Happy New Year!
As you take time to assess your marketing plans for the new year, the one constant you need to accept about digital marketing in 2019 is change. That perfect strategy you had to fire on all pistons in 2018 just doesn’t work when you drive electric. Google is electric—and fast. Its algorithm updates will continue to occur at a breakneck pace and you won’t be able to see what’s around the bend in the road. Consider last month’s experiment with zero search results for the kind of black and white queries Google could confidently answers on its own (What time is it? What’s 4×4?). What else will Google decide it can answer better than you? Are zero results search a bit of foreshadowing? Or just a speedbump? We’ll see.
But for now, these are the top 10 digital marketing trends for 2019 you need to pay attention to:
1) It’s not a Funnel Anymore
Was it ever?
The Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action sales funnel that many marketers still use as the foundation of their campaigns is from the 19th century. Even if it was what you relied on through the 20th, it just doesn’t fit in this new digital world order. The idea that a customer takes a single path to action is as anachronistic to today’s customer journey as a steam engine is to Tesla’s electric motor. Same goes for the notion that “action” is the end of any journey. If you do it correctly, the marketing action you elicit should be the beginning of a long-term relationship that results in purchases far into the future.
2) Multitouch Attribution is the Only Honest Answer
Since there’s no single journey, it’s time to face the fact that it’s never a single marketing tactic that produces the action you want. A team approach with integrated marketing is more important than ever. Silos don’t fit onto the superhighway that was the internet from its inception. There are entrances and offramps that you can’t imagine if you only look in one direction.
That means you need search engine optimization, content, social media, email, paid media, optimized design—all the digital marketing components working in sync—if you want your campaigns to run like a well-oiled machine. Then, you need to track and measure what’s happening and look at how one approach assists another. Understanding varied customer journeys will help you build out campaigns that serve the individual and the many.
3) Content Matters More than Ever
Content is how you tell your story, but even more importantly, it’s how your customers see themselves in what you do. Why do you do what you do and why will it matter to the person you’re trying to attract to your products and services? Understanding user intent has never been more relevant. In higher education, that means it’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself from every other institution out there. If a student is looking for a design class, you need to make them feel that yours is the only one that will provide them with what they need in a way that fits who they are and how they learn. Good content does that—and more.
And content isn’t just that video or eBook or whitepaper or blog post. It’s the email you send to prospective clients and the ad you place on the Google Display Network. It’s even that interdepartmental memo and your out-of-office message. The best content is strategic, cohesive and purposeful. Is yours?
4) SEO Gives Context to Content
Digital content can’t work if it’s not optimized simply because no one will find it. But with Google continually changing the roadway to success and moving the finish lines, how can you keep up with search engine optimization and all the digital marketing trends it affects? First, you need to move away from a keyword-centric approach and think about your customer first. Use empathy mapping to gain a better understanding of what motivates your customers and how you can best satisfy their needs. That means looking at what a user says, feels, thinks and does, understanding that they don’t always align with one another, and placing all those actions in context.
That’s where hyper-local SEO and micro moments come in. They give content context. Where is your user in space and time? Localizing your keyword strategy to a geographic space increases relevance, and understanding micro moments helps you send the right message at the exact right moment. You and your brand need to be in the same moment as your user. Micro moments can be divided into four moments: know, go, do, buy. In the case of higher education, the earliest queries may be an effort to gather general information about a profession or a program. Later, a student may be ready for a campus or virtual visit. Still later, they may ask: How do I apply? All three phases occur before a commitment. From an SEO perspective, you need to understand your users’ interests and needs throughout their journeys.
5) Email Still Delivers Some of the best ROI Marketing Metrics
You have great content, optimized well and ready for delivery. But what road are you going to take to reach your users? Email marketing remains one of the most effective and important ways for you to connect with your customers. It can provide lower costs, better engagement, and higher conversions when done well. However, not everyone does it well. If you’ve ever signed up for a company newsletter or said yes at an in-store checkout and then been bombarded by useless emails, you understand how poorly email can be executed.
On the other hand, opt-in emails that segment audiences can provide meaningful and relevant information that users actual want. Then, they’re more likely to open, click and act. Segmented email campaigns have higher open rates, lower bounce rates and click-through rates that are 100 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns. Those are the numbers of success.
Check out next week’s post for part 2 of our top ten digital marketing trends. Learn what direction video will take in 2019, how AI and data analysis can expand user customization –and more. But if you want insights right now, give me a call at ESM Digital: 1-978-475-0880.