It is the age of interactivity, which makes communication with consumers easy and difficult at the same time. Consumers expect companies to talk to them and hear from them Advertisements in print and even on TV won’t cut much ice with them. A turn of a page or a press of a button on a remote is all they need to escape advertisements. Small and medium enterprises never had it so tough.
Internet, social media and applications have changed the communication between consumers and businesses. The change has also made it easy for companies to talk to their consumers but are the firms ready to open up?
Several pieces of research in India indicate the flow of marketing money from traditional media to interactive media. But is it translating to a better return on investment (ROI) is anybody’s guess.
Recent research involving more than 300 marketing executives and 200 top companies from different industries found that marketers are keen to divert more funds to interactive media. By 2025, the spends on digital media will probably rise by 250 percent.
Then, how should marketers prepare for an increasingly interactive market? Here are a few trends that SMEs may want to be in the know of:
1 Email marketing
Email continues to grow, as SMEs build their lists with the promise of "green marketing", shifting money from direct mail to email and improving effectiveness by linking email to other channels.
2 Social media inbox
Social network use has taken over regular email and may lead to social inbox—inboxes within social networks and other messaging forums such as Twitter. This will become another place email marketers can reach target audiences more effectively.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) will become smarter and bigger. Every marketer will spend considerable funds on getting better results. Paid search will be the norm. Money will also be spent on managing search programmes through advanced tools or outsourced partners. Marketers will expand search efforts into more markets and businesses.
Consumers are searching more than ever and marketers are expanding their use of multi keywords, long-tail phrases—more searches are for sale.
We are likely to witness an increased spend on SEO. SEO costs less than paid search, so marketers will continue to invest in it as search becomes increasingly more vital.
4 Display ads
In digital media, display advertising play will continue to play a big role. SMEs will prefer performance-based media buys, given their low budgets.
They will be inclined towards the immediacy and easy measurement of pay-per-click online buys over impression-based buys.
As tools and models such as the attribution method make it easier to measure the influence of branding, online media spend will increase. All of these will drive SMEs to pay a premium for rich media that responds to consumer behaviour, driving them to make a purchase.
The proliferation of online video content and advances in video players and ad servers mean better inventory, more consumer usage and better measurement for advertisers.
5 Social media expansion
Another trend that SME marketers will witness is that more and more companies will embrace social media. It will become an established part of the interactive mix, and it will see industries that have so far stayed away jump straight in.
Marketers will also improve how they engage with their target customers via social media. It will no more be just reaching out and about counting OTS (opportunity to see). New social media measurement tools will make it easier to calculate ROI.
In the social media era, peer-to-peer content curation for search engine results will be the key, say experts. Digital TV folks will stream specific content and portable identities will allow users to move social profiles from site to site.
6 Mobile communication
More and more people will use mobile devices for all their needs as devices continue to pack more features and support more applications, which brings us to the point where more and more marketers invest in building strategic applications.
In the next couple of years, SMEs need to find appropriate resources for this area. And, as the medium matures and standards are set, the use of the mobile channel for marketing will improve exponentially.