the required speeds.
3. Search marketing trends
Since Google dominates the results that businesses get from search engine marketing our summary of the search trends here focuses on Google.The most obvious change is the launch of the Google Marketing Platform which saw AdWords renamed to Ads and the Double click ad platform and analysis tools like Google Analytics, Data Studio, and AB testing through data studio more tightly integrated. For organic search the update to keep an eye on in 2019 is Google’s Speed Update which penalizes slower sites and was released after months of trials. Another ongoing organic change to track in 2019 is the evolution of Google’s search snippets which I track adoption of via the Mozcast SERPs features analysis.
This shows the importance of the features integrated into the organic SERPS of which related questions are currently at an all-time high with images and featured snippets remaining important. The prominence of these features shows the importance of understanding and answering the questions your audience ask as a more conversational search develops via smartphone and voice-activated smart speakers.
4. Social media trends
The government-commissioned annual Communications Market Review is one of the best sources for compiling data on Internet and Social Media usage. The visualization gives a great summary of the changes in three of the main consumer network:
Facebook – Static or declining in most age groups except the older (55+ age group) which is now the biggest group of users
Instagram – Increase in usage across all age groups with the largest, the 25 to 34 age group followed by 18 to 24
Snapchat – The largest increase and biggest user group is again the 25 to 34 age group showing that Snapchat isn’t just for teens. Indeed, there are also increases in users in older age groups which are not far behind the younger age groups in adoption levels. However, the frequency of use isn’t considered in this compilation.
We can expect that Instagram ad spend continues to increase in line with increased usage and better advertising options on the platform. Within Facebook, increased use of Messenger is an opportunity. The latest statistics from Facebook show the importance of Messenger: with 1.3 billion people use Messenger every month; 8 billion messages exchanged between people and businesses every month and 78% of people with smartphones using messaging every month. As well as targeted sponsored ads, use of Messenger for conversations is a major trend.
5. Email marketing and marketing automation
Of all the channels we cover in this article, finding new innovation in email marketing techniques is the most challenging. Most email marketing techniques are well established and most recent trends related to improving relevance and interactivity on smartphone. This recent report benchmarking email experiences of retail and travel brands gives a good summary of the state of the art.
6. Analytics and reporting
We’ve been banging the ‘Actionable Analytics’ drum for nearly 10 years now since we believe in the power of data-driven marketing based on digital analytics and customer research. It’s why we’re called Smart Insights! . Systems such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics are relatively static in terms of reports and functionality. For me, the main trend here is using softer measures to get customer feedback. For example, I’ve been taking a look at some really interesting case studies from Vision Critical (Disclosure: A Content Marketing Partner of Smart Insights) which show how savvy brands are using customer communities to feed back.
7. Content marketing
The Content Marketing Institute does a great job of showing trends within content marketing via its research and case studies. The research section on CMI shows similar patterns within content marketing compared to previous years. A more strategic approach to content marketing with many businesses now having a holistic content marketing strategy to support audience engagement and commercial goals of leads and sales
8. Paid and earned media
To complete the picture of digital channels, we need to review advertising and PR. We finish here, since although digital media are hugely important to demand generation and branding, discerning trends on cross-industry data is difficult in this sector where there is a reporting lag, which means that reports for ad types aren’t published until the next quarter.
Online advertising spend by format
The big winners are native advertising and video advertising which we can expect to continue to be important into 2019 after video advertising overtook display for the first time.
Even in this digital era, nearly half of all small businesses and restaurants still have no web presence at all. If you’re working on your web presence, you know that for your restaurant, digital marketing is huge. But do you have a strategy?
If you’re new to SEO, digital marketing, and social media advertising, you need a guide to help you navigate. Start by trying these 5 strategies to make sure you start turning your posts into orders from customers.
1. Search Engine Marketing
Your first step to getting new customers will be to end up high in their search results. You need to include your keywords embedded as often as you can for the most successful restaurant digital marketing.
On top of your keywords, you also need to think locally. If you’re still trying to understand how to use keywords, try one of the many free tools out there before you make a big investment in SEO promotion. Creating a blog can help direct traffic to your site by using your keywords in texts about new offerings and services at your restaurant. People love looking at photos and reading your recipes as much as they love tasting your food.
2. Be Smart With Your Social Media
If your restaurant doesn’t have a presence on social media site, you’re missing a big opportunity for restaurant digital marketing. If your restaurant is already on social media, what are you doing to stand out?
Lots of restaurants post the best images of their best dishes, but because there’s so much out there, you need to find a way to be different. A big restaurant group needs to have someone dedicated to how your social media profile is marketed.Social media allows brands to express their personality or communicate who they are to the world. Take this opportunity to introduce your waitstaff and your hosts.
Put together short videos showing the back of house making beautiful stuff during your dinner rush. During slower mornings, give customers a treat by showing them photos of a dish from start to finish, from raw ingredients to a beautifully plated masterpiece.
Don’t be afraid to get feedback from your audience. Ask what their favorite sides and desserts are and offer a special a week later on that dish. Reply to comments and engage.
Building your brand authority builds loyalty and lifelong customers.
