Changes in the digital world of marketing keep coming fast and furious. As a marketer, it can be challenging to know which online trends are important and which are nothing but fads. One thing most marketers do know by now is that digital marketing is marketing -- in other words, with your audience having fully migrated online to search for suppliers, products, and services, digital marketing is the most effective way to connect with your prospects and customers.
Here, then, are seven digital trends worth paying attention to.
1. Online events
According to a recent GlobalSpec Marketing Trends Survey, 47% of industrial companies are increasing their spending on online events. Online events, sometimes called virtual events or online trade shows, are a trend made possible by high bandwidth availability and emerging technologies that allow media companies to produce and host highly interactive experiences. Online events targeted to your specific audience offer you an excellent opportunity to showcase your product line, build your brand reputation, provide content to your audience, and connect with prospects and customers. What’s more, you can do it all from the comfort and convenience of your desktop -- as can your audience.
Video is experiencing a significant growth spurt. In fact, a high percentage of companies are increasing their spending on video, and it’s easy to see why. In the age of YouTube, videos are cheap to produce, and homemade production quality is not only acceptable, but cool. Also working in video’s favor is the fact that many people like to watch, not read. Looking for some good ideas for video? Try brief interviews with executives, conversations among product managers, product demonstrations, or on-site visits to customers where your products are being used.
3. Social Media
Although many companies have begun implementing social media, make sure you understand the specific reasons and goals for your own social media strategy. For example, the top reasons that companies use social media are for branding and lead-generation purposes, yet only 3 percent of companies state that social media is one of their top three sources for leads. At this point in the maturation of the social media market, increasing brand awareness and building relationships are the outcomes most effectively achieved. LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for sectors such as the industrial industry, followed by Facebook and then Twitter.
4. Digital Content
A few years ago, everyone was saying “Content is King.” Well, in many ways, content still is king -- digital content -- as attested to by the huge growth of e-readers, the iPad and other devices for consuming digital content. And it’s not just Web pages. There are videos, Webinars, downloadable PDFs, e-books, interactive tools and more. Your customers and prospects are hungry for content to help them do their jobs and make better purchasing decisions. Your job is to create that content and get it to them in digital format.
5. Internet Banner Advertising
Internet banner advertising has become a strong value proposition for marketers because of the availability of highly targeted advertising networks that can place your ads on specific sites frequented by professionals in your industry. Online advertising networks also offer the convenience of reaching many sites with a single buy, helping you save time and make the most effective use of your budget. Banner ads are highly visual; they offer great branding opportunities and can drive qualified, targeted traffic to your Web site.
6. Testing and Analytics
One major advantage of digital media is that it is easy to test and measure. A/B testing is becoming a popular way to optimize e-mail campaigns, Web pages and other online media. A/B testing basically means you split your list in two and send each list a slightly different version of what you’re testing, changing only one thing at a time and measuring what performs better. In addition, every company should be performing some type of Web site analytics such as measuring traffic, page popularity, and visitor behavior to help make informed decisions about optimizing your site.
7. Online Marketing Budgets
The top eight channels for increased marketing spend in 2011 are all online — from social media and SEO to Internet banner advertising networks, online newsletter sponsorships and more. In addition, according to GlobalSpec’s 2011 Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, companies spend an average of 38 percent of their marketing budget online and 50 percent report that online marketing is a larger percentage of their overall marketing budget this year than last year. Online marketing should continue to take a bigger slice of the marketing budget in subsequent years, as more marketers experience the ROI associated with online programs and discover they can connect better with customers and prospects online.