Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger Kayleigh Alexandra
Blink and you’ll miss the latest developments in the digital world — such is the pace of technological progress. And now that the internet has become a core resource for just about any industry in existence, any brand that makes no effort to keep up with fresh trends might as well wave a white flag and send concession letters to its rivals.
So companies need to stay on top of how things are progressing, yes — but what are the standout trends in today’s digital landscape? As 2019 marches on, what new tactics are on the table, ready to be worked into brand strategies? Let’s run through what brands need to know:
Influencer marketing has been a huge revenue source for many brands, ever since channels like Instagram and Pinterest started captivating consumers and gathering them conveniently around particular individuals. But a problem with this has been the tendency to invest in quasi-celebrity influencers: people with large profiles and larger followings.
Why is this a problem? It’s a simple matter of listing the points of failure. If you pay a lot of money to partner with one big influencer, it will only take one social media scandal (hardly an uncommon occurrence today) for their influence to be completely destroyed, leaving you with useless or even damaging links to a disgraced figure.
Micro-influencers, though, have much smaller groups of followers, concentrate on more limited niches, and (consequently) cost a lot less to partner with. What big companies are now learning is that partnering with micro-influencers — though it takes more work and effort — is both safer and considerably more cost-effective.
The standard of UX across the internet has made enormous strides in recent years, with personalization (and customization) playing a core role. It’s easy to see why companies have invested so much in polishing UX: when most products can easily be found for similar prices on numerous online stores, each brand needs something distinct to give it an edge.
The consequence of this improvement is that consumers now expect personalized experiences from the brands they support. Such experiences typically involve individual suggestions and product recommendations, as well as in-depth support services. Any brand that makes no effort to show each of its customers or clients that it’s invested in their contentment will be perceived as indifferent and unworthy of attention.
Customer experience evangelist Joey Coleman put it well in his interview for SEO expert Stephan Spencer’s podcast Marketing Speak: “Businesses are really good at the chase, they’re not as good after there’s been a catch.” While targeting customer happiness and customer success as primary concerns, an ambitious brand must look for ways to provide personalized experiences and keep the customers it caught. Even if you can get away with doing otherwise today, it won’t last long — the UX industry keeps moving ahead.
There are three main reasons why there’s been a steady rise in the importance of video content: improvements in networking infrastructure have made high-quality streams possible, social media channels have forced businesses to be more open about their operations, and mobile browsing has become dominant (the advantage of video is even greater on mobile screens).
Today, any business that wants to succeed with its marketing needs to at least be considering how it can use video content. For behind-the-scenes footage? Product showcases? Creative storytelling campaigns? Customer testimonials? There are so many things that can be done with video content that the prospect can induce analysis paralysis, so brands must understand one thing in particular: when in doubt, just try something.
First efforts at corporate video content aren’t likely to be all that great anyway, so just start experimenting. If you hold out until you have a perfectly-plotted video strategy, you’ll probably find yourself holding out forever. Practice makes perfect.
There are more demands on corporate time than ever before, all because there are so many opportunities and possibilities out there. You can research anything, contact anyone, find a way to pitch to any client you can imagine. But you can’t find the time to use those opportunities if you’re spending hours every day trudging through admin tasks.
That’s where automation comes in. The biggest brands have been leaning heavily on automation for quite some time now, and at this point there’s a huge selection of accessible and affordable automation tools to choose from: you can automate anything from your invoice production and distribution to your email marketing.
The main thing holding automation back has been the business world’s typical sluggishness. Brands are reluctant to make sweeping changes to their operations until they get confirmation that other top brands are doing it as well. By now, it’s clear that automation is the key to operational efficiency, so smart brands are taking advantage.
There’s plenty more to learn about what’s happening in the digital world, but these core trends particularly warrant effort from any and every brand eager to keep up. The internet is so rich with opportunity that it would be a shame not to take advantage — wouldn’t you agree?