January 24, 2012
Whether you’re a freelancer, a programmer, a small business owner or a web designer, one thing is for certain- and it is that now, you’ve got an online business in your hands and you need to market your brand tenaciously or get lost in the sea of endless competition. But as general knowledge and probably personal experience will tell you, marketing is quite difficult. Marketing trends are highly-evolving, with various channels popping up every now and again, changing consumer behaviour within a blink of an eye. It is high time to orient yourself with the latest and most effective measures of marketing, particularly online marketing, to keep you and your online business afloat this 2012. Below is our list of leading marketing trends you can definitely brush up on and apply this year.
- Going Mobile. According to Mashable writer Ernie Cormier, “mobile is becoming a substantially more capable vehicle for driving brand awareness, affinity and purchases.” Consumers are using their mobile devices more and more for everything, from connecting via social networking sites to finding various establishments to shopping. Online business news hub Smart Company reports that a survey released last year by online payment firm PayPal revealed a significant spike in the number of online transactions being made via mobile phones in Australia.
One key advantage to this rapidly growing trend is that it is location-based, which means advertisers are able to reach local consumers more readily; and according to Cormier, these consumers respond quickly to deal-, coupon- and event-based advertising and are steadily increasing in numbers. SEM resource Search Engine Watch points out that among those already using deals to drive local sales are top daily deal sites Groupon and LivingSocial.
Implications: For website developers, this means making sites more mobile-friendly is a must. Consumers purchasing via mobile from your website should find it just as easy and hassle-free as purchasing elsewhere. Marketers will also have to invest a certain amount of time and money into “mobilising” their offerings, putting more emphasis into mobile transactions.
- Tribalism. Nina Hendy of Smart Company states that this is one of the more recent marketing trends of the year, giving a whole new perspective and approach to marketing. “Brand tribalism goes beyond brand development,” writes Hendy, “it refers to the creation of a micro-culture for your brand.” This “micro-culture” assures you of a very loyal following from customers, because they feel that your brand won’t just reflect what they like, but who they are. You not only get customers here, but brand ambassadors, willingly doing some of your marketing for you totally free.
Implications: Web developers will need to make sure that the “tribal culture” they create through their site, social media or other marketing medium is genuine and in line with the kind of consumer they want to attract. Marketers will have to pay very close attention to their existing consumers or followers. Search Engine Watch suggests increasing emphasis on “building an engaged community as opposed to simply amassing numbers.” This community of followers should be engaged and energised with “a variety of things like product development, market research, and special product discounts.”
- Blogging. Blogging has certainly come a long way from being just a venue for expression, and businesses are starting to recognise its influential and marketing power. Blogs can establish authority of a brand in its own industry, influence opinions, trends and consumer preferences, all without spending a single dollar. Hendy reports that a staggering 92% of females read blogs, with 50% of all online women in Australia having one. It is a great tool not only to reach consumers directly but also establish and support brand image and authority.
Implications: If you can’t write a decent blog, then it’s about time you got a reliable and capable writer to produce your company blogs for you. Make sure your blog is consistent with your brand and image, and of course, your target consumers. Once your blog is established, make sure to respond to queries posted on it immediately.
- Social Networking. Facebook, Google+ and Twitter were indispensible last year, and this year is no different. With more than a billion users altogether, these social networking sites are no doubt essential to connecting with consumers, and with their latest integration into SERPs, for top site ranking as well.
Implications: If you don’t have company accounts to these social networking sites, it’s about time you did and keep them updated. Like, share and +1 tabs should be placed on your webpages and blogs as well.
- Quality Content. Content still continues its reign as king, only this time there is more emphasis on quality and relevance not only because of the looming presence of Google’s guard dog Panda, but also because consumers are getting smarter and are gravitating more towards content that really speaks to them and engages them.
Implications: You’ll need to get creative here and offer not just meaningful content but a variety of them- articles, whitepapers, videos, images- to demonstrate expertise and keep your consumers engaged and educated at the same time.
- Crowdsourcing and Collaboration. According to Hendy, crowdsourcing “enables a brand to post a creative brief online, often with a crowdsourcing partner, as an open call for creative entries. Participants respond by submitting their work and the brand awards winners based on specific selection criteria.” Crowdsourcing not only lets you get in touch with and engage consumers but also gives you access to a very large talent pool.
Another way of reaching out and getting something back is through collaboration. This trend has been going on for a while, with companies seeking out other companies with which they can join forces to help each other out. The key here is to find a non-competing business that is willing to support your business as you support theirs. This enables you to learn new things and encourages you to take your business to new heights.
Implications: If you haven’t tried crowdsourcing yet, perhaps this is the year to try it. You can start small, perhaps just by asking your community of followers for their opinion or suggestions on a product, etc. As for collaborations, first decide if it is the right move for your company. If it is, make sure to do your research before jumping into a deal with just any company.
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