The biggest question facing most online shop owners at the start of a new year is how best to use their annual budget. Since it can often be a few weeks or even months before it’s possible to start measuring the success of online marketing measures (particularly when it comes to SEO, for instance), this question often revolves around defining new strategies and targets. Online marketing is in a constant state of flux, so it’s vital that webmasters are up to date in order to make the most of new changes. This article highlights important trends and developments that online shop owners should be aware of going into 2016.
Search Engine Optimization as standard
Google AdWords might offer increasingly attractive opportunities to market your online shop, but this doesn’t mean shop owners should neglect their SEO. Webmasters who fail to optimize accordingly play right into the hands of the competition, providing their business rivals with the perfect opportunity to increase their market share. This is turn is likely to jeopardize any future branding campaigns since competitors already dominate the top search engine rankings and have an established monopoly on traffic relevant to your target audience. It will take substantial time and money to implement retrospective SEO measures when you’re playing catch-up, having neglected your SEO early in the year. SEO is no longer an optional extra which could provide additional value to your brand, but rather a cornerstone of online marketing when it comes to improving your market share and generating relevant traffic to convert into profit.
Look for alternative traffic sources
Some online shop owners have focussed squarely on SEO for so long that their entire business model revolves around monetizing traffic generated solely via organic Google searches. But make no mistake – just because an SEO strategy has been successful for a number of years does not mean that this will continue to be the case. SEO is an unpredictable source of traffic which can be affected by an infinite number of fluctuations and updates, meaning that webmasters who rely solely upon it are always at the mercy of the search engine. Even an online shop which has been grown organically and successfully over a number of years, without any sign of SEO trouble, can suffer substantial losses should a significant competitor decide to enter the market. The number of top search engine positions can be counted on one hand, so the entry into the marketplace of such a rival can have devastating consequences. Therefore, whilst not neglecting good SEO, it is all the more important in 2016 to tap alternative traffic sources to reduce your dependence on Google traffic. Co-operations and partnerships with other firms and banner ads on suitable portals can help attract customers from new channels.
Conversion optimization through personalization
The biggest online shops are already showing the way: everyone’s talking about e-mail marketing. Targeted newsletters and discount offers don’t just increase profit; they also offer users one considerable benefit. Done properly, e-mail marketing enables you to target consumers with exactly the products they need in the very moment they need them. SEO and SEO traffic might be target group relevant but online shop owners still know precious little about them, and users still have to navigate independently around a website to find the products they need.
The advantage of e-mail marketing is therefore that users allow shops to contact them directly and personally, enabling businesses to target them with personalized emails which contain products which are of genuine interest to the user. What’s more, the online shop is also free to determine when subscribers are contacted and with what content.
Personalized special offers will be key in 2016 – so get started with e-mail marketing now.
The mobile challenge
Search engines are not the only things emphasizing the importance of mobile in 2016; users – and potential customers! – expect to find mobile-optimized content when on the go as well. As an online shop owner, the onus is therefore on you to ensure that users can convert in your shop via their smartphone or tablet. Trends may suggest that consumers use mobile devices to research rather than to purchase, but this doesn’t mean that you can afford to neglect your mobile presence online. Here, user satisfaction is paramount. Users will remember a negative mobile experience in an online shop, which could even lead them to avoid the site when on using their PC, too.
Content as branding factor
High quality content in 2016 is not just for the benefit of increasingly sophisticated search engines, but equally for increasingly sophisticated consumers who expect more and more from online shops and the services they offer. Webmasters need to understand that high quality content will help to generate greater profit in future. With the help of individualized, branded content, online shop owners can market their brand in such a way that future consumers will make a conscious decision to head straight to the shop, becoming loyal customers.
Traditional product descriptions and product details remain as important as ever, but consider producing additional content which aids and informs the user across all stages of the purchasing process. Unique content doesn’t just boost your online shop thematically, but also helps to define your domain in the eyes of the user. It can help make the values and goals of the online shop more transparent for the user and help to gain loyal future customers who don’t just make single purchases but return time and time.
To guarantee online success in 2016, shop owners need to minimize traffic risk and capture existing traffic by using quality content and modern branding. This can transform casual traffic into a loyal customer base consisting of consumers that aren’t just simply convinced by a product or service, but who are happy to interact with the brand and the business too. Personalized content is key in 2016 to give users the impression that their wishes and expectations are relevant, and to assure them that their satisfaction is given highest priority.