We’re arriving at the end of 2015 and the Internet is packed with blog posts predicting the top trends of 2016. While everyone is looking for what’s hot and what’s coming next, we think it’ll be better to reflect on 2015. By looking back at (and analysing) the marketing trends of the past year, one can get a better grasp on what actually worked in 2015.
With Google’s updates, Facebook and Twitter constantly changing what’s deemed acceptable and the rise of different marketing channels, 2015 has been quite a ride. But we like to think we’ve helped our frequent readers survive and thrive in the world of digital marketing.
Predicting exactly what 2016 will hold for small business marketing is a bit far-fetched, so we’ll make a few educated guesses based on the trends of 2015.
Trend: Focusing on Mass Content creation
With millions of blog posts published everyday vying for your prospect’s attention, just any ‘content’ isn’t king anymore. Simply posting content for posting’s sake can harm your rankings, instead of helping. Remember that Google tries to rank sites that provide a good user experience while also answering the searcher’s queries.
An improved user experience, in turn, increases the popularity of the site, as popularity is interpreted as an indication of higher quality, which further boosts its rankings.
Solution: Understand what your site visitors want to read, find the questions in your industry and create engaging content to answer them. Creating a content creation and marketing strategy are crucial if you want to stand out from the crowd. You must also understand that online users have different preferences for consuming content; therefore use video, podcasts, slideshows as alternatives to creating blog posts.
Trend: The decline of organic social media reach
2015 saw the phenomenon of throttling of organic views, across social media platforms. More businesses found that their organic social media reach declined steadily, despite amassing more and more fans. Even those that had up to 5,000 Facebook followers, found that their posts never reached all of them. Across industries, the average reach amounted to only around 10%.
To understand the Reachpocalypse, one must remember that Facebook is fudamentally a business too. Jay Baer said it best “…Facebook cares about THEIR business, not about YOUR business…” By throttling organic reach (free views), businesses will be ‘forced’ to advertise.
Solution: The earlier you accept that social media isn’t as free as it used to be, the better for your business. To get the best ROI from social media marketing (yes, Twitter does this too), you will have to spend on advertising. But with highly targeted ads, you’ll find that your adspend is reduced. If your content is genuinely share-worthy, it will spread organically as more people like, click, comment, and share your post.
Trend: We stared down Mobilegeddon
On April 21, Google released a search engine update, that marketers termed “Mobilegeddon”. Dubbed one of the biggest changes in SEO in recent times, it sought to make websites improve the mobile user experience. With the increased amount users accessing the web on mobile devices and Google’s own drive to improve the customer experience, the search giant started demoting sites that were deemed hard to navigate on mobile devices.
Soon after the update was released, mobile-optimized websites started ranking better in the SERPS. In September, a study by Adobe Systems, found that traffic from mobile searches had fallen by 12% for non-mobile friendly websites since Mobilegeddon was rolled out.
Solution: A drop in rankings simply because your website isn’t mobile-friendly is a huge and avoidable mistake. Making sure your website meets mobile standards is straight forward; Google provides a mobile-friendly test site where you can check mobile friendliness. The site ranks your pages and also gives suggestions for fixing any errors.
For sites with low page loading times, tools like GTMetrix can be used to assess and optimize site speed. The use of a responsive theme also allows your site to be viewed better on smaller mobile devices, reducing the need to zoom in to read text and access pages only by swiping across.
Trend: Tapping into Micro-Moments
The increase in mobile usage had another impact on how we market in 2015. In a Google Consumer survey carried out in August, over two-thirds of smartphone users admitted that they get “anxious” when they don’t have their phone with them. Consumers have become more and more attached to their mobile devices; one study even says we check our phones up to 150 times a day!
Our increasing reliance on mobile devices led to Google coining the term micro-moments to describe those moments when people turn to their mobile device for assistance with a task. Filled with immediacy and the context of the situation, Google described the four key micro-moments as:
an I-want-to-know moment.
- an I-want-to-go moment.
- an I-want-to-do moment.
- an I-want-to-buy moment.
Solution: To ‘step’ in and help customers having a micro-moment, businesses must:
- Anticipate the micro-moments for users in their industry, and commit to being available to help them.
- Be relevant to their immediate need at that moment, offering them the answers they’re looking for.
- Remember it’s called a micro-moment; if there is any friction in getting the info they’re looking for, you will lose the prospect.
By providing searchers with the info they need ‘in the moment,’ your brand can position itself as the go-to brand for information.
Trend: Data Tracking pays Off
Google Analytics turned 10 on the 14th November 2015; and it has proven itself to be one of the best ways of improving conversions on your site. You may think you have the perfect marketing campaign set up; content created, social media posts scheduled, even an email newsletter raring to go. But if you are not tracking your conversions across these channels, you’ll simply be wasting resources.
Conversions are the ‘positive’ actions that your visitors complete; whether they are sales, sign-ups, form submissions etc. Using GA to track your conversions is relatively straight- forward as we have shown you in multiple blog posts.
While it is important to track important metrics like bounce rate, average time on site, pages per visit etc, that’s only half of the equation. The data collected must also be analysed to find where conversions can be improved. GA allows you track actions on your website, in your email, from your social media posts etc.
Solution: Webmasters must understand how digital analytics can help them improve their business, especially by using custom reports that can unlock the full power of Google Analytics. They’ll soon find that detailed tracking and analysis are the best ways to find which marketing actions are generating your preferred conversions.
Will much change in 2016; it’s difficult to make a detailed prediction. But with from the trends observed above, one can see that satisfying the visitor will always benefit the business. Will Periscope take over from Twitter? Will LinkedIn become the social media platform of choice?
Any answers given are simply educated guesses; the one thing we can guarantee is that as long as you focus on engaging your customers, providing the content they need and improving the quality of their digital experiences with your brand, you will retain and attract more loyal customers.
From everyone at Search and More, we thank you for being part of our 2015. We look forward to connecting with you in 2016.
Happy Holidays, everyone.