There are over a million blog posts out there for digital marketing trends this year (7,840,000 results to be exact from Google). Out of these results, the concensus more than ever before is to give first, ask later. Branding gives and sales asks. Neither work without the other, and the top trends we’re seeing combine the two while measuring and monitoring those trends (tying them back to lead conversions and sales). So let’s jump right in.
1. Let Inbound Marketing (combined with good branding) Take the Lead In Order to Get You the Lead
Inbound marketing combined with good branding (according Digital Marketer’s Traffic & Conversion Conference 2016) is the upward trend that’s here to stay. CEO of Digital Marketer, Ryan Deiss, said at the kick-off of the conference “Branding is anything that makes a deposit into a customer or prospect’s relational equity account”. Simply stated, the combo of nurturing prospects through inbound marketing combined with good branding (that gives your prospects all those warm and fuzzy feelings about your brand) is irresistibly unstoppable. Of course separately, inbound marketing and good branding are not new ideas. Though inbound without good branding can be seen as cheesy and cheap, and good branding without inbound marketing is in-actionable and often without measure.
When both play nicely together, you naturally begin to trust a company and eventually open your wallet to them because they’ve helped you first for free. For example, think of those late nights when you can’t fall asleep, so you walk to the fridge and down the pint of Cookie Butter ice cream from Trader Joes (oh my gosh so good), and then you feel guilty because of a Hawaiian vacay you have coming up in 3 weeks, and you Google “how to loose 10 lbs in 3 weeks”. This leads you to open an article that says “5 Healthy Foods to Help You Loose 10 lbs fast”. This article is well designed, seems reputable, and has very helpful and engaging content. At the end of this article, you see a well designed graphic that says “Loose 10 lbs in 3 weeks—Download Our Free Meal Plan”. It asks for your email address in return for the download, and you’re fine with that (because after all, it appears reputable and helpful). And besides, you only have 3 weeks to crush it in that bathing suit. You start using the meal plan, love the foods you’ve been cooking from it, and love the couple of extra lbs you lost. You then see an ad on Facebook (with a professional photo of woman (or man) your age cooking in your dream kitchen) from the same company for a $10 cookbook with free shipping that has 100 of these recipes including desserts. “What a deal!” you think. Plus you already trust this company. So you open your wallet and buy it online.
You’ve just participated in this company’s inbound marketing (combined with good branding) funnel, going from never hearing of them to a lead to a customer. And you never felt “sold-to” through any of it.
If you haven’t considered inbound marketing combined with good branding yet in your marketing strategy, try offering a short, free pdf guide at the end of some of your blog posts in exchange for someone’s email address. Be sure to include your graphic designer in on this project and also make sure that this guide makes sense as the next sequential step for your reader to take after reading your blog post.
2. Mix Up the Design of the Wonderful Wide World of Web (a wittle)
Website conversion is king (content is still king too—the two go hand-in-hand). And though the elements of a page that converts well are still there for 2016 trends (grabbing headline, image, short form, social proof, and credibility), web designers are bored with the stereotypical web design of all of it (as well as web visitors) and are getting more creative mixing square modules and type that makes a statement. I know the web images above are small, but take note about how the space is broken up with blocks of solid colors and photography while having noticeable bold type-treatments taking center stage. The opt-in forms are at the bottom of the page—though not always a great idea, something to try testing for sure. I started to see this style become popular towards the end of last year and now explode into 2016. For a free, detailed guide on everything your website must have in order to drive traffic and convert leads, click here.
3. Use Domain Authority to Measure How Strong Your Website is Performing
How well is your website really doing compared to your competitors and other sites in general? If you and your competitor tried ranking for the same keywords and posted the same number of similar blogs, who would out-rank the other? Who the heck knows? Sure, there are tools like SEMRush (which we love) that tell you how many keywords being searched for are driving traffic to your website, how well you’re ranking for those keywords, and how many backlinks you have (links on other websites that point back to yours). But to enter all of your competitor sites into this tool and analyze all of the data… first off, this takes forever. Second, not all backlinks are created equal—it’s quality vs quantity. Enter the MozBar extension for Chrome and Firefox that measures your domain authority. Domain authority is one number they give you on a scale of 1-100 (Google.com being 100) that takes into consideration the amount of traffic your site gets, how many keywords it ranks for, how long its been around, how engaging and helpful it is, how many quality backlinks it has, etc. When installed, among other metrics, this bar will show you the domain authority of not only your website, but any that you’re on. It also displays these bars under each search result in Google. It’s been a fun game for us internally to watch our own website go up in domain authority as we continue to create more solid content and build more backlinks as well for our clients. You can download it here.
4. Consider Voice Queries When Planning Your Organic Search Strategy
I was recently chatting with one of our SEO consultants, Fumi Matsubara at Defy Digital, about a few upcoming trends. He mentioned one of the key takeaways from the Google I/O 2016 Keynote being the trend to consider voice queries when planning organic search strategies. According to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, “Over 50% of our queries come from mobile phones…. In the US… over 20% are voice queries, and that share is growing”. So what does this mean? People say things differently from how they type. For example, if I’m searching for how to fix my car engine, I would type “how to fix car engine” vs if I’m speaking, I would say “how do I fix my car engine”. There is a very slight difference, but this difference could be very important when considering long tail keywords to rank for with website and blog content. In speaking internally with our team here at Shovel, the voice query seems to be especially trendy with our parents… who don’t necessarily love typing with the teeny tiny mobile keypads. So when you’re brainstorming long-tail keywords to rank for as part of your content strategy, consider how you might say it in addition to how you might type it.
To summarize what’s happening in 2016 as far as new digital marketing trends, Inbound Marketing combined with good branding is in the lead for getting leads, module and type-heavy design is “in” for web design, domain authority quickly tells you the strength of your site, and consider voice queries when putting together your organic search strategy. If you’re not already implementing these things, give at least one a try, and let us know how it goes!