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September 20, 2018
Trends come and go as interests change and evolve. In the marketing industry, trends come and go based on consumer behavior and changes in technology. Changes happen for a reason. Microsoft employees don't change the look and feel of an operating system because they become bored or need something to do; they implement changes based on user experiences, feedback from consumers, new technology and more efficient effective ways of doing tasks.
If you are not already marketing online, you are behind your competition. This information is not how to market online; it is more about online marketing trends as we close toward 4th quarter 2018. Briefly, your online marketing efforts should combine social media, press releases, advertising and blogging as a few of the basic channels.
Below are a few significant changes we have come across in 2018 and going forward to 2019.
Social Media Marketing
A big part of all marketing efforts for most businesses includes social media. In fact, according to DMA, "Social media spending predicted to rise from 9.8% (current) to 18.5% of marketing budgets in the next 5 years". This is a significant number.
For social marketing, Facebook and YouTube are currently in the limelight, with Instagram not too far behind. It is important to be aware when using Facebook and Instagram as a marketing tool; your posts have a life of approximately 24hrs before it becomes stale. YouTube is considerably longer.
This being said, Facebook is an excellent resource for storytelling and sharing news, like your latest press release. Most individuals that practice this include a link to the full news story which helps increase the possibility of your press release being shared from your Facebook page and from the press release source page.
Becoming Customer Service Focused
Customers are demanding more and want answers faster. This means we've gone from a time where the marketing funnel was a model, to something new called the 'flywheel'. The marketing funnel previously placed the customer at the bottom, with marketing at the top and sales in the middle. The 'flywheel', now places the customer in the middle, surrounded by marketing efforts, sales & customer service all as equal.
In this day and age of social media, blogging, the likes of Yelp and Zomato (if your business is within the restaurant industry), being on top of your customer service can make or break a business's reputation. Information travels fast and furious and an unhappy customer can be detrimental.
This is partially why, as of recent, in the public relations, press release and communications industry we have noticed such an increase in the areas of reputation & Crisis management.
In the press release service industry, when a call comes into our call center, 60% of the time, the call is for something fairly urgent. This may range from a change in a press release, an immediate release request or sometimes a story that needs to be retracted. Customers expect a quick answer and want to talk to a human fast. At 24-7 Press Release Newswire, our customers are always pleasantly surprised when they call and a real human answers the phone.
According to an article over at Hub-spot, consumers expect an answer within 10 minutes and do not like being put on hold.
Chat-bots are another trend on the rise. You may have experienced them or, even as a business owner considered investing in one. Chat-bots continue to evolve to the point where some of them have quite the sophisticated AI. Having a chat-bot capable of answering a good majority of your basic questions can pacify your customers effectively, easing the burden on phone service. They are also available 24/7 as well. This is a process that needs to really be well thought out as it can also become frustrating for a consumer. Once a consumer realizes they are not talking with a real human and their question does not get answered, they may become frustrated.
Press Releases are Still Effective
Press releases / Media Releases, continue to be a mainstay in the toolkit of many in the marketing & communications role. Although trends in press release writing continue to evolve, the basics still remain consistent. Currently, trends in press release writing include more storytelling that combines a dash of content marketing, a trend which started a couple years back when content marketing became all the rage. We have also witnessed a trend in the social sharing of press releases once they have been published. This will certainly help increase the visibility of your news to your own audience and followers. A further trend in press releases is the inclusion of video - an industry that has been around for a long time, but rapidly on the move in popularity.
Marketing with Video
As previously mentioned, video is not something that is new. It has been around for a very long time. What is new is the accessibility an ease of creating amazing looking videos with as little as an iPhone as your source. Many people are taking advantage of this because you no longer have to spend the 10's of thousands of dollars for someone to produce a video for you. You can get started relatively cheap with basic software and a phone. Popularity in video has grown so much that it is now second to Facebook in popularity.
Responsive Website Design
By now, every website should be responsive, meaning the look and feel of the website changes and accommodates to the device it is viewed on. Search engines give preference to responsive design combined with how fast a site loads. If your website is not mobile friendly, it needs to be.
Voice Searches are on the Rise
Have you ever used Alexa or Google Home? How about Siri if you're an Apple user? Voice searches are increasing in popularity and typically they tend to be location specific, like "Tell me a good Greek restaurant in Seattle". Or "Where can I find a good workplace accident lawyer in Portland?". This translates to the way you think about content marketing needs to shift but still remain sounding natural. Your content needs to be tailored to answer these questions.
Do I Need to Become GDPR Compliant
The General Data Protection Regulation, (GDPR) was erected as a new European Union Regulation. It came into effect May 2018 and was meant to replace the European Union Data Protection Directive that originated in 1995. Being GDPR compliant is highly recommended and only adds trust and transparency to any business. If you would like to learn more about the GDP, there is an excellent article at HubSpot here.
The online world changes rapidly and keeping on top of change is important; particularly when it comes time for marketing. Over the years we have heard about the many generations including the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (aka, Generation Y) and now Gen Z (or iGen). Behavioral patterns change with the different generations and so does technology and how it is delivered. In turn, this affects how we deliver our marketing messages to receive the best results. Keeping up with what is current and understanding technological change and behavioral patterns of our customers is a significant step in a successful marketing plan.