For a small business owner, digital marketing is a huge blessing - even humble online stores or neighborhood mom-and-pop establishments can now compete with bigger, more established brands.
As you can see from the below infographic by SERP watch, digital marketing covers a good number of techniques, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing, online advertising, video marketing, content marketing, lead generation, and nurturing, among others.
Knowing the latest digital marketing trends and how they apply to your brand is crucial for you as a small business owner. If it’s been a while since you last took a bit of digital marketing training, here’s a little refresher to fill you in on everything you need to know about digital marketing to grow your business in 2019.
In a digital world, being found online by the right audience at the right time is absolutely essential for a small business. This is where SEO comes in; whether you’re an online store, a neighborhood establishment, or a niche-market website, getting quality traffic ensures a steady flow of leads to convert into sales.
Through its more recent algorithm updates, Google has been pushing for more high-quality content from sites that are better optimized for a mobile market.
Google’s own AI-powered upgrade is Rankbrain, which now helps the search engine determine a number of things, but probably most groundbreaking of is user intent.
With the ability to sift through years of historical data, Google is now better at figuring out what you might be searching for with any given query, and even suggest additional reading or more comprehensive resources and guides.
With Rankbrain, Google can also better pick up on actual user behavioral patterns and adjust rankings accordingly, so if your particular piece of content gets more clicks and is more thoroughly read by visitors, Rankbrain will take note of these cues and likely bump you up in search rankings.
Another significant development is Local SEO, which helps neighborhood establishments gain better visibility by means of the (free) Google My Business service.
This service displays an additional set of results-- a Google map with pinned locations, and the local 3-pack-- along with the regular organic search results. This kicks in when someone has a location-based search, e.g. “where can I get the best nachos and soft tacos in Eagle Rock?”
More weight is also given to backlinks from local business directories and client reviews. Not a lot of businesses have claimed their Google My Business listing yet, so if you want that added edge ahead of the competition, now’s a good time to complete that profile.
As people are getting more used to the personal digital assistants built into their smartphones (like Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s Bixby, for example), voice search is now steadily on the rise.
Voice search will have a profound impact on SEO, as dealing with keywords is now different. A more conversational approach to keywords is now applied, because users tend to use rather conversational language while conducting voice search.
Digital marketers are keen on keeping their ears to the ground as far as the latest developments in search engine optimization goes. Knowing exactly what people are searching for online, and what Google considers to be awesome content is the key to SEO success.
As the digital marketplace grows more saturated, good SEO lets you stand out with your target audience, making it great not just for bringing in more online business, but for brand-building as well.
If you’re looking to hang out where your target market is, then you might want to look into the more popular social networks.
Business owners are quick to use social media for marketing campaigns mostly because it’s easy to use, easy to get a bit of engagement going, and fun. Mastering the use of these channels is the real challenge, however, and you have to pick social networks best applicable to your brand.
Facebook still dominates social media, and its subsidiary company Instagram continues to grow and innovate. Meanwhile, YouTube now has over a billion users-- that’s about a third of all the people on the internet. If you have to focus on just a few channels, these are the three you need to spend time on if you want to maximize your brand’s reach.
Other networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have their own strengths. LinkedIn, for example, in addition to being the go-to social network for all things B2B, also has the distinction of having a perfect domain rating of 100. Which means Google absolutely loves them-- and so links to your articles shared on the network have the added bonus of boosting your SEO.
Meanwhile, Twitter is now highly regarded as a trusted news source, as both world leaders and big companies all use it to communicate with the world. While Pinterest has consistently shown a greater engagement among its users-- mostly women and millennials-- as the platform helps them decide what to buy; users spend 50% more on average compared to other networks.
A blog for your business venture is definitely worth considering, and for a good reason too. In 2019, a good blogging strategy will continue to drive traffic to your site.
It’s also worth noting that Google is now placing a larger premium on longer, more comprehensive articles of about 2,000 words. This is more than enough for a thoroughly written piece with enough relevant graphics, video clips, downloadables, and other forms of relevant content.
Additionally, the more established your blog is, the more organic traffic you will generate in the long run. In fact, B2C companies that blogged more than 11 times a month (about 3 times a week) get four times more leads than those that publish content five times a month.
The caveat is that you have to constantly find ways to come up with fresh content, not only to stand out, but also to answer the issues and pain points peculiar for your market and your business, industry, products and services, and so on.
Remember: Google loves fresh content, but it loves thorough and comprehensive articles even more.
Contrary to general opinion, email marketing is still pretty much alive and efficient. Experts agree that this marketing channel is ubiquitous for generating leads and conversions.
List segmentation and personalization are both integral to keeping your email marketing efforts effective. Don’t just send out a generic email blast to everyone on your list; instead, categorize your leads according to where they are in the buyers’ journey or any other demographic you feel relevant. Create special offers for each, and use an email marketing service to properly address them.
You should now also consider having a mobile-first approach to email, as users tend to check their emails on their phones 3 times more, and mobile is responsible for at least half of all email open rates. So consider optimizing the images you’re using, keep your email short and sweet, and don’t forget to include a clear call to action to get better response rates from your mobile market.
Even as online advertising-- particularly pay-per-click advertising or PPC-- continues to drive sales and brand awareness for businesses, it too has taken a more mobile-centric approach for 2019. More than half of paid clicks come from mobile devices, and 60% of consumers click on mobile ads weekly.
You have to be more creative and more deliberate about your ads though. Pop-up ads, for example, have greatly fallen out of favor, as more than 70% of consumers tend to have a lower opinion of a brand that uses pop-up ads. In fact, 4 out 5 visitors to a website have left merely because of a pop-up ad.
Lead Generation and Nurturing
A good mix of online advertising and organic SEO can drive high-quality traffic to your site. Dedicated landing pages are better optimized to help capture valuable leads, then a series of thoughtfully-crafted emails set at certain triggers help sift through these leads, encouraging them further down the sales funnel.
Today, we see a wide variety of marketing automation providers that tie together landing pages and email marketing with other integrated functions, such as a CRM (customer relationship management) software, leads database, analytics, and mobile optimization.
The good news is that there are a plethora of free tools such as HubSpot, MailChimp, Zoho Campaigns, Drip, and DailyStory, just to name a few.
Once your business starts developing and bringing revenue, you can switch to more advanced services like Customer.io, Pardot, Marketo, Bizible, and Act-On. These are specifically built to handle increased lead generation and nurturing requirements.
Here’s an interesting tidbit - viewership of online video has surpassed the TV audience a long time ago, and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down. Simply put, people prefer watching videos than reading texts. So if you have a good story to tell, now is the time to get cracking.
Developing your own original videos for your brand has never been easier and more readily accessible. Mobile phones today make it possible to shoot high-quality video clips, and you have all sorts of companies offering a variety of apps and software to simplify the video editing process.
The advantages of video sprinkled into your marketing mix cannot be ignored - videos not only boost SEO rankings and online traffic but also greatly improve conversion rates and sales.
There’s clearly a lot to take in when it comes to digital marketing for small businesses. But as the business environment and the market evolve, so should advance the above-mentioned techniques and practices as well.
Marketing today is geared more towards a mobile-centric market. As more people continue to seek information and entertainment, as well as do business on their smartphones, so should your campaigns consider this moving forward in 2019.
A lot of what you do as a business owner can now be automated so you can free up more time for yourself to do what you need to do.
Ultimately, everything we do in marketing has the objective of having a connection with our target audience. Building up your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness is key to business success, and today’s trends in digital marketing further reinforce this practice.