In digital marketing we have spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about personalisation. When we first started in the big, scary world of SEO (because back then that’s all there really was), content was created to be delivered via the huge dissemination powers of the internet to whoever might come across it. In effect, this was a massive platform on which you could have your say and potentially reach whoever.
Then came Google apocalypse or whatever you want to call the myriad of changes to search that forced everyone (and not before time) to stop manipulating search with crap content and start delivering words, messages and visual media that meant something to the brand. To create content that would engage audiences to the point where they simply have to share it and let others benefit too.
Fast forward to today, where the personalisation of content is virtually impossible to avoid. Google personalises SERPs based on whether or not you are logged in, plus a million other variables which none of us outside the Google circle of trust actually understand. Facebook delivers content based on what we have already liked and engaged with, to the point where a best friend from school that you haven’t engaged in Facebook conversation with recently could announce the birth of their first child and you would miss it because your news feed is prioritising what Tracey had for dinner last night. Netflix tries to tell us what films we’d like to watch and thanks to loyalty cards, your favourite supermarket knows how much wine you drink each week, whether you prefer red or white and how often you have to top up your stash.
Whilst on the surface, this level of personalisation seems to be delivering information that is more useful to us as consumers, when you dig a little deeper you start to realise that someone is putting the blinkers on you. Consider that personalisation is narrowing down our views, rather than doing what the internet is supposed to do – expose us to a wide range of opinions and experiences. By only seeing the content that has been tailored for us, we start to see that single view point as the norm, as the general consensus of the populous, when in actual fact we could be losing touch on what is really happening.
Still, personalisation is a good thing, isn’t it?
Not always. In a recent study – Digital Innovation: Surviving the Next Wave of Change, YouGov – almost half (45%) of British consumers said they were not comfortable with personalisation of the information, recommendations and advertising they receive.
Much of this discontent could be put down to brands personalising on low frequency searches – just because you have searched once for something doesn’t mean you are happy to be bombarded with remarketing messages for the next three weeks. Timing is also key. Just because you purchased a product today, it doesn’t mean you will be interested in refills, replacement parts or add-ons tomorrow. Patience is the key to personalising your offering.
So even if you take this advice, time your offer correctly, target it in the right place and don’t overdo it. How can you be sure you are even reaching your potential audience?
Well, you can’t.
The pitfall of personalisation is that you may not even be able to reach your potential audience because they are stuck in their own ‘echo chamber’, where the only voice they hear is their own. Where the content they consume has already been personalised (narrowed down) for them by their purchasing and online browsing preferences. Where the only opinions echoed back to them are their own, because there are no other beliefs within their pigeon hole.
Still think personalisation is a good thing?
To be honest I don’t think we can put the brakes on the personalisation bus as brands are just too ‘into’ it. But what we can do, as consumers, is keep an open mind. This means sometimes reading content that is out of our normal safety zone, because there could well be a whole host of products and services out there that would suit us down to the ground but they just can’t penetrate the box we’ve become trapped in.
If your company has been using only traditional marketing methods to generate new business, you need to read this!
2017 is the year of change and improvements. Marketing strategies have grown beyond word of mouth and Facebook posts. Let us show you how your business can reach new heights using digital marketing strategies.
Why Digital Marketing?
- First and foremost, digital marketing is a tremendously cheaper marketing method than the traditional offline methods – just think about those print runs, radio campaigns and television ads that you couldn’t afford 15 years ago! Digital marketing is much more accessible, even for those with small marketing budgets.
- It’s a great way to increase your online market share
- **According to Hubspot By 2016, more than 50% of money spent in the US will be influenced by online marketing campaigns. ** How long before we can say the same thing here in the UK?
What is a digital strategy?
Having a digital strategy is, in essence, a plan. It allocates time and money to all the relevant platforms and helps you to gain insight into statistical data which will help you to reach your goals. Market your business using multiple platforms like Social media, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Email Marketing, SEO PR, and so much more.
How to begin building a digital strategy
- The first thing you need to do is be clear on your aims and objectives.
- Analyse how your company performed in the previous year.
- Research your target audience and preferred digital media channels
- Create your content
- Allocate paid advertising budgets
- Create a timeline
- Evaluate and improve your strategy
Why you NEED to set aside a budget for an SEO and digital marketing company to help you
- By now, you must understand the importance of digital marketing. One thing that will help you reach that increased ROI is a thorough and well thought out digital marketing strategy.
- It can be a daunting task to do yourself
- You’ll save money in the long run
- Work alongside a professional to gain a fresh perspective
- Utilise their resources and evaluation techniques
As 2016 draws to a close we’ve got time to reflect back on another year in the digital sphere. 2016 has provided some great opportunities to get your brand out there but it has also been challenging at times, as we come to accept the changes that are constantly put in place by the giants of the internet.
