What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Exercise more? Lose weight? You’ve come to the right place…sort of. What we mean is we can help you exercise more efficient digital marketing strategies and lose excess weight that’s slowing your website down. The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to wait for the ball to drop to get rolling.
Consider this your digital marketing primer to help you increase brand awareness, generate quality leads, increase revenue and better define your audience in 2019. As you’ll notice, we started to observe some of the trends in the list below this year, and we believe they will snowball into 2019 as top digital marketing trends.
It’s time to E-A-T
Google updates its algorithm about 1-2 times a day, with two “major” algorithm updates rolling out in 2018. The biggest updates occurred in March and, more recently, in August. To increase your search engine performance in 2019, you’ll need to EAT, or demonstrate Expertise, Authority and Trust.
Assert yourself as an expert in your field by making your content useful. Creating “About” and “Author” pages on your site are great starting points to establish your organization as a primary source and your writers as experts. This goes along with demonstrating authority, which you can achieve by listing your certifications and awards. Testimonials from third party sites, such as Yelp and Google Reviews, can also help to boost your credibility.
Trust can be established by making sure your site is secure, which is especially important since Google gives preference to sites with SSL certification. These secure sites are marked by the “S” in HTTPS at the start of a URL and means that communication between your browser and the website is encrypted, so information can’t be stolen. You want users to feel safe visiting your site, and as of July 2018, sites that use HTTP are labeled by Google Chrome as “not secure.” As a result, this could redirect traffic away from your site. Data from Chrome shows that more than 70 percent of its users visit HTTPS-enabled websites, so migrating to HTTPS will help increase traffic and boost search rankings.
Additionally, there’s a need for speed when it comes to mobile-first indexing, and Google wants your page load times to be fast. For optimal results, we recommend your page loading in under three seconds for the best user experience. To lower your bounce rates and increase average time spent on your page, check out Google Page Speed Insights.
Along with these core updates, you still want to focus on creating high-quality content. While it’s easy to get carried away optimizing for search, it’s still important to remember that you are creating content for humans first—not for search engines. Sorry not sorry, Google.
Search is expanding
Search no longer happens in a search box alone, so as you optimize your site for Google’s search results pages, there are other factors you’ll need to consider in 2019. Google has optimized its search pages to include answer boxes, maps, shopping, images, video and reviews to keep visitors on the search page, so users don’t need to click out of search results to find information. It’s not just Google, either. It’s also voice search like Alexa and Siri that are designed to simplify the search process. No longer is search a journey, but rather a destination.
Not only is the search experience different, but so is the way we search. Instead of typing one or two keywords into the search bar, consumers are now more likely to phrase their search as a question. These longer searches are more niche, which gives your organization the opportunity to produce content that answers both current and prospective customers’ questions better than any other page. A great (and free!) tool to use is Answer the Public, which allows you to view top questions people are asking on Google.
Don’t be afraid of big data
GDPR, which stands for General Data Protection Regulation, is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for individuals and the exportation of personal data. Under GDPR, people must opt-in, consent and have access to their data and the data must be securely stored. These laws give consumers greater transparency and control over their personal data, and written policies and privacy statements on your site will make it more trustworthy.
If your business operates or collects data in the EU, then you must ensure that your site is GDPR compliant, but regardless, it’s still a good idea to implement similar protections now. While such strict laws have yet to be implemented across the U.S., some states like California and Vermont have already passed data protection laws, with more states sure to follow suit in 2019.
With so much data available, you’ll want to find ways to tap into it. Collecting and leveraging first-party data can help increase your revenue by being able to target a clearly defined audience through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Just make sure you understand the restrictions on data segmentation on major platforms (like Facebook) first.
AI and machine learning are here to stay
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are no longer just trends, but ways that businesses of all sizes and budgets are optimizing digital marketing efforts. Currently, 51 percent of businesses have implemented machine learning, and the other 49 percent are starting to look into the technology, as it can help create more personalized digital experiences for customers.
Already, we’re seeing machine learning being used on common platforms like Google Ads and Facebook as well as through programmatic advertising. Currently, more than four of every five digital display ad dollars in the U.S. are served through programmatic ads, with nearly $69 billion in digital display ad spending projected to transact programmatically in 2020.
AI chatbots—estimated to power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by 2020—can be another way to connect and better serve your customers and create more personalized digital experiences.
Finally, the use of data analytics and AI is driving huge results in predictive lead generation and scoring. Every day, we generate the equivalent of all the data that existed up to 2003, and as more data is accumulated in your system, prediction quality will only increase, thus improving sales and generating more revenue for your organization.
Go live in video marketing
Video is certainly not a new concept in digital marketing—more than 80 percent of internet traffic will be video by 2020—but there are some new ways you can leverage video that will optimize your strategy in 2019. To put it simply: Make it digestible.
Consider video length—and the shorter, the better where social media is concerned. Rather than one long video—FYI, even 30 seconds is too long—you’d be better off cutting up the video into more digestible “snacks” that last no longer than 10 seconds.
Add closed captioning to your videos in social media to not only allow viewers the ability to watch without sound, but also to make the video content more searchable. Facebook found that captioned video ads were watched an average of 12 percent longer than ads without captions.
In 2019, you’ll also see more augmented /virtual reality (AR/VR) implemented into digital marketing strategies—and for good reason. AR/VR further work to create personalized customer experiences and will continue to impact digital marketing strategies in 2019. It’s estimated that the augmented and virtual reality markets will surpass $298 billion by 2023. Businesses, such as Ikea’s use of AR to let customers preview how furniture looks in their homes or Rooomy’s use of VR to stage houses for real estate companies, provide some great examples of the different ways to leverage this technology.
Fall into the social media trap
Social media is a great way to connect with audiences, as most users log into their accounts at least once (if not more) per day. On Instagram alone, 80 percent of people follow at least one business account, and 60 percent say it’s how they discover new products.
In 2019, your strategy may pivot from redirecting users from social media to your site to better leveraging your social media posts to start conversations on social platforms themselves. That’s because instead of linking outward, social media platforms have been increasingly working to keep content and users on their networks. So rather than publishing a blog post on your website and sharing the link on social media, you might publish the content directly on Facebook or LinkedIn instead.
Additionally, to get real business results across your social networks, you’ll want to think about using some new formats of social advertising, such as in-app lead generation through Facebook Messenger and LinkedIn InMail.
Keep track of your analytics
Data will still reign king in 2019, so it’s vital to start the year with a solid analytics foundation. Fortunately, tools like Google Analytics and have made it easier than ever to track user behavior, interactions, conversions and ROI.
Implement closed-loop reporting to close the gap between your marketing data and sales data, so you can determine what is driving the most business for your organization. And now that Google Data Studio has come out of beta, you’ll be able to better visualize your data in 2019.
Check out the new Google Analytics Cross Device feature to better track user activity across mobile, tablet and desktop for a more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey. Not to mention, Google Tag Manager makes it easier to add and update tags, including conversion tracking and site analytics.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment in 2019. Identify opportunities to improve your website and put them to the test. Google Optimize is a great tool that offers A/B testing to help you hone your web design and digital marketing strategy. Throw some new strategies (like the ones listed above) at the wall and see what sticks!
Our New Year’s resolution is to continue to design and develop websites and create digital marketing strategies that optimize for search and generate revenue for our clients. We hope yours is to include and improve on the trends we’ve listed above. While most resolutions don’t last much past the first month, we look forward to revisiting this list at the end of 2019 to see the progress that has been made to the ever-changing world of digital.
Ready to get started? Check out all of the digital marketing services Aztek has to offer.