I feel fortunate to have followed some of the amazing major changes in digital marketing and technology over the last 10 years. I’m sure you will have enjoyed living through, following and acting on these changes too. Looking back, we’ve seen a phenomenal growth in the importance of organic, then paid search, then social media and more recently, incredibleworldwidegrowth in mobile and particularly smartphone usage.

Learn how to get an edge in 2018 by deploying the latest marketing techniques that businesses of all types need to consider to stay competitive.

Which marketing trend will be most important to you and your business in 2018?

We have asked this question over the past few years and it’s been really interesting to see what ‘rocks your digital world’ since there are some common themes amongst the top 3 and some activities surprisingly low. The question we asked was around the most important commercial trends. We had around 850 votes from marketers in different types of business from around the world. Thank you if you voted! Here’s what you thought:

By asking for just one technique from many, this helps shows the top 3, 5 or 10 top-level trends. There are a clear top three techniques, each over 10%, but with a long tail of many other techniques showing the potential for optimizing different areas of digital marketing. Let’s take a look at the top three…

It’s no surprise to see content marketing‘top of the pile’ since this has been in the top three for each of the years we have run this poll. We see content marketing as the ‘engagement’ fuel that powers all digital communications from search to social to email marketing to creating website experiences which convert. Our content marketing toolkit is popular since members want to learn a more planned approach to mapping content against personas across the customer journey.

More of a surprise is that Big Data is in second position. I think this is because marketers are aware of the potential of using data as what we call ‘actionable insight’. To help the decision on which technique to choose, we expanded upon the short labels you see in some polls to help scope the response more carefully. ‘Big Data’ is a nebulous term, but when we expanded the definition to include insight and predictive analytics, it shows the value of the specific marketing techniques for Big Data and this help explains why this is in position number two.

In third position is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We added this to the poll this year with the interest in it and it’s ‘straight in at number three’! It’s good to see the interest in these techniques which we have been covering a lot on the blog and in our member resources this year. In trend 8 we show how different AI techniques can be mapped against the customer lifecycle.

Here is the full listing of digital marketing techniques:

The ten marketing trends to act on in 2018

So in my look at the trends this year, I’ll be looking at integration as the theme. In our research on managing digital marketing(another free member download) you can see that only 6% of companies thought their integration process was completely optimised, yet many are actively working on integration.

Integrated marketing communications or IMC isn’t a concept you see written about much on blogs or social media since it’s high-level with everyone getting excited at the latest minor innovations from the frightful 5

Trend 1. Integrating Marketing Activities Into the Customer Lifecycle

Given the way the complexity of marketing and digital marketing has increased, techniques like customer journey mapping for different personas are increasing in importance to help define the most relevant communications and experiences for different touch points in the customer journey.

To support this, the way I like to think about how to improve the effectiveness of digital marketing is to think from the customers’ viewpoint of the communications opportunity available through the customer lifecycle for different types of business.

We define lifecycle marketing as:

Creating a managed communications or contact strategy to prioritise and integrate the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences to support prospects and customers on their path-to-purchase using techniques such as persuasive personalized messaging and re-targeting.

We designed this mind-tool to help members think through all the potential touchpoints across paid, owned and earned media. Then you can perform a ‘gap analysis’ of the use and effectiveness of lifecycle comms you are using against those you could be using to increase the relevance and response of communications.

Trend 2. Integrating personalization into the user journey / customer experience

To increase relevance and response of comms, website personalization has been widely used within transactional ecommerce sectors like retail, travel and financial services for a long time now.

More recently, lower cost options have become available with different types of solutions. There are many forms of web personalization varying from those integrated into content or commerce management systems; those integrated into analytics solutions or standalone Software as a Service (SaaS) personalization options that integrate with your CMS and analytics. A useful method to review your use of personalization at the top-level is this experience personalization pyramid:

the Personalization Pyramid

The three levels shown in the chart are:

  • 1.Optimization. Structured experiments. AKA AB Testing or Multivariate testing.Google Optimize is an example of one of these services that launched in 2017.
  • 2.Segmentation. Target site visitor groups, each one with specialized content to increase relevance and conversion.
    Each one still requires separate manual rules and creative to be set up. So returns for this approach eventually diminish after the maximum sustainable number of audience segments has been reached.
  • 3.1-to-1 Personalization. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to deliver an individualized experience to each customer. 1-to-1 employs some of the same principles as optimization and segmentation, but by offering a solution to their two greatest limitations-delayed results and inability to scale-it represents a fundamentally different approach.

