Messenger bots have been taking the online marketing world by storm for years now. But what are they? And does your local business really need them?
Messenger bots are robots that can carry on a conversation with a customer. They interact with them just as an actual human being would. They can handle small customer service tasks, process payments, book reservations, and more. Online users are already becoming familiar with these types of bots every day. They appear on so many websites in the form of chatbots that pop up when a user lands on the site.
Messenger bots are different than these chatbots though. This is because they don’t appear on websites but instead, inside messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. Facebook is the largest of the messenger bot market. They are also in Twitter, WhatsApp, and more.
Whenever a customer wants to message your business through these apps, the messenger bot will appear. The customer will then subscribe to speak to the bot. If your local business doesn’t currently have one, you could be missing out.
The biggest reason for this is just that – so many local businesses are using them! And that includes your competitors that may be just down the street, or just around the corner. If you’re not, and the competition is, customers may decide to leave your company when they can’t get a hold of you right away, but there is always someone (or something) to talk to them at the competitor.
Local businesses that don’t begin using messenger bots now are simply going to be left behind. It’s said that by the year 2020, and that’s not too far off, 85 percent of business to customer interactions will be done with no human interaction at all. At that time, there’s no telling just what messenger bots will look like, interact like, and what other advancements will be made.
Local business will do much better getting in on this trend now instead of finding out too far down the road that they waited too long.
Instagram is often overlooked as a social media platform due to its nature being entirely ‘images’ based. However, this fact alone is what makes Instagram very powerful – it allows you to convey much more emotion and to really make a product or a lifestyle look desirable.
Not only that, but Instagram is the second largest social network behind Facebook. That’s a pretty impressive stat, so you really shouldn’t leave it out of your plans!
In 2018, expect more small businesses than ever to jump aboard the Instagram marketing train. The eye-catching format is easy to use, and provides businesses with tools to keep their audiences engaged and informed.
New features and toolsets, like Instagram Stories, have also expanded what the platform can do for small business owners. Thanks to Instagram’s powerful advertising tools, evolving features, and highly active audiences, small businesses can use the platform to make big gains.
To help your business prepare its digital marketing strategy for the year ahead, take note of the following Instagram and influencer marketing trends that have nearly every small business owner saying, “Oh, that’s Insta-worthy!”
More Small Businesses Using Instagram Marketing
Small businesses have driven huge growth on Instagram. This includes growth of both unpaid organic account posts and paid advertising use.
According to Forbes, Instagram now has over 8 million business profiles. The platform saw 500% growth in the number of business accounts in just a few months last year.
Instagram execs credit the majority of this growth to small business users. Setting up an account is easy, and it’s also just as simple to begin using paid advertising tools to promote posts.
Now, with the advent of features like Instagram Stories, that number has likely soared even higher.
Businesses can therefore use Instagram to get huge reach for their campaigns or fulfill brand awareness goals with just a little bit of effort.
Influencer Marketing Benefits for Small Businesses Stack Up
Big brands aren’t the only ones who use influencers to achieve marketing goals anymore. The ability for social media personalities to drive engagement and direct attention can benefit small businesses, too.
Micro-Influencers Take on Huge Importance with Small Audiences
Some influencers with a million plus followers like Michelle Phan have taken on celebrity status. They get invited to red carpet events and appear on mass broadcast TV ads.
As these average people become megastars, a clear distinction emerges between them and other influencers. Marketing experts have begun to split influencer types into multiple categories as a result.
“Macro-influencers” like Phan, Kim Kardashian and King Bach have millions of followers and a huge range of topics they cover. “Micro-influencers” have a small following of a few hundred to a few thousand people but often follow a much more niche focus.
Small businesses have realized that micro-influencers are not only cheaper to work with, but they also drive campaign goals more effectively. Micro-influencers have this power because their audience feels stronger connections and finds the content posted more directly relevant to their interests.
You can see this connection in micro-influencer engagement rates. Influencers with less than 1,000 followers can engage 8% of their audience on average, while influencers 10 million+ followers only get “likes” from 1.6% of their audience, and an even lower frequency of comments and shares.
