What the Emergence of 5G Wireless Means For Marketing

What the Emergence of 5G Wireless Means For Marketing

It’s been a decade since 4G – the last generation of mobile network technology – was introduced. With its arrival, the landscape of digital media and mobile communication was forever altered.

Smartphones and other devices designed to fully utilize 4G wireless technology gave consumers the power of supercomputers in the palms of their hands, enabling them to quickly and easily search the internet for products, services, reviews, and media, as well as find answers to nearly any question imaginable.

In a short period of time, we’ve come to take 4G’s capabilities for granted. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that many of today’s mobile apps – with their capacity for streaming video and audio and in-app advertising and purchases – could not have existed on 3G.

No previous generation of mobile technology has had the wherewithal to drive economic growth to the extent that 5G promises. Much like the advent of 4G made it possible for services like Uber and Lyft to launch, 5G is likely to spark a brand-new wave of tech titans.

5G also gives every indication of opening up more opportunities for the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), connecting everything from your house lights to your garage door and even your toaster to the internet. This translates into more people and more devices spending more time connected to the internet, increasingly consuming more content.

While it could take as long as a decade to realize the full potential of the technology, 5G is projected to cover up to 65% of the global population by the end of 2025, fielding as much as 45% of global mobile data traffic. When 5G wireless networks and devices finally start to take root, they will fundamentally change customer behavior and open up new marketing opportunities for organizations.

WHAT IS 5G?

5G, the fifth-generation cellular wireless network, is a cloud-based network that connects people on mobile devices to the internet remarkably faster than previous networks. While 4G requires cables and infrastructure to operate smoothly in a neighborhood, 5G’s cellular towers enhance cloud-based signals, eliminating many cable-related needs.

Whereas preceding wireless networks were only truly capable of powering mobile devices up to the size of a tablet, 5G will be strong enough and fast enough to effortlessly power computers, televisions, and even smart devices.

5G technology carries with it the potential for download speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G; very low latency (the time it takes for a network to send a data packet after it’s requested from a receiving device); higher network capacity (the ability to connect far more devices to a network simultaneously); and faster message transmission, due to supercharged connectivity.

The possibilities of 5G are limitless and could transform the digital marketing landscape in more ways than we can conceive of.

HOW 5G WIRELESS WILL CHANGE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

The expansion of 5G will be powered by the introduction of 5G-compatible iPhones and Android phones in the near future. This will likely spawn a huge wave of smartphone upgrades. Along with being on a faster network, these devices will feature better-quality screens, faster processors, higher-resolution cameras, and other improved components.

Once customers have acquired these compatible devices, wireless carriers will begin vying for these customers by building out their respective networks. This build-out will take some time, but 5G should be an everyday experience for the majority of Americans within the next 3 to 5 years.

Faster internet speeds on 5G-supported devices will make surfing the internet, watching videos, and online shopping much more attractive on mobile. This will likely motivate consumers to use their mobile devices even more often than before. Already, 37% of web traffic and 56% of revenue is from mobile devices, according to Smart Insights. As 5G expands to more communities, these numbers will certainly escalate even further.

With better and faster data exchanges, 5G will also lead to enhanced location accuracy. Having relevant data in hand to increase targeting accuracy for any ad, search page, or web page experience means improved results for both consumers and brands. Consumers will enjoy a better experience and marketers will reach a more targeted audience. While this won’t necessarily change the tactics that local marketers use to connect to their audience, it will increase the chances that the consumers they reach are the right ones.

WHAT 5G MEANS FOR MARKETING

A Solid Online Presence Is Essential

With higher loading speeds and dependable, super-fast connections, people will be able to consume more online content, faster. In fact, early users of the 5G network have reported using four times more data than they did previously. Consumers are likely going to be spending more time browsing, scrolling, and swiping on the internet and less time viewing traditional content like cable TV, newspapers, and magazines. More screen time translates into more opportunities to reach your target audience.

If your brand doesn’t currently exist on all the relevant platforms, now’s the time to establish and develop a solid online presence. If you haven’t already launched a website, this is a crucial first step. Set up and optimize your business profiles on all the major social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Consider creating marketing videos aimed at increasing brand awareness. Starting a company blog is an excellent way to build a community and provoke conversations among industry peers.

Digital Ads Will Be on More Screens & Surfaces

With 5G and advancing Wi-Fi technologies, wireless internet is going to be noticeably faster and more widespread, even in rural locations. Due to the higher network speeds, visual and media in digital ads could be much more advanced.

Currently, digital ads can be seen on smartphones, websites, and occasionally on screens at shopping centers and airports. Super-fast wireless connectivity means high-end screens could be located anywhere an internet connection exists. Quite literally, any surface has the potential to become an interactive digital marketing ad platform. Faster speeds could even open the door for functional holographic ads. 

Super-fast wireless connectivity means that high-end screens could be located anywhere an internet connection exists. Faster speeds could even open the door for functioning holographic ads. In a world where literally any surface has the potential to become an interactive digital marketing ad platform, advertisers can dramatically increase the number of locations and methods by which they can reach potential customers.

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

For years, marketers have deemed immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to be rife with potential for paid advertising. While some major brands have played around with VR and AR for some time, opportunities in these areas have been constrained based on Wi-Fi access.

One of the chief reasons why VR, AR, and other forms of extended reality (XR) haven’t yet become widespread in popularity is because these technologies demand significant bandwidth, less latency, and greater speed than 4G is capable of providing. The expansion of 5G networks will allow advertisers to utilize this format with more reliability and less lag.

Augmented reality inherently relies on immersion. A lag or stutter can shatter the illusion. In order to maintain the suspension of disbelief, the AR experience needs to be utterly convincing, real-time, and executed seamlessly. As internet speeds accelerate, delivering on these requirements is becoming progressively easier.

Low latency and high system capacity will improve overall consistency, helping to bring smooth, immersive experiences into mainstream reality, and offering a wealth of opportunities for marketers.

 

In the near future, we can reasonably expect to see brands launching innovative and compelling messaging using high-quality, interactive creative imagery overlaid on practically every surface imaginable. This innovative marketing content will likely be viewable not just when wearing standard AR-enhanced glasses, but also in store windows, on walls, in car dashboards, and on next-generation mobile devices that also function as projectors.

Internet of Things (IoT) Will Reach Its Full Potential

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the concept of connecting any possible device to the internet. This goes beyond the obvious connected “things” like computers, cell phones, smart TVs, cameras, home security systems, and wearable devices (Apple Watches and FitBits, for example), and extends to more commonplace items like thermostats, lighting fixtures, household appliances, doorbells, and even barbecue grills. All of these and more can be controlled through devices such as smartphones or smart speakers.

While many IoT devices are capable of functioning on 4G networks, connections between devices generally can’t rely on transferring large amounts of data because there simply isn’t enough bandwidth. With the increased bandwidth that 5G networks will bring, the number of connected items will skyrocket, and the connection between these items will become more efficient and seamless.

As adoption of 5G continues to increase, the amount of data generated by IoT devices will also grow exponentially. Marketers will have to learn to separate the valuable data from the “junk,” but once they’re able to reliably pinpoint the good data to use on a large scale, the possibilities are endless.

What benefits can marketers derive from this treasure trove of data?

  • Understand audiences more deeply in order to better personalize their messaging
  • Generate contextual and location-based ads that are hyper-targeted to reach their ideal audience
  • Create timely, relevant content for prospective customers at each stage in the buying journey
  • Listen to the needs of their customers based on their behavior
  • Make real-time adjustments to marketing campaigns based on ongoing data analysis

Going forward, advertisers should be ready to interface with users across a variety of different devices using a vast array of ad formats.

More Interactive Advertising

Up to this point, buffering and other technological limitations have impaired the accessibility of interactive ads.

At present, advertisers are tasked with finding a happy medium between producing compelling creative content and minimizing webpage load times. High-definition or interactive digital display ads lengthen the amount of time it takes for a page to load, which can cause some website visitors to skedaddle before they even see the ad.

5G download speeds will be fast enough that marketers will no longer be limited with regard to the quality of creative features on a webpage. 4K and live videos will be commonplace across the internet, even on mobile.

Since interactive ads won’t negatively impact a website’s performance, the sites will be significantly easier to navigate. Improved website performance could potentially boost click-through rates and decrease bounce rates as well.

