For the past two or three years, we have seen South African companies make small, iterative improvements to their websites. Having shifted to a mobile-first focus, most organisations have since made small nips and tucks to the look, feel and features of their website content rather than revolutionary changes.
However, we are now seeing some interesting emerging technologies starting to mature, offering early adopters cool ways to set their digital presence apart from their run-of-the-mill website.
Here are some of the new marketing, advertising and customer support website strategies we will see come to the fore in 2019 and beyond.
- VR content
- Voice-optimised interfaces
- Live video
- Authentic content
- The social CEO
- Intelligent audience analysis
Read on to learn what you need to do to implement these website strategies.
1. VR content
Virtual reality (VR) has yet to set the world on fire. When the Oculus Rift VR headset came on the scene, brands went crazy thinking about the marketing possibilities. Due to a combination of high prices and association with videogaming, sales were lower than expected, and VR remained a niche technology.
Now, global headset sales are taking off, and more people are warming up to the idea of VR (and by, extension augmented reality – AR). It’s early days, but we can expect to soon see pioneering South African companies introduce some VR-based content for their sites.
A virtual tour of your store, an immersive 360-degree experience of an event you’re attending, or an AR game that keeps your customers engaged – the possibilities are numerous. In a world where people are hungry for interesting experiences, AR and VR hit the mark.
2. Voice-optimised interfaces
Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana, plus smart speakers including Google Home and Amazon Echo, are seeing a surge in growth. Toward the end of 2017 and throughout 2018, consumers began to grow comfortable with these audio-based digital assistants. By 2020, they might be a common feature in South African homes.
This means ordinary users are going to grow accustomed to interacting with online material through their voices. If you want your brand to stay relevant in the longer term, you’ll need to adapt to that approach.
In some cases, this means optimising your content to better address simple user questions (so you can feature in the rich answers at the top of Google’s rankings). In others, that means simplifying your content so it can be easier to engage with through smart speakers or mobile devices.
3. Live video
By 2021, it’s estimated video will make up 82 percent of all traffic on the internet. To remain competitive by that date, you’ll need to be comfortable with video as part of your web content strategy. With so many other businesses competing for attention, you’ll need to find ways to set yourself apart from the pack.
One way to do that is via live videos. Stream yourself during a speaking engagement or host a live Q&A if you can draw a big enough audience. It’s authentic, fun and spontaneous, and gives you a way to get closer to your audience on a reasonably small budget.
4. Authentic content
Content, content everywhere, but not much of it is worth the consumer’s attention. People are tired of being bombarded by hard-selling advertisements and marketing that hides under a thin veneer of ‘thought leadership’ or ‘consumer information’. They don’t trust it and they find much of it irrelevant or overwhelming.
The solution does not lie in pumping out more content, but instead in creating better and more authentic content. Be sincere, be transparent, even be vulnerable, in your efforts to form stronger personal bonds with your readers. Express your real thoughts and feelings, avoid sales language and jargon, and don’t post for the sake of it when you don’t have something compelling to say.
The trend of the future will be towards quality and authenticity above all else – it’s about using content to build enduring relationships with consumers.
5. The social business owner
Along similar lines, you can build more trust and rapport with your audience by being more social and more visible. That means getting involved in local events, jumping into more conversations on social media, and being transparent about their daily lives within the company.
That might open you up to more criticism or increase their workload, but the benefits are worth it. Your audience will feel more in tune with your brand and more willing to buy what you’re selling. Even for a busy entrepreneur, the business and personal branding benefits are enormous.
Pro tip: Make sure your business’s social channels are linked to your website. It’s a snap with a solution like GoDaddy’s Website Builder. Here’s how you can connect your home page to a new or existing Facebook business page – and have it include your site’s business name, street address, and web address.
6. Intelligent audience analysis
How well do you really know your audience? You might have a suspicion about who your main demographics are based on the types of people who reach out to you. You might know about your main sources of traffic and how those sources have changed.
With today’s unprecedented levels of data availability, there’s no excuse not to know your audience as if they were your family.
Invest in data analytics platforms and partners that can help you achieve this. It’s only through this understanding that you’ll be able to generate more relevant content.
Chatbots are getting more sophisticated all the time. Already, they’re capable of having full conversations regarding most customer concerns. In 2019 and beyond, chatbots are going to be cheaper, more capable and, most importantly, more accepted by the general population. If you want to avoid getting left behind here, the time for including them in your website strategy is arriving soon.
There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for how and when to use these website strategies or how to balance them. Different brands and different audiences will require different combinations. It’s up to you to figure out what those combinations are.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Even if you fail, you’ll learn something, and you’ll get bonus points for beating your competition to the punch. Set aside some of your budget for pure experimentation in 2019 and challenge yourself to do something new.
This article has been adapted from an original piece by Jayson DeMers.