Put simply: small business owners can work with micro-influencers to connect more authentically to audiences and drive more consistent action.
Instagram Stories and Live Video Make Engagement a Daily Affair
Instagram stories provide a fun and unique way to engage followers and drive traffic to your web- site. Many businesses have yet to adopt Instagram Story as part of their marketing strategy. However, you can be an early adopter and reap the benefits right now.
Instagram might have started as a fun mobile app, but it has turned into an extremely valuable and powerful marketing tool for companies that know how to use it.
If you create a compelling profile, use hashtags appropriately. Take advantage of new options like Instagram Stories. You can use Instagram to build brand awareness and attract new customers.
“Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month,” says Entrepreneur, “which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.”
Businesses interested in driving attention towards certain campaigns or maintaining more active engagement with audiences can turn to Stories and Live video to accomplish these goals.
Increasing Demand for Brand Safety and Proof of ROI
The double-edged sword to influencer marketing is that some brands worry about influencers staining their reputation.
Video game streamer PewDiePie, who has the largest YouTube subscriber base of any channel, caused waves after repeatedly using extremely offensive language in his content. Brands that collaborated with PewDiePie had to cut their ties and make statements condemning his actions.
Since influencers are not brand employees, business owners invite a bit of risk when they collaborate with them.
The best way to avoid controversy is to look to influencers’ past behaviors. Ask questions before collaborating in any capacity. Make it clear that your relationship is dependent on a positive image for your business.
Similarly, tie any relationships you have with influencers to concrete KPIs, including ROI. It’s always better to start small with a relationship. After that, establish proof of ROI before committing marketing dollars to a true collaboration.
For instance, try sending an influencer a free gift or just a kind request to highlight your latest campaign. If you like what they do with the information, you can work toward more collaborative content or even an endorsement-type relationship.
Trends in Instagram and Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses Can Help Your Brand Take Off Next Year!
Remember, Instagram is not about instant conversions or links. This is about the long-term benefit, so rate your success in terms of likes, follows and comments – not profit.
Likewise, remember that this is a ‘young’ and ‘hip’ crowd. You need to get to know your actual audience, but you should also get to know the Instagram audience more generally. What you’ll find is that Instagram is a place where ‘in your face marketing messages’ don’t go down well. So, don’t do that!
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When you go online, chances are that a lot of the content you see is in video format – and for good reason. Every day, approximately 100 million people watch at least one video online. So videos are an incredibly effective way of marketing your product and/or service.
If you have been avoiding making videos because you think they will be too expensive or difficult to make, it is time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Video Content Marketing Becomes a Must-Have for Small Businesses
For one, people complete video content more frequently than the average non-visual, text-based blog article. According to Vidyard, over a third of all video viewers (37%) make it to the end of the video’s run time.
Nearly all mobile users who watch video (92%) have a tendency to share video content with others. Simply Measured also says that video gets shared around 12x more frequently than content links or text.
Other studies show that audiences retain video in messaging better than text.
With these advantages, businesses putting video content out there will see higher levels of engagement. They will also see higher levels of shares and conversions into their marketing funnel. Having a video component to your digital marketing strategy will become a competitive differentiator in months ahead.
Business owners looking to get into video can start by transforming existing content assets into a short (around 2.5 minutes or less) summary. Look to the assets with the most views and shares for inspiration.
Video Becomes an Integral Part of the Sales Pipeline
Offering video content helps turn what could be a pushy and person-intensive sales process into a self-service nurturing pipeline. Interested prospects can view video content hosted on websites or shared via social to learn more about products and features. As they educate themselves, they move towards the end of the sales funnel with minimal person-to-person contact.
Self-guided lead nurturing not only reduces employee overhead, it also results in a more pleasant experience for leads. 19% of prospects claim they only want to hear from a company rep when they are actively considering a purchase. 40% of prospects want to be able to buy without talking to anyone at all.
