Trends are funny. In some cases they jump up out of nowhere and demand to be noticed. In other cases, in fact in most cases, they bubble up over a long period, kick around in other industries and finally get realized by a larger group as relevant to their current way of life.
But trends are also terribly misleading because they are often overstated and simplified and tend to focus on a tool rather than the underlying behavior. Think about when Twitter got hot. Everyone talked about the tool, but few realized that it was simply the embodiment of a way to communicate that people were looking for. Understanding that shift allowed some to take advantage of the behavior rather than the tool and this put them miles ahead of the trend.
Today I want to talk about five shifts that I see making an impact right now on both the way we go to market and the way the market comes to us.
1) Little Commitments
Generic information overload is causing a real bottleneck for marketers. We’ve been told over and over again to produce content, but now the competition for content is choking, rather than informing, our prospects.
Our prospects don’t have or won’t take the time to learn all about our great solutions even if it’s in their best interest to do so. Our job now is to offer them little pieces of information that move them ever so slightly in the direction of personalizing their experience with us.
Tools like the pop up survey from Kiss Insights, a guided content path created by using WordPress plugin Survey Funnel, a guided tour using a tool like WalkMe or the ability to present dynamically relevant content through a tool like GetSmartContent will become increasingly important as ways to filter our own content and create more personalized trust building experiences.
2) Video SEO
One of the most dramatic changes in Google’s indexing of local business pertains to video. Right now a local business has a better chance of ranking for highly relevant search terms using YouTube hosted, highly optimized videos than any other approach.
Smart marketers are serializing their most important keyword phrases and frequently asked questions using video and optimizing these videos through specific file names, descriptions, keywords and transcripts.
Using a tool like Traffic Geyser also makes it easier to spread these videos to other video sharing sites in order to garner further traffic and links.
3) Visual Scanning
One needs looks no further than the current hype of Pinterest or the $1Billion dollar sale of photo sharing site Instagram to witness the visual scanning behavior impact. These sites soared in popularity in large part due to information overload and the stimulation caused by visual interest.
It is far easier to look at a thousand pictures than to consume a thousand words.
To me this doesn’t simply mean jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. It signals a behavior that must be adopted rather than a tool. We must start offering visual scanning of our brands by using images in all that we do.
Get in the habit of taking photos of your world and your customer’s world each and every day.
When we post a status update or amplify a recent blog post on Facebook upload an image and describe the image rather than simply using the blog post thumbnail. In addition to added visual impact, Facebook favors images over most other content and will show your post to more followers.
Use a tool like Postagram that allows you to turn Instagram photos into higher quality photo postcards. Imagine the impact of meeting with a client, snapping a photo and sending them a personalized photo thank you card. Or what about sending your client a postcard of the product you’re building just for them?
4) The Digital Persona
Market research folks have long talked about uncovering the rare combination of factors that lead to fully understanding what a market needs, wants, and believes. Much of this information can be gleaned from demographic and psychographic research, but few things have produced more relevant research into the actual demonstrated behavior of a market than the trail of clues our prospects leave every day online.
In many cases researches now have verified proof that what markets say and what they do online are not always the same thing and this important digital aspect must be one that is considered in the make up of our ideal customer profile.
At the very least we must add browser plugins like Rapportive that give us social media data on the people we interact with to our communication toolset.
We must make our CRM systems understand social behavior and score, nurture and move our leads forward using this data.
We must start to create prospect and client personas that include digital behavior clues.
Few things have had a more dramatic impact on local business than the behavior to research online to buy offline (ROBO) that is practiced by an approaching 90% of all adults as a way to find local products and services.
What this means is that we must expand the way we think about our website far beyond the means to provide information. Our website must become a tool to drive online searchers and visitors offline into our stores, into our presentation and into our Meetups.
Our websites must feature local call to action tools such as downloadable coupons, samples and trials. We must add and use click to call, schedule or chat functionality that allows for instant engagement.
We must think of ways to create our own offline communities and build these communities with online tools such as LinkedIn Groups, MeetUps or even creating our own leads and referral groups using a tool like LocalBase.
Each new and accepted tactic brings with it corresponding changes in behavior and impact that can only be seen by paying close attention to the underlying shifts rather than focusing on the latest hype.