3. Video Is King
Close to half of all users spend an hour watching video content on social media every day. That’s a whole lot of ten- to sixty-second clips over the course of a day. While it may sound easy, you want to ensure that your videos are somewhat professional looking. The production value of your videos depends on the content you’re trying to communicate.
When you are looking for your video team, come up with more than one way to reach your customers. Ask for 10-second, 30-second and 2-minute edits for different social media sites. Longer videos are appropriate for Youtube, while Instagram or Snapchat users want to see short clips.
4. Cross-promote with Influencers
Restaurant digital marketing strategies now usually include some level of cross-promotion. If you use a hot sauce that’s made or distributed by a local vendor, you can promote each other with blogs and social media posts. Invite local bloggers and restaurant critics to dine with you. Show off your latest ideas and newest dishes, then ask if they’ll write about you. There are even paid channels to get people with big social media followings to talk about you.
If you have a blog, invite guest bloggers. You can use each other’s networks to gain followers while sharing recipes, favorite dishes from around the world, or just your favorite things about your city. Be creative and make connections.
5. Email and Text Promotions Still Work
Offer monthly 2-for-1 deals if people sign up with you or leave their business card. Create a spreadsheet of these names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Track if people make a second trip to your restaurant. If so, target them through email and text promotions. If you’re anticipating a slow night on the eve or day after a holiday, offer a free bottle of wine or dessert to your guests. Whether they come for the wine or not, you’ll be on their mind next time they pass your restaurant.
Restaurant Digital Marketing Is a Full-Time Gig
It’s hard for restaurant owners to be able to handle all of the moving parts of their business and become digital marketing experts at the same time. If you’re new to SEO and digital marketing for your restaurant, it can be overwhelming at first.
Email marketing continues to be a vital communications channel with the DMAs latest Email tracker showing that email receives 30 times return on investment on average. 95% of respondents rated it as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their organization.
Yet competition in the inbox for attention from email subscribers remains fierce as social media remains important and competitors optimize their approach.
So, it’s important to review the success factors to improving email ROI, which we summarise in this article with the help of the email specialists who kindly contributed their views and predictions on the trends which will be important in 2018. While some of these are not ‘new’ techniques, they are increasing in adoption since they are vital to keeping up with your competition and engaging your audience further in the customer lifecycle.
Our lifecycle marketing model shows you the potential customer touchpoints and how email marketing aids in increasing relevance and response of communications. Marketing activities such as personalization, loyalty programs, and re-engagement email programs are vital to your email marketing strategy. Whilst SEO, PPC, social media, and advertising may contribute to getting your customer into the top of your sales funnel, it is essentially your email marketers that keep them there, increase repeat purchase and increase customer-brand engagement. Here are some of Emerging Email Marketing Trends For 2018 To Boost Your Email Marketing Campaigns.
1.Kinetic Email Look & Feel Changes The Experience Of Email
Designed to make emails look and feel more like a website experience, kinetic emails introduces a new layer of interactivity to the email experience.
What is more interesting is as ISPs like Gmail continues to adopt these functionalities. Furthermore; making the user experience in the inbox more fluid and quicker to the register. The upside is that these emails are not only more attractive than traditional email furthermore; they’re also more effective for encouraging subscribers to engage with the brand and its products.
2. Mobile Responsive Emails
Mobile purchasing is rapidly closing the gap with desktop purchasing as consumers and B2B buyers embrace smartphones and other mobile devices as primary conduits for brand connections.
Even though marketers are aware of the email marketing trends for 2018; many brands continue to struggle with the basics of mobile optimization. Instead of delivering seamless mobile and cross-channel experiences, brands continue making images, call-to-action buttons, content and other features more appealing to mobile audiences.
For brands who say their email is “responsive already” and have put mobile on the back burner, it’s time to develop a comprehensive mobile strategy.
3. Passive Opt-Out Approach For Emails
It’s been documented that engaged subscribers who have passively opted out and are lingering in your databases hurt your email bounce rate.To re-engage these passive subscribers and avoid losing potential purchasers, marketers need to proactively shift their email life cycle messaging and customer loyalty approach. Content needs to become more informative, fun and engaging to prevent subscribers from losing interest and passively opting out.
Note that this doesn’t mean you should send a flood of high-value offers that cut into your margin. Run an analysis on your subscribers to find key peaks and valleys to keep subscribers active.
4. Personalization & Segmentation Remain A High Priority
Personalization and segmentation remain a high priority sharing dynamic and engaging content Achieving personalization using machine learning/AI will achieve an uptake in 2018. Marketers continue to focus on getting personalization and relevance right. Even the customer journey will begin to develop a dynamic path based on an individual consumer’s needs.
5. Adopting Conversational Tone To Personalize Emails
The tone you chose to use in your emails affects the way your customers will respond. A conversational can give more personal and genuine interaction. Furthermore; to keep it engaging you can ask questions, get them thinking and then give them the answer they need through your CTA directing them to your content that helps and educates them.
Most brands understand how important it is to be on social media. However, many underestimate the value of engagement. If you are shouting out into the abyss and rarely taking time to truly interact with your current and potential followers, you are missing opportunities to increase social media engagement. When you interact regularly, on the other hand, you are building the relationships that can drive conversions and profits. Utilize these strategies to increase social media engagement and improve awareness of your brand.
