2017 – what a year it was. We received a masterclass from brands the world over as to how social conscience should be demonstrated; we saw a fresh focus on long scrolling websites; and we watched in awe as video marketing surpassed all expectations in terms of uptake and the results it can secure. For you, the average equine business owner, this rate of change was perhaps head-spinning.
Unfortunately, one thing’s for certain – the world of marketing waits for no man, woman or horse business. Getting ahead of the competition today demands that you get a firm grasp of upcoming digital marketing tools and techniques before they’ve become mainstream. So let’s talk about what’s going to prove hot property in the marketing world, over the coming 12 months.
Content is STILL king – but it‘s all about to become plenty more personal
For those who haven’t heard, ‘content is king’ is just about the most over used expression in the marketing sphere. In short, it describes the power of blogs, articles, videos, eBooks and so on – not only for Google ranking, but for creating trust, building a social fan base and sparking conversations.
In 2018, the content businesses create will become more personal to smaller groups within an audience. No longer will a single campaign feature just one blog, but it will direct different groups to different versions of a blog.
Known as hyper-personalisation, or smart content, this approach will be teamed with ‘native’ advertising for a smooth journey from Google search to relevant content.
The content race could be won by those who invest in influencers
Over the past few years, content marketing has become so widely employed that it’s now reaching the point of saturation. When everyone has taken the time to create valuable content, target markets can become overwhelmed with options – watering down the investment you’ve made in those oh-so carefully crafted blogs and guides.
Influencers are those who hold authority in the equine world – individuals who people listen to and trust in. It is in teaming up with influencers that we predict the real ground will be gained in 2018 – a tactic that can ensure that you stand out, and aren’t fighting tooth and nail for attention that does your content justice.
Need ideas for making an equine influencer part of your approach? Here are three:
- Interview your influencer – either at a trade show such as BETA, or at your place of business.
- Reach out to influencers by asking to guest post on their website – this has the added bonus of boosting your organic website traffic, as well as growing your fan base (if, and only if, your content captures their audience).
- Commission a live social Q and A – this could be with an influencer who’s a natural fit for your target market, or a source of admiration – such as stars from the equine sporting realm. Which brings us on nicely to our next point…
Annnnnd action! In 2018, video will go live
Video marketing has boomed in recent years, and little wonder why when we look to just a few of the impressive stats and facts behind this medium – stats such as 80% of consumers preferring live video over and above reading a blog. And facts such as 67% being more likely to make a purchase after watching a video demonstration.
But it’s time for a little honesty – are you still ignoring video marketing for your equine business? This is the year that businesses will increasingly capitalise upon the interactivity of live streaming.
Your options for streaming are growing, too, with the following social platforms now each offering a tool for live video, made instant and easy:
- Facebook live
- YouTube live
- Instagram live
Of course, not everyone has the presentation skills of Clare Balding (notwithstanding her once terrible faux pas), so it may be that you need to turn to the professionals for live video production.
Companies in every industry will (or at least should) meet Generation Z
Not so long back we wrote about the unique traits of Millennials, and how your business should already be adapting to this up-and-coming generation. Fast forward some 12 months and we’re already talking about the next new in-take. Known as Generation Z, the iGeneration, Post-Millenials, or the Homeland Generation, these are individuals who were born in the late 1990s to mid-2000s. But don’t let their youth fool you – these individuals are far from the wet-behind-the-ear types they’d have you believe.
They are willing to hang up an answered business call after 45 seconds, they search out information online via mobile before forging ahead with a purchasing decision and are more than willing to post a product review given the right impetus – good or bad.
Given this laundry list of expectations you may need to consider a customer care overhaul; a mobile ready, content smart website and a new campaign innovatively pushing for reviews.
The social media lands will become a more baron place for those unwilling to pay up
Only 38% of businesses spend cold hard cash on social media marketing, but times are changing. And not through choice, either.
Saddle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride on social platforms this coming year. 2018 will be the year that free reach all but disappears. For some time now, as social platforms have pushed their advertising solutions, the average FB update or Tweet has reached fewer and fewer people’s feeds. Now? Organic reach is as low as 2% over on Facebook. If that weren’t depressing enough, the real kicker is that 2018 may be the year that Zuckerberg makes it a prerequisite to sponsor every, single, post. In short, you’re almost certainly going to have to take social PPC seriously if you wish to continue winning business on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Websites will be bright, bold and beautiful
We’re entering a new era for In. 2018 will see authentic team photos becoming not just advisable, but essential (so Sally the stock photo receptionist should really be consigned to the history books). Fonts will also become blockier and layouts more minimalistic (goodbye clutter!).
Other web trends to tap into for your web presence should include a doubling down on your efforts to understand your audience – consider their key questions, concerns and hurdles, and create your content around it.
The customer has always been right. But in 2018, he’ll become the be all and end all
In 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.
Customer experience is set for a shakeup – one that should involve asking your customers for feedback to improve, providing chatbots for instant online answers and employees who are re-trained to put the customer at the centre of all they do.
Big data – joining the dots of the customer journey
41% of marketers create content to match specific points in the buying cycle. Are you amongst them?
‘Big Data’ may seem a marketing buzz word reserved for corporate big boys, but in 2018, it’s really a concept to get to grips with. While you may not need vast swathes of market data, being an SME in the equine world, you should ponder how data can help inform your strategy. Customer journey mapping – understanding your customer’s buying process and the information they seek – could and should be shaped by the data you gather. At this point we’re going to blow our own trumpet, as way back in 2016 we put together a piece for Equestrian Business that walked through the process of sales funnel creation. In 2018, some two years on, it seems that it’s never been more relevant.
But where exactly do you get this data? Forget expensive research, privately purchased data or complex questionnaires – simply speak to your customers, find out about their journey from A (when you were unheard of) to Z (when they became a repeat purchaser). Focus on understanding the micro decisions they made along the way and the concerns that they face today.
The coming 12 months promise to be a whirlwind of live streaming, paid social ads and customer journey maps – offering plenty of opportunities to canter right on past the competition if your strategy is on point. If you’d prefer to be doing what you do best, it may be time we talked about how our equine marketing can help. Contact PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian – call our experts on +44 (0)1953 851513 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.