Marketing Processes Will Be Improved

Reporting and data mining that once took hours or days for marketers to complete might only take a few minutes or seconds with 5G. Analytics, applied to every phase of the marketing process, can help predict where demand will be for particular products, optimize pricing to gain a competitive edge, and identify consumer purchasing patterns and behaviors.

With faster data communication between devices, marketers will finally have access to real-time analytics. This opens up the possibility to maximize and modify marketing campaigns in real time using artificial intelligence (AI) and other marketing automation tools.

Greater Personalization & Hyper-Localized Targeting

As internet speeds increase and mobile connectivity reaches deeper into more rural and remote areas, the number of internet users is likely to grow at an even faster rate than before. With the proliferation of users, marketers will also see a noticeable increase in the amount of valuable data they are able to collect. With more detailed information in hand, marketers will be able to deliver hyper-localized content and multifaceted campaign strategies. Hyper-localization makes personalization and targeting increasingly important. With this data, marketers will be better able to:

  • Tailor ads by demographics, consumer behavior, and specific device usage
  • Improve segmentation, customer experience (CX), and customer journey
  • Generate customized calls to action, personalized emails, and location-based homepages
  • Build meaningful relationships between the brand and the consumer

Expansion of Mobile Marketing

Over the past decade, screen time on mobile devices has significantly increased. With users’ eyes glued to their cell phone screens, mobile marketing is more vital than ever. 

Marketers understand that there’s a discernible difference between how people use a computer and a smartphone. Desktop search inquiries can be more complex, whereas smartphone queries are generally simpler and more direct. Bearing this in mind, marketers will need to fashion content that’s more appropriate for mobile devices.

This content will likely be centered around screenless searches – voice search and digital assistants, for example – as well as micro-moments (when people reflexively consult a device, typically a smartphone, to act upon a need to learn, do, discover, watch, or buy something). Consequently, this content will be more conversational in tone and framed to answer frequently asked questions to aid users in acquiring information on the go.

Mobile ecommerce sales in the U.S. represented nearly 40% of total retail ecommerce sales as recently as 2018 – and it’s anticipated that these numbers will keep climbing. Despite this unprecedented growth, U.S. consumers are nonetheless encountering considerable difficulties while shopping online.

Consumers’ greatest frustration emanates from latency – in a recent survey, 42% of users referenced low-performing websites or apps as their biggest inconvenience. As network speeds accelerate with 5G, zero latency will essentially eliminate the number-one problem for mobile shopping.

Now is the time for companies – and marketers – to gear up for the progression of 5G by streamlining shopping apps and enriching the customer experience.

Video Advertising Will Increase

Video is already the most consumed content on the internet, as well as a fast-growing segment of digital marketing. While 4G networks are relatively fast, lag issues still creep up when streaming videos. Due to limited bandwidth, pages load slowly, preventing many marketers from doubling down on video as a central focus of their efforts.

With heightened connectivity and accelerated internet speeds, the use of video content, streaming, and mobile video consumption is expected to skyrocket. Page load times will dramatically decrease and buffering time will be reduced to virtually nil, creating a nearly seamless streaming experience for users.

5G networks will allow users to stream high-quality videos faster than ever before, contribute to better overall quality (such as 4K video), easily support longer-form and data-rich videos, and enhance live video capabilities.

Consequently, video advertising will become more prevalent online. Marketers will focus on producing unique, high-quality video content as a primary component of their advertising strategies. Consumers should expect that the quantity of video ads they see will rise; however, these same users may be more open to video content if they find it to be particularly relevant.

As recently as 2018, users reported having viewed a combined 1 billion hours’ worth of YouTube content each day, substantially more than the next leading platforms combined. Rival social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have all rolled out emergent video platforms in an attempt to seize a portion of YouTube’s viewership for their platforms. As the breadth of video-streaming networks continues to expand, marketers will work on diversifying and gearing their efforts toward each specific platform.

Decreasing Use of Ad Blockers

Currently, an estimated 47% of consumers routinely use ad blockers. One of the biggest reasons for this is that ads can significantly slow down a page’s load time.

With the higher speeds and lower latency that 5G will bring, the use of ad blockers is likely to decline. This means that marketers will be able to serve more ads to more people, much faster than before.

Faster load times and a better user experience (UX) will ultimately lead to more positive relationships between brands and consumers as well.

Richer Content for Websites & Emails

More mobile bandwidth would seriously diminish concerns about website load times, allowing businesses to use more images, animation, and video. Just because they can, though, doesn’t mean that they should – busy and frenetic web designs can be confusing to visitors. However, 5G does allow for richer content with fewer worries.

5G technology would decrease concerns about email load times as well. Marketers could be more confident about using retina and 4K images in emails, and could even use larger-sized animated gifs with more frames.

Voice Assistants Will Be The Norm

Whether scheduling activities or creating lists, people are now using voice assistants for anything and everything they please. Sales of smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa, have also boomed in recent years.

Smart speakers and voice assistants demand rapid access to vast amounts of data in order to accurately encrypt a verbal command and return a useful response. 5G technology will allow these tools to function even faster and be more helpful. In addition, the data transfer speeds available from 5G networks will enable you to take your smart speaker with you wherever you go for even greater versatility.

One of the biggest marketing impacts of 5G will be that consumers can have actual voice conversations with mobile devices, instead of merely issuing a few voice commands and interacting at other times by thumb-typing or screen-touching.

As voice assistants become more omnipresent, marketers will look for new ways to leverage this developing technology. Mobile advertising could eventually become entirely slanted towards voice conversations.

HOW TO KEEP UP IN A 5G WORLD

It’s understandable if your company isn’t quite ready to explore the possibilities of interactive advertising, augmented reality, or virtual reality. However, you should still keep tabs on the latest marketing technologies in order to be “in the know” about what the bigger brands are doing. This can help you identify which opportunities might be more accessible to you in the future, or come up with similar strategies that you might be able to recreate without the high-priced technologies.

If you haven’t already, you should also work on building up your digital and online marketing tactics. The ongoing improvements of Wi-Fi and the expectations of 5G have demonstrated that there’s a business case for being hyperconnected. If the majority of your customers weren’t online frequently already, they certainly will be in the coming years.

Make sure you’re actively engaging with consumers on the most popular social media channels for your industry. Build a robust website awash with digital content such as blog posts, marketing videos, and other relevant information.

If you’ve already got an amazing online presence, consider exploring newer mobile platforms that could thrive in the 5G era. You might not be able to afford to create an AR advertisement, but you could experiment with creating content that utilizes AR or new-media filters on apps such as Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram.

In a 5G world, marketing will be distinctly data-driven with messaging served to individuals, not the general public. At every micro-moment of decision, you’ll be seeking to gain influence. Thus, you will need solid marketing technology in order to capture and analyze data and respond in real time. Accomplishing this goal will demand investment and meticulous planning. Utilizing a customer data platform is a great place to start

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the move to widespread 5G coverage will be a gradual progression, the latest generation of wireless technology stands as a colossal creative and strategic opportunity for marketers. Integrating technology into the marketing realm was already bound to happen; but with the realization of 5G on a massive scale, digital will indeed begin to dominate.

Amidst this rapidly changing landscape, marketers must work to establish closer relationships between consumers and brands through more relevant and compelling communications and experiences. 5G will allow marketers to find new and innovative ways to communicate with their existing customers, based on better location accuracy and other techniques. 

Marketing professionals would also be wise to invest in new skills and strategic planning in order to fully leverage the new technology and its infrastructure. By keeping an eye on key digital marketing metrics and monitoring customer behaviors closely, marketers can quickly identify major shifts and adapt accordingly. 

As with any new technology, unexpected pitfalls may arise, such as data breaches and identity theft. Marketers must ensure that comprehensive security and privacy procedures are in place to safeguard their own assets and those of their clients.

Overall, the addition of 5G and even improved Wi-Fi networks will be great for businesses with an online or digital presence – and marketers who run many of their daily processes online.

