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5 online marketing trends for SMEs in 2016

5 online marketing trends for SMEs in 2016

The end of the year is a great time to start thinking about planning your businesses’ online marketing strategy for the next year. 2016 will see an increase in the importance of content creation, increased growth in mobile, changes to SEO best practices, a diversification of social media and growing investment in digital assistants. We’ve outlined 5 key online marketing trends that SMEs need to be ready for in 2016 and some tips that can help your business stand out from the crowd…

1. Focus on content

Producing quality useful content for your customers is a priority for 2016. Why do it? Many decision-makers prefer to find information about a company themselves rather than being bombarded with advertising. The benefits? It helps to build trust, develop your brand and ensure that you’re seen as an expert.

Traditional advertising shouts at prospect customers whereas content marketing talks with them | Amanda Maksymiw @ Content Marketing Institute

But only 44% of B2B businesses reported having a documented content strategy in place. This means there’s still a huge opportunity for an enterprise to start developing engaging content in order to grow their brand. And as well as raising awareness about your brand, content production will also help your ranking on Google, attracting prospects and existing customers back to your site.

2. Grow your mobile presence

In 2015, Google introduced a new algorithm update that has begun to severely damage the rankings of sites not optimized for mobile. Why was this? Over a quarter of people in the world use smartphones, and many – young people in particular – won’t do business with a company that doesn’t have a mobile site or app.

Back in 2014, Forbes reported that 42% of businesses don’t use mobile responsive websites. While businesses are beginning to catch up, mobile will be one of the key areas to focus on in 2016. Without a mobile marketing strategy, your overall efforts will struggle to reach their potential.

Grow Your Businesses Mobile Presence

3. Get agile with SEO

As with mobile, the last few Google algorithm updates have increased the importance of quality content. Google takes into account statistics about how long users stay on a page and how much content they read when it is ranking a website. And visual content like pictures and videos can be much more attractive for users than plain text. How much investment you’re putting into producing visual resources in 2016 is definitely something to consider.

This doesn’t mean that SEO is no longer necessary. It’s no good creating good quality content if you’re not also optimizing meta-descriptions, alt tags and correctly targeting the right keywords. The key thing is research and planning your strategy so that you’re resources are going to the places which generate the best return on investment – whether this is focussing on social, creating highly-targeted email marketing campaigns, or making sure your website is optimized for search.

4. Diversify your social media use

We already know that social media and networks are a crucial aspect of any businesses marketing strategy, helping to raise awareness of your brand and drive traffic to your website. And you probably already know the basics of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

But there are still opportunities for SMEs that fully grasp the functionality of these platforms and the analytics they provide. And with an ever-increasing number of new social channels, 2016 would be a great time to re-assess your social media strategy.

Is the content you’re producing really reaching the right audiences through Facebook? Have you considered actively marketing to prospects on LinkedIn, or contributing to hashtagged community discussions on Twitter? Start asking these questions now and you can start to refocus your inbound marketing efforts come 2016.

And don’t forget all the new social media channels. Have you thought of using Vine, Periscope, Blab, Snapchat? Each of these provides a unique way to directly connect with your customers, as well as to carve out a niche in an increasingly complex marketplace.

siri-iphone5. Optimise for digital assistants

New technologies bring new challenges as well as opportunities. And one really interesting opportunity is the increased investment the big digital companies are pouring into digitial assistants – specifically, Siri and Cortana.

These virtual personal assistants use voice-activated commands to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions. The software adapts to the user’s individual search preferences and history, meaning that people’s internet use will be becoming ever more personalised.

While SMEs are used to SEO, digital assistants only utilise traditional search engines when necessary to find information. Optimising for digital assistants is something to think about in 2016. Enterprising businesses can stay ahead of the curve by making sure their business information is easily accessible to these assistants instead of just trying to funnel people back to their site.

Has this got you thinking about your own digital marketing strategy? Let us know if there are any online marketing trends for 2016 that we might have missed…