The only constant in digital branding is: there is no constant!
That’s because the digital landscape is evolving rapidly. With new technology changing the game annually, digital marketers are forced to review their digital branding strategies as often as possible.
Let’s take a look at some of the trends informing digital branding decisions in 2017:
But first, a quick digital branding crash course…
Digital branding combines digital marketing with internet branding, like email marketing and social networking, to create a unique digital persona which allows you to connect with potential clients on a more personal level; in turn making them more likely to connect with your brand.
The four most notable strategies used to doing this are: building a brand story, creative media and marketing, distributing content based on consumer habits and digital relationship building.
On to the trends.
1. Big data is still driving digital branding
There are countless tools, like Google Analytics, that are proving to be an invaluable resource for tracking consumer behavior.
The IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub breaks big data up into four categories:
- Volume refers to the scale of your data. In other words, how much do you have to work with?
- Variety refers to your different data sources. You need to gather data from different types of sources to gain a broader picture.
- Velocity means analyzing streaming data and its speed.
- Veracity refers to the uncertainty of data, which means you can’t always assume your data is 100% accurate.
Analyzing data around your brand’s online interactions will help you learn what messages your audiences want to hear and when.
It’ll also help you discover what puts potential clients off, what they react positively to and what drives them to your website.
2. Consumers want authentic, quality content
It’s not enough to just post content. Your content needs to mean something.
SEO trends have taught digital branding experts to weave keywords into informative content, but search engine algorithms and discerning users are making this strategy increasingly complicated.
The content you choose to share with your audience needs to have some sort of relevance to your product, but it also needs to answer questions that might be searching for answers to.
Simply put, your content needs to be interactive and engaging.
3. Location, location, location…
How often do you search for a product or services specifically in your area?
Consumers are rarely without their mobile devices and internet searches are regularly based on their location.
This makes GPS-based SEO a digital branding priority for businesses wanting to attract nearby consumers.
Your location needs to be part of the keywords you use in digital marketing.
4. Going mobile
In relation to GPS-based SEO strategies pointed out above, businesses need to make sure all their content is mobile friendly.
Mobile devices are becoming consumers’ most valued shopping partner. Shoppers are checking their device for recommendations, fact checking products and looking for coupons before they make a purchase.
Google also introduced mobile-first indexing late last year, prioritizing mobile-friendly sites to accommodate the huge number of users who use the search engine on their mobile phones.
5. Use of images and infographics for digital branding
They say a picture speaks a thousand words.
This is most evident when it comes to sharing content on social media platforms like Facebook where posts with images still receive double the engagement of those without.
This is especially useful to keep in mind when you consider that new advertising initiatives from social media networks will make it harder for small businesses to make their voices heard this year.
6. Become interactive
We’ve already said that engaging your audience is a key factor to digital branding.
In it’s most simple form, this involves informative content and actually reaching out to customers by asking questions, setting up polls or competitions.
You can take this a step further though with live videos. Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and Instagram all offer this function, allowing you to connect to your audience in real-time.
You can take this a step further to create an immersive marketing experience with 360-degree videos offered by YouTube and Facebook.
7. Keep security concerns in mind
With malware like the WannaCry virus behind every metaphorical door, internet users are more security conscious than ever.
Digital marketers will need to convince users that they will be able to keep their data secure to gain their trust, especially in the e-commerce field.
Increased personalization, though time-consuming, may be a better option than relying on artificial intelligence and automated responses. Users feel safer when they feel like they are dealing with a person.
8. Embrace native advertising
In case you haven’t already heard about this new form of advertising, it refers to an advert, cleverly disguised as an actual article.
The format is going to experience an upswing as a form of digital branding in 2017 as advertisers master the new art.
Besides ticking all the usual content marketing boxes, native advertising has the added benefit of being more trusted, because it comes from a source readers already have a relationship with.
Major publishers who have been struggling to get to grips with digital advertising over the last few years are likely to embrace native advertising which assimilates perfectly to their users’ experience.
9. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing will become a go-to digital branding strategy in 2017.
This will see digital marketers looking to influential social media personalities to advocate for their brand, instead of traditional advertising.
This is especially popular at a time when consumers’ distaste for intrusive marketing is growing, with many looking to social networks for recommendations for their purchases.
Media Post suggests using micro-influencers instead of big celebrity names. Citing a study by Wharton School marketing professor Jonah Berger, Media Post suggests that micro-influencers are considered more trustworthy and result in more conversions than recommendations from celebrities.
Beyond digital branding
While digital branding is a major tool for companies wanting to increase their online reach, it’s not the last stop.
As a digital marketer, I’ll be able to help you get the most out of your brand’s online presence. Contact me today to learn more about how to grow your digital brand.