As a business owner in the current market, you know that to succeed, a robust online marketing strategy is imperative. Every year, new trends and technology inspires a novel form of online marketing strategy.

Any business without a systematic online strategy is bound to lose customers to its more dynamic competitors. One thing that has continued to baffle marketing experts to this day, is the unpredictable nature of consumers’ behaviour. It is even more so, when it comes to the online space. The behaviour of online shoppers is so fickle, businesses must enhance their digital marketing if they want to remain relevant to their target audiences.

This post is written to help online entrepreneurs sharpen their marketing strategies for both B2B and B2C businesses. It contains a list of 10 current promotional trends, that will help engage your customers and convince them to buy from you.

Why an online presence is necessary for your business?

As we read this, there are some businesses without an active digital strategy. This is 2017, what could be the reason? Your business is too small? Perhaps you are satisfied with the current number of sales you receive daily? Or it is too expensive for your business?

Whatever it is, I guarantee it is not worth relegating the business to internet obscurity. There is just too much to gain to pass it up. For one, more shoppers are resorting to the internet to guide their purchase decisions.

According to a research performed by the Pew Centre, about 79% of Americans now shop online, with 50% routinely checking online reviews before completing a purchase. On a global scale, the figures are just as high.

This year, there are 4.4 billion mobile phone users, with 2.1 billion (almost half) who own and shop with their smartphones. This is a strong indication of what businesses without a consistent online activity are missing out on.

  • Your business is too small? No business is too small to have a website, unless it doesn’t plan to grow.
  • Satisfied with current sales? You can quadruple your figures in a few months with the right online promotional strategies.
  • It is too expensive? There are ways to optimise your resources and maximise revenue, even with a limited budget. That is what makes digital marketing so interesting.

If you already have a working digital plan, the following promotional techniques can help boost your current figures.

1.   Content Marketing

Content marketing focuses on learning over selling, to influence buying behaviour. This unique marketing approach emphasizes the need to win customers by connecting with them via information relevant to their needs.

For example, if you sell shoes, you can connect with potential customers by writing an article about “Selecting the right shoes for different occasions”. Since communication is an ongoing process, content can be tailored to reflect the things you understand about your leads over time.

Various communication formats may include blogs, white papers, podcasts, web pages, infographics, eBooks, webinars and so on.

Content marketing is effective because it:

  • Leads prospects along the sales funnel
  • Increases brand visibility, authority and credibility
  • Engages your target audiences with relevant information

2.   Mobile Marketing

Since the explosive growth of smart devices, mobile has become a common online marketing strategy. Many businesses have adopted a mobile-first design strategy for web and mobile versions of their website. However, it is pertinent to note that retail conversion rates have been quite low on smartphones, indicating an opportunity that could be harnessed.

A few years ago, Google announced that mobile had surpassed desktop in the number of users who used it for online search activities. It also stated recently, that it will be adapting its search algorithms to place priority on mobile-first platforms.

Mobile first indexing means businesses with a responsive mobile design will rank better than those without one. As an online business owner, it is only strategic to enhance your website for mobile UX.

3.   Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimisation or SEO, is a method of driving awareness about, and traffic towards, a specific website. This is done by ensuring it ranks among the top unpaid (or natural) search results or search engines such as Google and Bing!

While email, social media, display adverts, and other promotional tools generate web visits, SEO visibility is especially important because search engines are the main channels used to navigate the internet. SEO automatically boosts your audience in a targeted and more relevant way. With it, you can identify users as people who want, or at least are interested in your product or service.

As a business owner, it will interest you to know that 93% of online experiences start with a search engine, and about 7 out of 10 people never go beyond the first page of search engines.

4.   Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a software developed with the goal of automating various marketing activities. Today, many businesses use automation for repetitive tasks such as sending newsletters, posting online content, or monitoring user responses. But for this article, I would like to focus on a particular function; the use of chatbots.

Chatbots are automated ‘internet assistants’ designed to enhance customer experiences across the web. The main chatbots are affiliated with messenger apps such as Facebook, WeChat, and Whatsapp. Marketers can use this application to generate new leads, and guide buyers along the sales funnel.

Another advantage is in gathering information, which can be used to personalise customer service during subsequent visits.

5.   Social Media Marketing

Marketers use social media to provide their audience with valuable content which they will be willing to share across social networks, hence increasing visibility and traffic. Content such as videos and images shared on social media, also enhance SEO activities because they increase brand relevancy across networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so on. They also boost visibility on Google and Yahoo.

Drive social media engagement by sharing content around topics that are relevant to your users. For best results, monitor every engagement with an analytical tool. Find out how many visitors your site receives via social, the mentions, response rate, and location by region. Understanding dns zones is another important marketing skill, as this helps you locate the IP addresses of visitors to your site. An effective tool like Google Analytics can help you monitor these metrics and improve subsequent interactions.

6.   Paid Search Marketing

Paid search marketing is the other side of the coin with SEO. While the latter is natural (unpaid), paid search or Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is the technique where a product like AdWords is used to increase awareness and push promotions for marketing campaigns.

When marketers use paid search, their targeted messages are presented along with natural results on search engines following a user’s query. Depending on the AdWords bidding strategy, cost can be incurred by the number of impressions, or actual clicks, or acquisitions driven by the ads.

Contrary to popular opinion, paid search marketing can be used together with SEO. Both techniques will enhance your online promotions better than just using one of them.

7.   Earned Media and PR

Earned media (free media) is publicity gained through activities other than paid advertising. It may exist in different forms; a testimonial on social media, online word of mouth, a news article, and so on. One thing is constant; earned media is not solicited, and can only be obtained organically.

It is not bought like traditional advertising. Earned media and PR are important because:

  • They are generally free promotional media
  • They are not solicited and can therefore be perceived as credible
  • They increase awareness of your important messages

 8.   Email Newsletters

Are you subscribed to any magazine services? Publications such as the Economist and Time send weekly content to their subscribers. Businesses also practice a similar strategy for online promotion. Their email newsletters contain information about the latest products, sales promotions, discount offers, and so on. Other times, it may be used merely for content marketing.

In addition to communicating directly with customers, email newsletters help brands keep valuable information about subscribers so that they can personalise the service accordingly. Research has shown that 72% people prefer newsletters because they are less ‘invasive’ than traditional advertising.

9.   Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important marketing technology applications of the past 4 to 5 years. It is most relevant to device makers and retailers. By 2020, it is believed that up to 75 billion devices will be connected to each other via the internet. That is about 10X as many devices communicating with each other than there are people on earth.

If you sell smart appliances, you can automatically prompt users when the machine is due for servicing. This maintained contact allows you cross sell other items such as washing machines or TV sets to them.

10.   Retargeting

Have you ever visited a website with the intention of buying a product, but changed your mind, only to see the same product hovering on screen as you browsed other websites? This seemingly ‘haunting’ promotional technique is the result of a retargeting program.

Retargeting allows you keep in touch with prospective buyers who were unable to complete a purchase on your website for one reason or the other. It can be simply configured on certain web pages, whether you want it on the landing page or the checkout page of your site.

What promotional activities are you currently using? You will receive optimum results with a carefully curated strategy of multiple techniques.

 

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