Meeting this need involves considering how video assets can provide value at every stage of the sales/marketing funnel.
For instance, business owners can cultivate awareness by creating emotional or intriguing video advertising assets.
Video content marketing assets provided on their website next to text content can help buyers at the nurturing stage. In-depth explainer videos can help lay out different buying options. It can also lay out the final steps in the procurement process for those ready to close the deal.
“When you incorporate video into your sales processes, customers get what they want: a friction less, self-serve experience on their time, and on their terms,” says WireBuzz.
Think about buyer needs that were once traditionally met with person-to-person interactions. Imagine how video can replace these needs with a self-service, video-heavy customer journey.
Live Video, 360° Video, Slideshows and Other Video Formats Gain Traction
Like everything else online, the world of video marketing is evolving. While you can still upload videos to your YouTube channel and share them online, there’s also a new kid in town – live video.
One of the most accessible options, which allows companies to fully integrate video marketing into their Facebook marketing, is Facebook Live.
Preparing live video into your content marketing and social engagement strategy can quickly round out your assets without a massive up-front investment.
There are a lot of reasons that doing live is a good way to gain more followers. This is something that you should be investing in.
We could go into a lot of detail now about why Live might well be the ‘future’ of social media in many ways. For now, though, suffice to say that for you, it offers a unique way to communicate with your audience. This takes away the limitations of having to wait for a post or a message to be delivered.
Your audience will feel as though they’re getting real insight into your lifestyle, your business and your personality. You will be able to answer their question directly.
This is a fantastic format for a whole range of types of media. From AMAs (Ask Me Anything), to interviews and to product reviews.
On the other end of the spectrum is 360° video. These assets use a special camera setup to capture a full spherical range of images. Audiences can then use a smartphone headset like the Google Daydream to tilt and move their head as the video plays, changing their viewpoint as one might in real life.
360° video results in a truly immersive and memorable experience. However, the high cost of equipment and production means businesses require an airtight strategy for converting 360° videos into measurable returns.
Formats like these lower production costs for video — especially video ads. They still provide higher levels of engagement. Best of all, they can communicate well even without sound.
In 2018, you need a sales and marketing plan that makes the best use of digital marketing trends to create more visibility and drive revenue.
We’ve identified five major digital marketing trends that should get your focus in 2018.
The businesses that are able to best take advantage of these trends will get a huge leg up over their competitors.
To help you get you started — and to make this coming year more profitable for you — read about these five important digital marketing trends for 2018 below.
Content Marketing to Attract and Engage Prospects
Content marketing is nothing new, but it is evolving.
Content is what makes the web go around. Content is what makes people visit your website, it’s what encourages people to follow you on social media and it’s what eventually turns your visitors into fans rather than just followers.
Your social media strategy should largely be about sharing content. That means directly posting images, videos, and text to your social media accounts, but it also means posting to your blog or website and then sharing that on social media.
But this strategy will only work so long as the content you are providing is top quality and highly engaging. So now the question is: how do you ensure that this is the case?
For this reason, around 90% of businesses that advertise online use content marketing currently. Most are interested in shifting dollars from traditional ads to content, where they can find better returns.
You should create engaging, in-depth content with a strong visual element to attract prospects. Reach more people by learning about the content they want to consume and giving them more of it.
Video Continues to Dominate
You might not be into Facebook Live yet, but you probably should be! Recent data from Facebook shows that people are 10x more likely to comment on a Facebook Live video than otherwise.
Now, keep in mind that there are over 2 billion active Facebook users in the world. A little bit of number crunching reveals that approximately 1 billion people watch one hour of video a week. That’s a huge embedded audience to explore!
Video holds much more attention and communicates messages more effectively than text or still images alone. Recognizing this, small businesses have been using video and finding huge returns. Whether as a type of content or a paid ad, video drives huge amounts of engagement.
Research from Wyzowl indicates that 79% percent of consumers surveyed would rather watch a video to learn about a new product then read about it.
Also, “64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.” So, people are not only watching a video but also remembering what they see and actually buying things afterward!
