It is all too easy to fall into the trap of the digital marketing comfort zone, but this can be a path into complacency, under-performance and ultimately decline.
When marketing campaigns consistently perform year after year and momentum is positive, you may be fooled into thinking that everything is working to near-peak levels with no need to stretch the boundaries or challenge this “everything is going great” sentiment.
If this sounds familiar it is likely (unless you are the only active player in your industry) that results will begin to stagnate and regress, and there is a need to consider a more robust digital strategy.
The solution is being actively aware of new and changing opportunities including technology, industry, audience and associated items, and taking action on them.
Action-taking is key as this fuels a culture of exploration, testing, and refinement required to be an industry leader and maintain closer to peak marketing performance for a longer duration.
In this post, I share five of the most useful marketing approaches to enrich your own strategic plans and increase your robustness to changing external competition.
1. Proximity Marketing & Beacons
The technology for proximity marketing is nothing new, in fact, it has been available since 2013.
What has changed though is the readiness of technology such as Google Beacons for effective marketing use and practical application within more common marketing approaches.
What Are Proximity Beacons?
Beacons are a form of technology that can transmit signals over a certain (generally small) radius.
This means that devices such as mobile phones and GPS can receive marketing messages tied to their geo-location and be pinpoint targeted with relevant messaging.
How Can They Be Used for Marketing?
Proximity marketing and Beacons specifically are being widely used for everything from table service within restaurants through to sending SMS messages with discounts to existing customers when they pass by a store.
Based on a recent article from a colleague of mine “Google Beacons: Is proximity marketing ready to take off in 2020?,” the main benefits for marketing include:
- Location targeting of people/potential new and repeat business.
- Mapping of marketing success and closing the online/offline marketing attribution.
- In-store messaging and promotional offers for hyper-local messaging.
- Guiding people through entire shopping centers, stadiums, airports, and cities.
- Cross-selling during the buying process (for example in-store related product offers).
- Much more.
2. Conversational Commerce & Chatbots
Conversational commerce is a bigger opportunity than simply chatbots alone.
However, for the purposes of this post, chatbots are the suggested technology-based action to explore for diversifying and strengthening your strategic plans for 2020.
When Facebook acquired WhatsApp back in 2014, no small part of the strategic thinking was based on the fact that people spend more time in messaging apps than they do on social media.
Chatbots can integrate your business within external platforms (such as Facebook) allowing you to reach your audience on the messaging apps they prefer.
As chatbot integration can include your website, social media channels, and external messaging apps you can fill the gaps within your business coverage and provide an ‘always available’ face to your organization.
When skewed towards conversational commerce you are able to provide controlled and consistent expertise, shorten the distance from awareness to purchase and facilitate offline access to information that users demand online and instantly.
What Are the Marketing Benefits of Chatbots?
The benefits will vary massively based on your objectives, application and successful implementation of them for marketing but commonly expected gains would include:
Improved Customer Services & Support
Helping existing and prospective customers understand the product/service which is best suited to their bespoke needs and budget.
The ability to quickly providing answers to questions and filtering more complicated inquiries for your Customer Service/Support Team.
Financial Savings Versus Traditional Staffing
Implementing a chatbot is considerably cheaper than hiring employees to perform tasks that can be automated and handled by a bot/computer.
This form of removing and reducing manual and repeated activity from companies can support increased efficiencies, time and cost savings for investment elsewhere. Chatbots can also work on smaller budgets.
Proactive Customer Engagement and Increased Nurturing Through the Buying and Servicing Funnels
The ability to initiate a conversation with your customers based on know behavior and activity triggers.
One practical example might be communication as part of any ordering and delivery process.
Generating Valuable Insights & Obtaining a More Thorough Understanding of Your Customers
Data is marketing fuel and a performance enhancer. By using the additional knowledge obtained from chatbot use, you can refine and maximize your marketing tactics.
As an example of this in action, the new forms of user engagement and data can be recombined with other existing data sources to:
- Improve products/services.
- Fill information gaps on the site.
- Fix newly discovered barriers to conversion.
24/7 Customer Support
As discussed earlier, chatbots are ‘always on’ and can handle concurrent user interactions at the same time.
