Here’s an overview of top online marketing trends for 2015 that every brand should consider adding to its digital strategy.
Getting noticed online is more difficult than ever. Saturated markets are associated with intense competition and absorbanant costs, making it seemingly impossible to gain traction.
However, there are thankfully a variety of new marketing trends that allow brands in virtually any vertical to facilitate increased engagement and positive return on investment.
Integrated SEO strategies
The very core of Search Engine Optimization has been continuously shaken by Google algorithm updates. Panda continues to wreak havoc on SEO strategies, and with the Panda Patent looming, 2015 is a pivotal year for major changes to the way in which SEO is viewed and performed.
As we’ve covered in past articles, Google is all about humanizing the search experience by creating ways to measure brand popularity by analyzing historical search data, contextual brand mentions and other factors that signal real users are searching for, interacting with and sharing content.
Recent algorithm updates have come down hard on spammy link building practices, and seek to level the playing field by forcing brands to diversify their SEO strategies. SEO value is now a product of a brand’s overall digital presence, instead of a list of inbound links and anchor text.
In 2015, a successful SEO campaign will need to focus on an integrated 360 approach that facilitates natural engagement via Content Marketing, Social Media, Online PR and more.
Advances in web technologies are creating a multitude of opportunities for brands to deliver engaging, informative and educational content to their audiences.
The most successful online brands are using a variety of content types and platforms, including mobile apps, social media, interactive content and web video for promoting, advertising and growing their digital presence.
Web content comes in many flavors, but the overarching goal of a content marketing strategy is to drive consumer engagement through the creation of entertaining, educational or informative content.
The key to success is creating meaningful content that your audience cares about. You can generate 100 videos or blog posts per month, but if no one engages with them, the effort is not as powerful as a single piece of content that drives substantial interaction and sharing.
Mobile internet usage continues to skyrocket and, according to CNN Money, January 2014 was the first month in history in which mobile application usage in the US surpassed that of Desktop usage.
The most successful advertising strategies position brands in places their audiences frequent most, and based on recent mobile statistics, a substantial portion of the US population spends an absorbanant amount of time using apps.
In fact, the CNN study claims Mobile Apps made up 47% of internet traffic, while Mobile Browsers accounted for just 8%.
Niche Social Networks
Advertising on major social networks has become expensive, competitive and hard to justify for many brands.
For this reason, many are turning their attention to niche social networks that are hyper-focused on a particular audience demographic.
For example, Kaboodle.com, a social ecommerce website, drives over 8 million users per month and features over 12 million products from affiliate partners, which users curate into custom lists and styleboards, and discuss in blogs and forums.
When compared to Amazon.com, which drives over 82 million users per month, a platform like Kaboodle makes it much easier for a product to get noticed and talked about. It’s less saturated and is used by an audience that loves sharing, discussing and promoting their favorite items.
Public relations is traditionally defined as the maintenance of a positive public image. Any piece of content, be it a review, a citation in a news article or comment in an online forum, can sway public opinion and impact the online, and offline reputation of a brand.
In today’s digital world, a brand’s on and offline presence impact one another, and should be treated as such. A positive online product review, for example, can generate dozens of word of mouth reviews, which in turn result in online sales.
Because there are countless ways in which online content affects public opinion, Online PR requires continual dedication and diligence. There’s no catch-all method of ensuring a brand’s reputation is eternally clean; however, it is possible to pinpoint where an audience is most likely to interact with a brand, and monitor engagement accordingly.
Here is an abbreviated list of potential areas that influence Online PR:
– Brand properties (company website, blog, intranet, forum, mobile apps, rss feeds)
– Blog articles & associated comments
– Photo & Video sharing sites & associated comments
– Forum posts
– Social Bookmarking sites (Reddit, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon)
– Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, Gowalla)
– News articles
– Press mentions
– Online Reviews (Yelp, Google, Insider Pages, Citysearch, Dun & Bradstreet, Consumer Reports, Better Business Bureau).
Google Product Listing Ads
Advertising opportunities for ecommerce retailers was once limited to the same techniques used by non-retail companies and consisted mainly of text ads.
Recognizing the importance of giving etailers a more effective way to promote their products, Google created its “Shopping” platform, which is an advertising platform specifically for ecommerce websites.
Google Shopping allows retailers to upload their full product inventory and generate advertisements called ‘Product Listing Ads’ (PLAs), which showcase an image, text description and price, and link directly to product pages on the retailer’s website.
PLAs appear on Google.com/shopping, as well as in Google search results on Desktop & Mobile devices. The beauty of PLAs, is they stand out in SERPs due to their visual nature. Users can quickly scan products and their affiliated sellers and pricing info, and make informed decisions before clicking.
As we recently wrote about, PLAs give advertisers opportunities to appear on Google Page 1 without the need for SEO.
A recent study by Marin Software, which provides Revenue Acquisition Management services for advertisers and agencies, revealed that retailers are “on pace to allocate one out of three dollars of paid search spend to Google Product Listing Ads”
Additional findings by the Marin study include:
– In 2013, advertisers increased their spending on PLAs by 300%.
– Between January and December 2013 the average CTR of PLAs increased 6% while the CTR of standard text ads decreased 13%.
– In 2013, 20% of paid shopping clicks were on PLAs.
Social Media Advertising
Just when we thought social media couldn’t get any bigger, it does. A continued explosion in social app and network usage means brands and advertisers have more opportunities than ever to reach billions of would-be consumers.
We’ll let the statistics do the talking:
– Over the past six months, Tumblr’s user base grew by over 120%, the highest of all social platforms.
– Pinterest came in second on the growth chart, with a 111% increase in new users.
– The startup dating app, Tinder, now has over 50 million subscribers, who use the service for an average of 90 minutes per day.
– Photo and video sharing app, Snapchat, has amassed over 100 million users and generates over 400 “snaps” per day.
While top dogs like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram will continue to be widely popular means for advertising, we see 2015 as the year in which several outliers gain traction by unveiling unique opportunities for niche social advertising.
Tinder, for example, is rumored to be working on a native advertising platform (one that has already been test driven by big brands like Dominos), while Snapchat has been discussing the concept of a TV-like ad model that allows users to create “Stories”, which are a curated collections of photos and videos related to an event.
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Related Article from Fuze: Top Website Design Trends for 2015