One of the things I've always loved (and hated) about online marketing is that it changes faster than people can keep up with it. There's no two ways about it. You have to keep up with it if you expect to stay relevant with your customers and grow your brand. Here are six new rules of online marketing (really) that will allow you to stay ahead of the game in 2016.

1. Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket.

There's a ton of marketing tactics out there. And, the number continues to grow as the Internet becomes more expansive. Today, a strong marketing strategy consists of a diversity of tactics that advertise your company's offerings across a variety of platforms.

Focusing purely on social media or paid advertising may not be the most effective way to reach your most interested prospects. Think outside the box and utilize other tactics like strategic partnerships and hosting local events.

2. Not All Customers Are Created Equal.

The days of marketing to customers only by demographics are coming to an end. This tactic is based on the assumption that age is a key feature that defines a person--which isn't as true as it may have once been. Can you honestly expect all women ages 18 to 34 to have the same interests?

Many campaigns are turning towards an "age-agnostic" approach. Such campaigns target prospects based on passions and interests as opposed to age.

3. Sales Funnels Are A Necessity.

You can't expect someone who just discovered your brand to have the same level of interest as someone who has used your products or services for years. Establishing a clearly defined sales funnel is an integral part of understanding who your customers are and what their buying journey looks like.

Typically, you have leads (aware of your brand), prospects (interested in your brand) and customers (loyal to your brand). Companies often include people like qualified leads and repeat customers in their funnel. No matter how you define your customer's journey, doing so will allow you to target prospects with messaging relevant to their stage of interest, which will increase conversion.

4. Start Thinking Hyper Local.

In addition to targeting interested prospects, companies are also beginning to create hyper local content to target people in their community. If someone in your area uses his or her smartphone to search for something your brand offers, then you'll definitely want to show up in those results. This is especially important for restaurants and retail stores.

Refreshing your SEO strategy and creating hyper local content (like blog posts) will help to make sure you show up in these local searches.

5. Sell An Experience, Not A Service.

Customer expectations continue to disrupt the Internet and the way marketers sell online. One thing they expect more of now is that you sell an experience rather than a product or service. They want to buy from a company they trust and one that shares their passions and values. Pricing or features have become less important than the connection that a customer has with a brand and its story.

6. Take Advantage Of Video.

As consumer preferences continue to evolve, video marketing is becoming much more popular. With video's ability to be shared across a variety of mediums and provide a quick overview of your offerings, it's an inventive way to reach customers.

It's now easy to create appealing videos for your brand at little to no cost. Including video in your online marketing strategy will most likely ensure you expand your online reach.

The key to staying up-to-date on the latest online marketing trends is to research and talk with your customers. You'd be amazed at the insights you'll uncover and the trends you'll discover simply by surveying and having conversations with your customers.

Published on: Aug 23, 2016