It’s the summer slowdown. Customers are buying less and employees are vacationing more, so businesses become stagnant.
But your company doesn’t have to get stuck in the summer blues. In fact, focusing your efforts on growing your business this summer can help better prepare you for the upcoming rush of holiday promotions and sales.
And the best way to grow your business is with exciting, fresh marketing tactics that will attract and engage your customers.
What are the hot marketing trends this summer that can grow your business, improve your brand presence, and put you on an upward trajectory for Q4?
All of the hottest marketing trends for 2018 revolve around authenticity. Consumers are demanding more honest, trustworthy, and upfront brands.
A study with Stackla found that consumers rate authenticity as the most important factor when deciding which brand to support. Another study found that 63% of consumers say they would rather buy from a company they consider authentic compared to a competitor—even if the competitor is cheaper.
So our marketing slogan for the summer and beyond: Be Authentic.
In order to be authentic, though, you need to have an established brand. That means you need to have a specific and differentiated brand voice, mission, history, and statement. You need to build a persona for your brand to which your audience will relate.
Learn more about building an authentic brand with these resources:
- How To Stay On-Brand With Your Mission Statement
- Who Is The Spokesperson For Your Brand?
- 5 Definitive Ways To Build Your E-Commerce Brand’s Voice
- A Guide To Understanding And Managing Brand Touchpoints
2. Interactive content
Your customers want fun, exciting content to match their summertime mindset. That’s why positive, amusing, interactive content like polls, quizzes, and surveys are doing so well this summer.
You’ve likely seen similar content on Buzzfeed as “sponsored” quizzes or posts. You can sponsor quizzes on popular platforms, or you can also host this content on your own site. On your website, quizzes can be a great lead magnet if you require an email address for them to get their results.
These kinds of content require interaction by the audience members, which breeds a higher level of engagement. You can optimize on that engagement to pull your customers through the sales funnel.
Plus, you can use this kind of interactive content to gather more data and information about your most engaged customers.
3. User-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content that is made by users on a shared platform. It’s unpaid and comes straight from brand fans, which consumers see as more trustworthy, genuine and authentic. UGC includes everything from pictures and videos, tweets, blog posts, and other content where users are promoting the brand—rather than the brand itself doing the promoting.
This kind of homegrown content is appealing to consumers who are craving authenticity from their brands. A survey found that 60% of consumers say user-generated content is the most authentic form of content. In fact, 86% of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand. That’s because it demonstrates genuine social proof that puts the customer at the front and center of the brand story.
Basically, consumers are becoming less trusting of marketers because they’re bombarded by advertisements all day, every day. They want to hear from real people — customers — what they think about your brand and products.
The best way to utilize user-generated content is by pushing social interaction. You want to encourage customers to create and share their own content while using your products. For example, you could run a giveaway where you randomly select a winner; anyone who shares a picture using your product and tags your brand is entered for the sweepstakes.
You may also want to create a branded hashtag so you can keep all of your user-generated content in one spot.
4. Experiential marketing
Experiential marketing is when you advertise your product through some sort of event. This could be an event that you put on yourself or one that you’re sponsoring. Even a pop-up shop can be a unique and fun retail event that brings e-commerce to brick and mortar.
The event’s purpose is to build an experience for your customer that relates to your brand.
Experiential marketing and user-generated content should go hand-in-hand. You want to create such an exciting event that your attendees naturally want to share their pictures and tag your brand.
For example, Chipotle hosted a Cultivate Festival. They then pulled together social images and videos on a single page so fans could relive their memories afterwards. This was a great way to pull together UGC surrounding an event. This created an overall experience (with Chipotle) that customers wouldn’t forget.
Live videos are also a great way to create a digital experience. If your brand is attending or hosting some sort of event that your customers aren’t attending, live streaming the event is a great way to get them involved in the action.
Learn more about how to use experiential marketing here.
5. Influencer marketing
Social media is still one of the strongest ways to market your brand, and influencers have social media locked down. Influencers are individuals who are considered “influential” in their industry. This includes celebrities and icons or everyday people who have grown their following on social media.
Influencers know how to connect with their audience by utilizing social media platforms to share their personality. They have a large following because they demonstrate a specific type of lifestyle.
Your brand can partner with applicable influencers to tap into their market share. You can leverage their authority in the industry to reach more potential customers. You’re basically using their popularity to better position your brand in the conversation while also attracting potential purchasers.
Click to learn how influencer marketing can positively affect your business.
6. Artificial intelligence
We're not talking about Hal 9000 trying to sell you car insurance here, artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly accessible for everyday use. Artificial intelligence marketing (AIM) has become especially hot this 2018. You can use AI for a number of marketing tactics including:
- Website personalization (based on a customer’s location, demographics, cookies, etc)
- Enhanced advertising with optimized targeting
- Content creation (event recaps, business reports, real-time news and insights)
- Chatbots for customer service
- Collecting and analyzing customer insights
- Image recognition on social media
Artificial intelligence allows marketers to engage with their customers more frequently without needing the manpower to do so. AI can learn the patterns of your customers to personalize content and marketing based on what customers most want to see. This then allows you to learn more about your customers so you can create stronger, more targeted marketing strategies.
7. Mobile and voice search
Mobile search is one of the most significant trends for 2018 and beyond. That’s because customers spend an average of 5 hours on their phones every day. 69% of their time browsing online media is on their phones as opposed to their laptops or other search devices.
With the frequency of mobile usage, you want to ensure that you’re appropriately marketing to the mobile customer. This means you need to optimize your e-commerce site for mobile, create an omni-channel experience, and have a strong social media presence.
Video is also increasingly common on mobile, accounting for nearly 60% of total mobile data traffic. Use video on landing pages and social media to engage your audience on a deeper basis. Don’t neglect video in your marketing strategies this summer.
Is your company mobile-ready for 2018?
Along with mobile, voice search is becoming more and more common. With Google Home, Siri, and Alexa, customers can simply ask a question to get the answer they’re looking for. This is changing the way search works, because customers only receive the top answer on the search engine.
That means your business needs to be at the forefront of optimization. One of the best ways to do this is with “fast content.” These are short, bite-sized pieces of content that quickly answer a customer’s question.
For example, if your customers ask Alexa, “How often do I need to vacuum?” Your content should start with the direct answer to that question, “You need to vacuum your house once a week.” The rest of the blog can go into more depth, and they can choose to keep reading if the voice answer was sufficient and they wanted to learn more.
Don’t let the summer slow you down. This is a great time to ramp up your sales by testing out new and emerging marketing trends.
Which of these marketing trends have been successful for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!