There’s definitely a lot to unpack, but as 5G takes shape and becomes part of our collective reality, we’ll continue to discover new ways to harness the technology and enhance the consumer’s experience.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing and creative services team to deliver precise marketing solutions to help grow your business, look no further than HighClick Media. We provide comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

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How to Know When it’s Time for a Website Overhaul

How To Know When It’s Time for a Website Overhaul

Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace over the past several years, and there’s every reason to believe that it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. What’s more, social media has evolved into a digital marketing hub, which has escalated the competition for businesses to remain relevant. In order to contend in today’s market, your organization’s website may need a redesign, as there are hallmarks that consumers expect in terms of accessibility, new content, and an engaging experience. If your website hasn’t been updated recently, it may be hurting your business both in leads and credibility.

Consider these critical indicators in determining whether it’s time for a website overhaul:

1) Your Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly

More than ever, people are using their smartphones and other mobile devices to connect to the internet. Accordingly, you need to make certain that your website is compatible with a variety of screen sizes without undermining the quality and layout of your site.

The overall appearance of your website on mobile should be congruent with the desktop version to guarantee that customers are capable of accessing links and navigating the page from their tablets or smartphones. 

Having a website that isn’t optimized for different screens can adversely affect your search engine rankings, since Google prioritizes responsive websites in their search results. 

If you haven’t already configured your website to function the same on mobile and tablet device screens, you should modernize the design of your website without delay.

2) Antiquated Content & Lackluster Visuals

No matter what type of business you’re operating, your website needs to have an inviting visual design. Mismatched fonts and out-of-date imagery and content can make your website seem unappealing to customers. Revamping your website aesthetic can give you an edge over your competitors.

When assessing the present design of your website, ask yourself these key questions:

  • Are the images displayed on your site an accurate visual representation of your brand? Poor-quality, stretched, or run-of-the-mill stock photos are a dead giveaway that you’re ready for a redesign.
  • Is your website content easy to read and comprehend? It’s critical for your viewers’ overall experience to achieve the proper balance of text, background, and visuals. 
  • Is your website too cluttered and disorderly? Having incongruous fonts, lengthy paragraphs, or compressed photos can make it hard for viewers to navigate your site.

3) Invalid, Inaccurate, or Irrelevant Content

Do you really want to occupy “prime real estate” on your website with content of little worth to your brand or the message you’re trying to convey? Your content should clearly communicate what your business is about: its core principles, the products and services you offer, and how to get in touch with you. Here are a few clues that your content might need to be refreshed:

  • There are products/services listed on your site that are no longer offered.
  • Your most recent blog or news article was posted over a year ago.
  • Your website contains immaterial content that doesn’t correspond with your brand.

4) You’re Not Putting Social Media to Good Use

As previously discussed, a majority of people use their smartphones and tablets to access the web. They also spend a LOT of time on social media!

Two reasons why you should be taking advantage of this popular resource:

Social Media Can Help Grow Your Brand

Facebook and Instagram are excellent avenues for sharing more innovative content, advertising your wares, and engaging with customers directly. By linking your social media profiles on your webpage, you can create more traffic to each platform, which is likely to grab customers’ attention more effectively.

Consumers Prefer Brands That Are Active on Social Media  

Making personal connections with customers online helps create loyal customers and generate better feedback. Plus, it’s a surefire way to identify what your customers are looking for – this, in turn, can help you answer their questions and make informative content that they want to interact with.

Your Professional Website Redesign Is Only A Phone Call Away!

At HighClick Media, our professional web designers are experts in website redesign! We love solving hard problems with creative solutions! Our website redesign process integrates marketing, design, technology, and digital strategy, to give you the best product possible. We believe that great design inspires website visitors to take action and to take notice of your company. Partnering with us as your web design agency ensures you that you are receiving the most comprehensive web design strategy possible. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to schedule a consultation with our web design team!

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How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

Prior to 2020, the retail industry was projected to continue its gradual shift toward digital and mobile-first purchasing within the next decade. Nearing year’s end, the future has already arrived…a bit earlier than anticipated.

Thanks to social distancing and stay-at-home measures, ecommerce expansion has escalated from 16% of all U.S. retail sales in February of this year to 27% by April, based on data from the Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The way that consumers shop progressed ten years in just a couple of months. And it happened before our very eyes!

Some organizations were better prepared than others. Presently, every business – regardless of its scope or size – has the chance to revamp its ecommerce approach.

In this article, we’ll explore four ways that you can transform your brand in order to better connect people with products online:

Redefine Loyalty

While ecommerce brands are notorious for their pricing wars, customers these days are seeking more than simply a good deal – it’s the total value that they want. In a recent global survey carried out by Ipsos, two out of three respondents stated that the way businesses act in response to COVID-19 will influence their spending. Half of all participants asserted that they are inclined to pay more for a product if they can be assured of its quality and safety, according to research by Nielsen.

Having the proper approach to customers can help you further deliver that value. Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed assert that exceptional customer service is critical when deciding where to shop online, according to a Kantar study commissioned by Facebook. By being transparent in updating order details and shipping timelines, you can greatly enhance the customer’s experience.

Problem-solving is another great way to build loyalty with customers. Platforms that allow real-time messaging can help make transactions smoother and more personalized. In addition, your willingness to issue refunds, process reshipments, and engage one-on-one with customers can help contribute value to your brand.

Advancing the common good, through nonprofit donations and partnerships, can also help. By demonstrating to customers how their purchases give back to the community, you can foster a sense of community and positivity.

Build for Boomers

Baby Boomers aren’t generally regarded as the savviest ecommerce users. Regardless, their mobile and online purchases have increased 85% year-over-year, based on research from Facebook IQ. Given the magnitude and median income of this demographic, Boomers could very well signify your next big opportunity.

Nevertheless, 78% of respondents in that same study said that they encountered challenges while holiday shopping on mobile devices – which means you’ll have to come up with the proper user experience (UX) strategy in order to engage Boomers.

Major points of conflict include too-small fonts, slow-loading sites or apps, hard-to-understand product info, and too many screens or steps to complete transactions. UX personalization can help improve shopping experiences for these customers.

Consistently poll different groups of people who use your site or app, so you can pinpoint the main barriers to purchasing and make adjustments if necessary.

Promote Agility

In a recent survey from GlobalWebIndex, 80% of respondents report having delayed a major purchase due to the coronavirus outbreak.

You simply can’t afford to wait for the market to bounce back – you have to expedite it. But how? By capitalizing on the opportunity to embrace an agile organizational structure.

Agility allows you to bring your senior leadership team into alignment and make informed marketing decisions in real-time.

Adapt to “FOGO”

That’s “fear of going out,” for the uninitiated. Only half of the people surveyed worldwide are ready to return to stores right now, according to GlobalWebIndex data.

Ready for another marketing acronym? Okay, here we go. Compared to 2019, there has been a 208% increase in BOPIS (that’s “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store”) purchases, with over a third of them coming from first-time BOPIS shoppers, based on data from Adobe Analytics. Consumers are also more receptive to contactless shopping than ever before.

FOGO is a particularly relevant topic if your business involves a sizable brick-and-mortar presence. A number of retailers have effectively fashioned solutions that keep in-person interaction to a minimum, such as mobile payments, self-service checkouts, contactless returns, and improved browsing experiences.

Even if brands known for their large retail presence don’t run their own stores, they are beginning to take the concept of FOGO as a sign to create offerings that can be ordered exclusively on the internet

Conclusion

Don’t settle for “business as usual.” The best brands are established in times of crisis. Pursuing the questions that appear unanswerable today might lead to solutions that could essentially create new opportunities to propel your business for years to come.

If you’re looking to expand your brand by integrating ecommerce capabilities into your website and social media pages, the digital marketing experts at HighClick Media are more than happy to help you along on your journey. Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today or drop us a line here.

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Is Social Commerce the Future of Ecommerce?

Is Social Commerce the Future of Ecommerce?

Over the past few years, the way we use social media has evolved.

Originally, social media was designed as a way to connect with people near and far. But as platforms have progressed, they’ve begun connecting us with brands as well. Nowadays, consumers can complete a purchase on their favorite social media site – from start to finish – without ever having to exit the platform.

Social media has finally advanced enough to play a significant role in the thriving world of ecommerce.

We’ve arrived at the era of social commerce where social media platforms are quite literally becoming search engines for shoppers.

What Is Social Commerce?

Simply put, social commerce is the buying and selling of items and services through a specific social media platform. The entire shopping experience – from product promotion to after-service sales – is incorporated into interactive features available within the social networking site.

Thanks to social commerce, users can shop directly from their social media feeds.

