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February 23, 2016

Top 10 Digital Trends in 2016 for B2C Businesses

1. Search Engine Marketing

Search engine ranking will continue to be a primary tactic for generating qualified website traffic. Focus will be on making better use of both organic and paid search to maximize conversion of visitors to sales leads and ultimately, paying customers. Understanding the entire user experience and path that customers take from query to purchase-point will help you tailor your digital marketing efforts. With a custom mix of pay-per-click services such as Google remarketing banners and Facebook ads, smart marketers will be able to take advantage of multiple campaign channels. Achieving high search ranking will always be important but getting the most value from qualified web traffic will be the greatest challenge and best opportunity for success.

2. Social Media

An increasing number of companies are relying on Social Media networks to create a consumer-driven approach to customer relations and product awareness. Popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are providing a forum for anyone interested in expressing their opinions. Consumer-generated content (especially video) provides valuable opportunities for community dialog around product-related topics. Facebook is especially important for developing community dialogue and driving customer conversions through paid ads; Twitter and Instagram are excellent for brief, timely messaging; Pinterest provides a place for consumer-generated catalogs. Whatever channels you choose to employ, your Social Media strategy should be informed by the behavior of your customers.

3. Reputation Management

What was once accomplished with traditional Public Relations strategies is now achievable through online initiatives such as Google+ and Yelp). These platforms enable you to respond rapidly to reviews and better manage the tone and volume of messaging to enhance positivity in content marketing. Reputation management can be executed through consistent messaging across Social Media channels and targeted web properties such as Blogs, news sites and directories. You can also enhance your audience reach with a combination of paid promoted posts and search advertising.

4. Gamification of Non-Game Services

What has previously been reserved primarily for gaming platforms is now moving into online search services (e.g. TripAdvisor). Consumers can be rewarded with status and recognition for sharing their views in a fun and responsive environment. Even with no monetary rewards, participants can collect badges, special privileges and overall status within communities devoted to specific or broad topics. This helps build brand loyalty while allowing for dialog between consumers and communications between organizations and their audiences.

5. Location Based Interaction

Mobile devices enable consumers to take advantage of location-specific information and offers (e.g. Foursquare, Yelp providing retailers with the opportunity to promote special offers at appropriate times and attractive prices. The opportunity exists to provide mobile customers with added value by creating dedicated apps with unique features (e.g. Starbucks). In addition to providing a better experience, you’ll also be able to acquire valuable customer-usage data in perpetuity.

6. Digital-First Behavior

Consumers often turn to their digital devices first when searching for information about products and services. The days of print directories and ads as the primary source is quickly disappearing. Online sources allow for up-to-date information, customer and expert reviews, price comparisons and immediate ordering. Customers may eventually visit a store to try-before-buy or may simply complete their purchase decision online. Online research may also be taking place while customers are in the physical store itself. Digital marketing solutions via ecommerce promote impulse buying. They’re excellent for up-selling, cross-selling and follow-up repeat sales and customer loyalty programs. Live chat can also expedite the buying process by removing barriers to decision making.

7. Mobile-First Web Strategy

Depending on your customers’ search habits and style of interaction, you can increase customer engagement by offering a compelling mobile experience. Take a mobile-first approach with your website to ensure that visitors get a great experience from any device - maybe even the best experience with a mobile device. Current best practices for web development allow for a flexible design approach that accommodates web browsers for desktop and mobile devices. If your website is more than two years old, you may need to make a fresh start in order to reap the benefits of a mobile-first web strategy.

8. Video Content

Whether instructional, news or event oriented, video is an effective vehicle for creating timely and compelling online content. YouTube can be utilized as a high-exposure vehicle for generating awareness and buzz around brands and products while other Social Media channels can leverage your video assets. This can be especially effective for promoting special events and customer interaction with your products.

9. Event Marketing and Contests

Special events, store openings, product launches and contests can be promoted quickly and effectively with digital marketing tactics. Along with leveraging Social Media you can coordinate all of your online and offline promotions for maximum impact. Digital tactics allow for easy-to-accomplish post-event marketing via Social Media and email marketing. This enables you to tell your story and engage your audience before, during and after a promotion.

10. Measure and Manage

More online tools to measure your digital marketing efforts are being offered than ever before. You will be able to get more detailed information and insights about your online communications success and use that data to improve your results within the same budget parameters. Measurement does not have to be limited to Google Analytics. Integrated platforms for content marketing can provide even greater depth and granularity for monitoring and measuring opportunities and success with your online communications. For new market segments or new geographic territories, this data will provide immense out-of-the-gate advantages by relying on proven metrics. The more you measure the more you can manage your digital marketing initiatives for positive results.

If you would like more information on our top 10 digital trends for B2C businesses from our author, please email Lionel Matecha, lionel@graphicallyspeaking.ca.

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