Are You Digital Enough?

As new technology evolves the way people consume information, articles about how to use digital tactics for allegedly “amazing results” abound! Fear not. You do not need to try every new tactic out there to obtain the best ROI on your marketing budget. In fact, my favorite definition of “strategy” is “deciding what not to do.”

As the principal of Gerard Marketing Group, my advice is to be aware of the trends in a big-picture sort of way, but don’t get caught up in the hype of any single one. Your primary marketing focus should still be on your target and how they relate to your product/service.

Some bigger picture trends to note in the digital world:

Content is Still King

  • Content marketing is 31% cheaper than paid search advertising, but is still not free!
  • 62% of companies outsource their content marketing.
  • The ROI of content marketing has risen 300% over the previous three years.
  • There are now content discovery apps which support the growth of content consumption:  Flipboard, Pulse, and Fancy (to name a few).

Separation of Email

  • 12% of people use separate work and personal inboxes.
  • In mid-2013 Gmail started its rollout of the new tabbed inbox, separating personal and promotional e-mails automatically in consumers’ inboxes. Yahool and AOL are expected to follow suit.

Mobile Growth

  • In 2011, mobile devices outsold desktops for the first time. By 2017 it is expected that 87% of connected devices sold will be smart phones.
  • 80% of Email users report reading their mail on mobile devices.
  • 64% of mobile time is spent on an application.
  • Websites today must be “responsive,” meaning the format changes to vertical from horizontal automatically when viewed on a mobile device.
  • Apple’s announcement of the iBeacon functionality in 2013 as part of its iOS7 technology allows a customer with an iPhone 4S or later model who’s downloaded your app to receive special offers based upon where they are. For example, a customer strolls into Aisle 12 and then receive a push notification on their phone with offers or content related to where they’re standing.

SEO Matters

  • 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
  • 75% of users scroll past the first page of search results.
  • 70% of the links search users click on are organic.
  • 67% are using a free web analytics solution.
  • 70-80% of users ignore the paid advertising.
  • 61% of global Internet users research products online.
  • Companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links over companies that don’t.

Social Media Diversification

In 2013 we saw a surge in popularity of new networks like Pinterest, Vine and Instagram. Like the splintering of the cable channels way back when, social media sites are also beginning to segment audiences further.

Increased Hashtag Use

I have been known to call this a “pound” symbol, revealing my age; however, today’s primary use of this symbol is in social media. It allows users to label and search posts by general topic, such as #GetWithTheTimes or #AnnoyingOveruseOfHashtags.

Initially hashtags were a feature on Twitter, but were added by multiple other platforms in 2013, including Facebook. Now that posts and searches can be done by general topic across various social media platforms, updates around general topics are no longer limited to established ‘communities of interest’ within any given platform. The most interesting and outstanding posts can now become viral without the help of “friends.”

Better Retargeting

These days, you can’t just visit a site and forget about it. The cookies on your browser make it possible for that site to follow you wherever you go online. I personally find it creepy when I visit a non-related site and see an add for something I was researching two days ago, but there’s no doubt it helps increase conversions. Marketers of B2C and B2B expect the trend to ramp up again this year.

The Rise of Paid Social Ads

  • Social ads have deep user engagement and more sophisticated targeting tools.
  • News feed ads on Facebook generate 49 times more clicks than right-hand side ads.
  • Similarly, LinkedIn now offers sponsored updates, and Pinterest is currently testing promoted pins. If these programs show the same effectiveness as Facebook’s, other channels may see this as a great opportunity to cater to business accounts.

More Visual Content

  • As device use and band-withs continue to grow, online video consumption will also.
  • Video content consistently outperforms blogs and other text-based content. One study shows the retention rate for visual information can reach 65% versus 10% for text-based information.
  • Pinterests’ visual-focused boards now generate more revenue for retailers than Tweets or Facebook posts.
  • New popular platforms like Vine, SnapChat and Instagram now have micro-video capability.

 Sources:  IDC Study, Forbes, SocialMedia Today, Yoda London, Twitter, Facebook, TechCrunch, Instagram, WordPress Hosting, Hubspot.