How Is Social Commerce Different From Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a technique geared towards steering qualified traffic to an external website or online store.

Social commerce, on the other hand, provides the convenience of one-stop shopping within a social media site or app – an exciting alternative for today’s on-the-go shoppers.

The Emergence of Social Commerce

Shoppers these days are impatient – maybe even a little spoiled. Our attention spans are just 10 seconds long, if that.

Our social media obsession has hardwired us to expect instant gratification in all of our digital interactions. Social commerce is the solution, by virtue of the fact that it understands and accommodates this fundamental change in our preferences.

If we were to pinpoint the primary cause for the emergence of social commerce, it would undoubtedly be the Millennial generation. Indeed, Millennials were the catalyst for the shift toward social commerce in the first place.

Due to the enormous spending power of this generation – estimated at a whopping $1.4 trillion already and projected to be $4 trillion by 2030 – businesses understand that they are duty-bound to cater their efforts towards Millennials.

Essentially, there are just two factors that significantly impact the success of a business:

  • A product or service that fulfills a genuine need in the market
  • A streamlined buying process that makes it simple for customers to make a purchase

The potentiality of social commerce lies in the latter requirement – the whole purchasing process is simplified, thanks to features such as chatbots and auto-fill payments.

Understanding this critical component of online shopping, Facebook rolled out its Shops feature with the sole intention of giving people “a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying.”

Let’s be clear: social commerce isn’t some passing fancy that’s going to fizzle out in a matter of months – it characterizes the way online business will be conducted from now on.

For organizations that don’t wish to be caught off-guard, it’s critical that they pivot towards social commerce.

that was easy

 

What Are the Advantages of Social Commerce?

One of the key characteristics of social commerce is its seamlessness. Seamless, in this context, refers to delivering an individualized experience for each customer whenever and wherever they want.

Social commerce meets these criteria in that brands can now have an entire conversation with a customer, instead of shifting from phone to desktop and eventually to a brick-and-mortar store. 

To wit, a shopping experience targeted towards the wants and needs of each individual shopper will become the favored solution. While price and quality still matter, being regarded as a cherished customer is an enormous part of the total experience for today’s shopper.

A staggering 75% of consumers are apt to purchase from a brand if its marketing content addresses them by name and offers suggestions based on their buying history.

Brick-and-mortar retailers recognized this long ago and began installing greeters at the entrances to welcome customers. The attention showered on customers went a long way toward building brand loyalty.

Social Commerce vs. Traditional Ecommerce

Traditional ecommerce models require shoppers to go through an excessive number of steps, increasing the risk that they will abandon the entire purchasing process.

Social commerce, on the other hand, centralizes the whole customer journey in one location. Shoppers can locate the products they need, read customer reviews, make any inquiries they might have, and check out – all without leaving the platform.

With fewer steps required to complete a purchase, customers are much less likely to get confused, frustrated, abandon their carts, and leave the site.

It’s important to note that, with social commerce, you still manage your products and market the way you normally do. However, you must take the added step of linking your inventory with the platform and streamlining the journey for customers engaged via social media.

Which Social Media Platforms Have Enabled Social Commerce So Far?

With an overwhelming number of physical stores having to shut down due to government lockdown measures earlier this year, many businesses resorted to ecommerce in order to survive.

Fortunately, many of the top social media sites had already integrated social commerce capabilities into their platforms or were actively working on doing so.

Facebook Shops

The world’s largest social media platform’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic came in the form of Facebook Shops. This new feature gives businesses the ability to advertise and sell products directly from the Facebook platform.

Brands already utilizing an ecommerce platform on their website, such as Shopify, can integrate it seamlessly with Facebook to sell to their social media followers.

Facebook Messenger

While email boasts the highest return on investment of all traditional digital marketing strategies, social media messaging app sales have now greatly outpaced email.

Open rates and click-through rates of ecommerce emails are, for the most part, relatively low: 15%-25% and 2.5%, respectively. By comparison, Facebook Messenger chatbots generate an astounding 80% open rate and 20% click-through rates on average.

Facebook Messenger’s chatbots come equipped with a number of potent features, including:

  • Greeting capabilities and assisting customers to “Get Started”
  • Allowing brands to send and receive text/images with customized calls-to-action
  • Templates letting customers interact with chatbots with the help of interactive visuals

Facebook “Buy” Buttons

Until recently, brands used call-to-action buttons on social media posts to divert users to a third-party site in order to complete their purchase.

Now, when brands include “Buy” buttons on their social media channel, customers can buy their products easily and then continue on Facebook right where they left off.

Instagram

Thus far, Instagram has primarily been used for brand discovery – the most recent data indicates that 70% of consumers use the platform to find out about new products. However, Instagram has laid the groundwork towards becoming an ecommerce hub – a smart move considering that more than 200 million users frequent at least one business profile each day.

The Instagram Checkout feature enables shoppers to browse through images and videos of products in their feed. Once they find an item they’re interested in buying, they can click on the post, select the dimensions or colors as applicable, and then pay for their purchase – all without leaving Instagram!

With Instagram’s shoppable posts and Stories features, brands can tag images or videos with the name, price, and description of catalog items that users can then click on to learn more about the product.

Pinterest

With more than 416 million active monthly users worldwide, Pinterest is another powerhouse channel for social commerce.

Brands can use Rich Pins to sell their products within the platform. Rich Pins are an organic format providing additional up-to-date information about the Pin itself, including the product’s price and availability.

Buyable Pins allow customers to purchase products directly on Pinterest without the platform redirecting them elsewhere. These Pins are distinctive thanks to the big blue “Buy It” button positioned next to the iconic “Pin It” button.

Buyable Pins allow users to see the product’s price, its seller, and read the descriptions. Once shoppers click on the “Buy It” button, they’re automatically directed to the Checkout page within the platform.

Snapchat

It might be surprising to find Snapchat in this list – but after a number of updates, this Gen-Z-favorite platform is making a pass at social commerce as well.

The most interesting – but not necessarily astonishing – thing about Snapchat’s attempt at competing with larger social platforms is the fact that it’s using augmented reality.

Snapchat’s 238 million users will soon be able to use the app’s lens-altering selfies to digitally try on shoes – whimsically dubbed as “shoefies.”

This is a crucial step in the platform’s ultimate goal of enabling users to virtually “try on” a complete wardrobe.

Given that reality-altering lenses are integral to the app and the fact that its users are predominantly Millennials and Gen Zers – the principal drivers of social commerce – Snapchat figures to become one of the leading social commerce channels in the coming years.

Augmented reality (AR) is a powerful tool that ecommerce companies can’t afford to shrug off. Consider that:

  • 61% of consumers prefer to shop sites that offer augmented reality
  • 49% of online shoppers are willing to pay more for an item if they can preview it in AR
  • 45% of consumers state that AR reduces the amount of time spent on making a purchasing decision

TikTok

The fastest-growing social media site around, especially among younger users, TikTok is also integrating social commerce capabilities into its platform. TikTok recently partnered with ecommerce giant Shopify to integrate in-app shopping features. Thanks to this partnership, brands can create and manage their TikTok marketing campaigns from the Shopify dashboard after installing the TikTok channel app through the Shopify app store.

Brands can create a TikTok Pixel to track actions – such as users visiting their site, adding an item to their cart, and completing their order. Using ad templates designed specifically for ecommerce, brands can also create in-feed shoppable video ads.

YouTube

Even YouTube, the stalwart video-based platform, is elevating their ecommerce game by implementing a more shoppable ad format. By expanding the call-to-action buttons on video ads, brands are able to drive more traffic to specific product pages. Businesses can sync their Google Merchant Center feed to the video ads to create a browsable display of featured products.

Final Thoughts

Social media platforms are perpetually coming up with innovative ways to simplify the purchasing process. Social commerce is but the latest in these continuing efforts.

If your brand is willing to invest the time and resources now to get up to speed on the fundamentals of social commerce while the trend is still in its infancy, you’ll be able to provide superior service to your customers for years to come.

Need help getting started with social commerce on one or more social media platforms? HighClick Media is here to help! Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today to find out how we can help elevate your brand!

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4 Secrets to Success for Independent Retailers

4 Secrets to Success for Independent Retailers

July is Independent Retailer Month, a month-long celebration that encourages consumers to shop locally at independent retailers.