From there, consider repurposing some of your existing content into short, informative videos and uploading them directly to social media.
You know the audiences are there, you just have to give them something worth paying attention to.
Facebook Advertising to Reach Prospects
Billions of users reside on Facebook. The targeting is so specific, you can even turn off ads to people who have clicked on them before. It can also be inexpensive if you know what you’re doing.
No wonder it’s one of the top advertising platforms for marketers.
The results of Facebook advertising can happen very quickly. It’s not unusual to see sales start after 24 hours of running an ad. As a small business owner, you can use Facebook to your advantage.
If you’ve read that boosting a post is a waste of time, I’m going to correct that thinking. As a small business owner, page boosts are perfect for you.
If you’ve got a massive audience (over 2000 fans) then it’s probably not.
But then again, if you use it the way we show you how, it may be good for any business size.
When you boost a post, you aren’t just limited to your fans. You can target certain demographics, just like an ad. Most people don’t know that. They think boosting is just for your fans.
If you’re just boosting to your fans, you may be wasting money.
If you target it like an ad, you’ll be getting the most out of your boost.
You can choose your demographics based on age, location, age, and interest. In this case, you want to target people in your local area. You can play around with the other options, but location targeting is key.
This way your post will be seen by people in your local area.
What kind of post should you boost? Try one that’s talking about a product or your latest sale. You want to entice people to come into your store or contact you. If you want them to contact you, be sure to put your contact information in a boosted post.
A boosted post is extremely inexpensive. It can cost as little as $20. You can potentially reach hundreds or thousands of people with that money.
Boosted posts can run for one to seven days. The maximum amount of days it can run is seven. I’d recommend that you run a post if you can afford to run it.
Make sure the post is applicable to at least that amount of time. You don’t want a post about a sale running after it has expired.
Make sure all your posts abide by Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines. These posts need to be approved. Sometimes they will be approved but then you’ll find out later they’ve been canceled. If they’ve been canceled, it’s usually because they violated the guidelines in some way.
Now small and local businesses have the chance to increase their audience with just a small budget. Make sure you implement at least one of these this week. Once you see your first sale, you’ll want to make it a regular part of your advertising. This is one of the easiest ways to implement the most effective digital marketing trends in existence.
When you combine video and Facebook Ads you really start to multiply the impact. Recent data highlight the fact that social video (basically any kind of branded video or advertisement) generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
Instagram & Influencers Drive Engagement
When it comes to consistent engagement, Instagram is the number one social channel out there. That’s the conclusion of a study done by Yopto, which found engagement rate on Instagram to be 45% greater than on Facebook and 40% greater than Twitter.
The key here is to let your customers do the posting as much as you do. The same Yopto study found that 77% of people are more convinced by user-generated photos of a product rather than professional photos.
Crowdsource your own content by asking loyal customers for pictures of them using your product. People love the attention, and you save on professional photography, so it’s a win-win for all.
Another key thing to know about Instagram is how powerful Instagram Influencers are.
“Influencers” refers to people with lots of followers and tons of engagement from fans. There are all types of influencers, including subject matter experts who post videos and photos related to their expertise.
Small businesses can tap into these influencers at a relatively low cost. Case studies have shown that niche experts in your industry will drive direct sales traffic without costing your company an arm and a leg.
Take the example of RESCUE, for instance. RESCUE wanted to push their range of natural products and asked a number of micro-influencers and bloggers to share their personal stories and include a “buy one, get one free” coupon with their post. The results? A 258% increase in Instagram followers — not to mention over 6,000 clicks to the coupon site.
Because of success stories like these, there is no question that leveraging micro-influencers to drive conversion rates will be a major trend in social media marketing going forward.
Businesses Not Optimized for Mobile Will Be Left Behind
Did you know that 4 out of 5 consumers now use smartphones to shop? Let’s face it, nowadays just simply having a website is no longer enough for your business to truly connect with consumers online. People are accessing the internet from desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Your customers are using mobile devices to search for businesses in their area and to shop online.
