A couple of months ago, we interviewed a few ecommerce experts about the future of marketing, some of the challenges SMBs might face, and how marketers could use word-of-mouth in their strategies.
We were delighted to feature the following 4 ecommerce experts:
- Linda Bustos from Get Elastic
- Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute
- Graham Charlton from Econsultancy, and
- Matt Winn from Volusion
Now, we have summarized and compiled the essence of their answers into bite-sized chunks for you to munch on. Bon appétit!
What are your thoughts on the many sweeping changes in the digital world? (Google algorithms, Facebook custom audiences, Twitter ads, etc?) How has the role of online/ecommerce marketing evolved in light of them?
Linda: In online marketing, the only constant is change. Mobile is changing everything about online marketing. Ecommerce leaders will have to keep with these changes (and others) to survive and stay ahead.
Joe: Brands that develop and distribute amazingly helpful and entertaining content on a regular basis win every time, so focus on developing a content marketing strategy and transform the organization into more of a publishing entity!
Graham: Brand marketers that concentrate on attempting to deliver value and a great customer experience should be well-placed to deal with the ever-present changes in the world of ecommerce.
Matt: Google is aiming to provide users with only the best content available, so focus on marketing good content to stay relevant and retain traffic.
Due to the sheer amount of marketing channels available, marketers should choose which ones to focus on and keep track of. This also raises the need for an integrated branding strategy.
What challenges do you think SMBs might face with marketing in 2014? What can they do to overcome them?
Linda: The greatest challenge of online marketing is to develop a complete understanding of customers and their behavior. The future will belong to businesses that are able to make progress on this front, and getting more value out of their marketing efforts with those insights.
Joe: Developing relevant content to our different groups of audiences is incredibly difficult. Here’s my advice:
- Fill a need for your customer base and serve that need with content.
- Do it consistently – be the must-see TV for your customers.
- Create content like you are a human being.
- Don’t be vanilla. Take a stance with your content.
- Remove the sale from your content. The more you remove the sales pitch, the more your content will be shared.
Graham: As an SMB, you can experiment more easily, be more personal, and more agile in your marketing; so use this to your advantage!
Matt: Managing multiple marketing channels can be very challenging, especially for SMB owners. Instead of trying to handle everything, it’s more useful to spend some time prioritising your marketing strategy, focusing only on the essentials and the most impactful ones.
84% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth the most. Any thoughts on how marketers could take advantage of word-of-mouth?
Linda: Use “Micro Word-of-Mouth”: Collect little pieces of word-of-mouth that happens organically, and integrate them into your product pages, marketing collateral, everything.
Joe: How to build relationships online: Create an influencer hit list > Share their content > Build an audience > Create content!
Graham: Focus on providing a great customer experience, and good reviews will come. When you do have good reviews, be sure to use them in your marketing collateral (e.g. your websites, in campaigns), and make it easy for customers to share their views, etc.
Matt: Word-of-mouth is definitely a good way to gain new customers. SMB owners can utilise word-of-mouth by providing an excellent online and offline customer experience, so that customers will feel special, and be encouraged to share that with their networks.
Finally, who do you think will win: Google or Facebook? Why?
Linda: Facebook wants to get into search, and Google wants to thrive in social. They both are eons ahead of each other in their core strengths and neither will catch up to the other.
I do believe Facebook has a higher chance of losing relevance the long term — the more advertising Facebook adds, the less fun the space will be, a few privacy SNAFUs and Facebook could go the way of MySpace, but Google Search has a much stronger position in the search space, it’s not going anywhere.
Joe: That’s easy. Google. They are thinking so big it’s not even funny.
In the future, our internet will be provided by Google, which we access on our Google device, and we ride around in our Google car or transportation device. The big technology bets they are making is ridiculous.
Graham: Interesting question. I think you’d be foolish to bet against Google. It is so well established in search and online advertising alone, with a very profitable ad business, that it would take a catastrophe to topple it anytime soon. It has also diversified in many other areas.
Matt: I’d have to say that Google will be a lot more relevant than Facebook in the future, mainly because it is such a big part of everyone’s daily lives. From their wildly popular search engine to their ownership of YouTube and their continued charge to product innovation (like Google Glass), Google is morphing itself from just an online information provider to a full-scale tech company that will impact us both online and off. Because of this (and the fact that social users tend to be fickle and always ready to jump on the next big thing), I think that 10 years from now, Google will be in a much better market position than Facebook.
Do make sure you check out their individual interviews by clicking on their names above!