Online marketing is an ever evolving, ever changing beast. To make the most of it, your business must adapt and change to take advantage of current trends. Without understanding the most recent internet trends, it’s impossible to create the most efficient and effective marketing and sales strategies.
Reports show that internationally, internet trends in 2015 have shown integration of mobile devices as access points to the internet. In New Zealand, 2015’s internet trends have followed suit. How else are people using the internet now? What new trends have come to light in 2015 and how can they enhance your internet marketing?
Mobile Internet Trends 2015
Reports have seen three main trends in New Zealand. The primary trend is one that is seen globally, to varying degrees; the mobile nature of the internet. HorizonPoll stated at the end of 2014 that by September 2015, 79% of New Zealand’s consumers aged 18+ will have a smartphone. This trend has been recognised by Google, who, in April 2015 warned that the page ranking of mobile friendly websites will become higher than those that do not display well on mobile devices. The announcement followed months of hints and suggestions that the search engine would treat mobile friendly websites more favourably in the page rankings, and even provided the tools with which to check and enhance your website’s mobile capabilities. We’re beginning to see this now with responsive websites being tagged as mobile friendly in smartphone search results.
The increase in the use of mobile devices for internet access is seen across all age groups, not just the young. And it is not simply access to social media that has increased. Mobile devices are used much more widely as phones and especially tablets, have increased their screen size and resolution to allow a satisfying web browsing experience on the go. Unfortunately for e-commerce sites and online marketers, this has hugely increased the marketing ‘noise’ that they must fight through. Customers are now simultaneously engaging in two or three media streams. This might mean that they are watching TV while shopping, with an ever-watching eye on the twitter feed, or could be listening to streamed music whilst reading blogs. 52% of New Zealanders are on the internet whilst watching TV, with an average of 2.6 screens open at any one time (Connected Consumer Survey, 2015). In the USA, this is even higher at 77%! In the ever increasing world of distraction, it has been shown that a marketer has just 30 seconds to engage a potential customer. Your site must draw the customer in, speaking clearly above the wall of marketing ‘noise’ that pours out of multiple media streams.
Despite this Google-backed move to mobile friendly websites, some 60% of consumers found faults and issues when accessing websites on smartphones, which, understandably, caused them to find another website that displayed correctly on their phone. The importance of having a mobile friendly website is huge, not only for the ranking rewards bestowed by the biggest search engines, but also for customer engagement and brand recognition. Landing on a poorly displayed site can damage a brand image, especially to young demographics, (aged 18-34).
The Use of Websites in the Buying Cycle
I’ve been encouraging retailers to take online shopping seriously for over 15 years and unfortunately, it mainly fell on deaf ears. In 2011, I wrote an article about the impending boom of online shopping and that trend continues at a staggering pace.
The second fundamental internet trend in 2015 is the move to online research prior to shopping, online or offline. For many years, since the mass adaptation of the internet, online shopping has been the poster child of the internet. Much has been made of the inevitable ‘killing’ of the high street, as the ease and breadth of shopping online takes hold. In 2015 we saw what I think is the true future of online shopping. The internet is where savvy consumers complete their research and increase their product knowledge before purchase; either in store or online. The biggest trend in shopping online in 2015 was the need for companies to exactly match their online and offline experiences to capture a sale. If the customer feels at home on a well-designed, easily navigable website, they want to feel equally at home in the store itself, seeing a familiar environment, with matching styles, products, and most importantly, offers.
It has been shown by the 2015 Connected Consumer Survey that 90% of consumers are online daily. This may not be a surprise, but when you analyse this, it shows the enormous power of good online content, even for off-line sales. This was confirmed in the same survey, which showed that 80% stated that they used the internet as their first point for information, vital when influencing the buying decision. 51% actively research potential purchases online before going out to buy, and 16% use the internet for information exclusively. Good content marketing is more pivotal to success than ever before.
This is true across industries. Certain fields are more prevalent in the pre-research fields than others. Booking flights, hotels, travel and cinema tickets are particularly strong, with more than 70% performing online research before purchase, compared to just 13% who check for the best place to buy their groceries. Home furnishings & appliances are checked by 60%, whilst clothing and footwear 36%. Regardless of the industry, providing clear, positive information online can only strengthen your position, as an online or an offline retailer. What is also vital, is that you appear when your industry is searched for. As the internet becomes more engrained as the most important source of information, white hat SEO further strengthens its influence on retail.
The 2015 Shift towards Video Content
Many have seen embedded video content as a bit of a ‘fad’. In 2015 the rise to prominence of online videos has been remarkable. More than half of customers prefer online videos to written content and this has been further enhanced by the simultaneous move to mobile accessing of the internet. Watching video content is more common on a mobile device than it is on a computer.
Mobile content is a fantastic way to engage potential customers. It is a mini ‘opt-in’ for information. Selecting to watch content embedded into your site is a small, but genuine indication that the viewer is genuinely engaged in the content, and wishes to discover more. If you can understand who is watching the content that you upload, you have generated some quality sales leads. A video cuts through the surrounding marketing ‘noise’. If you are watching video content, for those few priceless seconds, other audio and visual marketing must be put to one side for a moment. This is why the 2015 trend towards consuming video content is the one which marketers should get most excited about.
What do these three 2015 Internet trends mean for your Business Strategy?
2015 internet trend reports are showing that these three pillars of change are vital to a successful sales and marketing strategy. Most reports show these three things as independent areas for adaptation. However, the information and understanding that comes from this knowledge can go much further than that.
In combining the three strands, increased video content, a joined up on and offline strategy and the use of mobile technology, a coherent, and successful strategy can be combined. In creating a mobile friendly, content heavy website, customers can be encouraged and engaged on all three fronts. This is where the concept of buying personas comes in. Think of your target audience. In applying the new internet trends to their behaviour, it is possible to design a website strategy that truly represents their buying habits. The website must be used to draw potential customers into store.
That is not to say that the ability and ease of purchasing on line should be ignored, but content marketing is becoming more and more important. Give the customer the information to choose, and they will recognise and trust you as the expert. This will lead to a long and hopefully mutually beneficial relationship with your brand.