Local independent retailers contribute a good chunk of their income to the local economy. Supporting the local economy is crucial to preserving communities, as these contributions benefit schools, road construction, emergency services, and much more. Keeping money in the local economy allows businesses to employ local people, creates greater economic opportunities, and generates tax revenue for city services.

Challenges of Being an Independent Retailer

It can be quite challenging for indie retailers to stay afloat in the digital age, when consumers are able to order merchandise and get it delivered free at the click of a button.

Large corporations have robust and intricate websites, as well as the resources to hire people to work on those websites. More often than not, independent retailers are responsible for creating their own websites and don’t generally have the expertise to design sites that will rank high in Google searches or are outfitted with ecommerce capabilities. Typically, indie retailers also have smaller budgets for marketing, expansion, and store maintenance.

Another drawback to being an independent retailer is a lack of negotiating power and group discounts for merchandise. Since priority shipping is more often than not given to large orders, indie retailers may also lose out on best-selling items. Simply because they’re

smaller, they’re considered a lower priority.

Benefits of Being an Independent Retailer

At the same time, there are distinct benefits and advantages to running an indie retail business that you just can’t get in a large-scale operation.

Owning an independent retail company gives you certain freedoms that you wouldn’t enjoy otherwise. You can create your own unique space and be creative with it. You can choose whom you want to work with and set your own schedule. You can also be a positive influence in the community and with your customers.

Agility is another significant benefit of an independently owned retail operation. Smaller companies are able to react quickly to local trends, including weather conditions. Owners are often available to personally communicate with customers when they wish to share their concerns. As a result, local businesses become keenly aware of their customers’ specific wants and needs.

Independent retailers are able to quickly adjust when the retail climate changes. Larger retailers can’t do so as easily and end up scrambling to change the way they do business in clumsy, inefficient ways.

Secrets to Success for Independent Retailers

Savvy indie retailers know what it takes to not only stay in business but thrive. Here are four secrets to continued success for independent retailers:

1)  Change with the Times

Being an independent retailer will keep you on your toes. Stay current with trends and welcome change – don’t fear it! Be on the lookout for new vendors, find ways to broaden your client base, and implement ongoing training for your staff.

2)  Focus on Top-Notch Customer Service

Excellent customer service breeds enduring success. As an indie retailer, you must be the local authority to all things related to your field. This allows you to advise your customers confidently. If you don’t have an answer to a customer’s question, acknowledge that you don’t. Customers respect truthfulness in businesses, as it helps build trust with them. When customers trust your business, they will keep coming back to you.

3)  Take Calculated Risks

Keep learning and evolving your way of thinking. Be willing to try out new ideas in a judicious manner. When experimenting with new methods or processes, always think long-term, keeping a careful eye on your cashflow as well.

4)  Be Exclusive

Aim to get as many exclusive lines of merchandise in your store as possible. Customers will continue to shop with you when they know that your products are unique. Rely on the expertise of your buyers to bring in a regional assortment that appeals to consumers.

Final Thoughts

If you are an independent retailer struggling to regain your balance in these uncertain times, HighClick Media can help! We can create a professionally designed website for your business, implement search engine optimization for your website to help increase brand awareness, boost your presence on social media, and help with any kind of paid advertising you may be considering. Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

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How Consumer Shopping Behavior Is Changing in the U.S. – And Why Small Businesses Should Care

How Consumer Shopping Behavior Is Changing In The U.S. – And Why Small Businesses Should Care

 

A recent study by McKinsey & Company took an in-depth look at how the ever-evolving coronavirus crisis has already changed U.S. shopping behavior and sought to analyze which of these patterns is likely to stick in the post-pandemic world. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most interesting trends that presented themselves.

Online shopping has increased dramatically, and that isn’t going to change.

Between stay-at-home orders and social distancing, entire consumer sectors have been forced to buy differently. Several months into COVID-19, online shopping has not only skyrocketed across a number of categories, but consumers’ intent-to-shop online continues to increase, even as many retailers have already reopened or are planning to do so soon.

Specific categories where growth is expected to continue includes over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, groceries, household supplies, and personal-care products. Even “nonessential” categories such as skin care, makeup, apparel, jewelry, and accessories show signs of continued growth.

Millennials and high-income earners are leading the pack when it comes to shopping online.

While the migration to online shopping has been more or less universal across most categories, higher wage-earners and millennials (roughly 25 to 40 years in age) are the driving force behind shifting their spending to online for both essential and discretionary items.

Gen X has undergone a similar online shift, although not to the same extent as millennials. Gen Z has focused its shift online to specific categories, including apparel, footwear, at-home entertainment, and food takeout or delivery.

Consumers are switching brands at unparalleled rates.

A staggering 75% of consumers in the U.S. are actively considering new (to them) shopping behaviors as a direct response to economic pressures, temporary and permanent store closings, and shifting priorities. This widespread change in behavior has also been demonstrated by a shattering of brand loyalties, with over a third of consumers trying a new product brand and a quarter of them integrating a new private-level brand. In fact, out of all the consumers who have tried different brands, nearly three-quarters of them intend to incorporate these brands into their routine purchases. Interestingly enough, Gen Z and high earners were shown to be the most likely to switch brands.

Large, trusted brands are among the major beneficiaries of this consumer shift, enjoying 50% growth during the crisis, while private labels have actually outpaced the retail market. Some 80% of customers who started using a private brand during the pandemic express that they intend to continue using it once the coronavirus crisis diminishes.

Brands need to make products readily available and communicate their value.

Availability (both in-store and online), convenience, and value are the primary reasons shoppers have presented for their switching brands.

For marketers, this emphasizes the necessity to rapidly become aware of when consumers are shifting to brands or retailers and then to manage the logistics to ensure that products and services are available.

Consumers are changing how they shop in response to health and safety concerns.

While some Americans have shown little or no reluctance to go back out to shop, many are still apprehensive. When considering whether or not to return to more “normal” shopping behaviors, hygiene and hygiene transparency have surfaced as significant sources of concern. It’s become increasingly important for stores and restaurants to not only follow hygiene guidelines (thorough cleaning and face coverings for consumers/employees are top-priority), but also to effectively convey that these procedures are being followed.

Consumers in the U.S. have already begun to change their behavior due to hygiene concerns. Contactless activities, such as food and grocery delivery and curbside pickup, are rising in popularity. Other hygiene-enhancing technologies are also doing well and are likely to continue to do so, going forward. For example, over three-quarters of American consumers report that they intend to continue or increase their usage of self-checkout in retail post COVID-19. Millennials and Gen Z are the largest groups shown to be adopting these contactless activities.

Shopping intent is primarily concentrated on essential items.

Around 40% of U.S. consumers have cut back on spending in general, and they expect to continue to economize on nonessentials in particular. This truth reflects extreme discomfort about the state of our economy.

With overall spending declining among consumers in the U.S., intent-to-spend in essential categories is rising. Even among individuals with higher incomes, whereas essential items are gaining momentum, intent to buy inessential products is still lagging considerably. As the worst part of the crisis (presumably) subsides, a remarkable resurgence in online spending for nonessential categories such as apparel and footwear is apparent. This is most noticeable among high-income earners and Gen Z.

Consumers want value for their money.

Linked to concerns about the state of the economy is a broadening focus on value – particularly for essential categories. People want to get the things that they need most for the least amount of money.

Americans are spending their time at home differently than before.

People are spending more of their at-home time on household activities, media, and news. Over the past three months, consumers’ intent to eat more meals at home, even post-COVID, has strengthened dramatically. Online entertainment platform use has escalated. Home fitness is thriving, with a notable upswing in equipment purchases and online activity. Even in less-restricted areas, consumers expect to spend more time on at-home activities in the post-pandemic environment.

Americans are worried about returning to regular activities outside of the home.

As the economy continues to reopen, nearly three-quarters of consumers in the U.S. express their hesitancy to resume normal activities outside the home. Going to a hair salon, gym, or restaurant is a concern, but even more so are shared environments, such as public transportation, ride sharing, air travel, and being in congested places (like large indoor or outdoor events).

The shift in buying trends varies greatly by consumer segments.