1. Incorporate images in your posts.
One of the most powerful tools you can use to help you increase social media engagement is to incorporate visual content. One study indicated that images led to an 85% interaction rate on Facebook and increased shares of content by 35%.
Pictures draw the eye and increase the chances that people will absorb and interact with your social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. In fact, entire platforms that include Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have thrived on the power of visual storytelling.
Your brand has a wide variety of choices to increase social media engagement through visual content. Images of people using and enjoying your products is always a win. You can also share images of new items that you have for sale when you need a social media push. Look at stock photos if you wish to share a short textual message. Superimpose your text over an engaging image for highly shareable content.
When creating or curating images to share on social media, make sure you are familiar with each platform’s technical rules and best practices. Snapchat, for instance, favors vertically oriented images. Square images look great on your Instagram page.
You can also play with frames, filters, and other features to draw attention to your posts. Using these elements in a way that resonates with users of a particular platform helps your images and posts blend in. They are more likely to register as wanted content rather than intrusive marketing when you keep to the general look and feel your audience prefers.
2. Make it funny.
If it is appropriate for your brand, incorporate humor and personality into your social media posts. Many people follow brands specifically because of the creative and engaging content that they share.
Often, it can be hard to break through the social media noise to get people’s attention. Even social media users who follow your brand are likely to scroll right past stories that are overly promotional in nature. This is not surprising. After all, they have no personal reason to be invested in your brand’s development or success.
However, when you add humor, you add value to their day outside of what your products themselves provide. This sort of content brings smiles to faces and fosters a more favorable view of your brand. It also makes it more likely that you will see an increase in social media engagement and shares as people choose to pass along the content that made them laugh.
There are some rules for effective humor online, however. Jokes, in general, should be lighthearted and fun. Mean humor often backfires on brands and can make people hostile. If you are going to make a joke, it is often best to make your brand or its social media representation the target. For instance, in the tweet above, the social media manager is talking about their own love of Moon Pies. A brand’s ability to laugh at itself is humanizing and goes a long way toward building rapport with your audience.
3. Ask for feedback and reviews.
Want to get your followers talking? Ask them to share their opinions! Many people are very happy to talk about the products they like and the ones that they feel could use improvement. You can ask them to leave their reviews and feedback as comments or direct readers to your review page. The latter can be especially helpful if your review page on Facebook is somewhat sparse. If happy reviewers leave their opinions, they provide valuable information for those who have not yet decided whether or not they wish to use your product or service.
As with any strategy, there are some caveats. On most sites, it is against the rules to offer rewards in exchange for reviews. So, while a restaurant may want to give a free dessert in exchange for a review, this action could get your social media page suspended.
You are also strictly forbidden by law to offer incentives for positive reviews. This is especially true if a brand is soliciting a review from someone who may not have used the product. The potential benefits from positive feedback are not worth the potential consequences.
Instead, just remind people that you want to hear from them. Their reviews can help you devise new products or improve ones that you already offer. And, if they only have positive things to say, so much the better! Everyone loves to get positive feedback now and then.
4. Prompt the reactions you want with emojis.
One of the things we always need to be cautious about when we post online is that textual communication doesn’t come with clear indications of tone. You can add a feeling or a prompt to a post, however, by including emojis that give your readers a hint of what you are feeling.
If you are sharing a joke on your page, for instance, a laughing emoji can set the stage for the humorous reaction you are looking for. Hearts, smiles, and flowers can all indicate friendly or affectionate feelings. Many apps allow you to create a library of frequently-used emojis to make it quicker and easier to find your favorites. When you use this method to increase social media engagement for your brand, however, make sure you use it well. One or two emojis per post will be adequate for most brands. Add too many, and your post could wind up coming off immature or hard to read.
You should also make sure that emojis fit your brand well. They are a good fit for brands that are lighthearted and put forward a youthful look and feel.
5. Share a surprising statistic.
One of the best ways to get someone’s attention is to share a fact or statistic that they did not know about before. While we usually take to social media to be entertained, many of us are happy to be educated while we are there, as well.
Ideal statistics to help your brand increase social medial engagement can include anything that relates to your industry or the interests of your audience. For instance, a sporting goods brand that sells bike helmets may share a factoid about the number of people who avoid head injuries every year due to proper headgear.
The best facts are the ones that can be summed up in one brief sentence. If your post is few enough characters to use one of Facebook’s custom backgrounds, for instance, these can add visual appeal. You can also seat facts inside an image for instant visual appeal.
You can also use statistics and bits of data to bring people to your site’s web page. A brand in the B2B sector, for instance, can share a small factoid out of a case study or blog to generate followers’ interest in reading the entire thing similar to what we did with this Facebook post to our page.
Whenever possible, use your bits of data and statistics to create interest and intrigue. Monitor social media comments to see what people have to say; and, when they respond, be sure to like and respond to their comments.
6. Sponsor a giveaway.
People love free things. Take advantage of this to increase social media engagement by upping your likes and shares.
One of the most common ways this works start with simple posts on your brand’s Twitter feed, Facebook or Instagram page. Ask people to like and share for a chance to win one of your products. These posts are most eye-catching when they include a high-quality image of one of your products.
