Key trends for mastering digital marketing

With each passing day, tech is driving the digital marketing industry into new territory. For brands, this means staying ahead of consumer expectations and delivering on what is going to be wanted, before it is demanded.

So what do marketers need to master the digital space in the near future? Focus on these four areas to stay up to date.

Voice search

As more and more people rely on both mobile devices and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, voice search is becoming increasingly important for marketers to understand. It is much more convenient to just tell your devices what you want to search for than it is to type. It is estimated that by 2020, more than 50% of searches will take place using voice.

So what does that mean for marketers? Essentially, you’ll have to think about search engine optimization (SEO) differently. Keywords will become less important as algorithms change and people simply speak what’s on their mind. Marketers will want to instead focus on longer keywords, general topics, and local SEO. With high competition for keywords, you may need to also narrow your focus a bit.

Perfecting the art of communication

Every time you put a piece of content out in the world, you are communicating. Whether it’s a press release or a response to a tweet, you’re projecting an image of your brand and communicating with current and potential customers. Consistency has always been key in effective marketing, but it’s important to start really thinking about how you’re communicating. Building trust and a positive brand image by maintaining a consistent voice and values while using fresh mediums to deliver exciting content is what keeps people coming back -- and telling their friends.

Mastering mobile

Even the most devoted desktop users have to admit that they’re becoming the minority. Mobile is the wave of the future. As far as consumers are concerned, not having a mobile-friendly website at this point is almost as bad as not having a website at all was three years ago.

What’s surprising is that most brands have still failed to optimize for mobile users and take advantage of this trend. Beyond making sure your website is easy to navigate and attractive on any device, you should consider kicking things up a notch and using text messages to deliver content and specials. People are always tethered to their devices, and using this medium will ensure you stay top-of-mind.

Cross-functional marketing teams

These days, marketing can’t work in isolation from the rest of the company and still succeed. There needs to be a constant flow of information between departments. This helps to ensure that there is no disconnect between what the marketing team sees that people want and the departments that create or sell the projects and services. That’s where cross-functional marketing teams come in.

Cross-functional teams work in a different type of hierarchy than the one you’ll find in most traditional offices. Sometimes, that means a circular structure, or one that includes representation from different departments to work toward specific goals. A more transparent structure is key for avoiding missed opportunities and ensuring that resources are allocated properly. This can help marketing become more successful by increasing company spending on marketing intelligence -- with marketing budgets at an average of 12% of company revenue, it’s important to make sure those dollars help improve return on investment.

While it’s important to keep up with new trends, it’s also key to make sure your team’s focus is not becoming fractured. Creating goals and making consistent, quality content a top priority will help everyone keep their eye on the prize. Pick a few trends that are important in your industry and focus on those -- you can always build up to more goals later in the year. The good news? Chances are, many of your competitors aren’t even aware of these big upcoming trends.

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

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