The use of digital technology, including web and multimedia and processes in the development, distribution, and promotion of products and services.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware. An online presence isn’t optional anymore. Unless you’re located in a smaller place with less access and therefore, more visibility, you gotta get your digital presence going.
And then there’s technology. It’s just so darn growth-oriented, isn’t it! While many are still trying to get a hold on base presence, bigger players are leveraging this stuff, now. It can feel frustrating, hard to break into and a lot to manage for a small business owner. First, we’ll go into four of the rising trends, then we’ll talk about how to start from scratch.
RISING TRENDS IN DIGITAL MARKETING
This one’s pretty cool and works for businesses and consumers. A link in a social media post or profile takes you directly to purchase the item you’re checking out. Convenient clicks and shorter purchase flow for businesses, and just plain easier for customers. Customers who say that efficiency and convenience are their number one expectations.
To get started, you need to own a web domain you’re going to sell from, and be using a business account on whichever social media platform you’re on. You’ll also probably need a business Facebook page. Before you know it, you’ll be tagging products in posts in no time!
If you can make something informative AND interesting (key); beautiful and eye-catching; a compelling story, or just plain funny, then you’ve got cause for engagement. Coverage for coverage’s sake tends to backfire. If customers have one bad experience with your brand (including boring), they’ll walk away, towards the competition.
Here are some trigger ideas for what your content could be about. Remember, short and engaging is always better:
- Commercial spot
- How-to tutorials
- Employee profiles or company culture
- Product demo
- Customer testimonial
- Branded short film/mini-documentary
VR & AR
I am not supportive of tech adoption just in the name of being cutting-edge. Big investments of time and money always work out better when they’re purposeful. Which is why virtual and augmented reality technology is a good investment. With a mammoth market value jump of 78% from 2019 – 2020, it’s here to stay.
For decades we’ve spoken about the ‘story’ or ‘emotional aspect’ of a business as key to engaging an audience. VR and AR take this one step further, making a ‘brand journey’ exciting, fun and a process of discovery. Also, remote is safer during COVID. Way to hook ‘em.
Virtual reality is the full immersion of the senses into another world, usually through a headset
Augmented reality adds content to the world around you, through the camera on your iPhone for instance
- Tom’s Shoes, known for putting ⅓ of profit towards grassroots equity, created a VR journey in which you travel to Peru and gift a stranger a shoe. This facilitates an emotional impact around contribution and a sense of pride in purchasing the brand
- Sephora uses AR to let customers try on make-up products before buying through their smartphone app, which is not only fun, it’s compelling
A simple place to start can be a VR retail experience, which can be easier to set up than you might think! heymate! is a free business management platform (it operates on transaction fees only) with a VR integration that’s set-up in minutes. Alternatively, you could check out Matterport.
Some of those little ads that pop up when you’re browsing are confusing and annoying, like bunion correctors. Then there are others that make you stop and click X as quickly as possible, for fear of temptation.
Programmatic advertising, which makes use of AI, works so quickly that it only kicks in after you’ve landed on a web page. The simplistic explanation: a website provider has ad space for auction, then advertisers automate a bid to land an ad impression. Highest bidder wins and gets your attention. AI tech helps bidders by targeting users who fit your target demographic. Spooky. Smart.
BREAKING IT DOWN
If all the above is ten steps ahead of where you are, that’s totally cool. With the beautiful (and gnarly) world wide web, research, getting motivated and getting started is free.
Start with the basics
I hate the word ‘omni-channel.’ It’s self-important and catchphrasy. But you know, I’m in the business of SEO, so I’ll just say it again… omni-channel. It means integrating different methods of shopping available to consumers. I.e., presence across multiple platforms.
With this presence, it’s important to be consistent.
There are three reasons consistency works:
- Your brand seems more authoritative and trustworthy
- It’s easier for you and your team to coordinate over multiple platforms
- Repetition builds brand familiarity
So how do we get consistent? With clarity of approach. That’s approach in design, color scheme, tone and written content. Once you have a blueprint, it makes everything else so much easier – you just stick to it.
Make a clear decision about your business’ messaging. Who are you trying to reach? An audience for whom accessibility is key? Millennials who vibe vintage? Let your demographic, your business objectives and your intuition guide your design ideas. Don’t rate your own opinion? Ask someone with insight whom you trust, to be honest with you.
Research competitor brands you admire and see what works for them. Note what they’re doing that engages people. Remember that less is more, and consistency is key. There are two things that come to mind when you think of Apple. The name, and the logo. Dedicated simplicity can work much better than complicated and flashy. Canva is an excellent resource for designing something like a logo, for free.
Once you’ve got your ‘blueprint’, you can standardize it and give it to everyone who works on your team. As long as they understand and stick with it, all of your campaigns, posts and outreach will have a thread of connectivity and reinforced messaging. Humans like definition. Your demographic are humans. So defining your brand is a good thing.
Here are just some of the different platforms you can have a profile on or market with. There are a lot more, but don’t be overwhelmed. You pick and choose; what matters most is intentionality.
- A website
- An app
- Google Ads
- Microsoft Advertising (for Bing, Yahoo and AOL users)
If budget is a concern, a standard place to start is with social media. Social accounts start free, which is a huge tool at your disposal, considering 73% of consumers report being influenced by a brand’s social media presence.
Web Design & Functionality
Visitors to your website form an opinion within 0.05 seconds. How is your site functioning and looking? Unfortunately, ‘alright’ no longer cuts it. As frustrating as it may be with everything else you have to look after, speed, convenience and image are the most important factors in rapidly rising customer expectations.
Get this: 75% of site users admit to passing judgement on a business’ credibility based on design, and 38% will stop engaging if the layout or content are unattractive.
Build-it-yourself website options like Wix and Squarespace make it easy to design something slick, and they’ll let you launch for free if you don’t mind their ads. Otherwise, they’re usually pretty inexpensive (I pay $17 a month for mine). That said, it adds up. A custom solution from a software company can cost less over a longer period of time and be higher functioning.
When all else fails…
Find an expert digital marketer
With such a competitive landscape, a targeted and savvy approach can be challenging. Moreso, it can be time consuming. If all this info is making your head spin, it might be better to outsource this crucial aspect of your business. Synic Creative Marketing are dedicated to transparent options for entrepreneurs and can develop a timeline-based package just for you.
The truth is that none of us are able to outpace innovation. Even the largest companies are at the mercy of unexpected change or speculation. It is always advisable to remain informed and do the best you can with what you have. Remember that clarity, relevance and consistency of message are the best tools available to you, and they all come for free.