So, the main trend within personalization is increased use of artificial intelligence rather than manual rules. Plus, we can also expect to see Website personalization services being adopted across more sectors than the transactional sectors it has become popular within.

Trend 3. Integrating machine learning into marketing automation

Personalization can also be applied across the lifecycle in email comms. Yet, our research on email marketing shows that despite the widespread use of email and marketing automation systems, many companies don’t manage to put in place a full lifecycle contact system like that shown in the lifecycle visual above.

We assessed segmentation and targeting of emails based on the number of criteria that are used from none at all up to dynamic content.

The findings from ourState of Email marketing reportare shocking: Half (50%) dont use any targeting whatsoever, less than a third (29%) use basic segmentation for targeting and less than 15% use segmentation and personalization rules to reach specific audiences within their database.This means that they may be missing out on opportunities for automated emails with dynamic content for welcome and nurture of prospects and customers.

Although email marketing automation is another technique where artificial intelligence and machine learning is being applied more often. Using machine learning offers opportunities to automate targeting as it does for web personalization. However, personalization is potentially more difficult since emails, by their nature, have more complex creative.This data suggests to me that many businesses aren’t ready for AI and machine learning within email marketing and they need to deploy fundamental triggered automation features first.

Trend 4. Integrating social messaging apps into communications

The increasing use of messaging apps is a trend we have mentioned in previous trends round-ups. According to the latest Ofcom Communications Market research more than half of the total mobile audience used Facebook Messenger (61%) and half used WhatsApp (50%). Both properties are owned by Facebook. The Snapchat mobile app had a reach of 28%, with 10.1 million unique visitors.

We’ve been looking at some early adopters of marketing applications of these social messaging apps on Smart Insights. Examples include using Pizza Hut using Messenger for booking tables and IKEA for customer research.

Trend 5. Integrating video into the customer journey

Video is also increasing in popularity fuelled by social . This breakdown of Google popularity shows the dominance of YouTube. We used to say that YouTube was the second biggest search engine, but this data shows that it is now more popular than Google Search based on number of users in a given month (this research also from the com Score panel via Ofcom).

This visual reminds us of the opportunities to use video marketing through the customer lifecycle from pre-roll ads in YouTube (just one option, Google has 10 Video ad options), explainer ads on site and retargeting through video.

Augmented and Virtual Reality are closely related to video engagement, but although we’ve been tracking these, we have seen fewer examples and case studies this year. So, do let us know of any examples.

Trend 6. Integrating content marketing into the customer journey using a customer engagement strategy

Video is just one type of content, albeit important. In previous polls about the technique that will give the biggest uplift in future, content marketing has been popular, in the top one or two in the list.

The trend I’m seeing here is that businesses are getting serious about treating content as a strategic resource, that means developing a customer engagement strategy using different media as shown in the lifecycle diagrams above, and at a practical level, developing content for different audiences using techniques like Personas and Content mapping. Our research shows that these customer-centric analysis techniques are growing in importance, which has to be a good thing for consumers and businesses!

 

Trend 7. Integrating search marketing into your content marketing activities

If we look at the top digital sales channels, search marketing is dominant. Social media is far behind in most sectors, despite its ongoing popularity with consumers. We now know that in many sectors social media can be a great tool for engaging audiences with a brand and improving favourability and awareness, but it typically doesn’t drive lead volume or sales. So I haven’t given social media it’s own section, although integrating it with other channels like web, search and email marketing remains relevant. See our recap of SMW London for the latest social media trends.

However, within search marketing there is today relatively little innovation that we get to hear about compared to the past. Looking at natural search shows that the Moz algorithm change history has no entries since the non-specific ‘Fred’ update in March, whereas in previous years it would have had 5+ with new updates to Panda and Penguin. This is partly down to Google sharing less, with Matt Cutts no longer actively evangelising, although updates are available from John Muellerin their Search team.

