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Welcome to the first in a series of 4 posts that we’ll be making over the next few months covering key areas of digital marketing for success in your small business.

Each post will cover a different topic but you won’t have to wait it out. You can get all the posts in a single package as each post is really a section of out newest publication “Digital Marketing: 2018 Playbook For small Businesses
Top 7 Strategies to Watch For Small Business Success
Did you know that 72% of consumers are already connecting with brands through their various digital marketing channels and activities?

This is MAJOR. In other words, a large portion of your target market is now using these means to connect and build relationships with companies they know, like, and trust.

Digital marketing is an ever changing industry, with new techniques and trends constantly emerging.
In order to make sure your business is ahead of the curve, it’s important to stay on top of the latest strategies that are helping companies across the globe effectively increase leads, sales, and revenue.

In this post, we’ll explore the top 7 digital marketing strategies that are going to play a big part in 2016. If you start incorporating them into your campaign today, you’ll already be one step ahead of your competition.
But before we jump in…

What is Digital Marketing Exactly?

Digital marketing involves promoting your products and services via an electronic platform. This includes e-mail, social media, the internet, mobile phones and tablet devices. It has become the most popular and successful way of advertising and building up brand awareness. Unlike more traditional marketing techniques, digital marketing enables you to analyze your campaign to find out more about your target market and what is and isn’t working.

You can keep track of what content is being viewed, what produces sales conversions, and even how long visitors stay on your website. This data can then be used to improve your marketing strategy and convert more leads into sales. It is a lot more complex than businesses realize when they first start out. The potential benefits are staggering providing you devote the time and effort required to build a successful digital marketing strategy.

Consumer behavior has changed dramatically when it comes to finding and choosing products, services, and businesses. The internet (especially now with easy Mobile access) has enabled consumers to receive and provide information about businesses whenever they need it, no matter where they are.

This is not expected to change…

7 Digital Marketing Success Strategies

Here are 7 Digital Marketing Success Strategies you should watch and implement for success in the coming months:

1. The Bar Will (again) Be Raised for Website Design

Your company’s website is its main marketing hub. Any content that you release onto the World Wide Web will usually have the sole purpose of directing customers back to your site. Therefore it is imperative that you ensure your website has a clean, professional look and that it contains useful, easy to read content.

Up until now, businesses have been able to get away with having a fairly basic site. This is no longer enough in 2016. The bar is being raised and generic, grid design sites are being pushed aside in favor of more artistic, flowing creations. Storytelling and interaction are particularly playing a big part in this more artistic trend. Consumers like to be fully engaged rather than being presented with simple text and images.

However, it’s easy to overstep from artistic to over-complicated designs. While you do want to engage visitors to your website, you don’t want to overwhelm them. So try not to be too overenthusiastic with animations and flash images.

2. Local Search Optimization and Content Will Be Top Priority

Local search marketing is set to become even more important in the coming year. Today’s consumers are much more likely to turn to the internet to find information on local businesses, than they are to look in a phone book or local classifieds. Ensuring your company is easy to find in local searches can be hard work. According to research, the number one reason why most businesses fail to appear in local search listings is because they simply haven’t updated their contact information.

It is vitally important to ensure your company’s name, phone number and address is correctly entered into any online directory you are a part of. If you’ve changed your location or phone number since you last made an online listing, you need to update it as soon as possible. After all, what use is it to show up in local searches if your customers aren’t going to be able to contact you?

They aren’t going to take the time to research the correct information. If they cannot get hold of you they will simply move on to another company who they can get straight through to.

Not only that, but your local listings must be claimed, verified, and optimized in order to rank highly and be seen by more potential customers. Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations must be consistent across the web in order to produce better rankings and optimization.

Blogging will also become even more essential as a local traffic tool. Content is always going to remain king of online marketing. Using interesting, relevant, keyword-optimized content to educate your target audience is a key area of focus. Publishing blog posts, social posts, visual content, and more across the web naturally activates a “pull” marketing campaign than sends targeted prospects to YOU. So regardless of the industry you are in, content marketing could easily become your top-selling strategy.

3. Mobile Will Continue to Dominate Marketing

As mentioned above, consumers spend a lot more time on their mobiles searching for information on products and services these days. Mobile marketing has been steadily growing in popularity and it isn’t slowing down in 2016.

In 2015, mobile traffic actually overtook desktop traffic for the first time ever. So unless you have a mobile optimized version of your website, your marketing efforts will not be able to bring in the best results.

There are even some consumers who won’t buy from a business if they don’t have an online presence. Mobile phones have become such an integral part of today’s society and it is now expected that modern businesses have a mobile optimized site.

It isn’t just your website that you should be focusing on however. Sure it’s important to optimize your site, but there are other mobile marketing strategies that you should be focusing on in 2016. Apps are another way you can reach your target market. Considering how popular Smartphone apps are, it’s surprising just how many businesses still aren’t utilizing them.

Offering an app that your customers can download will help to set you apart from the competition and reach a much larger target market. If you also tailor the app so that your products and services can be bought directly through it, this will further boost your sales and your reputation.
Mobile marketing comes in many forms and mobile searches in particular are set to increase over the course of the year.

