The Year in Digital Marketing

As 2015 comes to a close, today would be a fitting opportunity for us to take a little look back (and forward) at the world of digital marketing.

Here are some of the emerging trends we’ve spotted this year that we expect to continue and grow during 2016. We give a brief explanation of each one below and will report back on some of them in more detail during the next few weeks and months.

Mobile SEO

2015 was the year that Google changed its search algorithm so that search results on mobile devices gave preference to those sites optimised for mobile devices. To make sure that your site always shows up in search results you need to configure your site for multiple devices, ensure it can handle view screens of all types and sizes and help search engines understand your site.

There is also a current rise in adblockers due to a combination of Apple’s campaign against them and consumers reluctance to allow their data to be consumed in this way. This brings new challenges for marketers to overcome these including personalising content, special deals and offers, and intelligent use of consumer data.

Wearable Technology

We wrote an article back in March about wearable technology and expect this trend to continue during the coming year. With the growth of the Internet of Things – and its anticipated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020 – all kinds of wearable gadgets and gizmos are likely to continue to appear over the coming months!

Google Adwords for SMEs

Google Adwords is potentially an excellent tool for a small to medium size enterprise (SME) to increase search visibility. Companies can bid for a certain number of words to be featured in searches. There has, however, been concern in the past amongst SMEs that they are either not recouping their cost in terms of online sales, or don’t know whether or not they are.

Google are now offering more support to SMEs by means of their SME Partner scheme in which SMEs can benefit from a partner with local knowledge, product expertise and access to Google technology. This can help them to create better-performing digital marketing campaigns, and to benefit from the latest insights in AdWords products and tools.

Mobile In-feed Promotions

Mobile in-feed promotions, such as sponsored posts on Facebook, can be extremely effective but is still a somewhat underutilised marketing tool. The advantage is that ads can be viewed multiple times without being intrusive, as an ad appears then disappears then reappears again as the user scrolls up and down the feed.

In this way it is almost advertising by osmosis – made even more effective when it is specifically targeted to the user. Facebook is the main social media site that is reaping huge benefits from such in-feed promotions, and other social media networks are likely to follow suit next year.

Custom Audience Targeting

An effective digital marketing strategy increasingly targets its audience. Sometimes it uses a specific audience persona to do this – as we featured in our Imaginary Friend blog back in November. Targeting the right people is crucial and segmentation can be done by careful use of customer data.

Social media networks such as Facebook can also help you to create a custom audience to build a following and enable you to re-market to this audience, or follow up with a special offer or specific content. Your advertising message can be tailored to each specific target group. The more closely you can align your marketing message to a specific target audience, the more likely it will be that you will achieve excellent results.

Twitter and Google Integration

We are keeping a close eye on the increasingly intertwined relationship between Google and Twitter. There is huge potential for marketing opportunities here. Google has already integrated Twitter into its search engine result pages and is including Twitter profiles and tweets in search results.

Tweets and Twitter profiles therefore present opportunities to get high search results on Google, particularly with news content and also by the use of hashtags, which are increasingly being used as keywords in search queries.

Rise in Automated Email Marketing

Event-triggered email marketing is an increasingly powerful tool to automatically follow-up online customer actions. It is proven to help increase conversion to sale at a low cost.

To be effective, you will need to invest some time and resource for the initial setup of the emails, to ensure that they are pitched at the right audience and have appropriate and engaging content for different customer actions and position in the lifecycle. But once set up and tested for effectiveness, automated emails are a low cost method of boosting response.

For example, they can be used as part of the welcome sequence for new users, to re-engage previous customers, to follow up browsers or abandoned baskets. The opportunities are many and plentiful! If automated email marketing is not yet part of your digital marketing strategy then make this a priority for 2016!

Mobile Apps

40%* of all online retail sales in the UK come directly from mobile devices and many companies are reviewing their digital marketing strategy not just to have a mobile-responsive site but also to build an app in order to provide their customers with a top quality dedicated shopping experience.
*Source: IAB UK

It is feasible that websites may at some stage become become obsolete as an ecommerce tool as companies make the move to a dedicated app experience. This is reinforced by Josh Kasombo, Business 2 Community, who advises “Start to look for dedicated apps to replace mobile-optimized sites in the near future.”

Increasing Data Analysis

With the proliferation of different types of devices and their use, customer journeys are becoming increasingly more complex. More and more emphasis is therefore being put on obtaining, tracking and analysing customer data as that customer journeys across multiple devices and through time. This is an area that can only continue to develop and evolve – possibly in unexpected directions – throughout 2016.

All of us at Xcite Digital wish you a very Happy Christmas, and a wonderful year ahead for both you and your business.