What does the future hold for SEO, online advertising and social media?

By Li-at Karpel Gurwicz, Wix.com Head of Strategic Marketing,

Today’s marketing landscape reflects predictions made in science fiction films from the 80’s. We have predictive technology, machine learning and computers that can perform complex actions at nothing more than a voice command.

Put simply, we are living in a new age of internet capability where every discovery leads to more endless possibilities than the last.

The impact this is having on the marketing world is immense as brands look to keep a pace with their customers, the adopters of this technology.

In this 140 character and 15-second video era, it is evident that consumers’ attention spans are decreasing and with it, so are the windows of opportunity for brands to connect with them. It is no longer about “sell sell sell” but “engage engage engage”.

So what does the future hold for SEO, online advertising and social media and how can marketers effectively use these tools in order to continue to engage audiences?

Why SEO will continue to boom

Given the advances in technology, it’s hard to look more than a few years into the future with huge predictability. However, it’s likely that SEO will continue to grow in popularity, in one form or another.

According to a recent study by Borrell Associates, companies are going to spend $65bn on SEO in 2016. What’s more, the same study found the SEO industry will continue to grow to an estimated $72bn by 2018 and $79bn by 2020.

It’s not hard to see why. There is more of everything. There is more searching as older generations, averse to technology, are making way for younger generations, who use it regularly.

There are more users as the internet becomes more affordable and available to different demographics. There are also more outlets for search visibility. When traditional advertising methods finally cease to exist altogether, businesses will have no choice but to look to inbound marketing campaigns in the online world.

Although it won’t all be plain sailing. We’ll see competition increase as more people get involved, which is likely to put up costs.

SEO will adapt with the times and so will how people using it. In the short-term there is much out there to help businesses keep up to date and incorporate a best practice SEO strategy — we do it regularly to support our users.

Looking further ahead, technologies such as self-driving cars will give users more time to perform searches at times when they previously couldn’t. These changes will make it possible for almost anyone to search for anything at any time.

Digital assistants will bridge the gap between online and offline search and as more and more brands get to grips with big data, we can expect to see search engines specific to individual platforms like the app store.

Online advertising evolves with ad blockers

Nowadays there are many platforms brands can leverage in order to maximize their campaigns’ reach but online advertising is the lifeblood of the internet — that’s why the majority of the world’s five billion web pages are available for free.

The use of ad-blocking technologies brought some challenges to the industries and it costed publishers $22bn in 2015, but brands are learning to deal with it.

What brands have realized is that they need to make the physical purchasing journey as personalized and integrated with one online as possible. In addition, brands are now adopting new technologies to create better experiences and engage their customers in a different way.

Social Media

While all of this is going on we will see a new age of social media that goes beyond the consumer dominated landscape it is today. It will become a business battleground, particularly centered on metrics and engagement.

Metrics such as likes, followers, retweets, unique views, total story completions or even screenshots, but most importantly click-through rates and the actions taken after that are what marketers will be looking at in more detail.

The goal of every marketer is to have a reliable social ROI in order to be able to connect social efforts with real world results.

Alongside with metrics comes engagement. Brands have moved from trying to make their content go viral to focus on creating content that resonates with their audience, particularly video, and we will see a lot of developments in this space.

By producing content that is valuable and interesting to their audience, the most likely it is for it to be shared. This might seem an easy task, but it’s not. The only way to get it right is by constantly learn and understand what your audience expects from your brand and your business.

We recently wrote an article to help businesses define the best content strategy for social media, but it is clear that this won’t just be part of their marketing strategy — it will be the marketing strategy.

We’ll see social media make the interactions with customers more instantly and personally. Instead of email, audiences will simply “inbox” their favourite brands and engage in a two-way conversation, which is starting to happen with platforms such as Snapchat.

The world we live in is hyper-dynamic, new channels and marketing opportunities constantly present themselves. The best strategy is to always research, test and analyze in order to continue to grow alongside your audience.

This post is by Li-at Karpel Gurwicz, Head of Strategic Marketing of Wix.com, and first appeared in Marketing Tech News.

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