McKinsey & Company has identified five customer segments fueled by optimism, health, and financial dealings, each of them relatively similar in size. These five segments showcase consumer trends to a differing degree and manifest the following characteristics:

  • Affluent and unaffected consumers indicate a general optimism about the future, are typically male, and make in excess of $100,000 per year. These consumers tend to be able to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis, affording them the opportunity to shop online more often. This group is slightly less sensitive to price than other segments due to greater job stability.
  • Uprooted and underemployed consumers are experiencing a sizable impact on both their health and finances due to job insecurity. They’re conservative about how they spend money, with a low degree of optimism about future economic conditions. Unsurprisingly, this group is downsizing to essential items and value, swapping out brands, and shopping online whenever possible.
  • Financially secure but anxious consumers are largely 65 years of age and older, and they’re generally cynical about economic conditions post-COVID-19, and this has had a major impact on their buying habits. This group has articulated the biggest need for hygiene transparency, with greater-than-average concerns regarding safety and well-being and anxieties about the ability to obtain necessary supplies.
  • Consumers who are out trying to make ends meet are being vigilant about how they spend money and feel that their jobs and employment security have been exceedingly impacted by COVID-19. This group has a substantial representation from minority groups and rural populations. They’re less likely to be able to stay at home, but they’re strongly migrating toward shopping for essential items and greater value.
  • The disconnected and retired category includes individuals who are retired, over 65 years old, and have a lower income level than the “financially secure but anxious” segment. Predominantly from the Southern United States and suburban areas of the country, this group has not displayed significant changes in shopping behavior one way or the other.

What Does All This Mean for Small Businesses?

As independent retailers and other small businesses consider these fundamental changes in consumer behavior, they will need to modify their strategies and courses of action to adapt to the new norms.

With these things in mind, here are five recommendations for small businesses’ continued success:

  1. Go Digital:  As an independent retailer, you simply can’t afford not to have a strong online presence. This involves having both a functioning, mobile-friendly website and consistently engaging with customers on the most appropriate social media platforms for your specific industry.
  2. Revamp Your Messaging to Sync with the Times:  If you operate a business where the public is likely to gather, even if socially distanced, you must prioritize hygiene transparency and communicate your efforts clearly and often. As value is prized above almost everything else these days, you have to be able to offer great value to your customers – they’re counting on it!
  3. Maintain Product Availability:  As much as possible, make sure that the products your customers are most in need of are readily available. Some of this is certainly out of your control, as supply chains have been and may likely continue to be interrupted. Talking to your customers to identify their needs will help you prioritize your merchandising.
  4. Manage Your Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts:  Consumers are counting on your business to do its part to operate in ways that enhance society and the environment, instead of contributing negatively to them. This can be hard to maintain, especially if you’re in survival or recovery mode, but it could make all the difference to your ongoing success.
  5. Develop Practical, Actionable Online & Pickup Solutions:  Customers expect to be able to shop remotely and receive goods in a way that makes them feel safe. Integrating ecommerce functions into your existing website and offering curbside pickup for online or call-in orders will encourage your customers to continue doing business with you, and not defecting to your competitors.

At HighClick Media, our number-one priority is your long-term success. If we can help you update your existing website, build a new website from scratch, outfit your business for ecommerce, or manage your social media communications, give us a call today at 252.814.2150!

 
 

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5 Reasons Your Ecommerce Brand Should Consider Shoppable Instagram Posts

5 Reasons Your Ecommerce Brand Should Consider Shoppable Instagram Posts

According to Facebook, over 130 million Instagram users tap on a shopping post to learn more about a product every month! In addition, 500 million accounts visit Instagram Stories every single day! What’s the point? I’m glad you asked!

Simply put, if you sell products online – whether or not you currently have a presence on Instagram – you NEED to be taking advantage of the platform’s Shoppable Posts feature!

I Really Need To Up My Game Here (Deadpool)

In the not-so-distant past, the only way you could connect your Instagram followers with your products was via a link in your bio or by making use of clickable links in Instagram Stories. Those days are gone!

With the advent of Shoppable Posts, Instagram has made it easier than ever for online shoppers to fall in love with your products and quickly make them their own!

Oh I LIke That (Sloppy-Looking Guy)

Instagram Shopping provides your ecommerce business with an immersive storefront where people can easily explore your best products. With Instagram Shopping, you can share featured products through your organic posts and Stories, or have people discover your products in Search and Explore.

When someone taps a product on your post or a product sticker in your story, they’ll be taken to a product description page where they’ll see:

  • An image of the product from your post
  • A description of the product
  • How much the product costs
  • A link that takes them directly to your website, where they can purchase the product

Shut Up And Take My Money

If the stats above weren’t enough to convince you, here are five solid reasons for considering Instagram Shoppable Posts:

Now that you know why your brand can’t afford NOT to use Instagram’s Shoppable Posts feature, here’s a step-by-step guide for setting up your posts, straight from the source.

How To Set Up Instagram Shopping:

You Ready? (Rihanna)

Step 1. Make Sure You’re Eligible for Instagram Shopping.

Connect The Two Things Together

Step 2. Connect to a Catalog. You can accomplish this easily by either using Catalog Manager or by working with a certified Facebook Partner.

Sign Me Up

Step 3. Sign Up in the App. Once your account and catalog are connected, go to the Instagram app to sign up for “Shopping.” Go to your profile’s settings, tap “Business,” and tap “Instagram Shopping.” Follow the steps to make sure everything’s good to go and to submit your account for review. This process usually takes a few days, but sometimes it can take longer. You can visit “Shopping” in “Settings” at any time to check your review status.

Once you’ve been approved, you’ll receive notifications from Instagram and complete the setup in “Shopping” in “Settings” to start tagging products in your posts and stories.

So Let's Get Set Up

Step 4. Create Your First Shopping Post or Story. Now that you’ve set up shop, you can start adding product tags and stickers to your Instagram posts and stories. Start creating a post as usual and tap “Tag Products” to add a product from your catalog. You can feature up to 5 products per image or video post, and up to 20 products on multi-image posts. You can also go back and add shopping tags to old posts on your business profile. Stories can feature one product sticker per story. You can also adjust the color and text of product stickers.

How's That Going?

Step 5. Check Out Your Shopping Insights. Visit the “Insights” tab in your profile to see how your shopping posts and stories are performing. These insights can tell you more about what your customers might want, so you can offer more relevant products.

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It Too (Big Brother)

As you can see, the process is pretty simple. But if you’re a smaller organization, it’s possible that you might need a little help getting started with Instagram Shoppable Posts. Fortunately, the social media experts at HighClick Media are here to assist you every step of the way. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to set up a social media consultation. We can help you elevate your brand, one click at a time!

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Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

 

Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be massively beneficial for businesses of all sizes when it comes to marketing. Whether you’re looking to expand your customer base or gain an edge over your competition, there are several simple, cost-effective ways to utilize SEO. When partnered with creative brand design and social media usage, SEO can help your business gain credibility and get a foothold in your field.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few key strategies to help boost your company’s search rankings online in order to get new customers to come to you.

 

Get Help with Your SEO

Get Help from SEO Professionals

In this age of technology, it’s essential for even the smallest businesses to have solid search rankings on Google. As more and more consumers rely on their phones for everything from driving directions to shopping, you’ll want to ensure they can easily find your business, get in touch with you, and buy products with the push of a button.

Enlisting the services of SEO professionals to help optimize your rankings in Google searches as well as on Google Maps can go a long way. The more mobile-friendly your business is, the better chance you’ll have of finding – and keeping – a larger customer base.

 

Website Accessibility

Make Sure Your Website Is Accessible

Not only is it important to give your customers lots of options when it comes to your business, but it’s also equally crucial to make your website as accessible as possible and to load it up with high-quality content. You can utilize several types of media on your site to make your business more visible in searches, from multiple links to videos. Just don’t forget to make sure all of your customers can benefit from them. Using captions, alt text (a written description of an image), and font options will help differently-abled customers easily interact with your products and marketing, among other tactics.

 

Keep Your Content Fresh with Frequent Updates

Keep Web Content Fresh with Frequent Updates

Whether you have videos, written blog posts, or photos on your site, you’ll want to ensure that your content is updated frequently. The more you refresh your content, the more traffic you’ll drive to the site – and increased traffic has a direct effect on your search engine rankings.