Within organic search, one trend I think marketers should be aware of is the changing face of the SERPs as shown by the Mozcast SERPs features update which shows the types of links within a bundle of top 10k keywords they monitor.

It shows the importance of techniques such as Knowledge Panels (important for brands and local businesses); Related questions; featured / rich snippets / quick answers and reviews. We have found that the way these vary across the top 3 to 5 positions can make a big difference in the volume of visits from informational searches.

Within AdWords, referencing Google’s list of new features shows more innovation. Much of it is around reporting compared to new ad features for mobile in previous years, but there are some new options like with Enhanced CPC (ECPC) bidding and Smart Display campaigns. This is an example of Google deploying different types of machine learning including Automated bidding Using Target CPA as a basis; Automated targeting which means your ads increasingly show where they’ll get you the most business and automated ad creation from the building blocks you provide, like headlines, descriptions, logos and images.

Trend 8. Integrating marketing technology

If you follow applications of marketing technology you have almost certainly seen Scott Brinker’s Martech landscape which has grown to over 5,000 vendors this year.

Our own digital marketing tools wheel seeks to simplify this, but has over 30 categories of insights and automation tools which shows the challenge of integrating marketing technology. The trend here is that there is no let up in tools offering innovative methods to analyse or automate. Our final two categories highlights some of these.

Given the plethora of martech, the most apt definition seems:

‘very large amount of something, especially a larger amount than you need, want, or can deal with

You might expect there would be a trend to increasing use of marketing clouds, but our research suggests there isn’t widespread adoption of these.

As we have mentioned throughout this article, machine learning and AI is one of the biggest trends here, see this article and infographic for AI marketing applications across the lifecycle.

Trend 9. Integrating different data sources

This challenge was highlighted to use recently in our members’ Facebook group where a member asked about tools for integrating insights from different paid media ad serving tools which can give the best results if managed separately, for example, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn ads and Google AdWords. Rivery.io is a new option that has launched recently, that should do well. The trend here is new integrated media insights tools other than Google or Adobe, which can help you compare performance of different media.

These services are surprisingly expensive, particularly since they are additional analysis tools. They’re not martech that directly increases leads or sales to the business. For example, I was recently recommended this service (Funnel.io) that costs a minimum of $200 / month, even if it’s solely used to integrate data from multiple sources into Google Sheets. It’s a lot when to get the value from these tools you have to ringfence time so that the analytics are reviewed and acted on sufficiently.

Trend 10. Integrating digital marketing insights sources

Our digital marketing tools wheel contains many free and paid sources of insight about your digital marketing. Here, I’m talking specifically about services which help you stay up-to-date. We’re avid users of these services since they help us keep readers up-to-date via our own blog, twice weekly newsletters and monthly What’s Hot feature.

In a recent article on keeping marketing teams up-to-date, Mark Kelly explains that were commend using Feedlyas a way of aggregating primary marketing news sources via RSS. Plus, I recommend taking a look at Zestwhich is a Google Chrome extension, new in 2017, which I and the team at Smart Insights use and is well worth checking out. Its curated content is specifically designed for and updated by marketers. Like Feedly, you can use it to review the most useful content recommended by ‘the crowd’, in this case ‘your tribe’ of marketers.

 

Request a quote now and we will put you on top of the game in 2018

Source:https://www.smartinsights.com

Google Analytics is a very important digital marketing tool, but seriously underused by most businesses in South Africa. It allows you to measure the results of individual campaigns in real-time, compare the data to previous periods, and so much more. Here are some of the reasons that you should be using Google Analytics to measure the success of your website.

Here is a list of the important data that Google Analytics will give you:

  • Where your visitors are coming from – very important if you’re targeting a specific audience.
  • How your visitors found your website – this is very important for determining which of your efforts are paying off. It shows if visitors found your site directly, through a referral from another website (ex: Twitter, Facebook), or from search engines.
  • Web browsers used by your visitors – knowing which web browsers your visitors use allows you to know which browsers you should be focusing on.
  • What keywords were used by visitors in the search engines to get to your website – this is very crucial for SEO. Knowing which keywords people are searching for to get to your site determines if you are on the right track.

