Few industries evolve more quickly (and more confusingly) than digital marketing. If you work in the field, or are trying to market your own business online, you’ve seen a dizzying evolution of trends and tools over the last few years.
And the changes just keep on coming! Search engine algorithms, CRM software, automation technology, analytics, multiplying social media platforms, security issues...
The list goes on. Meanwhile, all these developments have given rise to a whole new marketing “language”. Frankly, some of the terminology sounds at best made-up, and at worst totally ridiculous.
How can anyone take words like “freemium”, “- jacking”, and “zillenial” seriously!?
There’s no doubt about it: In the realm of marketing, buzzwords abound. Every season brings a fresh crop of bizarre, annoyingly trendy terms that make us all feel out-of-date.
But amidst all the noise, there are some new concepts worth adding to your repertoire.
Here’s our second edition of digital marketing buzzwords you really should know, use, and integrate into your strategy.(Missed the first installment? Check it out right here.)
We've also included a robust set of resources you can draw on to better understand and implement each trend. Let's dive in.
What does it take to rank on the first page of Google these days? A key question for pretty much every single marketer out there.
It used to be all about “keywords”. But over the last few years, Google has changed the way it sorts, weighs, and ranks content. The definitive change came in 2015 with the introduction of RankBrain.
RankBrain is a new Google search algorithm that uses machine learning and AI to actually learn from your search queries – and deliver more relevant, personalized, high quality results.
The goal is to weed out sub-par, spammy content – like keyword-stuffed articles with little value to offer the user.
This all boils down to something called semantic search. If you explore one new marketing concept this year, this should be it!
Since the RankBrain update, Google can interpret the semantics of what you’re looking for online. There is a deeper understanding of the meaning, context, and intent of your query.
The search engine doesn’t look for a literal match of the keywords you type in. Results are based on a much wider variety of factors including:
- Your search history
- Your location
- Global search history
- Spelling variations
Here’s the takeaway, nicely put by Search Engine Journal:
“RankBrain may deem a page to be a “good response” to a query even if it doesn’t contain exact words from the query.”
Instead, you’ll get a list of results that reflect your search patterns, previous queries, geographic location, etc. This is why focusing solely on keywords is no longer effective for SEO.
How does semantic search impact your digital marketing strategy? You’ll need to:
- Stop creating content around short tail keywords and focus on topics instead
- Decipher which topics are most valuable to your users, and be sure to offer full coverage of those topics (Ultimate Guides, Definitive Lists, etc.)
- Identify conversational, long-tail keywords for your audience
- Speed matters: make sure your website is optimized to load quickly
- Ensure your site is structured in a logical way, so search engines can index it, and understand the logical connections between content
Here are a couple of solid guides to semantic search and the new SEO:
Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters
So, how exactly do you go about creating topic-oriented content that will rank well? This is where topic clusters and pillar pages come into play.
For example, in the past, we’d write a bunch of separate blog posts, trying to cover every possible variation of a keyword. Inevitably, there’d be quite a lot of repetition, and a whole mess of posts, floating around the website without much organization.
Plus, your own URLs end up competing against each other in search results, because you have so many posts covering similar keywords.
Things are beginning to change. Instead of creating individual posts that compete with one another, bloggers and SEOs are organizing their content into topic clusters – with a pillar page in the center of each cluster.
Pillar Page: Covers all aspects of a topic on one page. A definitive guide, with links to additional resources and information.
Topic Clusters: Pages that delve deeper into topics related to your pillar page. They all link back to the pillar page. These links help all the pages in the cluster rank better
For example, let’s say you’re a digital marketing agency. You might write a pillar page on how to do Instagram marketing.
And then you’d create cluster topics that delve deeper into related ideas, such as how to create awesome Instagram Stories or optimize advertising campaigns on Instagram.
HubSpot describes it this way:
“Pillar pages are longer than typical blog posts -- because they cover all aspects of the topic you're trying to rank for -- but they aren't as in-depth. That's what cluster content is for. You want to create a pillar page that answers questions about a particular topic, but leaves room for more detail in subsequent, related cluster content.”
Here’s a helpful visualization from CoSchedule.
Using topic clusters helps organize your site in a much more cohesive way, which in turn, helps search engines find your content more easily.
Plus, in the new era of semantic search, covering relevant topics in more depth gives you “search engine authority” and helps you rank higher.
Still creating content around basic keywords? It’s time to embrace a new approach to SEO and inbound marketing.
Dive deeper with this handy HubSpot guide to creating pillar posts and topic clusters:
“Storifying” your social media marketing
Storifying is another very trendy buzzword, which nonetheless has very real relevance in today’s digital marketing landscape.
Across all the world’s fastest-growing social networks, Stories are taking over. With nearly a billion users across platforms, more people are starting to use Stories (versus traditional feeds) to share information.
Image source: techcrunch.com
If you’re not storifying your social media content, you’re missing valuable opportunities to engage your audience. From the 50+ age group on Facebook, to the 20-somethings on Snapchat...this trend spans the whole spectrum.
“64% of respondents have already integrated Instagram Stories into their marketing strategy, or plan to do so in the next 12 months.”
- Hootsuite’s 2019 Social Trends survey
Check out Hootsuite’s beginner guide to creating Stories for helpful tips and tricks:
Almost everyone’s heard of influencer marketing. Many brands use social media celebrities with millions of followers to promote their products online.
But it’s an expensive game. According to research by WebFX, an influencer with 1,000,000 followers can charge up to $25,000 per post!
Besides being insanely expensive, this tactic has begun to lose its effectiveness. Why? Because consumers have grown weary of social “stars” who peddle goods and services online.
Many users have come to see these promotions as untrustworthy grabs for their loyalty and money.
So now, we’re seeing companies pivot away from big-time macro-influencers toward “micro-influencers”. These are people with smaller fan bases, more credibility, and a valuable niche audience of potential customers.
Macro-influencer: has at least 100,000 followers
Micro-influencer: has 1,000 – 100,000 followers
If you’re a small-to-medium size business, it makes much more sense to go with a micro-influencer. The price tag is much lower ($250 - $500 per post), and you’re much more likely to see positive results.
According to AdWeek,
“Micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with large followings.”
For more advice on getting started with influencer marketing, check out this very helpful guide from WebFX:
Last, but absolutely not least, we have perhaps the most common marketing buzzword of all: Personalization.
But if you look at the other trends on this list, you’ll see why it matters so much for your marketing strategy.
Semantic search, cluster content, Stories, micro-influencers....they all revolve around personalization. They’re all responding to a very strong demand for customized user experiences – and a definitive movement away from one-size-fits-all marketing tactics.
How do you personalize your digital marketing? By developing a deeper understanding of what moves your audience. In other words, by creating buyer personas, and tailoring your communications to fit their wants, needs, and online behaviors.
There’s no getting around it: You need nuanced personas to compete. The data on this is undeniable. According to Forbes,
“44% of consumers say they are likely to buy from a company again after a personalized shopping experience.”
It’s only natural. We gravitate toward brands who seem to “get” who we are. We want to buy from companies who understand and share our values. We want to feel respected and catered to during the purchasing process.
But, none of this is possible if you don’t really understand who you are trying to reach and connect with online. There are tons of resources out there on how to build authentic personas.
This free template and guide from HubSpot is a great place to begin:
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