Every year your marketing planning and strategies must adapt to changes in online consumers, Web-based technology, popular user platforms, and your competitive marketplace. And you must take the steps to implement them effectively if you want to remain relevant and profitable.
As you make your marketing plans for the coming year, these are 7 Internet marketing trends for 2016 that you will want to incorporate and leverage.
Relationship Marketing Grows
In 2016 you will see more practices’ marketing efforts evolve from focusing exclusively on direct-response advertising to one based on relationship marketing, building trust and credibility.
The goal of relationship marketing is to build a broader online community, create stronger customer loyalty, stimulate more referral business, and gain more trust, credibility and authority. Practices will invest more in longer-term customer engagement and nurturing lead management, rather than quick, short-term promotional advertising.
Expensive, interruption-based mass media advertising will continue to see marketing dollars transition away from direct-response promotional advertising campaigns and into online marketing efforts focused at building stronger relationships and online credibility. Even traditionally heavy advertising practices recognize the consumer decision-making process funnels through the Web and will invest in online strategies to increase the quality of their lead generation and boost their lead-to-consultation conversion rates.
So, how will practices’ develop a greater sense of community and personalize their outreach efforts?
Practices will develop more strategic use of social media platforms, incorporate synergistic, segmented database marketing and adopt more mobile-focused communication and marketing to build stronger “connection” with customers and prospects, which will drive more word-of-mouth lead generation and sales conversions. Productive, long-term relationships are built on rapport and trust. Effective two-way communication and engagement with customers and prospects becomes a foundation to practice growth.
Practices Embrace Inbound Marketing Automation
Although the online audience continues to grow and people spend more and more time on the Web, they are also doing more things on a wider variety of platforms. Your target audience is becoming much more fragmented and reaching them at the right time has become increasingly difficult.
At the same time, practices continue to spend more of their valuable marketing time and money developing good content in hopes of getting it to the right people at the right time (during the information gathering and decision-making process).
With those two things in mind, 2016 will see inbound marketing automation activities grow beyond the $4 Billion level and become a more mainstream means for practices to convert a higher percentage of website and social media visitors into working leads and nurture these higher quality prospects.
More practices will offer more premium quality and highly desirable consumer resources (e-books, consumer guides, checklists, explainer videos, “how-to” directions, etc.) and inbound marketing will generate more leads and acquire more contacts.
In addition, by utilizing a marketing automation platform, practices will develop more consistent and strategic follow-up email campaigns, manage and segment contacts based on interests, and track the purchasing cycle of prospects in your marketing and sales funnel. All of this will be done without burdening practice staff members.
Search Goes Beyond Search Engines
In the coming year, and in years to come, you will experience a search marketing world that also becomes more diversified. No long will search activity be limited to traditional searches on search engines.
Facebook has been investing in developing its own search engine with goals that extend beyond traditional search engines, including Google. 2016 will see inroads and more consumer penetration for social media search capabilities and activities. Advanced search capabilities will include advertisers getting automated boosts, users getting input from network friends, access to practice and provider reviews and ratings, integrated payment methods, etc.
Paid advertising (PPC) will also continue to extend beyond search engines. Social media and display advertising networks will continue to capture more of the ad spending market with more advanced means of targeting audiences through demographic, geographic, lifestyle, user habits, timing, and interest-based data. Relative costs for these paid advertising outlets, which are significantly lower than Google Adwords, will increase throughout 2016, as success stimulates more demand for space.
Social-based search will evolve into the creation of a more consumer-engaged, all-inclusive environment where users go through much of the buying process and share proofs and feedback of their purchase and experience all in one place.
Desktop Gives More Ground To Mobile
In many ways, 2015 has been the year of mobile-focused marketing.
For the first time, users spent more time on the Internet using their phone rather than their desktop. Google also announced that their US mobile traffic has exceeded their desktop traffic, and their “Mobilegeddon” announcement made it clear that developing websites that facilitate the mobile user experience is essential to gain or maintain credibility with Google and its users.
In 2016, mobile-focused marketing will continue to grow and it will become increasingly important for you to realign your process for evaluating your practice’s messaging, marketing visuals, calls-to-action and communication using a “mobile-first” approach. This means not only should your website be mobile-responsive, you will need to start viewing new creative ideas, website layouts, design updates and functions through your phone, not just a desktop.
Also, your email communication with existing and prospective clients/patients will need to be crafted and delivered, knowing that most of it will be received and consumed through their phone. The value of strategic mobile communication (concise, to-the-point information, strategic links, videos, infographics, etc.) becomes even more important.
Mobile Search Using Digital Assistants
Digital, voice-activated assistants like Siri and Cortana will play a larger role in online marketing as smartphone and voice-based search queries will continue to grow.
The increasing use of digital assistants will lead to some changes in how consumers will find your practice. Although they utilize traditional search engines, they also incorporate access to other information and data. But the biggest impact is in the nature of how consumers use them to search. Driven by voice commands, searches conducted by digital assistants are more conversational in nature and not limited to a handful of keywords. The results of these types of searches now focus more on the “intent” behind the conversational search.
Web content, resources and optimization that incorporate more long-tail keyword phrases and address longer form questions will have greater success in appearing on voice-based searches. Thus, websites and optimization will focus more on making information more accessible, understandable and useful to these digital assistants (and your end users!), rather than simply concentrating on having a high density of a few key words or phrases.
Consumer Decision-making Process Becomes More Complex
Consumers will continue to have greater access to more and more information on the issues and problems they want resolved and the services your practice offers. Consequently, consumers will spend more time triaging their own situations before engaging with practice and providers. And when they do contact and interact, they have more detailed and deeper questions.
They will also access more resources to research you and your practice. The consumer buying and decision-making process will incorporate more learning and comparing different providers and practices through the use of third-party reviews and ratings websites (Google+, Yelp, Facebook, etc.).
2016 will see more successful practices address the complex decision-making process by developing higher quality consumer information and resources, and implementing tactics to deliver them to the right people at the right time. Practices will also invest more time and money into reviews and ratings marketing, or retain a reputation management service. This includes the solicitation process of securing more positive reviews from satisfied customers, as well as proactively uncovering potential problems (negative reviews) prior to them getting posted publicly on review websites.
More Interactive Stories
As the media industry fights to remain relevant in today’s digital information world and remain on the top of consumers’ minds, some have recognized the need to incorporate more entertainment, visual messaging and social marketing to support its sponsored content (revenue) goals. The use of interactive news, data and stories will continue to grow and offer marketers new opportunities to associate and build their brand.
Major media leaders, including the New York Times and Washington Post, will continue to expose online audiences to new types of storytelling that incorporates compelling visuals, imagery and animation; unique perspective, creative scripting and credible narrative delivery; captivating video and audio.
Check out some examples:
These new and creative ways of delivering information to online consumers will trickle down to niche industries and provide practices new ideas on how to build exposure and credibility with target audiences.
Of course, these are only a handful of items you will need to consider when developing your marketing plans for 2016. If you are looking for more insight or assistance to develop your marketing strategy, give us a call at 303-233-3886.