Having a mobile website can make a big difference in how many customers find and interact with your business. The use of mobile phones to browse the internet isn’t new, but it continues to rise, making a mobile website more and more important for businesses who want to stay on top of the market.
Why being Mobile Friendly Is Important for Your Business
Studies show the average consumer is spending more time browsing and utilizing the web on a mobile device vs. on a desktop or laptop. Tablets and phones can be conveniently carried around and accessed instantly. How often have you seen someone looking at their phone while waiting for a bus, sitting in a restaurant, or taking a break from work? All of those moments are opportunities for your business if you have a mobile-friendly website. Better yet, 2018 should be the year you adopt a Progressive Web App! This will be the hottest of all digital marketing trends.
In a 2014 study, ad network InMobi found that in the United States people are spending more time accessing the internet through their mobile devices than through their PCs. This means that if your business’s website is designed only for PCs, you’re missing out on over half of the market. Furthermore, about one in three online searches are now conducted through mobile devices. People use their phones when they are out and about and looking for a local service. If your website comes up in their search results and is easy to access, you might gain an immediate new customer.
A recent study by iAcquire found that 70% of mobile online searches result with an action taken within less than an hour of the search. This means that mobile searches are a more effective way of reaching customers than desktop searches, and can quickly result in new customer interactions and sales.
Take Advantage of These Five Digital Marketing Trends for 2018 to Find Success Growing Your Business
In 2018, competing online is no longer an option.
It’s a must for your business to survive.
To grow your business, you must apply a complete digital marketing strategy.
One that gets more Leads & Sales.
One that takes advantage of the shifts in Mobile, Social, Video, Reputation, Search and other digital marketing trends.
One that connects all the dots, so that people can find you on any channel but still have a consistent experience.
One that gives the information people need to make a buying decision through helpful content and a mobile-optimized experience.
This is the only way for your business to not be left behind.
If you take advantage of these digital marketing trends, you will have a distinct advantage in growing your business over your competition.
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The benefits of digital video advertising have quickly switched it from a “nice to have” for larger businesses to a “must have.” Now, this status has begun to trickle down to smaller businesses.
Brands already embracing video ads have a distinct advantage over their competition.
Soon, video advertising for small businesses could become table stakes for all business owners. Without it, they may not be able to viably compete for new customers and overall sales.
In other words: video ads provide so many advantages that small businesses without a video marketing strategy may get left behind.
In case you’re not sold on this idea, consider that video is much more engaging than other forms of social media. That’s at least partly because video assaults all the senses. It contains movement, imagery, music, and gesticulations and all this makes it far more captivating, far more persuasive and potentially much more emotionally stimulating.
This is everything you need to sell to someone and it makes social media a considerably more powerful tool for selling and persuading – or just getting someone to care about and be interested in your brand.
Discover the benefits of video advertising and learn about six huge reasons your small business should consider video ads by reading on.
1. Digital Video Has Runaway Growth with No Signs of Slowing Down
First, business owners should know that digital video is not just a “fad.” It’s a legitimate trend that reflects our evolving use of technology.
Online video has become an absolute monster in the past few years with no signs of slowing down. People watch over 500 million hours of video on YouTube each and every day. An estimated one-third of all online activity is spent watching videos.
Video uploaded to newer platforms has also quickly caught traction. Since introducing native video for Facebook users in 2013, the platform has grown to have over 500 million people watch at least one video in a given day.
There are many reasons behind this upsurge in video production and consumption, but mobile is one of the most important to keep in mind. As smartphone adoption rates rose and device owners gained access to cheaper data plans, the simultaneous explosive growth in content production and attentive audiences created a full-blown phenomenon.
Over half of video content is now viewed via mobile devices, and mobile video saw 20 percent consumption growth last year.
Altogether, these facts show that if your business invests in videos, it won’t be stuck with something no one uses five years from now. Instead, not using video advertising could actually make your business feel like a dinosaur.