You can go for even more engagement and quality content by asking people to enter by sharing an image or a text post that includes a specially-designated hashtag. Choose something that you are not using for any other promotion and that users are not likely to use in ways unrelated to your brand. The hashtag approach gives you the advantage of seeing quickly and easily how many people are engaging with your content. It also makes it easy for new people to follow the hashtags back to your original post and engage with your brand.
For even more engagement, consider posting the giveaway to your blog and across all social media channels. Free software can allow you to give users additional entries for actions like commenting on a social media post or liking and sharing your page.
7. Add immediacy with live video.
More and more traffic on social media sites involves video instead of still images or text. This is driven, in part, by improvements in technology. The other side of the equation is that people are more likely to spend a few minutes engaging with a video than they are to read a long social media post.
Live video is available on a wide range of social media channels. It represents one of the best tools available to increase your social media engagement. People spend three times as much time engaging with a live video than they do with one that is prerecorded. Additionally, video posts have 135% as much organic reach as do photo posts.
Some brands, such as restaurants and bars, have obvious subjects for live video posts. A bar can share a few minutes of a special event or a live performance. Restaurants can give diners a peek in the kitchen so that they can see what is on the menu that night.
But, other brands should not feel that they do not have live video subjects to share. A product unveiling allows people to get a close look at a new offering. You can show them the new item from every angle and let viewers see it in use. After your live video, be sure to edit highlights and release those separately. This way, your content continues to add value even for people who could not be at the digital event when it was live. Your video continues to increase social media engagement for weeks or months after the fact.
8. Ask for the reaction you want to increase social media engagement
Marketers and sales people are drilled to ask the prospect for the sale. When you are working to increase social media engagement, be sure to ask for the comment, like, or share. Studies have shown on Twitter that tweets that end in “Please Retweet” are more likely to be shared. You can also ask people to like, share or to add a comment.
If you ask for comments, make sure that you have someone monitoring your page to look at and respond to the answers. Make sure that your replies are friendly; a social media showdown is more likely to harm than help your brand. If people respond with issues or complaints, get them into DMs and solve their problems as soon as possible. However, for most brands, you are more likely to see kudos than complaints. Keep the conversation going to show that you care about what people have to say. Interacting frequently is a key to social media engagement.
You should also note that this is a strategy that should not be overused in your mission to increase social media engagement. If every Facebook post ends in “share if you agree,” you risk alienating the people who you want to engage with your brand. Use a variety of ways to ask for engagement in order to keep your content fresh. And, do not ask on every single post. This way, it has far more power when you do ask.
Working to increase social media engagement is an ongoing task. You will need to spend some time getting to know your audience and then spending time with them every day. Use analytics to see what efforts get you the best results. This way, you can dedicate your time to the tasks that help increase your social media engagement most dramatically to get the best out of every action you take with your brand.
In the world of PPC, 2018 is going to get bonkers. Between Facebook making drastic changes to the News Feed and the “New Google Ads Experience” set to become the only way to skin the cat, the rise of new ad platforms and the continuation of some of last year’s most popular trends, we’ve got a lot to look forward to (and probably some preparing to do)! And so, here are some of data-backed PPC predictions for 2018!
#1. Facebook Ads Expand Beyond Your Social Feed
One thing should immediately stick out in the industry from the past year – Facebook’s growth is truly explosive. The ad platform added 4 million new advertisers in just 18 months, effectively doubling the network, and it’s posed to keep growing in 2018! But there’s ultimately a cap on the number of ads they can serve users while they scroll through their social feeds, which is why Facebook has been growing beyond just Facebook.com.
In 2015, the company made Messenger a standalone platform, and very late in 2017, Facebook introduced a way to monetize the new app with Messenger ads. Now we as we’re seeing Instagram looking to break their messaging equivalent Instagram Direct into a separate app, we should expect Instagram Direct ads to follow suite with ad similar ads.
But Facebook’s ad opportunities are even greater beyond their current flagship products. Over the years, Facebook has acquired 65(!) companies – and the tech giant has invested in everything from Fitness Tracking and Speech recognition to Rural communications.
#2. An Explosion of New Search Ad Formats and Extensions
Google isn’t happy coasting off its flagship search ads. Last year, AdWords retired the standard text ad it had relied on for 16 years to give advertisers more space with their expanded text ads. Google knew that even if search isn’t going anywhere, search was certainly evolving and how we advertisers answer searchers’ questions needs to evolve too.
Through the year, Google has improved their shopping ads to cater towards people differently. Shopping ads remain a staple in any ecommerce advertisers’ campaigns, but late in 2017, Google started serving Shopping Showcase Ads to people casually searching for top of the funnel, non-branded product searches. Google may soon also allow for people who are ready to purchase to convert via a “Buy on Google” extension directly on the SERP!
How we connect with customers via search ads has been evolving quickly too. Google enabled call extensions in 2011 allowing us to place a call directly from the SERP. Four years later, Google enabled advertisers more control over how they drive calls to their business with call-only ads and then two years later enabled call bid adjustments. In 2016, Google allowed us to connect to our customers via text with message extensions. The next era of communication from our search ads may be with chatbots, as it appears that some brands are experimenting with new chatbot extensions per a late 2017 Bing Ads post.
