What sets your business apart from competitors? It’s simple — it’s your branding. But how you go about establishing your brand is important.
Not all branding strategies work, especially in the ever-changing world of marketing. Not long ago, billboards, TV commercials, and radio ads were the go-to for advertising.
However, business marketing trends have evolved. Today, you’ll find that it’s all about digital. The business that adequately markets to mobile internet users is going to have no problem raking in new customers.
For example, 60% of people are now using voice search. If your website is showing up in these search results, then you’re going to gain a ton of mobile traffic (and potentially more customers).
But this is just one way of marketing your business today. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the top business marketing trends of 2018.
So let’s get started!
Instant Communication (via Social Media and Chatbots)
Today’s consumers are looking for instant gratification. This goes for everything – not just finding, purchasing, and receiving products (Amazon Prime, anyone?).
They’re also looking to have instant communication with brands. There are two ways users are scratching this itch – social media chat and artificial intelligence.
Let’s take a look at the two.
Communicating with Brands Via Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram are the preferred methods of communicating with a brand. It sure beats waiting forever on hold on the phone.
It grants customers immediate access to their brand of choice. So the most responsive companies are the ones winning in this arena.
When you look at social media user stats, you’ll see why this is so. There are billions of social media users, so it makes sense that they choose to use these platforms to interact with brand pages.
Now, the platform you decide to use will depend on the type of audience you’re going after.
But if you’re not sure if social media is the right move for your brand, let’s review some impressive stats:
- 48% of Americans have interacted with brands via social media
- 80% of consumers are using social media to engage with companies
- Consumers are using roughly seven social media channels to reach brands
- Consumers that receive a response on Twitter spend up to 20% more
- 54% of consumers prefer social messaging vs phone and email
So there you have it – five solid reasons why you need to implement social media messaging into your business marketing strategy.
It also goes to show why it makes it to this list of business marketing trends.
Next, let’s take a look at how consumers take to chatting with bots.
The Growing Acceptance of Interactive Chatbots
If you’re like most people, you hate calling a company only to speak to an automated system that refuses to connect you with a human being.
And while this still holds true today, there’s a different (and nicer) perception of interactive chatbots. There are a number of reasons why consumers take kindly to chatbots vs automated phone systems.
For one, when set up correctly, it can be of great assistance to consumers (unlike confusing and frustrating automated phone systems).
So as a brand, it’s important to consider all the questions and concerns your audience may have. Then set up your chatbot so that it answers and addresses them accordingly.
Some brands use their chatbots strictly for sales, providing pricing, plan details, and contact information (or call scheduling). Others use their chatbots for customer service such as upgrading accounts and scheduling appointments.
You’ll find that consumers are willing to talk to chatbots and do so on a regular basis. It feeds into that instant communication they desire from brands.
Chatbots can help your brand communicate with prospects and customers day or night without paying thousands on a call center. Plus, it earns your brand extra kudos.
Voice Search (Enter the Mobile User)
We already discussed a little about the growing number of users now using voice search. This is because the majority of today’s internet users are on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
This feature allows users to find products, services, and information using their voice. What makes this unique is how today’s users are searching compared to past years.
Websites are optimized with keyword phrases based on what their target audience is searching for. In the past, it was common for internet users to type in odd phrases, like “used car dealer Austin, TX.”
Fitting these terms into your content wasn’t always simple and it didn’t make for a great read either.
Today, voice search presents more natural search terms – most of which are given in question format. For example, “where can I find used car dealers in Austin, TX?”
This is more natural sounding and easier to fit into your content. Businesses that are adapting their optimization efforts to focus on how voice searchers search are going to gain a large portion of these users.
Now, if you’re a local business, then using location-based keywords is crucial. This will help your brand show up in the Google Map. Ensure to include your phone number and accurate address so mobile users can click to call or click to get directions.
It’s also worth mentioning the Google Answer Box. This displays at the top of Google (before the #1 spot). It showcases an answer to the question, using a snippet from a website in the top 10 list. Whichever site has the best and most thorough answer gets the Answer Box position.
Then beneath that is another box that shows similar questions and a drop-down menu with the answer. If you can get your content in these two boxes, then you’ll find yourself with more traffic. The key is to format your content with questions and answers.
Business Marketing with the Help of Influencers
There’s no way to deny the influence of individuals with large followings on social media, podcasts, and blogs. If you’re able to connect with an influencer who gives your brand a shot out, then it can easily earn you a ton of new traffic and customers.
Now, there are different ways businesses are using influencers to their advantage. For example, you can post a guest article on their blog that links back to your site (and/or displays your brand info in the author box).
Another option is to interview an influencer and post it on your own blog and then promote the heck out of it. And it’s very likely the influencer will also post a link to it on their social media accounts.
It’s important to point out that consumers today aren’t mindless sheep. They know when they’re being advertised to and they hate it.
So it’s essential to only connect with relevant influencers in your industry. Otherwise, the indirect (or direct) promotion of your brand will seem like a fluke.
Personalization of Branded Content
Every piece of content your brand pushes out must have personalization in some form or fashion. That’s an absolute must for 2018 business marketing and beyond.
