December 10, 2015 by Danielle Enzinna
Internet marketing is an industry that moves quickly and for every advancement in technology, there comes with it a way to monetize it. This charge onto the battlefield of innovation is what makes being on the front lines of internet marketing so intriguing. Learning and eventually mastering each new medium, format, and technique keeps us on our toes.
At Exults, each of our Platoons has submitted what they believe to be the biggest changes, developments, or trends they’ve seen this year. So don your best white outfit, grab your frozen grapes and empty suitcases, and enjoy this compilation of this year’s noteworthy internet marketing trends as we count down to 2016.
Now that the doomsday hoopla has settled down and SEOs everywhere have adjusted to what optimizing for the search engines means today, we saw some very interesting trends emerge.
Video is a great addition to any website or marketing portfolio. You can create a fun explainer video to help summarize what you do, use it to enhance your site’s design, or reach new audiences on YouTube. There are several benefits to developing original video content and even more ways to leverage it including:
With each new algorithm refresh, update, or shift comes mandatory changes to strategy. You can choose to be flexible and adjust, or succumb to the “SEO is dead” swan song. What we’ve learned this year is engaging visitors is what matters most. Providing great content, multi-screen support, and incorporating mixed media will win users over. So how do you measure engagement? Generally speaking, your website should answer the questions that your customers are asking. If you follow that rule, visitors will likely reward you by browsing several pages and spending some time exploring your site. That, my friends, is engagement.
As mentioned above, multi-screen support is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen this year. With Google Bot now crawling CSS files to check for responsiveness, and Mobilegeddon happening in the same year, it should come as no surprise that usability from any device is a ranking signal. Not sure if you’re responsive? Take the test.
Google’s AdWords platform remains one of the most effective forms of advertising in the digital age. With a sound strategy and an experienced agency, the phrase “AdWords doesn’t work” is poppycock. Not only were we lucky enough to travel to Google HQ this year for the Google Partners Summit, but we also had the opportunity to try out several AdWords betas that soon became official products.
This product was available in beta mid 2014 and officially rolled out late last year. Dynamic Remarketing makes your display campaigns more versatile than ever by catering creative to exactly what the user was looking for on your site before they left. Our favorite application of this product might just be eCommerce websites with Google Shopping; users are retargeted with the products they were looking at on sites they’ve abandoned.
Taking notes from Facebook (which has had the Custom Audience feature for quite some time), Customer match allows advertisers to target users based on their email address and show them ads while they’re searching. The applications of this feature are endless, which makes it one of the most exciting betas we have been a part of to date.
As an agency we don’t use bidding strategies very often, but target ROAS bidding for high volume Shopping campaigns has proven to be quite useful. Unlike most of the other flexible bidding strategies that are available, implementing this bidding strategy actually gives us more control over performance (instead of less). By defining our target return on ad spend metric, we force campaigns to perform within set parameters.
When it comes to online marketing, social media is a heavily debated topic. Developing a Social Media Marketing strategy that is profitable for you and valuable to your audience can seem less daunting than the quest for the holy grail. The most important thing to remember about social media is that you don’t dictate the content that you share; your audience does. So while you may think it’s a cool idea to share links to your products every day, your audience may not.
We typically recommend Social Media Marketing for branding, audience engagement, and awareness campaigns. Well, we can now tack on product sales to that list with the launch of product-focused ad formats. Between buyable pins, Facebook product ads, and the much awaited launch of Instagram ads, social media is quickly evolving into a modern day bazaar.
Buyable pins and Instagram ads have monetized these juicy, user-engaged platforms that advertisers have long- awaited sinking their teeth into thereby revolutionizing the way we shop and share. Both of these platforms have pushed advertisers to develop creative that is bold and enticing, a departure from the sterilized, multipurpose display ads of yore. This shift towards visually appealing creative that captures what is awesome about a company or product makes marketing even more fun.
In 2015 we’ve seen fresh, unique content prevail in the oversaturated, myopic, content heavy boom-and-bust strategy vaguely known as “The New SEO.” With Tweets indexing in a matter of minutes, it’s imperative to consider each one of those 140 characters your company’s Twitter account is syndicating.
At Exults, we’ve seen a lot of website design trends come and go in our 10 year run. 2015 has been a standout for us because the trends we’ve seen take off this year have revolutionized our process and changed the way we see and think about design.
Earlier on in this post we discussed responsive design as it pertains to SEO. Well, it’s also a big change in the way we build websites. It’s not too often we say this, but responsive design has changed the way we do everything. Because each element present on our custom sites needs to scale down (and look good doing so), we have changed our design process. With each design decision we make, we have to think about how it will look on every common screen size a user could be viewing it from.
While animated ads aren’t new, the ability to upload your own custom animated display ads (rather than using Google’s ad builder tool) is. 2015 has been the year of added “oomph” and we’re using HTML5 in more ads than ever to give our clients an extra leg-up on the busy, ad-filled pages of the display network. With the very recent launch of Interactive Display ads beta, custom motion graphics and frame by frame animation are going to continue their rise in 2016.
More people, businesses, and organizations have websites than ever before. Market saturation always results in some level of duplication- and stock photos are a prime example of that. We’ve all seen those overused stock photos that seem to follow you around like creepy eyes in a Haunted Mansion painting. That’s why we’ve started using unique photos on our design projects as often as we can. If you’re going to boast about your fleet, show it! Have an awesome team? Let your customers get to know them. Is your office an inspiring place? Put that imagery on your website. By incorporating real elements onto the intangible web, you’re creating a more organic experience for potential customers.
And (deep breath) that’s it! The most noteworthy trends in our industry for 2015, compiled in listicle format for easy reading. We’ll see you on the flip-side, 2016!