4. Online Video Consumption Will Break New Records

Did you know that online videos current account for around 50% of mobile traffic? This is a trend that is set to continue to growth spurts throughout 2016 and many years beyond. One key indicator is the popularity and success of social video ads on major social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Consumers like to be engaged and a video does that much more effectively than blocks of text and a simple image.

Recent research carried out by Cisco has helped to predict that video will make up an estimated 69% of all online consumer traffic by 2017.
Many companies are already cashing in on this growing content marketing trend. You only have to look at the popularity of YouTube to see the potential online videos have for your marketing campaign. Every single month YouTube attracts over one billion visitors. People love videos and it’s easy to see why.

A short marketing video engages the customer and provides information in an easy to digest format. Thanks to various apps and tools, creating and publishing videos no longer requires expert technical knowledge. It is also often free. So if you think about it, you’re getting the same response as you would with a TV ad, only you’re paying absolutely nothing for the benefit.

5. Social Relationship Building Set to Become the New Advertising

Social relationship building is going to become one of the most important marketing strategies for businesses in 2016. Social media is huge and it has already helped thousands of businesses create more brand awareness. Actually engaging with your customers on a daily basis will help to build up trust and give your business a more personal touch.
This is also one of the best ways to retain customers and improve customer satisfaction. Keeping customers is a major challenge that many businesses fail. It’s natural to lose some amount of business each year, but if you’re finding you are losing a lot of your customers then it’s time to focus on figuring out ways to keep them.

So what exactly is social reputation building? Put simply it is the creation of content that focuses on long-term customer value. Rather than creating strong sales related adverts, instead you should be focusing on creating relevant and useful information that your customers might find useful.

Talking about the latest issues relating to your industry is a good place to start. Everybody likes to discuss current trends regarding the things they are interested in. You can use this to your advantage by starting a debate on your social media profiles or on a blog.

What you need to remember is that building a strong social media presence isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time and dedication to gain a good following online.

6. Personalized and Segmented Email Marketing

There has been a lot of debate as to whether email marketing is still relevant in today’s digital marketing world. The simple answer to this is yes, it is absolutely still relevant. However, admittedly the way you should approach your email marketing campaign has changed significantly over the years. During 2016, personalized and segmented email marketing is what you should be focusing on.

Customers want to feel like they actually matter. They want a personalized experience and don’t want to be made to feel like they are just a number on your database. Personalized emails therefore are a lot more likely to get a response from customers, rather than a generic template sent out to your entire mailing list.

So what does a personalized email look like? Well, firstly it’s important to use the customer’s name at the start of the email. Then more importantly, you need to make sure the content you are sending is relevant to that particular customer. Look at what they bought from you and use this to determine the type of products they are likely going to be interested in.

Obviously using data collective tools will aid you with this as you’ll be able to analyze and gather a wide range of information on your customers which you can then use to create better targeted emails.

If you have a large mailing list, personalizing each email separately is going to be an issue. That’s where segmented emails come in. By separating your mailing list into specific groups, it helps you to tailor your emails to fit each group accordingly. This still provides a more personalized response, but it requires a lot less time than personalizing the content for each individual.

If you follow the personalized and segmented email marketing approach is will really help you continue to drive sales and boost customer retention.

7. Reputation Management Will Become Even More Vital

In business your reputation is everything. Drawing customers in and making a sale is only part of the battle when it comes to sustaining your business. Another major part of ensuring your business doesn’t fail is developing a strong, reliable reputation. In order to achieve this you need to focus on offering good customer service.

Social media is the best way to boost your reputation. It allows you to personally connect with your customers and respond to any problems quickly. While many customers will still contact you directly if there are any issues, more are starting to turn to social media to voice their opinions. Customer reviews are just as important as customer feedback.

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people these days go on social media sites to get advice on which product or service they should choose? Peer recommendations are everything and far outweigh advertisements alone. By managing your reputation, customers will be more likely to write good reviews and recommend your business to others.

The key is to show your customers that you actually listen to them. By looking at what people are saying about your company online, you’ll be able to take action and show that you care what your customers think.

You will also need to act on any problems that your customers experience. It’s one thing to listen, but if you don’t actively do anything to rectify the problem, it isn’t going to do anything other than harm your reputation. Keep customers updated on any changes you have made to a product or service based upon their recommendation. Offer discounts to those who have had a negative experience.

The bottom line is that consumers want to know they are dealing with a company they can trust. Digital marketing has made it easier for them to find reliable, trustworthy businesses and make more informed choices about who they do business with.

Overall the above are the top 7 trends you really need to pay attention to, learn as much as you can about, and implement strategically if you want to get the most from your Digital Marketing efforts.

No matter which methods you choose to adopt, you are that much closer to saving time and money on your marketing campaigns – while reaching more of your customers and prospects.

There’s no need to wait for the next post. Get the entire series and more in the original publication “Digital Marketing: 2018 Playbook For small Businesses“. Tell us where to send your report by filling in the form below…