#3. Voice Search Goes Mainstream
Google advertises for its own products – a lot, in fact. If you’re paying close attention, you’ll realize that Google’s ads are never specifically about search. Instead, Google advertises its personal assistant app, or its assistant powered Android phones, or its assistant powered Google Home devices.
For perspective, the US population is 323 million, so Google Assistants outnumber us! Add in Alexa, Cortana, and Siri enabled devices and it’s clear that Voice Search is more than just a passing fad. In 2017, 20% of all search occurs via voice search rather than a typed query, and ComScore estimates that by 2020, more than 50% of all search will be driven by voice search!
Optimizing for Voice Search will require a new search strategy. Knowing that people’s natural language is different from their typed queries, you’ll need to prep your content and your ads to answer their questions, rather than match their keywords. Have your content answer questions people will naturally ask their devices such as “Who”, “When”, “Where” and “How” as they complete their searches.
#4. The Rise of Visual Search
Visual search may sound new and experimental to many advertisers, but Pinterest actually grew their platform almost entirely as a visual search engine. Pinterest may not the largest search engine, but it’s effectively grown a monopoly on visual search and more than doubled their revenue each year in the past 2 years!
Visual search is something that’s clearly caught the attention of the big search engines, as both Google and Bing are beginning to play with the feature. In the past, Shopping ads were introduced when people were searching for images, but Bing is preparing this to enable users to search within images themselves. This visual search would allow users to find that item that they must have – and serve them ads for it along the way.
#5. Search Audiences Replace Search Keywords
The keyword isn’t dead – but it’s no longer what controls your paid search. In 2014, we saw keywords lose their meaning when close variants were automatically introduced and then again in 2017 we saw exact match type keywords serve to additional queries including reordered words with functional words added or removed. The keyword is no longer the best way to control who sees our ads – but audience targeting may replace it.
Google’s been slowly expanding its offering of audience solutions over the years – first allowing us to target returning visitors with Remarketing Lists of Search Ads, then our customer lists with Customer Match (first by matching users email addresses, but now by phone number and address as well), and similar audiences for search campaigns. Advertisers can target their ads by demographic and recently based on life events.
On the horizon, Google has plans to allow advertisers to target based on consumer patterns (such as frequently visiting certain types of stores, restaurants, or attending live events), as well as via In-Market Audiences for search ads.
#6. Increased Automation Takes Control Away from Advertisers
Keywords aren’t the only thing that advertisers are losing control of. In 2017, Google also retired multiple ad rotation settings that advertisers used to test ad copy in their accounts. Google’s penchant for creating ad extensions on behalf of advertisers is nothing new, but they recently also began testing out creating ads for advertisers too – which may have some brand-sensitive advertisers worried.
Many campaign types, including shopping ads, dynamic search ads, smart display campaigns, and Google’s experimental local service ads are all created and managed without targeting keywords or full control of your ad copy!
#7. Unchecked Brand Problems Get Worse
The Google Display Network is the largest display network in the world, spanning 3 million websites and apps. YouTube is the largest video sharing network with over 1 trillion videos. Even Facebook is quickly growing their audience network.
All this reach provides advertisers with unparalleled opportunity, but not all that content is the best place for you to have your brand associated with. Some content online isn’t going to be the safest place for your brand. Unfortunately, a consequence we pay for a free and ever-expanding internet is also a growth in sites that feature fake news, polarizing politics, and at time malicious and hateful content.
#8. New Bing Ad Targeting May Outpower AdWords
Google’s strong hold on the search market and Facebook’s fast growth have many saying the two companies are effectively making the digital advertising market a duopoly. A Journal estimates that 77 cents of every new digital advertising dollar in 2017 was spent on either a Google or Facebook property.
Microsoft may be our best change to compete against Google and Facebook. Although Bing is certainly an underdog, it does reach a surprisingly large 35.6% market share of the US Search Market. The preferred search engine of Microsoft’s own products (Windows, Edge, Office, Skype, Xbox) as well as the preferred search engine of Amazon’s Alexa – Bing can certainly compete in a growing voice search market.
But Bing’s real power might be in another Microsoft product – LinkedIn. Similar to Microsoft’s Bing, however, the largest professional social network is still definitely in Facebook’s shadow.
Where Microsoft could steal the show, however, is if they were to partner their search and social networks together. PPC pros already know that advertising on both search & social can improve both the performance on both networks and even increase the number of repeat visitors and branded searches. But where Bing would really shine is if it were possible to leverage LinkedIn’s ad targeting directly on the SERP. LinkedIn, like Facebook, offers a myriad of ad targeting methods including by a user’s education, skill, and job title and far surpasses Google’s limited demographic search targeting.
Most of the content published online is failing miserably at being up to snuff with Google’s quality guidelines. We define quality content as content that is well-researched, long form, solves a problem, and develops trust with your audience. Here, we list the most common reasons why new clients are failing at providing high quality content on their websites and how you can help them see the light.
From content that is far too short to ubiquitous opinion pieces that have no substance, bad content is rampant online. Here are some of the most common content mistakes clients are making.