This means that there is a reduced loss of potential business from people so there‘s no waiting in telephone queues for information, or dropping out of the purchase funnel before getting the brand effectively in front of them.
3. Voice Search Optimization (VSO)
In this case organic inclusion of VSO as a core part of your non-paid digital marketing investment.
The statistical justification for voice search optimization is widespread:
- Per comScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
- Gartner predicts that 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020.
- A Google study found that 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines
- NPR’s Smart Audio Report revealed that 55% of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine going back to the days before they had a smart speaker
- eMarketer reported that 35.8% of millennials use voice-enabled digital assistants at least once a month
The big change in VSO is that there are clearly defined tactics to target and implement to improve results.
Tactics for Voice Search Optimization
Like most areas of organic search engine optimization, there are many ways to implement VSO.
Targeted optimization can be undertaken with a mobile and voice-first approach.
Broader tactics in this area can include question and answer targeting of activity to reach the longer tail and solution-led queries growth tied to voice.
Other tactics can include:
- Creating fresh content (for closely matched voice intent targeting).
- Reworking existing pages with technical ‘format’ updates (schema.org, for example) so that information can be clearly identified, matched, and presented for use in voice search results.
Here are some more granular actions for VSO gains:
“Near me”, “close by”, and “local” intent opportunities are ready for driving forward spanning most, if not all, industries.
Organic search demand on these query topics is growing rapidly and has been for some time.
This can be linked to mobile growth, voice growth and related search engine preference for mobile-first result delivery and local intent filter for many results.
Featured snippets are a core tactic for voice and these are a primary source for voice results.
Schema updates such as Organization, Open graph, Q&A, Article and more, can provide opportunities to increase results.
Content updates (tables, lists, images, short paragraphs, simple language) and content types can also help target Featured Snippets.
Location optimization cannot be overstated for VSO. Action examples to consider include:
- Location terms identification, seeding and content building.
- Bing Places and Google My Business listings, reviews, posts/maximizing.
- Company and broader business citations.
- Local links and mentions.
- Third-party reviews.
Ongoing focus on technical SEO and related updates (website health/audit score, speed (mobile/desktop), etc.) is also essential.
4. Integrating User-Led Design
User experience has changed dramatically over the years and evolved from often one-off, holistic and project-based services with limited commercial or data-driven justification to business-critical design changes and ongoing data-driven updates that directly impact ROI.
From a recent article of a Performance UX colleague of mine, it was confirmed that the factors most important for 2020 design fueled strategy include:
Designing to Ease User Concerns & Reinforce Trust
From fake reviews through to favicons and increased site information displayed in mobile SERPs, designing for trust is becoming a standard requirement for making the most out of every person landing on your website (and getting them there in the first place).
Rethinking & Revising Information Architecture & Navigation
When you combine website data, iterative testing, and refinement with a data-led design you will be amazed at the impact that can be achieved as part of conversion rate optimization.
Often design can be omitted from traditional SEO and CRO conversations when it comes to site architecture and navigation and that has to change for optimum performance
Creating Differentiation Through Experience
Regardless of the scale of your business and size of your immediate online competition, you can create a better user experience, increase repeat custom, and satisfy your users more
5. Increasing the Practical Value from Your Data
Most companies are gathering more data than ever before and investing in added data expertise, wider data tracking, collection, plus related items.
There is still a gulf however in the volume of data companies are exposed to compared to the value derived from it.
The inconsistent use of data and ineffective processes in place for systematically generating value from data are part of this.
There are many data-fueled marketing niches (for example personalization of marketing through data) that require increased marketing focus and time to get right.
There are also lots of practical data recombination and workflow activities that can be implemented now for quick wins.
Examples of this are:
- SEO keyword and topic targeting triggered by unfeasible return on advertising spend (ROAS) Google Ads keywords data.
- Content gap identification from search query high volume/zero-click data from Google Search Console.
- Product/service gap exploration led by Google Analytics site search.
- Content change analysis from automated competitor analysis to fill product/content/service gaps.
These are five of my current strategic “must-haves” which will help expand, diversify and strengthen many marketing approaches for 202 and beyond.
The common thread through this article comes back to:
- Taking action.
- Using all of the new and changing data more effectively to challenge the status quo.
- The need to always be testing/refining and experimenting with new technologies and marketing opportunities.