3 Must-Know Trends for Digital Marketing in 2018
It’s January — let the cavalcade of predictions and trend lists begin! As business owners, we know how important marketing is. We’re also hyperconscious of our budgets and know the strain of trying to use every dollar wisely. Without the resources and reach of the big national chains, small businesses rely on word-of-mouth advertising and relationships far more heavily to grow and expand our reach.
Marketing is an important part of this. It enables us to get the word out about our business, to attract new customers, and to alert existing customers to new products, specials, and offerings. When done poorly, however, marketing can turn off customers. If your marketing appears desperate, overly “salesy,” or unoriginal, customers might turn away from a small business and make their purchases from a more polished national chain, thereby taking their purchasing power out of the neighbourhood.
Below, for your consideration, I’ve listed what I think will be some of the biggest marketing trends for 2018. If you want to grow your florist business and use your dollars effectively, consider how these options might work for you.
Content marketing is one of the biggest online marketing trends of 2017 (and 2016), and it will only become more popular in 2018 as methods of content creation and distribution evolve. Content marketing is a form of marketing that provides a piece of useful content to your clients, without being overtly sales-focused. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you likely interact with content marketing pieces on a daily business.
One of the most popular forms of content marketing is a blog. Blogs provide useful content – either educational, entertaining, or both – to readers, while subtly marketing your products.
Consider, for example, the blog that an independent florist might run. On this blog, they might publish articles like “5 Must-See Wedding Trends for 2018.” Since nearly all weddings use flowers, this blog will provide useful content to people planning their weddings. One or two of the trends listed would relate to flowers — by naming a particular flower that is going to be popular, or by calling attention to a particular style of centrepiece — but the other tips would be more general wedding tips, such as trends for dresses or suits, cakes, or color palettes. Your readers are nudged towards services that you provide while also gaining knowledge about the field in general.
Another form of content marketing you could consider is to publish an ebook or an infographic. What might customers want to know? A short guide to arranging with flowers, for example, might help customers be braver in experimenting with floral decorating in their own home. Or an infographic displaying the journey that your flowers took from field to shop will help your customers understand exactly where the product came from — which many customers want these days.
Content marketing builds connections between your customers and your brand. It helps customers see you as a knowledgeable expert on the subject, which entices them to purchase your product. It also steers away from blatant in-your-face advertising language that might alienate customers.
Tip: Video is quickly becoming the most consumed type of content on the Internet. It doesn’t take much equipment and know-how to shoot some informational or on-the-scene videos and share them on your blog and social channels.
The term “influencers” refers to people who have a wide social media reach. They shape trends by “influencing” those around them.
Instagram is the app of choice for social media influencers, who also often have substantial presences on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
The Internet is a highly visual medium, and influencers post gorgeous, attention-grabbing images that make the products showcased into trendy must-haves. Often, influencers are hired or courted by brands to showcase their products. The best influencers, however, are those whose product placement is entirely natural, who make authentic appeals towards particular brands.
If you don’t already have a social media presence, your small business needs an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter account. Tailor your message to fit the social media platform — for example, use attention-grabbing, well-composed images on Instagram and Facebook, and short, snappy sentences on Twitter to grab attention. Try to connect with locally influential publishers for either donated or paid product placements and mentions.
We all know that business and product reviews are important, but it’s very easy to underestimate just how important they really are. A study published in late 2017 reported that more than 97% of consumers have used the Internet to look for a local business within the last year.
The study also found that the way people use and interact with reviews is rapidly changing. Instead of visiting a website right away after reading reviews, consumers are now more likely to call or visit directly. Shoppers have an evolving level of sophistication in how they process the information in reviews: 79% of consumers have read a review they believe to be fake, and people are considering reviews for a much broader range of businesses than ever before.
Yelp leads the way as the most trusted review site, followed by Facebook, Google, and BBB.org. When evaluating a business, consumers view the quantity of reviews to be almost as important as the average star rating. They now expect a company to have at least 34 reviews online before the review scores are considered trustworthy. Older reviews are considered less relevant.
The kicker? More than 85% of shoppers consider online reviews to be as trustworthy as personal recommendations.
All this is to say, if your review work has been slacking until now, 2018 is definitely the year you’ll want to step up your game and generate as many legitimate online business reviews as possible. After all, if your review count and score are what determines whether or not someone will visit your site or call your shop, this is an area of marketing and customer relations that deserves your full attention.
Whatever marketing tactics you choose, make sure that you’re focusing on your customer and serving them well. Service, product quality, and community engagement are truly the reasons that people choose independent florists (and small search marketing agencies!) over big box chains and corporate options — so make sure you’re delivering on your core principles.