This goes for everything, including your site and blog content, emails, and products. There are a ton of ways you can pull this off, such as by using analytics tools to collect data.
With it, you can monitor your visitors’ and customers’ purchase history, search history, behaviors, shopping carts, and favorite lists.
All of this information will enable you to send out personalized emails that entice them to continue their shopping. For example, if a customer leaves before checking out, you can email them asking them to complete their purchase.
Some even offer a discount code to entice them to finish their checkout.
Then you can send out regular weekly or monthly emails with deals on the products they like (based on their behavior and history data).
These methods are already in use by brands – the future, however, will be more advanced. Think along the lines of real-time personalized emails.
This will consist of sending out what’s known as “trigger emails.” The example of the abandoned cart is one type of trigger email.
Another way to personalize content is to look at how Netflix does it. When you log in, you see carousels of videos showing your recently watched, recommendations based on what you’ve watched, and what’s new (also based on the type of videos you watch).
If you’re wondering how you can personalize your brand, then consider the pragmatic marketing approach. This focuses on finding out your target demographic and honing in on their needs.
It’s All About Visual Marketing
Text content has done a great job of educating and entertaining consumers. But people today are looking for content that’s more engaging.
Since we’re visual beings, it makes sense why we tend to lean towards content with lots of imagery. It’s also why memes and infographics are popular on social media.
But what’s really gaining momentum are online videos. And we’re not just talking for streaming platforms like Netflix.
It’s the same on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers:
- 70% of consumers share brand videos
- 72% of brands say video enhances conversions
- 52% of consumers feel more confident in buying after watching a product video
- 65% of executives visit marketer website after watching video
- 39% of executives call a vendor after watching a video
This goes to show how much interaction that occurs from a simple brand video. With video marketing, businesses can grow their traffic, as well as their conversion rates.
Speaking of visual marketing, here’s another trend worth checking out.
Visual Search (as in Using Images to Search)
Now, this one may sound a bit odd, but it’s actually a thing – users uploading images into Google search.
Google allows you to do this and it’ll showcase search results with similar images. For instance, say you see a pair of shoes you like. You can take a snapshot and upload it to Google and then more similar images will pop up.
This can help you find a brand that’s selling similar shoes at a cheaper price.
But it’s not just Google with this unique search feature. You can also find it on Pinterest (known as Lens). This visual search tool is just the thing its user base needs to find similar products to pin to their boards or purchase.
With Google Lens, you’re able to take it a step further. The tool is able to recognize landmarks, objects, and a host of other things using a camera app.
You can use it to take a photo of a business card to save the contact info. Or take a pic of a book to find reviews and details about it.
As you can imagine, this tool can be very helpful for your business marketing. The more visual your brand is, the easier it’ll be for your content to show up in your audience’s search results.
Live Video and Social Media Stories
Here we go again with the visuals – we just can’t seem to get away from it. Live video is growing in popularity because it offers viewers an opportunity to get instant access to a brand or influencer.
Live video is a great way for brands to deliver interactive content. For example, hosting a live event with Q&As from the live audience.
This can benefit both your brand and your audience. They get a chance to get answers to pressing questions and your brand gets to showcase its expertise (in a human and personal way).
Then there are the social media stories. These are snippets of video content that you can record live that sticks around for a set period of time (depending on the platform you’re using).
Snapchat was the first to introduce My Story. Then Facebook and Instagram came out with stories, followed by YouTube, which dubbed them “Reels.”
What’s great about social media stories is that they disappear. So this plays on the consumers’ FOMO (fear of missing out). If you consistently dish out great stories, then your followers will scurry to watch them before they disappear, giving your brand plenty of instant views.
Other Marketing Trends You Don’t Want to Miss
Now, these are just some of the marketing trends we’ve witnessed in 2018. But there are a few others worth noting.
For instance, there’s vertical marketing. This ideal for brands that create products to meet a very specific market. This is contrary to horizontal marketing, which has the goal of attracting a wider audience.
Then there’s buzz marketing, which is just as it sounds – using buzz to market to your brand. With this method, you’re creating buzz using events and activities to get the attention of the public. Soon, this can go viral, giving your brand increased (and free) recognition.
However, if you’re looking for more of a personalized approach, then STP marketing may be for you. This is where you use segmentation, targeting, and positioning to hone in on a particular group of customers.
It’s perfect for brands that want to market relevant products or services to their clients.
Then finally, there’s stealth marketing. And just as it sounds, it’s a method of marketing that’s less “in your face.” As we already know, today’s consumers hate being advertised to.
So it’s no surprise that a stealthier form of marketing reared its head. For instance, you can use actors, social media, product displays, and video releases to feature your product without actually advertising it.
But whatever marketing trends you decide to implement, be sure it resonates with your target customers!
Business Marketing Trends Continue to Evolve
This article is a great starting point for learning about the various business marketing trends out there. This is what we’ve seen so far in 2018 and will likely continue to see in 2019 and beyond.
Be sure to keep a close eye on how these trends will evolve in the coming months.
If you’re new to business or business marketing, then hopefully this article helps point you in the right direction.
However, if you’d like to learn more, then we invite you to visit our blog today!