Content Under 1000 Words
It used to be easy to get content on your site because it didn’t have to be long form. You could write around 500 words and it would be great.With the new guidelines and the changing needs of customers longer form content is the goal. Quality content writing should be at least 1000 words, 1500 or even 2000 is better. Unfortunately, over 85% of the content being published is under 1000 words.It has been proven that longer form content will get you better rankings, more shares, a higher number of likes, and much more interaction than shorter content. Teaching your clients about the importance of long form writing will help them stand out in the marketplace and gain more social media interaction.
Writing Into The Void: Ignoring Keyword Research
Clients know their business. They live and breathe it. They know everything about it. So, it should be easy to write compelling articles relevant to their industry right? No.
Too many people are writing content they THINK their potential customers would like to read. Instead, they should be writing content they KNOW their customers want to read.
How do you know what they want? By doing keyword research. Putting some time in doing research can save you tons of time and heartache in the long run. Even the best blog article is pointless is no one wants to read it.The best thing about keyword research now is that Google has become smarter than ever. You no longer have to repeat the same term over and over. The new algorithm understands what terms are related to one another.This means that if you find a great keyword to use for your client you just need to create a topic based on it. While writing on the topic, which includes the main keyword, you should naturally be using secondary and related keywords to the main one.
Writing What You Want Without Solving Problems For Readers
In a similar vein to avoiding keyword research, writing for your own purposes and not answering the questions and concerns of your customers is an issue.Quality content writing helps your clients find answers to their questions relating to your industry. Have your clients make a list of the top ten questions they get asked by their customers on a regular basis. That’s ten great high quality content articles right there. All it takes to build those into well optimized ranking machines keyword research. Make sure you sprinkle in some high volume keywords, answer the question with research and know-how, and you have a piece that adds value to your site while bringing in eyeballs.
Solving problems for their readers helps with something even more important. Answering their questions before they ask them in person will help them develop more trust for your client and their business. We all know that trust is the easiest way to turn readers into customers down the road.
Content That’s Too Hard To Read
Let’s face it, in the world of immediate gratification and reality TV nobody has time to read collegiate level blog posts. High quality content should be “skimmable”. “Skimmable” means that the article should be written in a way that lets the reader get the gist of it without reading every word. If your client wants to have more of a social media presence this is extra important.
Why quality content is important for social media is that it needs to be shareable. Quality content that is easy to read, solves a problem, and has been researched has a far better chance of getting passed around among friends.
Too Many Opinions, Not Enough Facts
While reading some of the content on your new client’s site you come to the realization that there are no sources to be found. This is a huge clue that what is being written is an opinion and not based in factual evidence.Enhance clients to find authoritative, non-competitor sources to back up their opinions with facts. This will make them look more credible to their audience and to the bots crawling for search engines.
Avoid These Mistakes And See Results
High quality content is more important than ever before if your client wants to make it to the top of the search engines. Today, you and your clients have to put in the research, sweat equity, and hard work to produce quality content for their website to see results. The purpose of the site must be clear and all the pages on the website should be working to serve that core purpose. Encourage your clients to find above par content writers that can help them achieve articles and page content that they can be proud of.
The thriving web world has over 1.8B websites and less than 200 million active websites to date. Every day hundreds of thousands of new websites are added to intensify the competition.
If you want to make your business website noticeable among all the active websites, you need to implement innovative ideas and follow the development trends. It is inevitable for the web developers to keep the future trends in mind while developing an enterprise-grade website.
After a lot of brainstorming, we have gathered the most precise predictions about the web development trends for 2018 and beyond.
Here we mention some of futuristic trends as a gist of collective thoughts from our experienced web developers:
1. AMP Is A New Norm
Responsive web design approach is in vogue since 2015 when Google has started giving more importance to mobile-friendly websites.
Yes, this Google–sponsored open-source project has gained ground with the support of Bing, Pinterest, and Twitter.AMP is designed to enhance the overall performance of web content and ads while improving website speed and user experience. It works seamlessly and people have started liking it. In a way, it is fair to mention that AMP is here to stay.
2. The Arrival Of Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
When it comes to bringing the best of mobile sites and native apps by leveraging the technological advancements, Progressive Web Apps (PWA) appear as a great concept.
It is based on the Internet evolution and adoption of HTML 5. You can provide the same functionality and flawless user experience to native apps with the help of PWAs.
The eCommerce giant Flipkart has introduced PWA and witnessed a 70 percent increase in conversions.
3. Chatbots Rock
How about giving your online support a chatbot advantage?
Chatbots can address customer support requirements quite effectively and you can count on bots for 24/7 assistance. There is no need to hire a full-time online customer service representative.
4. Push Notifications Prevail
Just like mobile apps, websites with push notifications can help you to reach a vast audience and leverage the benefits of online marketing. Push notifications are one of the most powerful solutions for engaging visitors and customers. However, you need to stay away from overusing them. You can inform your customers about special discounts, the company’s customer-centric activities, and the like with the help of push notifications.
5. Static Websites Do Not Go Anywhere
Yes, dynamic websites are quickly outpacing their static counterparts. But, it does not mean that static websites are dead. Actually, as we witness an exponential growth in the number of websites in the web world, only simple and straightforward websites with a quick load time will succeed. Static websites can serve these objectives and provide a cost-effective option to business owners. However, the web design should be engaging and interesting for the customers.