Every time you post something new, keep possible keywords in mind that are relevant to your customers. What would they type into Google when looking for your specific products or services? Try to keep these keywords as unique as possible on your website pages to prevent disruptions to Google’s algorithm. You can use online resources to figure out the best keywords and placement on your site, as well as tools that demonstrate how to write good content.

One important way to keep existing customers engaged with your content – and potentially convert leads into customers – is to make use of email marketing. An effective email campaign will help boost sales, keep your business in regular contact with its target audience, and directly promote your products and services. Connecting with your audience via email on a weekly basis helps balance your need to keep them engaged against the desire not to be overbearing.

 

Take Advantage of Google's SEO Tools

Take Advantage of Google’s SEO Tools

One essential online resource for small businesses is Google Analytics, which helps you track the performance of your website pages and provides lots of information about your customers, such as which social media platforms they used to find your business. Not only that, it can give you valuable insights about your competitors that could prove advantageous throughout the year. You can use these metrics as a guideline for taking your business to the next level or to learn where you could benefit from changing things up.

Becoming proficient with Google Analytics can be a daunting task for new users. Fortunately, there are many guides available online to introduce its tools to new users in order to facilitate a productive learning experience. A good guide will walk you through setting up your account, analyzing your SEO performance, and evaluating reports.

 

Final Thoughts About Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Final Thoughts

SEO is an invaluable tool for businesses of any size, and there are many ways to utilize these tactics. Do some research on the best ways to integrate search engine optimization into your standard practices, and get help from professionals like the folks at HighClick Media who can assist you in making the most of your website, social media accounts, and overall marketing strategy.

If you need help with any of these aspects of your digital marketing, we’re happy to help you out! Drop us a line here or call us at 252.814.2150 to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

 

********************

Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice, and troubleshooting tips.

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Navigating the New Normal: How to Market Your Business in a Post-Pandemic World

Navigating the New Normal: How to Market Your Business In A Post-Pandemic World

In the span of a few short weeks, our whole world has changed. A deadly virus that very few saw coming has forced workers to stay at home for their own safety, businesses to shutter temporarily, and entire economies to be shut down. As a result, instead of developing long-term business strategies, working to achieve ambitious growth targets, and readying the launch of new products, small and large organizations alike have been prompted to hit a pause-and-reset button.

Even now, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as infection and death rates continue to rise. In the face of what’s sure to be a severe economic recession, businesses, in general – and marketers, in particular – are struggling to find a way forward. How long this recession might last and what shape it will take are open to speculation. Though a great degree of uncertainty remains, what’s clear is that the immediate future is going to look dramatically different than the one we’d planned for at the start of the year.

With lockdowns beginning to ease and the scale of the economic challenge coming into clearer focus, companies can start to measure the initial impact the global pandemic has had on their businesses. If profits are lagging – as they inevitably will be – business owners may seek to cut costs by scaling back their marketing efforts and curbing ad spend. However, as we will see, this is not the time to “ghost” our customers. Companies that do so, in times of crisis, often struggle mightily to regain market share once the economy eventually recovers.

As unemployment skyrockets, money will inevitably be tighter for consumers as well. We can expect that customers will behave differently than before, since their immediate needs and short-term priorities will have drastically changed in the past few months. In order to rebuild the trust in their company’s brand, products, and services, marketers must alter their approach to their customers. The message must be restructured to fit the tone of the moment, or else it may come off as tone-deaf at best, or offensive at worst.

Let’s be clear: there will be no “winners” from the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is possible for companies to come out of this crisis stronger than before by leveraging a combination of shrewd crisis management, sincere empathy, and a depth of understanding of the “new normal” we’re all facing.

8 Strategies for Marketing Your Business in a Post-Pandemic World:

 1)  Customer Insight

Knowing as much as possible about our customers and prospects has always been a hallmark of any successful marketing campaign. In a post-COVID world, insight will still be of vital importance, but we must closely monitor consumers’ current preferences, needs, and even their feelings, as these will change often and rapidly.

In the wake of this global crisis, a few trends have already emerged. Consumers seem to respond best to positive messages brimming with confidence, reassurance, signs of hope, and a clear path for recovery. Customers have also shown a greater desire for more sustainable products, as well as an increased intent to buy locally.

As marketers, we must be willing to dig deep to understand what consumers care about, what they don’t, and what they’re anxious about at any point in time. Using social media and data analytics to track behavior will help us understand what potential customers value most and what concerns them. A clear marketing strategy, now as before, successfully links what a brand has to offer to what potential customers want.

2)  Communication & Engagement

The need to engage with clients has never been more important as it is now. Failing to do so effectively risks damaging long-term relationships with customers. While it’s understandable that companies may be unsure of what to say, how to say it, and when to reach out to customers, it’s crucial that we keep the lines of communication open.

More than ever, people crave a human connection. Brands that can relate to customers at a human level, by initiating new and meaningful conversations, will not only see a boost in exposure but the increased potential for new clients as well. We, as marketers, should strive to provide consumers with relative, informative content when they need it most, being mindful of their short attention spans and the need for instant gratification. All communications should be carefully monitored and altered as necessary to meet the changing needs and interests of consumers.

3)  Empathy & Sensitivity

As marketers, we must get to know our audience well enough that we can credibly ask them to trust our solutions to provide for their needs. In order to do that, we have to be able to empathize with our customers. Empathy goes beyond merely thinking about customers’ needs and being sympathetic to the challenges they face. Genuine brand empathy requires marketers to forge a deep, emotion-driven understanding of what customers are going through during these troubling times. This isn’t something we can fake or pay lip service to with empty clichés like “We’re all in this together.”

Businesses must acknowledge customers’ anxiety, grief, and frustration and respond with compassionate, relevant content that’s in tune with where customers are in this moment. Customers should feel as though we have their best interests at heart. If we truly do, we must back up our words with actions and help provide tangible solutions.

Pretending like nothing extraordinary is happening is both tone-deaf and irresponsible. People will remember how brands handle their marketing during this time. Negative association with a brand can cause irreparable damage to a company’s reputation and its continuing business operations. We must be vigilant to ensure that the information we’re sending out is sensitive to both our customers’ needs and their recent experiences.

4)  Digital Transformation

Over the past several months, a global population in lockdown has flocked to the internet in droves. From online grocery shopping to video-conferencing to telehealth, digital media has been able to meet people’s most pressing needs like never before. The internet has also played host to a variety of entertainment options for the homebound, from gaming to social media to live TV and news. Ecommerce has grown exponentially in recent months as well. The digital landscape has been expanding and evolving for some time now, but the rate at which it has done so during the pandemic is staggering. The majority of these digital users, new and old alike, expect their reliance on digital media to increase or, at least, remain at the same level for the foreseeable future.

Some brands have spent the past couple of years investing in their online customer journeys – developing websites, applications, and implementing live-streaming, to name a few – are now reaping the benefits of these efforts. A multitude of retailers and other businesses have spent the last two months scrambling to set up an online presence, with mixed results.

Now more than ever, businesses are realizing they must turn to digital channels such as social media to maintain connections with customers, as well as sow seeds for future growth. Advertisers and marketers alike have taken advantage of digital media’s unique ability to reach customers in real time and adapt messaging quickly as needed. Everywhere an organization exists digitally is a potential customer service channel. As marketers, we must expand our efforts to find, engage, and serve customers everywhere online. Advanced targeting and personalization allow marketers to track customer sentiments more efficiently and adapt messaging to current moods and behaviors.

Going forward, companies would be wise to invest in creating positive digital experiences for their customers. Social media pages should be updated frequently. Websites should be responsive in design, optimized for mobile, and as user-friendly as possible. First impressions of a business aren’t just made in person anymore.

5)  Cultivate Trust & Brand Loyalty

Creating trust and cultivating brand loyalty are critical to remaining competitive in a post-pandemic world. Brands that build strong relationships with their customers in the short term will reap the long-term benefits of those connections.

As much as is possible, businesses should continue delivering on their promises, respond quickly and effectively to customers’ concerns, and maintain brand visibility. We, as marketers, must be able to demonstrate a deep awareness and understanding of the positive outcomes and experiences our audiences want to achieve, not simply focus on transactional behaviors that we want to drive.

Winning over new customers in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis may be difficult. Our focus should be on re-targeting previous patrons. Keeping in touch with past customers via social media, email marketing, and targeted ads is key to maintaining close relationships with our customers.