The big online marketing changes of 2016
Some of the changes we’ve witnessed this year include:
- The introduction of mobile-first indexing – Google recently announced that it is experimenting with this and that eventually:
“our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
So, if your site is not mobile friendly you will almost certainly eventually disappear from organic search and if you don’t prioritise mobile content you may become less visible.
- The rise and growth of global spam referral visits – skewing analytics reporting and generally getting in the way of genuine traffic. There are several ways to remove this data and filter the traffic, however, experts never quite got to grips with which method was best. Ultimately it seems easier to ignore what you cannot affect and concentrate instead on your own goals, how you plan to reach them and how you’ll measure the effectiveness of a given campaign.
- The boost given to HTTPS pages – at the end of 2015 Google announced that it had changed the indexation system to look for more https pages and the popularity of secure sites has subsequently increased in 2016.
- The removal of ads from the right-hand side of the page in Google search – initial reports seemed to suggest that PLA ads benefited from increased placement and that right-hand ads were never favoured by searchers anyway, but with 10 months gone since the changes were made we haven’t seen any major dramas as a result of this change. Those worried that paid search would become more ‘cut throat’ had a right to be wary, however, CPCs continue to rise anyway and it is more about what you can do with your budget and how targeted you can make your campaign in terms of text, display and video advertising, than it is about the number of ad slots available.
- The introduction of rich cards – building on the successes of rich snippets, rich cards use schema.org markup to display content in an even more engaging way. This is perfect for sites sharing recipes and any other image rich information that you want to stand out in search.
- The continued decline of Facebook organic reach – further to the declining organic reach of the last couple of years, 2016 really saw a nail in the coffin to an organic-only Facebook strategy with publishers’ pages experiencing a 52% decline in organic reach. This means that no matter how many people like your page, a large proportion of them are not going to see the important content you have created, often with them in mind. This is because Facebook needs a way of picking out the posts that keep people coming back. With a new algorithm in June, favouring friends and family in the news feeds, it was a further blow to brands trying to reach and engage their target audience via the social network. All is not lost though, as we are still seeing really good improvements in engagement, reach and referral traffic from our customer’s Facebook pages. Video is also tipped to be a great way to increase engagement so the more video content you can get onto your social pages the more likely you are to retain that audience visibility.
Instagram users have also witnessed a decline in organic reach in 2016 and just last week, Youtube sensation and top account holder PewDiePie announced that he would be shutting down his channel on reaching 50million subscribers as changing algorithms mean fewer people are now seeing his videos.
So, where does that leave us?
Digital Marketing Trends 2017
The New Year will no doubt present its own new challenges but there will also be great opportunities to exploit new technologies and trends. We predict that the following will be key factors to successful digital marketing in 2017:
- Automation – not so much that your activity becomes robotic but just enough so that customers don’t have to wait for an initial response and that content can be drip fed into the public domain even when the offices are closed.
- Continuity – with the very real threat of your social pages being deleted if you stop updating them (Facebook has threatened to do this on a couple of redundant customer accounts this year) and the fact that the consumer can spot a mile off if you are up-to-date and or inactive from the prevalence or lack of blog and social updates, continuity in terms of your marketing strategy has never been more important.
- Integration – many businesses still view marketing channels in isolation but given that the average purchase is usually achieved through a combination of media – including paid search, organic search, social media referral and direct return visit – it is crazy to think of all these channels at your disposal as separate tools. Combine them in the right proportions, at the right time and with the right level of activity and you’ll end up with far better results.
- Going Live – there are few businesses brave enough to live stream at the moment but the marketing possibilities are out there if you stop and think about how this technology can be harnessed to help you reach your target audience. Social media users are demanding to be more ‘in the moment’ and what better way to immerse them in your brand or content than taking them with you? Think live events as a great starting point for live video streaming.
- New reality – from the Virtual Reality gaming headsets that are a popular Christmas list item to the augmented reality of roaming the streets for Pokestops earlier this year, our concepts of what is real has been challenged in 2016 and we predict it will grow and develop further in the coming twelve months.
- Cutting content – we don’t mean necessarily cutting down, but cutting through. There are so many words, images, videos and experiences out there that we are all getting too overwhelmed to bother paying attention. The winners in 2017 will be the brands who can cut through this noise to reach their target audience with specific messages that mean something to them.
What about at SEO it Right?
On a company level, 2016 has been a fantastic year. We started the year dressed up and walking the cold streets to raise money for Sport Relief, celebrated our 6th birthday in April, spent the summer delivering an awesome work experience programme for two local school pupils and an international work placement student and ended the year welcoming a new member to our team – Kostas, who comes to us as a highly-experienced developer,AdWords manager and user experience expert. If you haven’t met Kostas already or received an email from him I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing him well on his SEO it Right journey.
All that leaves me to do is thank everyone, staff, customers and followers for their continued support in 2016. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to an exciting year in 2017!