Small Business Digital Marketing Trends for 2019 and Beyond
With online shopping now accounting for almost 11% of total retail sales, e-commerce has a huge impact on traditional retailing. We can fully expect this will continue in the following years. US Census Bureau figures show that over the last couple of decades, United States online retail sales have grown rapidly, rising from just under five million in 1999 to 395 millions in 2017.
Content Marketing Trends
Our industry tosses around the word “content” a lot. What are we talking about? When we refer to content and content marketing, we’re talking about anything your organization produces that your audience would find valuable — that doesn’t pitch your services or your brand.
Very similar to what we’re seeing in search, the internet is becoming crowded, even for small businesses in local contexts. Everyone and their mother has a blog. So many businesses are pushing out content — and some of it is even pretty good. Depending on your industry, a short blog post titled, “3 Tips for x,” and published in 2015 might have gotten a lot of attention. But in 2019, it’s probably not doing a lot for your business.
Rand Fishkin coined the term “10x Content” a few years back. The idea is that when you’re thinking of publishing something, in order to truly stand out, you need to make it ten times better than the next best piece on that subject.
For example, if you’re in the air conditioning repair industry — instead of a simple text filled “How to Identify What’s Wrong with Your AC” post, you create a visual with illustrations and photos that outline some key issues someone could be having, and exactly what to do to fix them.
Search Engine Optimization Trends
When it comes to organic rankings as a whole, the biggest shift we’re seeing is a sort of specialization of SERPs based on industry and intent. It appears Google is honing in on certain searches and intents and crafting the results in their own way. For instance, “digital marketing in greenville” might display digital marketing companies’ services page and a local pack, but “digital marketing company in greenville” may display job boards.
To succeed in digital marketing via search in 2019 and beyond, you have to segment the queries you’re trying to rank for. Because how you attack one query may look a lot different than another, notes MadBeeTech SEO. Competitor analysis and finding out why company x is doing so well for y searches, but company y is doing better for z searches — this has to be happening in 2019.
Social Media and Small Businesses
Many businesses monitor their online reviews and consider their reputation management done. While review sites are important, they aren’t the only place that customers are talking about you online. More and more customers are taking their outings, experiences and complaints to social media, which can mean winning over customers’ friends, or keeping them away.
Social media and online reviews work in different ways, but they are both important to online reputation management (ORM) in 2019. Consider when and how customers interact with online reviews compared to social media. Online reviews are important when customers are actively looking for you and nearly ready to make a choice. By contrast, social media works passively, introducing your business to people who may never have heard of you, and may never have searched for you. This makes social media a powerful tool for businesses that are not yet well-known, as your first few followers and fans can quickly encourage organic growth.
Personalization and Customer Engagement
Compared to traditional retail shopping, ecommerce stores lack face-to-face personal interaction. Online stores do not have a retail clerk who can recommend products based on your interests, tastes, and preferences.
To mimic this experience, ecommerce companies leverage personalization opportunities throughout the shopping journey, states Entrepreneur. Much like online course providers are replacing the need for in-person teaching, ecommerce is replacing the need for in-store retail experiences.
Using personal online data such as search queries, page visits, and purchase history, brands transform their online stores to best serve the customer’s needs and interests. For instance, login to your Amazon account. You’ll find recommended products based on your past purchases, ads tailored to your search history, and marketing copy speaking directly to you. Expect more brands to follow suit as personalization technology becomes easier to integrate into ecommerce sites.
Much like personalized emails generate 6x higher transaction rates and convert better than cold emails, consumers spend 48% more when their experience is personalized. In an age where privacy is key, studies also showed 57 percent of online shoppers are comfortable with providing personal information to a brand, as long as it directly benefits their shopping experience.
Trends for eCommerce
The rise of conversation AI (commonly known as chatbots) is one of 2019’s most popular ecommerce trends helping brands interact with customers at scale. In addition to answering common customer questions, messenger bots are also able to facilitate the buying process for online shoppers.
This ecommerce trend provides massive value to busy consumers who demand immediate answers, regardless of the time of day or the platform they choose to contact a company. AI allows ecommerce businesses to support customers on all platforms simultaneously. AI-based ecommerce is still in its early development, but Forbes feels that 2019 is definitely the time to begin utilizing its superpowers. Unlike simple automations, advanced machine learning allows you to deeply customize how individual users experience your brand.
Beyond personalizing specific fields according to customer data, email marketing campaigns can be triggered by patterns of customer behavior such as purchase history. For example, if a customer habitually orders a product every few months, the system can send reminder emails prompting future re-orders.
Popular visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are continuously improving ways in which ecommerce brands can market to customers in creative, organic ways. In-app shopping modals can allow your customers to purchase products without having to leave their preferred platform, promoting a greater sense of trust and security for shoppers.
As Google Assistant and Alexa become more popular, voice search on mobile devices is being used more often to make purchases. Optimizing your ecommerce shop for voice search can position your business to receive more traffic in 2019. For best results, be sure to mirror the language your target customers actually uses.
Motion on an otherwise static screen will always attract attention. This is one reason auto-played videos are so popular on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Use animation and movement on your website or email marketing campaigns to draw attention to specific details and engage viewers. Don’t overdo it, and be careful not to distract attention from the most important actions you want a customer to take (such as completing their purchase).