6)  Creativity & Innovation

Our job, as marketers, is not only to keep our businesses moving in the right direction, but also to build and maintain truly meaningful partnerships with our customers. By creating content that engages in memorable, surprising, and personalized ways, we can inspire customers to take the next step in their journey. We should focus on producing content that’s more personally resonant, situationally relevant, and emotionally intelligent. Providing trusted information, some much-needed comic relief, or anything in between can help our clients get through this difficult time.

The pandemic offers a unique opportunity to rethink the way we’re presenting our products – the manner in which we talk about them, the topics in these conversations, and the context around our customers’ experiences. Too many advertisers and marketers are using the same tired strategies to reach out to their customers during this time. We are tasked with making sure our brand stands out while also appealing to what our customers want.

A valuable exercise for marketing teams to explore is brainstorming how we can create content for platforms we haven’t employed previously. By expanding their organic reach, brands can stay top of mind in a global audience that’s actively seeking new media.

7)  Agility

Throughout the pandemic, businesses small and large have shown the capability to pivot quickly to address the changing needs and priorities of their customers. Being prepared ahead of time to adapt to an ever-changing market is critical to future success.

Businesses must examine their goals and strategies and consider new approaches, services, and products they may not have considered previously. Marketers must continually reassess who their potential customers are, how they make their purchasing decisions, how likely different groups will respond to marketing, and how messaging and content should be modified for different audiences.

The way we do business has changed dramatically in a few short months, thanks in large part to the increasing number of remote workers. Organizations that were previously leery of allowing employees to work from home have quickly developed and implemented strategies to make remote working a functional reality. Businesses are realizing that this arrangement can be a cost-saver, as working from home reduces the need for office space and other infrastructure. As a result, this practice will likely gain greater acceptance going forward.

8)  Everything Is Marketing!

During these challenging times, companies can continue to build their brands by treating everything they do as marketing. From employees’ community service efforts and corporate social responsibility work to company communications on social media, everything an organization does shapes people’s opinions of our brands and influences their decisions about whether to do business with us, now and in the future.

We, as marketers, must ensure that every activity we engage in reinforces and interprets our brand’s positioning and personality. We have the ability to turn interactions with employees, business partners, communities, and customers into potent messages about our brand. By transforming everyday actions into extraordinary ones, we can improve brand perceptions and attract greater attention to our business.

The Forecast

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses cannot simply dust off the old marketing playbook and pick up where they left off. Brand personas, methods, and messaging must evolve to confront the new realities. The effect on consumer behavior and values will almost certainly continue for years to come.

Marketing will play a key role in our recovery. Companies that have been able to prosper during lockdown – grocery delivery services, for example – may experience significant setbacks once consumers return to in-person shopping. Businesses that may have been forced to close temporarily will have to find ways to persuade customers that their products or services are safe once more. Still others will have to implement strategic plans to win back customers who may have adopted new daily habits while working from home. Throughout all this, information and communication will be vital. Marketers who make the most of these unique circumstances will be best positioned to help restore the economy.

It’s still too early to know what the “next normal” will look like, which behaviors will persist, what attitudes may shift permanently, and what technologies will have taken root in the lives of consumers. As marketers, now is the time to double down on what we do best. We need to make sure our brands are at the top of searches, our social media pages are constantly updated, and that we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to connect with our audiences.

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Marketing to Millennials: Here’s What You Need to Know

Marketing To Millennials: Here’s What You Need To Know

Marketing professionals for small-to-medium-sized businesses should be aware that when creating messaging and content for the Millennial generation and younger, different rules apply. Marketing approaches that might have been effective in attracting the positive notice of older generations might miss the mark for Millennials – or even send the wrong message entirely. This means you may be failing to earn the interest and loyalty of the largest living generation, even if it’s not the generation that has the most buying power – yet.

Why Are Millennials Important as a Target Audience?

The short answer to this is that everyone is important. Good marketing is accessible marketing,  taking diverse needs into consideration and leaving no one out. Neglecting Millennials simply because they hold less wealth than Boomers or Gen X is problematic from several standpoints. However, from a purely pragmatic perspective, marketing that ignores Millennials is sabotaging itself.

This is partially because Millennials will come into greater buying power in the near future. It’s also because Millennials are more likely than other generations to be the primary consumers of marketing messaging since they are the most plugged in.

Here are some key considerations if you’re developing a marketing campaign with Millennials in mind:

1) Quality of Design Is Important

Older consumers may not notice if a website is poorly laid out or looks outdated. They may notice if a site is difficult to use, but they won’t necessarily be able to pinpoint why. Millennials, on the other hand – having grown up alongside a variety of developments in the digital world – are extremely savvy about what constitutes good design versus what looks cheap, tacky, or cheesy. If you’re not confident about your capacity to design for Millennials, consider enlisting the services of a professional website designer.

2) Craft Content That’s Social-Media-Worthy

Millennials and other younger consumers are probably going to come across your marketing on social media. So, you’ll want to craft content that works well across different platforms. Social-friendly content types to consider include videos (both video Stories and live streaming), testimonials, contests, and holiday-themed content. Also, make sure that your marketing content translates well to mobile devices.

3) Short-Form Content Is the Way to Go

Optimize your social media content to cater to the shorter attention spans of this generation. In many cases, Millennials simply don’t want to waste a lot of time trying to absorb marketing material, and they probably aren’t going to sit down and gaze at a lengthy video, either. Shorter snippets and brief stories are better than earnest but lengthy infomercials. Avoid using clickbait techniques in an attempt to lure Millennial consumers to go deeper into the content. These techniques are glaringly visible for what they are and are a major turn-off for this generation.

4) Make It About the Experience

Millennial consumers tend to value experiences over ownership. They’re more likely to splurge on an adventure or an excursion than on expensive material belongings. And, of course, they’re also likely to want to translate those experiences into Instagram shares. So, instead of focusing on what Millennial buyers might want to possess or purchase, emphasize how your products or services can enhance their life experiences.

5) Deliver Prompt Customer Service

Digital tools make it possible to communicate far more rapidly and effectively than we did even a decade ago, and Millennials are well-accustomed to using these tools. Consequently, they expect others to have mastered these so-called “instant gratification” tools as well. Delayed response times, particularly when it comes to customer requests or service, are likely to provoke a certain level of impatience.

6) Don’t Try to Fake Authenticity

This is a big one. A lot of the pitches that were popular in marketing campaigns directed at Gen X or Boomers come off, in the eyes of Millennials, as just that: sales pitches. This is a generation that has learned to distrust too much smoothness or fakeness and will view rehearsed sales scripts as smarmy rather than smart. In fact, Millennials are more likely than preceding generations to distrust the motives of the business itself. This is why it’s important that your marketing campaign is backed by real evidence with regard to company ethics and influence.

7) Appeal to Their Values

Millennials tend to take values and ethics seriously. Shopping, for them, is not just about satisfying individual needs or desires or getting the best deal. It’s also about making informed choices that can contribute to a better future. Unlike the “me generation,” these younger consumers are likely to think more about sustainability and the future and ask questions about the values and mission of a company.

8) Make Affordability a Selling Point

Here again, Millennials are probably going to look past the pitch and determine whether this product or service is actually a frugal choice. The generation that made thrift store shopping hip cares less about showcasing expensive brands and more about making their spending money go further. When Millennials do splurge, they’re often motivated less by the need to have what everyone else has, and more by the desire to have something unique that reflects their personal style and brand.

9) Where Millennial Audiences Hang Out

In order to reach Millennials on social media, you’ll want to make use of the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as some of the newer ones like Snapchat and TikTok, where younger Millennials may be more active. Email marketing also is an effective way to reach your Millennial audience. Compared to Gen Z, Millennials tend to use a variety of platforms and don’t focus simply on those which are primarily video-oriented. Since you will need to diversify your digital marketing in order to capture broad Millennial interests, consider working with a local digital marketing agency like HighClick Media.

A good marketing strategist understands that while human nature remains relatively unchanged from one generation to the next, human trends, tastes, activities, and self-definition are very culturally relative. So, it’s important to understand the different tastes of diverse demographics, including Millennial consumers.

At HighClick Media, we’re ready, willing, and able to help with all of your digital marketing needs. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

About The Author:

Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. She believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and Alyssa hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she’s learned through experience and from other young parents in three key areas: Education, Relationships, and Community.

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