Last year, 12.5 million Australians over 18 accessed the internet on their smartphones, mostly immersing themselves in social media, entertainment and gaming.
There's no escaping the fact that online marketing is now part of our every day culture and, if you want your business to stay ahead of the game, it’s kind of non-negotiable that you should keep up with the latest platforms and technologies.
If exploring emerging marketing trends makes you a little nervous, there are plenty of ways to educate yourself. Visit the app designer’s website, take part in a webinar or online training, or find out what short courses are happening in your home town via the local council or TAFE.
Virtual Reality is here to stay
Whether it’s via Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, giving customers' grass-roots exclusive insight into your products or services will continue to form the backbone of the new generation of relationship marketing. It’s undoubtedly the most dynamic and cost-effective way to showcase your products, services, people and culture. When customers are treated to an ‘unplugged’ sneak peek of your daily operations or special events, they feel like they understand you. They want to be loyal and buy from you.
YouTube is bigger than ever
It's worth reiterating that this online public video library has over a billion users and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of film across every imaginable subject and can be easily shared to other social media sites. The question is, is your business on YouTube? Make your mark on this territory with some short, sharp mini-docos about your business’s history, products (especially how they work), staff and customers. Keep it real and relevant. Once you’re on YouTube you can track comments and shares, giving you some insight into a broader, random audience. Paid advertising on YouTube is fast gaining pace with the big players and is on the rise with other popular social media applications and search engines like Facebook and Google.
Get creative with live streaming
The two live streaming apps to become familiar with are Meerkat and Periscope (by Twitter). Both have different features but essentially enable users to simply press a button and start live streaming. Your subscribers will receive an alert that you’re about to start streaming, then they can watch it in real time and comment along the way. The footage is stored in a library and can be played again later at any time.
Think live streaming for:
- Customer interviews: reviewing your products or services
- Customer Q and A: close the gap between the CEO and target audience
- Share breaking news: a major partnership, project or sponsorship
- Behind the scenes at trade shows or events: a great way to connect and cross-promote with stakeholders and partners
- Website launch: take customers on an exclusive tour of your new website and demonstrate its features
- Bricks and mortar: remind your customers that you have a physical shopfront by giving them an impromptu tour of your space
- Remote familiarisation tours: just opened up unique accommodation? Give travel journalists anywhere in the globe a ‘famil’ in real time and answer questions along the way. This is sure to be a big winner for tourism operators with a tight marketing budget.
Location-based marketing (LBM) is an exciting way to connect with potential new customers who are kicking around your neighbourhood. By directly hitting them with marketing messages via location apps, there’s a good chance you can get them to pop into your place of business whilst they’re in the local area.
The major players at this stage for LBM include Google Places. Facebook Places, Urbanspoon, Yelp and Foursquare.
They connect advertisers with app users who are either searching online for a local business or ‘checking in’ to a neighbourhood or business. The more sophisticated Yelp and Foursquare even have the ability to send a customer special offers and discounts for one-off, immediate use once they check into your business.
Location-based marketing makes digital marketing highly personal and it’s a great way to efficiently measure customer activity and increase sales. It’s estimated that there will be a $15 billion investment in this type of advertising in 2018. Between now and then there will be a considerable period of growth and market education.
Streamline messages with marketing automation
Whilst social media allows us to be more ‘personal’ with customers at the coalface, behind the scenes it can take a lot of time and effort for the marketing team to implement an online marketing strategy. As the online workload fast becomes more varied and rigorous, it’s worth checking out marketing automation.
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketers to automatically post on different channels such as email, social media and websites. Not only does marketing automation save on manual labour and the risk of human error (like forgetting to schedule a post), your key messages will be consistent and cohesive.
No matter if you’re a marketer for a major company, or an owner/operator of a small to medium sized business, it’s important to add these emerging online marketing trends to your list of ‘need to knows’ and knowledge up before the next wave of innovation hits.