6. RAIL Concept On The Rise
Response Animation Idle Load (RAIL) designing concept is here since 2015, but, now we can expect that it will thrive in 2018 and beyond. The concept is associated with a faster load time (under 1 second) and excellent performance of the website.
It focuses on a pleasant user experience. An article has revealed that RAIL breaks down UX into tap, drag, scroll, etc. actions and provides performance goals along with a structure necessary for a better performance. In brief, the RAIL concept is useful for the web designers who follow the user-centric approach.
7. Motion UI Is Ready To Reign
Yes, today’s web users want everything simple yet intuitive. Enter Motion UI. It can differentiate the design even with a minimalistic website with an elegant and useful interface. All it requires a thorough research and proper implementation to work wonders for increasing the conversion rate on your website.
Motion UI includes animated charts, hovers, background animations, and beautiful headers. You can stand your website out from the crowd with the help of motion UI.
8. Browser Extensions Will Be More Popular
Google Chrome extensions are much in demand these days! But then, people have started considering browser extensions as a threat to their privacy. This is because such extensions can read a lot of online activities of the user with the help of various permissions. If you want to come up with the most useful extension, you need to take care of privacy protection.
9. VR and AR
VR and AR are futuristic technologies that are capable of changing the ways of interaction with websites. Companies like Google, Samsung, and Microsoft are investing a huge amount in these technologies. You can offer an immersive experience of the virtual world to the users with the help of VR.
On the other hand, AR shows the glimpse of a virtual world in the real world while enhancing the user experience. Now both these technologies are not limited to mobile apps. It is expected that their collective market size would worth USD $215 billion by 2021.
10. Single Page Applications (SPAs) Will Thrive
11. Internet Of Things (IoT) Will Be In Focus
As per a survey, there will be almost 31 billion connected devices in 2020. This enormous growth in the number of IoT devices will also impact the web development process as enterprises tend to control these devices through a desktop or laptop.
What’s more, to provide better services to customers or the general public, integration of devices with the website is of utmost importance. Though today only a few websites have an IoT integration, it is fair to mention that the concept will remain in focus in the near future as the number of connected devices will increase gradually.
12. Blockchain Technology Will Find Its Place
Though Bitcoins have gained enough popularity throughout the year 2018, the story of blockchain technology has just begun! This technology is expected to bring radical changes in the thriving web industry.
The blockchain technology offers a safe and secure online transaction while eliminating the necessity of intermediaries. This innovative technology uses standard data storage for helping the users to store data in different locations worldwide.
Blockchain facilitates the banks and financial organizations to keep the customer’s data safe with the help of algorithms. Therefore, the BFSI sector will integrate this technology into their system in the coming years.
13. AI and Machine Learning Will Gain Ground
Do you know that chatbots work on the concept of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning? In the coming days, we can presume that the role of chatbots and machine learning concept will get wider than ever in the web world.
Globally, big names including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are investing a large amount in both AI and machine learning. In the coming years, web developers may need to include features or functionality powered by AI, which will bring radical changes in the web development domain.
Along with these major trends, we can expect a few concepts like real-time web apps, Google Map integration, image sharing, image-related improvements, minimalist design, and functional programming will gain momentum in the year 2018 and beyond.
When it comes to optimizing website content, there’s typically a lot of talk about the importance of choosing the right keywords and drafting compelling headlines – but the impact of Meta descriptions on a website’s on-page SEO too often goes overlooked.
While you may think you have ticked all the boxes to boost visibility of your ecommerce site, the absence of an accurate Meta description might just be costing you traffic and sales.
So, what are Meta descriptions? They are short, unique snippets that describe a webpage. Think of what you would write if you had to advertise the webpage – that is exactly what Meta descriptions need to include.
Many people tend to leave Meta descriptions blank without realizing the effect it has on search results. A powerful Meta description leads to a rise in click-through-rates which boosts the SEO ranking of your page. Simply put, they form the first impression of your website, so you rather make it a good one.
Here are 6 ways you can optimize Meta descriptions to ensure clicks.
Whether it’s seeking the nearest plumbing services or discovering the best hotels in Cochin – everyone on Google has come looking for answers to a problem.
Put yourself in a customer’s shoes and think about what they could possibly ask to which your business can pose a solution. Your Meta description needs to answer their question and impart value to entice them to click on your website.
While the Meta description length has been extended up to 300 characters in order to make them more “descriptive”, it is always safe to stick to 160 characters so that the description does not appear abrupt and incomplete which can be rather frustrating for readers.
Let’s face it – emotion sells. Whether it is arousing urgency, anger, joy, trust, curiosity – any piece of content that evokes emotion is likely to be more effective in persuading readers to act. The same needs to be applied while drafting Meta descriptions too.
You need to identify the emotional benefits a customer will attain by considering your brand and leverage it to drive traffic. Use words such as ‘attractive’, ‘enormous’, ‘powerful’, ‘unparalleled’ among others to strike a chord with your readers in just those two to three lines.
Use calls to action
Calls to action (CTAs) are powerful words that one must incorporate in the Meta description because they communicate a clear purpose and urge readers to take a step forward.
However, this is not the place to use obvious calls to action such as ‘read more’ or ‘shop now’. Instead, you should use words like ‘save more’, state an offer or a tangible benefit such as free delivery or a free 30-day trial in the Meta description to make better use of this space.
