In the world of digital marketing, we can’t rest on what’s now; we have to be prepared for what’s next. We have to be horizon-watchers to identify what’s ahead that will impact our businesses. Then, we need to take action accordingly.
I know, I know… You’re down in the weeds of day-to-day business, selling stuff, getting things done, and putting out today’s fires. That’s why I’m here for you! Consider me your digital marketing sentry stationed up on the watch tower—keeping an eye on the horizon. I’m here to alert you to three key things to be prepared for in order to succeed in the ever-evolving landscape of digital and social media marketing.
“Alexa, define ‘voice search’ for me.”
Get ready, folks: it’s time to be heard—not just seen. More than 40% of U.S. adults make at least one voice search each day. By 2020, more than half of all web searches will be voice-based. We’ve come a long way since Siri could barely understand your most basic questions. Today, voice-activated devices are proving to be constant companions in our homes, and technology is advancing the mobile kinship of these tools so that they’re with us wherever we may be with our smartphones in hand.
What does this mean in a practical sense for your business? If your website currently has good, relevant content supported by a solid SEO strategy, you’re already on the right path. If you button up your approaches with awareness for ranking in voice search results now, you’ll be a forerunner on the right path, heading into the future. Got an Alexa, Google, or other device at home or Siri on your phone? Search for your business type as if you were a potential customer, and see if your location is offered in results. If you’re not on the list, it’s time to adjust the sails so your biz gets the mentions it deserves.
Even today—in these early stages of this technology, voice searches are typically presented with respect to searchers’ localities and currently offered with about 84% accuracy (not bad for something still so new). For your geographically-focused business, this young technology is already working to your advantage. So, make the most of it. At minimum, be sure that your showroom’s description, location, and contact information are updated on all your online properties (your website and social profiles), as well as all widely used directory services.
Bear in mind that spoken search queries are usually longer (5 to 7 words) than typed ones (2 to 3 words), and they are composed with more natural language. As you review your website’s content for SEO, include keyword and search terms that align with both typed and spoken searches. You’ll be ahead of the game!
Digital Chats & Chatbots
“Take me to your greeter.” (Read this using your best robot voice for full effect.)
Digitization of customer service chats and use of automated chatbots are not brand new in the realm of online marketing, but they’re certainly becoming more sophisticated and prevalent. Online chats, those website popups or selectable options that invite visitors to converse via web-based text messages with customer service representatives, have been widely used for many years now. These tools connect human-to-human in real time. Conversely, chatbots utilize artificial intelligence to simulate conversations with customers, connecting computer-to-human in real time.
Why are these conversation management options becoming more common? Businesses and consumers benefit from their efficiencies, and as the technology behind them improves, the experience for all parties is increasingly positive and effective. Adding online chat and bots can save money and time for retailers who struggle with staffing. Consumers often prefer to type-and-tap their questions these days. Even Facebook has a strong focus on messenger bots for Business pages; their initiative launched in earnest back in 2017 and signaled the importance of these tools in our evolving marketplace.
What should you do about this? Consider using advanced conversation tools like these to stand out from your competitors, answer customers faster, and hook prospects online who were just “passing by” for deeper engagement. You can add an online chat function to your website for less than $20 per month out of the gate; that’s affordable enough to give it a test run and assess its viability for your biz. Also, dig into Facebook’s bot for your Business page. While I don’t recommend shifting too much of your customer service function under the Facebook umbrella, I do think it’s reasonable to ‘fish where the fish are’ to make connections. Your customers are on Facebook in droves, so why not test the automated chat waters and see what happens?
“Micro-Influencers are becoming big deals.” (Quote from a micro-influencer…me)
Influencer marketing is a real thing and a viable marketing strategy for many brands in our socially connected, media driven society. Get (which often means “pay for”) an influencer to mention your product, and brace for the throngs of followers to come your way to make purchases. Who wouldn’t want that, for goodness sakes? But the tides are changing, and today, we don’t need Taylor Swift-level influence to make measurable impacts. The rise of the micro-influencer is upon us.
Micro-influencers are focused on niche interests, local areas, or connections with select subsets of the population. For them, it’s not about quantity of followers on social media as much as it is about quality. Over the last two years, major brands have increasingly turned to micro-influencers to reach targeted audiences. It seems these brands have found that the closer proximity to highly defined audiences, the stronger the potential payoffs for certain messaging and marketing efforts.
For businesses like yours, this is great news as vast as the online world may be, consumers are clearly still drawn to smaller communities, interests that are unique and special to us, and to local resources that are nearby. That means you have room to make meaningful connections that can be parlayed for amplified messaging on social media, in blogs, etc.
You can start this effort today by pinpointing local micro-influencers. Maybe there’s a lifestyle blogger in your zip code who’s just building her audience, a DIYer from your town who’s launched a YouTube channel, or a designer from the area’s recent Parade of Homes who’s got some decent momentum on social media. Connect with these folks by following them on social media and commenting on their posts. Invite them for a tour of your showroom and ask them to come ready to snap and post pics. It’s comforting to know that ‘small’ can be big for businesses today!
Keep up with topics and ideas like these over on irenewilliams.biz, and let’s stay in touch!