2. Most Marketers Are Buying into Video Ads, And They’re Seeing Real Results
While more consumers are watching videos, more marketers are also spending more money on video advertising. Comparing 2016 to 2015, marketers spent 53 percent more on digital video ads — $9.1 billion in total. Looking just at mobile video ad growth, spending increased 145 percent year-over-year during the same period.
And while video ads made up just 12.5 percent of overall digital ad spending last year, digital advertising as a whole eclipsed traditional TV advertising. TV has long been the king in the ad world since the 1960s. That fact that digital can unseat it is a big deal.
Also, many brands have begun to give video the lion’s share (56 percent) of their ad budget, signaling a larger sea change in the handoff between digital and traditional pay TV.
Overall, people have begun to pay less attention to traditional media outlets like broadcast TV and more attention to digital videos. Businesses using video ads will find bigger and bigger audiences over time. Those who stick to older forms of ads will have shrinking audiences.
This trend has strongly motivated marketers to pay attention. Currently, over 67 percent of brands say that they purchase video ad inventory on Facebook. The majority intend to spend more on video in the next year.
Since “programmatic ad platforms” can automatically match your video ad with people most willing to buy, the tremendous appeal of video content has helped marketers find big, high-value audiences and better conversion rates.
3. Video Sharing Helps Your Ads Go Viral and Expand Reach
A video is not only appealing but also highly shareable. In fact, traffic to video sharing sites has more than tripled. Also, 92 percent of mobile video viewers report that they regularly share videos with others.
Because video is so shareable, a single ad placement can turn into free exposures from people sharing your ad with friends and associates. Video ads, therefore, help small businesses get more value for their dollar.
Additionally, video ads that are blatant advertisements can still hold a high amount of appeal to buyers. According to one recent survey, four times as many people would prefer to watch a product-focused video compared to reading about it.
4. Video Communicates More Than Words or Images Alone
Video content combines sight and sound with motion to create a deeply engrossing experience. By combining moody imagery with soothing music, for instance, small business brands can make viewers feel emotion more effectively than images or text can by itself.
Consider that a two-minute explainer video can be capable of delivering over 200 words of script. It will also show deeper information with animations, visual cues and things like editing. Maybe this is why people say that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, 1 minute of video must be worth 1.8 million!
Additionally, people tend to remember video far more clearly compared to text. The average viewer claims to remember 95 percent of what they saw in a video compared to just 10 percent of what they read through text.
For small businesses marketing, these benefits mean that video advertising does more with less. Your viewers will get more of your message, enjoy it as an experience, and remember it better overall.
5. Video Helps You Rank Higher for SEO and Social
You might not be aware of this, but YouTube (which is owned by Google) is actually the world’s second-largest search engine. It’s also the world’s third-most trafficked website. Not only is YouTube a great way to share your videos, the information you include (such as keywords and links to your website) can boost your search ranking, and that’s a big benefit.
These video results appear at the top of the SERP above text-based web pages.
By having your video more likely to appear in search results, you can get more clicks from search users directly in the SERPs. Having your video appear on the SERPs can also increase organic traffic by 157 percent compared to text-based web pages.
Put together: each video you make can generate more business with less effort.
Small business owners using both paid video ads and non-ad-related video content will, therefore, have an easier time finding more leads from multiple sources.
How to Get Started
The best way to get started with video marketing is on YouTube, which in some ways is similar to a form of social media. At the same time though, you can also be successful by using live video on platforms like Facebook, by uploading very short videos to Instagram etc., or by using videos through other social media channels. Even paid Facebook Ads let you incorporate video!
To get started creating video, then conventional wisdom is that you will need a good quality camera, some basic lighting equipment, a sound recording device etc.
All this is true to an extent, but it isn’t strictly necessary if you’re shy to go on camera or don’t know how to create that kind of content. In fact, a ‘video’ can be much more of a podcast with a static image and you talking over the top. Or it can be a slideshow with no talking at all! There are lots of ways to create video and the only thing you absolutely need is some basic editing software.
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