5 digital marketing trends to help grow your business

By Sherry Bonelli / Guest Column

When it comes to digital marketing, the only certainty is uncertainty. With constantly changing digital marketing platforms, new technologies and different ways to market your company online, it’s important that you keep up with what’s working.

Over the last few years, digital marketing has gone through some major changes, and your company’s continued success depends on knowing these digital marketing trends and utilizing them in your business. The goal: Creating a great customer experience which will lead to more brand recognition, more leads, more traffic to your site or storefront — and more sales.

Here are some digital marketing strategies that you should consider using for your business.

#1: Video Marketing. The truth is your customers love videos. Video viewers are rabid with Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook Live leading the way.

When most business owners think of video marketing they automatically go back to the days of high-cost video production companies that charge thousands of dollars to create just one commercial. Rest easy. Those days are long over. (Don’t believe me? Just go to YouTube and watch some of the most popular videos — many of them are created using low-budget gadgets.)

Yes, it’s important for your videos to look professional, but you can do it effectively yourself without spending a lot of money on camera equipment. In most cases, all you need are your smartphone, a tripod to hold the camera/phone still, maybe some lighting, an uncluttered background and a microphone. If you have the budget, video software like Wirecast or Camtasia can provide relatively easy-to-use video creation and editing tools.

One other tip: Include the videos you create in your social media posts. People on social media love videos!

#2 Reputation Marketing. Online reviews have become an important factor for building trust with potential customers. According to BrightLocal, more than 88 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. If you don’t have a strategy to get those 5-star reviews from your happy customers, now’s the time to get going. Be sure you share the importance of an excellent customer experience with your employees so they are aware of the importance of online reviews.

A word of caution: Don’t try to get too many reviews too fast. If you suddenly go from zero reviews to 20 reviews on Yelp, their algorithm will kick in and suppress a lot of those reviews because it will look suspicious. Go the natural way. Send hand-written notes to some of your favorite customers, ask for their feedback and provide them with a link to your business’ page on one of the popular review sites, like Google My Business, Yelp, CitySearch and others.

There are a lot of software tools that can also help you smartly manage your good and bad online reviews. Spending money on one these tools can be well worth the money.

#3. Content Marketing. This is a touchy subject for some businesses. The thought of adding more content to their site or blogging every week makes some people feel a little queasy. Unfortunately, more quality content is necessary these days — not only for your search engine rankings but also to help educate customers on things that matter to them. Blogging can also lead to more sales. According to HubSpot, B2B marketers that utilize their blog receive 67 percent more leads than those who don’t blog.

Google likes long-form content. The recommendations are that you have at least 1,500 words on your home page and 1,000 words on other pages of your site. Yes, it can seem like a daunting task, but if you’re personally not inclined to write, talk with a few of your employees about taking turns writing blog posts. You can also reach out to a local digital marketing agency to write content for you. Make sure you include photos or images on your blog posts (it just makes them much more interesting.) It’s also a good idea to survey your customers to find out what topics they are most interested in so you write content that speaks to them.

#4. Mobile…Well, Everything Mobile. According to Google, more people search online using a smartphone or mobile device versus searching on a desktop computer. People are searching on the go all the time, checking their Facebook newsfeed, their email, messaging, watching YouTube videos, etc.

Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. You can find out by using Google’s Mobile Friendly checker: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly. If your site is not mobile-friendly, chances are you won’t show up in local search results when people search on their mobile devices. You will also need to find a good website designer/developer to create a mobile-driven, responsive website for you.

#5. Retargeting Advertising. Have you ever been on a shopping site and the product you looked at suddenly follows you everywhere online? It may seem a little creepy, but it’s an effective advertising strategy called retargeting. A retargeting advertising campaign is a great way to get your business, message or products in front of people that are already interested in what you have to offer. Retargeting allows you to niche your audience so you’re sending targeted ads to the people that fit your ideal audience and are likely to be the most interested.

Targeted advertising campaigns can be two times more effective than non-targeted, one-size-fits-all campaigns. Facebook and Instagram allows marketers to dig really deep into targeting and creating your perfect audience. As a bonus, right now Facebook and Instagram ads are typically less expensive than Google AdWords.

Digital marketing is something that your business must engage in. However, you don’t have to do it all at once. Start little by little – creating a Facebook page here, a blog post there, a new video, etc. and slowly you will build your arsenal of digital marketing strategies for your business. The first step is to get started!

Sherry Bonelli, digital marketer and presenter/speaker, has been a digital marketing professional since 1998. She is currently the owner of early bird digital marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency Cedar Rapids. She can be reached at http://earlybirddigitalmarketing.com or (319) 409-3287.