 

 

 

 

 

Analytics shows you data from all channels that are directing traffic to your website, including:

  • Organic Search (SEO)
  • Paid Search (PPC)
  • Social Media
  • Referrals (Backlinks)
  • Direct Traffic

Being able to monitor all the platforms allows you to review what is working well in terms of advertising, and what isnt. Having all the data in one place makes it easy to compare the different channels. If you are currently putting money into your SEO, PPC, or Social Media Marketing, you can monitor your ROI.

Google Analytics has a number of features that allows you to review how well users are interacting with your website and content. These metrics monitor different aspects of the customer journey, showing how the customer has interacted.

Bounce rate The percentage of visitors that navigate away from your website without interaction, after viewing only one page.
Pages/Session The average number of pages each visitor has viewed (this does not include those that have bounced).
Average Session Duration The average amount of time spent on the website by each visitor (again, this does not include those that have bounced).

You can also view these stats against individual pages, giving you a better idea as to what pages are performing well, and which may need optimizing to improve the user experience.

If you have more questions about Google analytics, don’t hesitate to contact us and one of our marketing technologist will be in touch

Source:

https://analytics.google.com

 

 

 

 

  1. Build backlinks to every page of your website that you want to rank. Get people to link to the inner-pages of your site the ones you want to rank for specific keywords as well as to the homepage.
  2. Existing relationships are an instant source of backlinks. Some of your suppliers, partners and customers will link to your site if you ask them to do so.
  3. Get the good backlinks that your competition already has. If someone has already linked to one of your competitors then theres a reasonable chance that theyll link to you also if you give them a good reason to.
  4. Get some backlinks with your target keywords as the link text. This type of link is important, but should make up less than 10% of your backlink profile.
  5. The majority of your backlinks should be branded. A backlink profile without lots of branded links (like Company Name and www.companyname.co.za) signals to search engines that youve been using manipulative link building tactics.
  6. Know whos linking to you. Within Google Search Console, go to Traffic and then Links to check how many sites are linking to yours and which sites they are.
  7. Sign up for Ahrefs. Doing so gives you access to extensive backlink data for your site and also your competitors sites.
  8. Every page of your website should be linked to from at least one other page. Search engines dont include pages in their results that arent linked to either internally (from another page of the same site) or externally (from another site).
  9. Have direct links from your homepage to your most important pages. Doing so passes authority from the homepage to your important pages and improves the rankings of those pages.
  10. Add in-content links to other relevant pages on your website. Whilst not as valuable as external links, internal links do still pass authority and signal to search engines what pages to rank for which keywords.
  11. Remove unnecessary outbound links. Only link to pages on other sites that you think visitors to your site would find helpful and/or interesting.
  12. Link out to relevant websites and blogs. People generally notice if you link to them, and if you link to them, theres a reasonable chance that theyll link back to you if you have good site.
  13. Leave comments on relevant websites and blogs. Doing so builds trust and relationships with people both the site owners and visitors to those sites.
  14. Interact with bloggers in your industry. The better people with relevant blogs know you (through social sites, forums, email, etc.) the more likely theyll be to link to your site and to share your content.
  15. Contact small businesses with relevant websites. A good relationship, in which you help promote each others sites, makes SEO simpler and cheaper for you and for them.
  16. Write press releases to share news and opinions. This is a good way to get content on, and links from, sites outside of your industry and circle of connections.
  17. Phone people to develop online relationships. Emails can easily be ignored or forgotten, but phone calls not so much.
  18. Use your website to build trust and relationships. The more relationships you have, and the more people trust you, the more people will talk about you, link to you, and, ultimately, buy from you.
  19. Add your address and phone number to every page of your website. This builds trust and improves rankings if youre targeting keyword phrases that contain your town/city name.
    Get listed in industry and local directories. Most directories are worthless, however, there should be at least 10 that are relevant to your area or industry.
  20. Ask customers to leave reviews on Google My Business and local directories. Positive reviews improve your rankings in Googles local listings and can be accessed directly from the search results.
  21. Be personal in a way that big businesses cant be. Putting your individuality and personality across throughout the off-site SEO process (outreach emails, guest posts, Tweets, etc.) makes others more likely to engage with you.
