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By Jason Wong
A leading digital agency tells you which trends to look out for
Working at an international digital agency, I’m constantly asked about what I think is the next big thing in the digital marketing space. My usual response is to go through what my team has been discussing in our weekly scrum meetings or what they have been sticking on the walls of our office.
The reason I do this is not to sell our services, but because I have a young and vibrant team, and the digital space–social media, in particular–is owned by these people. Who better to turn to for inspiration than the end users? So, here is a list of what our team has learned, and can be put into practice for 2019.
Content is still king
We’ve noticed that clients are beginning to move away from advertising and search engine campaigns. They’re realizing that pumping their budget into display ads is not enough, as they must build an overall online presence if they want their brand to stand out from the rest. This can be done through website, blog, or social content; the objective is to provide information and value to the audience beyond a Google banner ad, which stagnantly shows a brand name, logo, and maybe a price promotion.
Sure, people love fun, easy-to-digest content–the 10 second videos or pretty pictures they can’t help but double tap on Instagram. But rich social content, long-form blog posts, and informative web pages are still important for brands because its depth gives meaning to the brand mission. One successful article on your blog can put you on the first page in Google’s search results, leading to consistent traffic for months or even years to come.
Startups can’t only consider what they want to convey to their audience if they want to create engaging content. Instead, they should do so with empathy and put themselves in customers’ shoes. What can the customer gain from following your social media channels? What can they take away from looking at this infographic or watching this short video? If your company has a deep understanding of the demographic you’re trying to capture, the targeted customer will return the favor one way or another.
Don’t just rely on SEM
Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to paid traffic from search engines, such as pay-per-click ads. Once you stop spending money on these ads, the traffic stops completely. When we’re talking about long-term success and sustainable growth, search engine optimization (SEO) is a must.
Startups should work on getting organic, unpaid site visits through comprehensive SEO campaigns to achieve a healthy flow of consistent traffic that will lead to conversions. Such a strategy excludes ‘black hat’ techniques like keyword stuffing or using private link networks, as these tactics can result in traffic-erasing penalties from Google.
The foundations of solid ‘white hat’ SEO strategies are built on keyword research for all searchable pages on your site, meaningful content creation that includes these keywords, and outreach campaigns that result in receiving links from third-party sites—a major ranking signal in Google’s algorithm.
Be there for your customer
The digital world is truly a place that never sleeps. If startups want to connect with consumers, they have to be prepared to be there for them around the clock. How many times have you been frustrated by customer service hotlines that put you on hold for 45 minutes to solve a question that should only take 45 seconds? What about the times have you were unsure about sizing or color when shopping online, so you put your basket aside and then never bother to check out at all?
Such instances of friction can be eliminated if the company is willing and able to communicate with customers on their terms. Facebook messaging or a website chatbot can personalize customers’ experiences to keep them engaged. It can solve their immediate concerns while building the brand and establishing trust. Best of all, chatbots mean there is no need to have customer service representatives available every hour of the day.
Video and mobile go hand-in-hand
Video content boasts higher engagement rates than any other form of content and can contribute to increased conversion rates. Such content is increasingly popular on mobile devices, especially when shared on social media platforms.
With smartphones getting more powerful by the day, users will only spend more and more time on their devices, so video content must be tailored to the mobile experience for its value to be maximized. In other words, say goodbye to 16:9 high-definition and say hello to vertical clips, which are great for social channels.
In today’s social media landscape, 10 seconds is still too long. Think about Youtube ads that allow the viewer to skip after five seconds or Instagram Story ads. Not only does the latter need to be around five seconds, but they also need to be vertically aligned. These are all changes that brands need to adapt to, and fast.
All in all, if you want your 2019 digital marketing strategy to work, it’s critical to be well-rounded in your approach. Empowering your brand to have the ability to communicate through different channels and to different people is vital.
Since digital marketing is rooted in technological advancements, new techniques and tactics are always waiting to be discovered as new technology comes into its own. For example, with the growing importance of voice recognition technology popularized by Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, voice search optimization and advertising will become a major digital marketing trend going forward. Advances in artificial intelligence will make chatbot and facial recognition marketing more relevant in the future as well.
To maintain an edge in digital marketing, it’s critical for marketers to stay on top of the latest advancements while finding ways to use them to connect their products with potential customers.
About the Author
Jason is the Asia Managing Director of MWI, an integrated digital marketing agency founded in the U.S. in 1999. In 2018, MWI was awarded Mediazone’s ‘Most Valuable Companies Award 2019 – Winner of Digital Marketing Service.’ Some of their digital clients include SmarTone, TransUnion, Manulife, Hotels.com, and Wanda Group. Before MWI, Jason worked as a digital tech recruiter and consultant.