Choosing relevant keywords is one of the most critical steps for SEO optimization. That said, stuffing your content with these keywords won’t fetch you results. What’s important is strategically placing them in sections that can make a difference such as the Meta description.
When Google displays search results, the search words are displayed in bold and it helps to have them highlighted in your website’s Meta description tag which indicates relevancy and catches the reader’s attention too.
You are likely to have many keyword suggestions from research. In such cases, prioritize the keyword that has maximum impact for the particular webpage and use it in the Meta description instead of fitting them all in 160 characters.
Each of the pages of your website are unique so why must they have the same description? If more than one page of your website shares the same description, then they are competing with each other because it means that they are talking about the same thing. This results in Google pushing your website lower down the rank.
So, don’t get lazy here and duplicate meta description content because that just gives the wrong signals to Google, deeming them to be spammy or repeated content which can hurt your search results.
Use rich snippets
Have you noticed some Meta descriptions contain links, reviews, ratings and video images among others? Those are referred to as rich snippets. Contrary to normal snippets, rich snippets include structured data to give more detailed information to the search engine, helping people make a better decision before clicking websites.
Rich snippets give users quicker access to information through their visually appealing formats, images and relevant information that ultimate enhance click-through-rates. So, whether it is adding a contact number, product reviews and ratings or direct links – consider incorporating rich snippets in your Meta description for it to stand out and attract clicks.
Hence, even though Meta descriptions don’t directly affect page rankings, it is recommended to optimize them to drive clicks and generate traffic.
Social media is a fickle friend. Some days you do really well, engagement is high, and people are loving your post. Then other days it feels like a flop, no one wants to hang out with you, and people don’t seem to care about what you have to say. How can you, as a business owner, combat this? How can social media become a huge part of your business strategy to bring in more clients and ultimately more revenue? There are a few ways to become a social media rockstar when it comes to your business, and all of them are easy to integrate into your business today.
Making Social Media Goals
When you’re starting out on social media it can be about connecting with friends and family. But when you use social media for your business, it’s about connecting with current and future clients. You’re going to want to set up a game plan for your social media accounts and be clear about your goals. Whether that’s to gain four new clients from social media in a month or to grow your group on Facebook to over 1K members in three months, be clear on what your goals are.
There are a ton of social media platforms, and there are even more ways to use all of them. After deciding what your goals are, figure out which platforms you want to use. It’s best to choose based on where your ideal clients are already at and active. If your ideal client is on Facebook, be sure to add that to the list of platforms you want to use. If your ideal client is on Twitter, focus on Twitter. It’s okay to have more than one social media platform to engage on, especially if your clientele is a large group of people.
Always be Authentic on Social Media
Being authentic is a major key in social media. Potential clients and onlookers to your brand can spot when you are being authentic, and when you are not being so authentic right away. People are smarter than ever and want someone they can trust and someone they feel connected to. Choose social media platforms where you feel comfortable, and where you can be genuine to others.
If you do choose to use multiple social media platforms, make goals for each one. It will help your engagement and ability to be found on each, and in turn, will bring more clients through the doors of your business. Let’s say your business really talks about the joys of being able to work from anywhere in the world, all of the content you put on social media will be about that core topic, but the way it’s presented will look different for each platform. Instagram might show off what the freedom lifestyle looks like as you travel from place to place each month. Facebook might be showing people your latest adventure and how they can achieve the freedom lifestyle too. Twitter is where you might bring snippets of your day to people to show them the best of the freedom lifestyle. Lastly, LinkedIn might be where you are an expert on living the freedom lifestyle and talk about how it’s changed your business.
With all posts, be genuine in what you are saying. Put out unique content that no one is talking about yet. If you’re struggling to create new content for all of your social media platforms, repurpose old content. Change it up based on the environment of the platform, but your core message will always be the same!
Be Consistent on Social Media
Once you make your goals for social media and decide what platforms you are going to use, be present and consistent. The more that people see and interact with you, the more they are going to trust you. Set a goal for how often you want to post and where you want to post. Add this to your weekly calendar so you don’t forget and you let social media become something you do when you feel like it. Prioritize the platforms where your main audience already is, and then where you want them to be. If you want people to interact with you on Instagram but your main audience is already on Facebook, post on both, and even mention your social handles where people can follow you on multiple platforms.
Planning out social media posts and setting goals is great for your business, but it can also be overwhelming to post on multiple platforms multiple times a week. That’s where content planning comes in. Using a social media content publisher can make sure that you are not overwhelmed, and you are not taking more time than needed on social media. There are a few ways to pre-plan your content. One is with a content planning app, where you would insert the post and schedule, and your content will automatically go to the platform. Another way is to pre-plan your content in the drafts area of each platform, so all you have to do is hit publish each time you want new information up for your audience.
Connect with Your Audience
With planning out your content you should also plan out time to connect with your audience by answering comments and messages from them on social media. A general rule is to spend four to six hours a week planning and engaging on social media. Connecting with your audience is the whole point of social media, so be sure to spend time each week doing this.
When it comes to social media it doesn’t have to be hard, and it definitely doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a few easy steps and a few hours each week, social media can be the one place where you can advertise and grow your business with minimal effort.