The COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone online, and many businesses suddenly found that the success they enjoyed in the physical world didn't follow them to the Internet. They've had to play catch-up over the last few months, often against well-established competitors that had been building their online presence for years. If you're a new arrival to the hyper-competitive world of online marketing, sometimes the best way to keep up with your competition is to do exactly what they're doing.
Check out the latest trends in online marketing and how to follow them to help your business grow!
Why You Should Keep Up With Emerging Business Trends
Even if your business is already well established in your industry, keeping up with trends is important in order to show your customers that you are flexible. If you stick with the old because “our method works,” it gives the impression that you aren’t willing to change to accommodate current circumstances. Trying out a new trend shows that you’re willing to take risks.
How to Keep Up With Industry Trends
Trends don’t just pop up in the newspaper. Current events are reported all over, on the Internet especially. Keeping connected through all mediums will give you a better perspective on what people are currently interested in, so you see these trends when they first bud. Being alert to the following matters will keep you in the know:
1. Follow Key Influencers and Publications on Social Media
By following the top trendsetters online, you’ll see when new trends appear at the same time your competitors do. That way, you’ll be on top of the current fads, not the last person in the know.
2. Listen to/Watch Podcasts and Videos
Don’t just wait for a social media post to boast these new trends. Following podcasts and videos about your industry will provide you with feedback. Not all trends are good, and as such, some last longer than others. Podcasts and videos will review: Is the trend any good, or just nonsense? Is it worth spending the money to adjust your business?
3. Subscribe to Top Business Blogs
Blogs are also more of a review forum, so business blogs will provide for you a layout of good vs. bad trends. They’ll take it one step further and give you "How To's" on implementing the trend at your business without completely changing your system.
4. Utilize Your Network
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The thing about trends is that they’re new, so you’re not expected to catch on right away. Network within your industry to learn the ins and outs of the current craze. Gathering intel is a safer option than throwing something together based on assumptions. If you’re going to do something, execute it correctly.
5. Take Advantage of Training Opportunities
Similarly, sign up for training courses on the subject if you’re unsure how to implement the trend in your industry. You can be sure that others in your area will be there, too. You won’t appear clueless if your competitor is asking the same questions and learning the same skills.
6. Get Hints from Analytical Tools
Sometimes, you can discover trends before they actually spike in popularity. Use all tools at your disposal, like Google Trends, to catch on to changes early. That way, you might get a leg up on your competitor, and be in the game before they realize the board has been set out.
7. Stay Alert with Google Alerts
Similar to Google Trends, Google Alerts will keep you in the know, but on your own schedule. Just as you have your competitors, several trends sprout up all at once, thanks to people hoping their idea will be the “next big thing.” By setting your alerts to once a day, once a week, or even once a month, you can check in on what’s been happening and figure out which new trend you prefer most, rather than latching on to the first one you read about.
8. Keep Tabs on Your Competitors
As implied in previous tips, your competitors are going to see these trends in action too. Check up on them from time to time to determine what ideas they’ve followed. Based on their success—or failure—you can decide which methods work best for you and your company. Sometimes, being the first one to try out a new trend isn’t as useful as you’d hope.
9. Speak to Your Customers
While certain changes might benefit your company from a business perspective, how do your customers respond to these shifts? By gathering feedback from your clientele, you can determine whether or not the trend works in your case. If your customers aren’t fans of the change, consider finding a different craze. If your customers love what you’ve done, great!
10. Embrace Changes Within Your Industry
Before you can even begin to implement the modifications these trends suggest, you first have to be willing to accept change. Traditionalists are great when spreading holiday cheer, but not so much when running a company. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should constantly make change, but at the very least, be open to new ideas. Successful companies rise because they’re willing to do just that.
Trends come and go, but it looks like many of those we've seen rise to prominence in the first half of 2020 are here to stay and will only intensify. Crafting an online strategy based on the needs of your business will be critical to its success going forward. Scoping out your competition and remaining connected to the news, be it on a blog or business app, will help you gauge whether or not your business is on the right track. And don’t worry: even if one of those trends ends up falling through, sometimes showing the public and your customers that you’re willing to take risks brings you a greater reward.
One trend that isn't going away is inbound marketing. Customers value experience more than ever when making a purchase decision and don't want to be bombarded by ads. With an inbound marketing plan, you can position your business precisely where you want your customers to find it without disrupting them. Once you embrace an inbound methodology for your advertising, you can then transform your entire organization to be more receptive, responsive, and better able to fulfill the needs of your customers.