07 Aug

10 Digital Marketing Trends For The 2nd Half Of 2019

As we round the corner toward the home stretch of 2019, it’s important to evaluate where you are in regards to the goals you set out at the beginning of the year. If your marketing initiatives are feeling a little stale, here are the top 10 marketing trends to explore, in accordance with the Softsys Hosting research:

1) Split Testing

With the amount of data currently available, there is no longer any room for guesswork in your marketing strategy. Utilize customer and sales data to determine several options for each aspect of your campaign. Then, test each component one at a time and let your consumers tell you which is most effective. While this is certainly not a new practice in digital marketing, it is now being applied more broadly than ever. What previously was used exclusively in digital advertising is now effective in testing digital assets of all kinds – including websites, emails, landing pages, and apps.

2) Personalization

More than ever, consumers have options. That means that broad-based marketing campaigns no longer catch their eye. Even targeting specific segments of your audience is becoming less and less effective. Brands need to personalize the customer experience to each specific person.

3) Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

Over the last couple of years, influencer marketing has grown from a fledgling industry to a full-blown powerhouse. As consumers gain a more discerning eye for marketing messages, influencers offer a way for brands to humanize themselves and promote their products in a more organic way.

4) Voice Search And Smart Speakers

According to comScore, 50% of all digital searches will be initiated by voice by next year. Let that sink in for a moment. If you are not preparing for this inevitability as a retail brand, you will be missing out on half of your potential sales by 2020.

5) Social Commerce

With the introduction of shoppable posts on Instagram for key brands, other social channels will not be far behind. Once this rolls out to the broader business community, use this to your advantage to reduce your “Abandoned Cart” percentage. Instead of driving people from social to your website, enable them to complete the purchase within their social accounts and thereby reduce friction and increase conversions.

6) Chatbots

You may have noticed an uptick in chat-enabled functionality on websites recently. This trend will continue over the second half of the year and in 2020. Customers are no longer patient enough to send in a support ticket nor inclined to call a customer service line. Instead, they prefer addressing questions, issues, and concerns through instant messaging and chatbots. In fact, 63% of respondents prefer messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a business or brand.

7) User-Generated Content

Considering the overwhelming amount of content needed to personalize a customer experience, prudent brands will encourage and empower their audience to generate content and share how they are using and interacting with the products or services. In this way, companies can generate a widespread “sales force” comprised of happy customers.

8) Integrating Online And Offline Marketing

Don’t develop your digital strategies in a silo. Smart business owners are branching out and finding ways to connect with consumers online and in-person. A trend that started last year will continue to grow as online stores develop offline popups and brick and mortar stores expand their presence on the web. So, stop thinking on how to maximize clicks or foot traffic and start strengthen both.

9) Video And Social Media Stories

Not a new concept, but one that shows no sign of slowed growth, video is worth the investment in the second half of the year. Integrated into ads, used to tell the brand story, and sourced from users to share across social channels – the more video the better.

 10) Social Messaging Apps

Messaging Apps

The top three social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat – have more combined users than Facebook or YouTube. So, if we’re following the old adage of “be where your customers are”, high chances are that your customers are on one of these apps. So, use it to your advantage and connect with them to deliver information, provide support and assistance, or even boost sales.

04 Aug

Plan To Scale Or Plan To Fail

Businesses must be prepared to scale – up or down – to adapt to changes both internal and external. Scale does not solely mean growth. There could be instances where you need to quickly scale down operations in response to a slow sales season or sudden market shift. Scaling in either direction requires planning and acquiring the right systems, staff, processes, technology and partners.

Scale your business

Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared:

Plan Ahead

Scaling up doesn’t happen overnight. It’s crucial to lay out a roadmap for growth and invest in the resources necessary to make them happen. First, meet with stakeholders to determine the goals for scaling and identify potential areas of opportunity. Then, map out measured steps towards your end goal.

While strategic growth is a common reason to plan for scaling up, it’s equally important to plan for unexpected changes that may affect your business.

Sudden market shifts, unpredictable sales seasons, or technical disruptions can be cause for scaling your business both up and down. Take part in some predictive planning with hypothetical situations so your business is prepared should action need to be taken.

Keep It Simple

Most often, scaling your business can largely be achieved by finding efficiencies within your existing processes. Find the ways to simplify. Complexity slows businesses down. Look for areas of opportunity to streamline and expedite.

As you’re evaluating processes, it’s important to look at both the initial and secondary consequences. Consider how any changes you make will impact other areas of the business as well as your customers.

Focus On Customers

Throughout the scaling process – whether up or down – the key is to remain 100% focused on your customers. An unintended consequence of scale can be disruptive for customer experience. Make sure that your growth or downsizing doesn’t impact your clients as they are the fuel for your business. When you delight your customers, your business will grow.

Monitor – Grow By The Data

Stay in tune with your business. Consistently analyze key data points so you can better anticipate the need for change. This will allow you to pivot and make adjustments on the fly so ensure your scaling initiative goes smoothly.

Consistent data monitoring will also clue you into when it’s appropriate to scale and grow and when a slow down is necessary. Movement in either direction is not linear, so it’s important to be diligent and monitor key data points for guidance.

Ask For Help

Ask for Help

Driving an internal scaling initiative can feel like rolling a boulder up a hill. It’s crucial to have the right team on your side. Internal and external partners should be identified and empowered to take action. Make sure your IT infrastructure is flexible and scalable with a cloud hosting partner like Softsys Hosting.