Augmented reality, live video streaming, data visualization: There’s plenty of hype about which digital marketing trends will hit the big time in 2017. But, in your rush to jump onto the latest trend bandwagon, don’t overlook the importance of battle-tested strategies, like local listing optimization, or online reputation management.
Recently, I sat down with Peter Handy, CEO of Dallas-based digital marketing agency Advantix Digital, to discuss the future of digital marketing trends in 2017. Because Advantiz, founded in 2001, was one of the nation’s first digital marketing and SEO firms, Handy and his team have been around long enough to witness the major evolutions in digital marketing.
Suffice it to say they’re seasoned experts with a finger on the pulse of what’s coming next — in the wake of an essential tactic like smart back-link building with digital PR.
Here are three of the biggest challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs need to know about in 2017:
Online reputation management
The challenge: Online reputation management can be tricky for businesses, as many companies aren’t even sure how to get started. Even if companies believe that they’ve got a handle on their reviews, Google’s autocomplete function could be filled with negative terms that are a huge blow to potential customers.
Compounding this challenge is the fact that online reputation management has been fraught with “black-hat” hacker tactics for years, making it difficult to know exactly what a startup founder should do.
Your solution: I can't stress how important online reputation management is for startups, since customers often lack confidence when purchasing from a new provider. In 2017, your mission is to focus on generating positive word of mouth and early buzz about your business.
So, tap into your existing customer base. Using a designated hashtag, invite these people to share feedback on their experience on social media. Handy and the Advantix team take this one step further with a program Handy says “gains valuable insights from customers prior to their publishing a review online.”
That way, if a customer is dissatisfied, you can take immediate action to address the problem prior to the release of a negative review. “Capturing the customer in the moment means the customer will be less likely to spread their negative review across the internet,” says Handy.
Local SEO/local listings
The challenge: The world of SEO is constantly changing, especially when it comes to local listings, Google maps and mobile optimization. Local citations are a key component of ranking algorithms in Google. But it’s not enough to just claim your listing. You also need to identify and clean up duplicate listings that could be causing confusion among your customer base, and ensure all your listing information is up to date.
Your solution: Handy advises that each business start by claiming and verifying its local listing. Next, submit all listing info to major data aggregators. If you are running into problems with duplicate-listing removal, partnering with a digital marketing agency like Advantix can help speed up the process.
“Something as basic as a well-executed local-listing program cannot be treated with any less importance than a significant pay per click campaign,” says Handy. “It has been our experience that mainstream ad agencies with a digital department always come up short in many of the digital strategies our shop excels in. Local listings often fall into this category.
"We maintain a program to make sure all duplicate information is removed, as well as prevent any new potential duplication. Our analysts review our dashboards for data retrieval, including but not limited to, clicks, calls and promotions redeemed.”
Social media engagement
The challenge: Thanks to faster internet and the ubiquity of mobile devices, live video-streaming is predicted to be one of the most popular social media tactics for 2017. If your business is brand new, however, knowing where to get started — or even where to build an engaged audience on social media — can be a challenge.
Your solution: Rather than jump straight into live-streaming a product demo to an audience of one, Handy recommends covering all your social media bases first. Focus on building an engaged audience with curated, active social media pages. If you’re struggling to build a base, he suggests paid social media advertising. Create something that interests people, target the right audience and then sustain the momentum with an ongoing campaign to reach more people.
With the length of the average attention span falling to eight seconds (and continuing to plummet), your business needs to capture potential customers in the moment. Yes, brands will be trying out tactics like live-streaming and immersive experience-content marketing, but don’t overlook the importance of building a strong digital marketing foundation.
Local search, online reputation management and a consistent, curated social media profile are three digital marketing essentials for every startup in 2017.