Technology is changing quickly, and as a business owner, you need to be one step ahead. From exciting developments in machine learning to Google's increased focus on mobile SEO, companies big and small need to seize the opportunity to step up their digital profiles and market smarter.
This year in particular has been momentous for companies and marketers more generally. To find out which trends are going to have the most impact, I asked 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what new developments they see having an influence on business for the remainder of the year — and into 2016. Their top responses are below.
1. Mobile SEO
More people are now using their smartphones to search the web. One of the highest priorities for businesses this year is to optimize their site for mobile. Google has made it apparent with the Mobile-Friendly Test that there will be a lot of emphasis placed on mobile SEO strategies in 2015 and beyond. Our company revolves around building applications, and this is one of the very first things customers have come to us for.
— Humberto Farias, Concepta
2. Wearable devices and the Internet of Things
With the release of the Apple Watch, we have been propelled into a world where wearable devices will start becoming as mainstream as digital phones. This shift towards wearable tech, supported by the advancement of the Internet of Things, where all devices are connected to the Internet, including home appliances, etc. will create opportunities to market to individuals at all times, and in many ways. If you sell refrigerators and your customers have wearables that can talk to their fridge, think of the opportunities to capture that data and to communicate by sending them reminders to clean their fridge, buy milk, etc. Data will be the name of the game.
— Marcela DeVivo, National Debt Relief
3. Periscope and meerkat
We're absolutely loving the developments in the live streaming space via mobile apps. I'm very excited to see how these platforms develop over the next 6-12 months. A lot of our clients are already hooked, and more and more will continue to sign up and jump on board. We once showed a client Periscope in an office meeting, and he was doing a live chat from the 405 freeway 15 minutes after he left the office. It's addicting and it provides a really fun, easy and authentic way to connect consumers.
— Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
4. Visual ad platforms
Pinterest and Instagram both launching ad platforms is definitely the most exciting digital marketing development in 2015. Because they are both such visually-driven platforms and the holiday season is quickly approaching, getting more clients to advertise on these platforms will impact our business greatly this fall/winter.
— Andrew Krebs-Smith, Social Fulcrum
5. Buy buttons on social channels
There has always been tension between driving people to our website to buy our watches, and engaging them in a conversation about Modify on our social channels. Online, every extra click that someone makes will lower your conversion rate by a significant amount. The addition of "buy" buttons to most social channels finally enables us to sell products in the same place our fans spend their time.
— Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
6. Google adwords for small businesses
Google has recently launched an internal team that's focusing on directly helping more small to medium businesses offering the same level of support they offer the largest companies. This is your chance to get a smaller introductory search engine marketing campaign ran by the people who practically invented the modern search engine. In many ways it's an invite-only program, but try reaching out to them and inquiring about it.
— Andy Karuza, brandbuddee
7. Mobile in-feed promotions
In-feed advertising is severely underutilized today, but has huge potential. It can be shown repeatedly without being annoying because it's easy to get away from (by scrolling), which is naturally what we're doing when we look at a feed. It also gets repeat views because its there when the user scrolls up or down again. Facebook is already reaping the value of in-feed advertising, and other apps should follow this year.
— Durga Pandey, 12 Labs
8. Targeting for custom and lookalike audiences
Targeting the right people is crucial. Use Facebook's custom audiences to build a following around your website visitors, your email list and your customers. If possible, further segment these lists into additional groups. Allow Facebook to create lookalike audiences off of each segment. You should not only target your custom audiences (if you want to re-market to them, or follow up with an offer, content, etc.), but you should also advertise to your lookalike audiences. Combine additional targeting options to each pool of users (demo, geo, interests) to further narrow your targeting pool. Then align your advertising message to that specific targeting pool. The better you can align your marketing message to a narrow target audience, the better your results.
— Shawn Schulze, SeniorCare.com
9. Machine learning for marketers
Machine learning is impacting every space in an unprecedented way. Some of the low hanging fruits include machine learning-based automated and smart customer response, personalized machine-optimized digital marketing campaigns and automated text clustering, making it possible for everyone to make sense of billions of tweets and Facebook posts.
— Ashu Dubey, 12 Labs
Google made a deal with Twitter this year to gain access to crawl the vast database of Twitter’s real-time content. Google has already integrated Twitter into its search engine result pages in many creative ways, but I think we are just beginning to see the vast opportunities that social search can bring about.
While Google is still in test mode, expect further integration of Twitter content in 2015, with emphasis on news and events. Tweets and Twitter profiles present opportunities to get on top of Google and win more real estate with a sound Twitter strategy. News content is an obvious win. But businesses should also optimize for hashtags, which are increasingly used as keywords in search.