  22. Use social websites to promote other peoples content as well as your own. People generally know if youve taken action on social sites to help them, and if they see that youve helped them, the chances of them helping you out in return are much higher.
  23. Add social sharing buttons to your website. The easier you make it for people to share your content, the more likely they will be to do so.
  24. Social media isnt a replacement for SEO. Your social strategy should be part of, or should run alongside, your SEO strategy.
  25. Search engines ranks webpages, not websites. Whether or not a page ranks for a particular keyword depends largely on the quality of that individual page, and not the quality of your site as a whole.
  26. Small businesses can rank higher than big businesses. Its not uncommon for a page on a small businesss site to rank higher than a page on the site of a big, national company.
  27. Know where youre ranking. Within Google Search Console, go to Traffic and then Search Queries to check where your site is ranking for keywords.
  28. Aim to be in the top 3, not just the top 10. If your site isnt ranked in the top 3 positions for a keyword then youll only get a small percentage (less than 10%) of the traffic from searches for that keyword.
  29. Rankings can be misleading. The number of 1st page rankings you have is irrelevant if those rankings dont convert to visitor numbers and, ultimately, sales.
  30. Dont worry about Domain Authority. Sites with a low domain authority can, and often do, outrank sites with a high domain authority.
  31. Choose between using www or not using www. Ensure that your site is set to load at either www.domainname.co.uk or domainname.co.za not both.
  32. Adopt a flat website architecture. Any page of your site should be accessible within 3 clicks from your homepage.
  33. Use a simple, clear URL structure. People should be able to guess the topic of a page by looking only at its URL.
  34. Use header tags. Include variations of your target keyword phrases in a pages H1 and H2 tags.
  35. Use rich snippets. They provide additional data about your site to search engines and can improve the appearance of your sites listing in search results.
  36. Use 301 redirects. If you change the url of a page on your site, but dont redirect the old url to the new one, any links pointing to the old one will be wasted.
  37. Set-up a useful 404 error page. Linking to your best content from your 404 page means that visitors who see it are less likely to leave your site.
  38. Optimise your images. Include a pages target keyword phrase, or variations of it, in the file names and img alt tags of the images on that page.
  39. Optimise your website for mobile users. Your site needs to be clear and simple to use for people accessing it using smartphones and tablets.
  40. Check browser and screen resolution compatibility. Your site needs to render correctly in every web browser (Chrome, IE, Safari, etc.) and screen resolution (1366768, 1024768, 800600, etc.).
  41. Maximise your websites loading speed. Use Googles site speed tool and implement the recommendations that they give you.
  42. Use a reliable web hosting company. Your sites keyword rankings will be downgraded if your site is regularly inaccessible.
  43. Regularly backup your website. If you lose your site data then you lose your rankings too, as search engines quickly remove sites that wont load from their results.
  44. Keep up-to-date with SEO news and trends. Read sites such as Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and SEOmoz.
  45. If you dont know, ask someone. If you have a question, ask it in an online SEO forum or contact an SEO consultant.
  46. Ask SEO consultants lots of questions. If youre going to hire someone, youll be taking less of a risk if you know a lot about them and their strategies.
  47. Engage with your SEO consultant. The more you know about SEO, and the more a consultant knows about your business, the better the results will be.

For any SEO services contact us sales@simboti.co.za

Source:http://www.seomark.co.uk

One drawback that I have noticed in the South African industry is the lack of strategy, do companies still invest in strategic planning or they depend on tenders ? When a tender contract has come to an end, then what? retrench and close shop ?

Below is an article that clearly defines how a company can increase their Google rankings by making use of social media marketing. At Simboti Tech we assist you in coming up with the most comprehensive social media marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website, gain new customers and retain existing customers.

Google uses Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to effectively rank pages. SEO is the process of getting traffic from the free or organic search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Googles objective is to always provide the most relevant results to the users request; promoting authority pages at the top of its rankings. Read More

Did you know that social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing? Or that 84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form? No matter what you sell and who you sell it to, using social media as a marketing tool can help you grow your brand and pad your wallet.

At this point in the game, not having an active social media presence is kind of like pulling out a flip phone at a business meeting and then not understanding why your boss keeps giving Brad all the new accounts. Read More