In today’s digital age, customers’ expectations are growing, and companies need to evolve in line with their needs, using the newest tools. Brands that are looking to stay competitive, need to find a way to offer outstanding digital customer experience and excellent service. But in order to set themselves apart from the crowd, they have to be ready to go even further and make fundamental changes to the way they approach business.
Here are 6 recommendations that will help you stay ahead of the competition.
1. Know Your Competitors
How can you stay ahead of the competition if you have no idea who your main competitors are and what they’re doing? Whether you are just starting a company or you have been in the business for a while, doing some competitor research can help you stay on top of your game. Here’s what you will learn from researching your competition:
- Learn who your competitors’ customers are
- Analyze their social media strategies
- Discover what online marketing tactics your competitors are using
- Identify what’s missing in their online marketing strategies and see if you can add that into yours
To start your research, check out your competitors’ social media accounts. Figure out who their target customers are and how they engage with those customers. This will allow you to identify their weaknesses but also enable you to develop your own social media strategy. You could also use special online tools to dig out extra information, like what keywords they’re using to target their customers and how they are performing organically.
2. Social Selling & Shoppable Posts
The way the digital era is affecting how shoppers make decisions is clearly visible in social media. With more than 2.4 billion active social media users worldwide, digital marketing and social selling go hand-in-hand. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to know your way around the social media platforms, create a narrative that aligns with your brand’s mission and vision, and efficiently engage with followers.
Another thing to consider when it comes to social media are shoppable posts. According to Sproutsocial, after seeing a product on Instagram, nearly 80% searched for more information, and more than 45% made a purchase.
Shoppable posts offer a one-stop-shop experience: users can search for items without having to leave the app, add products to a shopping bag, and checkout. They cut the time from awareness to decision by providing everything the customer needs (details about the product, shipping options, payment methods, etc) in a single platform.
3. Local SEO
If you are in the local league, you can’t afford to postpone your local SEO optimization anymore. If you want people to know about your existence, the least you can do is claim your business on Google My Business. Otherwise, a competitor may claim it on your behalf.
Today’s consumers rely on local searches to get the answers they are looking for. So, if your business isn’t out there, they simply won’t come to you. By creating a GMB profile, you will make sure that your business is visible in local search, as well as on Google maps in your area. Moreover, your customers will also get a chance to leave reviews for you (and, as you already know, nothing is better than a 5-star review!).
4. Ephemeral Content
Ephemeral content is visual content that’s only accessible 24 hours. This can be a photo, video, live-stream, etc. Ephemeral content is very popular on social platforms like Instagram (Stories), Facebook (My Day), and Snapchat (Snaps).
Ephemeral content gets seen by millions of people. Bear in mind that Facebook has over 1.7 billion, Instagram around 500 million, and Snapchat 238 million daily active users. What’s more, this type of content expands your reach, evokes an immediate response from the audience, and allows customers to engage with your brand.
5. AI-Powered Chatbots
There’s no denying that AI has become an essential digital marketing tool. If you still haven’t incorporated it into your strategies, start by leveling up your customer service with instantaneous and customized AI chatbots.
AI-powered chatbots can do much more than simply answering common questions. They use natural language processing to understand search intent, analyze past conversations with customers, and use conversational abilities to naturally interact with them.
6. Voice Search Optimization
Currently, 20% of all queries on Google are voice searches and by 2021, voice search is expected to rise even further as more people are dependent on their mobile devices. That’s why optimizing for voice queries should definitely be part of your stay-ahead-of-the-competition checklist.
Ranking for voice searches isn’t that simple: there’s only one result for a voice query, and it’s your goal to be that result. And since voice searches are conversational requests, you need to learn how to create and optimize content for these queries.
If you want to maintain a competitive advantage in the digital age, you’ll need to develop some serious future-gazing abilities. Of course, predicting what’s going to be trending isn’t always easy, but it seems the next wave of innovation will be driven by AI and machine learning, voice search, etc. And it’s already happening. The key is how you will manage to combine these innovations with strategies that have been around for a while and are proven to be effective, such as local SEO and social media, to deliver a better user or customer experience.