Backing the right innovations in your digital marketing strategy

24 October 2017
In this article, we’re going to look at why social media, video marketing and hero images moved to the centre of many digital marketing campaigns. Why did these three long-foretold digital trends work out, when so many other promising ones didn’t. And wouldn’t you rather have a digital marketing strategy built by experts who can tell which trends you can take to the bank?

What do we mean? Well, think about how many companies spent their precious marketing budgets on strategies that depended on QR codes, keyword stuffing and wearable devices, for example.

Like the successful three, those three trends also had a lot of buzz around them, but they just didn’t pan out. To understand why, we first have to understand what buzz is, how to recognise it and how not to be taken in.

What is buzz?

Something becomes a buzzword when its potential is plain to the layman but there isn’t enough information around for them to be realistic. So, whatever the exciting thing is, no one knows enough to fill in the gaps when they talk about it.

The buzzword then becomes a shorthand term we all use to discuss the general idea. Because the boring details are missing, there is room for our over-excited imagination to take over.

Ever notice that there’s no buzz around known entities? See, once people have the answers and the new thing has been tested in the market, it stops buzzing. It will either be adopted as an everyday marketing tactic or channel or it will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

So why did the social media, video and hero image trends live up to their buzz and become worthy additions to innovative digital marketing strategies while QR codes, keyword-stuffing and wearables didn’t? Let’s take a look.

Social media marketing lives up to the hype

Some say the Digital Revolution really began when the web went mobile and got personal. The first part depended on smartphones and the second part depended on social media.

The social media marketing trend is still only gathering pace. Writing for FreshLime in the early stages of 2017, Amanda Shaw pointed out that our society’s general addiction to social media is a great opportunity – especially as there is usually no upfront dollar cost to business:

“Creating social pages for your business on several social media outlets is a marketing trend that most businesses have caught onto. If yours hasn’t yet, now is the time! Again, social media isn’t going anywhere, and it is used heavily. Take advantage of the fact that most are free, and get yourself out there!”

So, why did social media live up to its buzz? Because it capitalised on the basic human need for gossip and social relevance. Through this, it delivered value to users as well as giving marketers a new platform to reach them.

Mobile video makes good

Much as the web has made socialising simpler, if less deep, so too has video content made online engagement much shallower and more widespread. No longer do we sit down, boot up, log on, download and concentrate.

Today, we’re always on and just skim over the top of content that is confected and diverting. People now instinctively reach for their phone whenever they have slack time. This is something businesses can really take advantage of. Commentators have been calling this trend and getting it right for years, as this 2014 blog post from Resonance Online Marketing highlights.

“Google purchased YouTube in 2006, and since then the two have been working hand in hand. You may have noticed that videos are now appearing in Google search results much more frequently, and are even being given priority over text-only pages. This offers you a unique competitive advantage if you combine the high-quality content on your site with creating parallel content on YouTube.”

Why did the buzz about video come true? Because it understood that people want to be distracted when they are not otherwise occupied and are always looking for the easiest and most entertaining way to get that distraction.

Making the web more visual

With blanket mobile connectivity, most users have developed browsing patterns and attentions spans that could be likened to a stone skimming across a pond – skip, skip, skip, splosh. The faster you can grab attention, the more likely you will be a splosh not a skip. Web designers try every trick they can to do just that.

Where most techniques – like pop-ups – interrupt the user, huge, high-resolution images – called hero images – actually catch attention seamlessly and draw users in. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then the 1000 words a well chosen hero image speaks are all about telling a visitor that they’ve found what they were looking for … and that there’s more than they expect.

Awwwards called the hero image trend for web design accurately just over two years ago:

“Since vision is the strongest human sense, HD hero images are one of the fastest ways to grab a user’s attention. Thanks to advances in bandwidth and data compression, users won’t suffer from slow load times either. One common layout you’ll find is a hero image above the scroll, followed by either zig-zagging sections or a cards-based arrangement.”

Why did hero images live up to the buzz? First, because it understood that people absorb images passively and emotionally. Second, because before you can give a visitor any message at all, you first must assure them they’re where they want to be.

Today’s buzz can be your digital marketing strategy’s boom … or bust

Each of the above examples came to pass because they each gave an audience things that people in general like:

  • human interaction – making friends and chatting
  • convenience of use – the scope to be lazier
  • subjective experience – visuals that evoke feelings.

Long story short, if a digital marketing trend flatters human biases and behaviours, it has a better than average chance of making a splash. If the innovation is just about technology or money, it probably won’t. Even if it’s really advanced or involves a lot of money.

Perhaps now, at the close of 2017, you’re seeing trends in digital marketing that are buzzing. There is a lot of discussion about them, but not many answers. Should you follow them up? The best way to find out effectively and without undue risk is level-headed digital marketing consultation and a well-mapped out strategy.

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