In 2018, mobile surpassed desktop for time spent on the web as a record 77 percent of Americans own smartphones. As a result, mobile optimization became more important than ever to brands hoping to gain loyal customers through the web. Whether consumers are shopping for clothing or hunting for homes, the experience they have can make or break decisions, especially when it comes to choosing how to spend money. Moving forward, web designers must prioritize mobile optimization to ensure potential customers can access information efficiently from their devices.
Common and necessary components of mobile-optimized sites include:
- Clickability: Sites designed for desktop have small buttons that can be difficult to press when using a touch screen mobile device, so designers must create buttons large enough for clicking with fingers.
- Readability: Text should be fitted to the screen. Site visitors should not need to scroll, zoom, etc. to read the information on a website.
- Searchability: Providing the visitor with the fastest route to the information they need will improve their experience. Designers should include a “search” bar to make websites user-friendly.
Keeping all of this in mind, Pilch & Barnet now designs all websites with a mobile-first approach.
Travelers want to be refreshed in 2019; new sights, unique events and educational experiences will be the deciding factors as adventurers make their travel plans in the coming year.
Au revoir, Paris
The road-less-traveled is growing in popularity as the hustle and bustle of cities feels all too familiar to seasoned travelers. Whether they’re looking for value or an escape from the noise, these explorers want to get off the beaten path. In addition to that, people feel the need to share photos of their trip on social media, but they don’t want to post the same Eiffel Tower picture everyone has seen 20 times. People want to be the trailblazer of their friend group, which means trying something new and unique.
Draw Them In
Souvenirs often come in the form of snow globes and t-shirts, but travelers are looking for something they can’t pick up at the gift shop: knowledge. More specifically, they want to learn more about art and the local artists who contribute to local culture. As people yearn for tangible, off-screen experiences, art is becoming an even more relevant tool for tourist destinations to use to draw visitors in. Permanent exhibits and temporary installations offer the enriching experiences tourists desire, and they provide something that will last long after the return home.
Get It To-Go
Classes, concerts, conferences, and other events add substance to vacations and offer opportunities for growth. Like the appeal of art exhibits, these experiences enhance the value of a trip because they have value beyond good memories. Tourists want to leave their mark by participating in classes and discussions, and they also want to use it when they’re back home. Maybe they learn how to cook a local dish or attend a seminar where they network with like-minded individuals. These opportunities create incentive for visitors to make the journey and provides them with lasting value.
In 2019, social media will be about giving the people what they want. Brands must perform a balancing act: produce relevant content and deliver it through customized channels without invading users’ space.
Going steady with influencers
Influencer marketing continues to earn its spot in marketing plans as industry pros recognize the value of this new word-of-mouth vehicle. In 2019, instead of having one transaction with an influencer, brands will maintain long-term relationships with influencers to produce continuous impressions among followers. Brands will also utilize influencer-generated content by sharing influencer photos, reviews and more on their own channels to increase the value of these partnerships.
People want privacy
Social media platforms like Facebook faced criticism in 2018 as privacy issues became a major concern. Users learned more about how their personal information was being sold and used, and they expressed their disapproval by changing privacy settings, spending less time online and even by deleting accounts. Now more than ever, brands must practice authenticity and transparency in advertising to avoid facing backlash.
Instagram creates new opportunities
Hitting one billion users in June 2018, Instagram has become one of the world’s most popular social media platforms with a highly engaged user base. The platform has continuously rolled out new features to keep users active including Instagram Stories and IGTV (see below), two vehicles where brands can showcase their products and services with ease. The key is to produce high-quality visuals that capture viewers’ attention.
In today’s fast-paced world, people are inundated with messaging everywhere they look. This crowded environment is a hurdle for advertisers who must be creative if they want to stand out. Content must be developed to suit not only changing consumer preferences, but evolving technologies as well. Here’s what content creators need to know for 2019:
Blog posts improve SEO
Nothing boosts traffic to your website like a high-quality blog post. Search engines like Google give priority to websites containing relevant keywords. Blog articles allow you to include important words and phrases that place you higher under Google’s algorithm. On top of that, blogs give you the ability to link internally, extending both the time visitors spend on your site and the number of pages they view. Blogs also increase the chance that other websites will link to your website for reference, improving your visibility and boosting your brand’s relevance.
Video grabs attention
Video continues to garner higher engagement than all other content on Facebook. Some 100 million hours of video are watched on the social platform each day, and it’s safe to say that number will continue to grow in 2019. Video is the most effective medium to keep audiences interested and engaged while quickly sharing information.
Organic content needs a boost
In early 2018, Facebook announced changes to its algorithm which would decrease the amount of organic reach received by business Pages. While Facebook claimed the change was made to make the platform a more personal space for friends and family, many industry professionals believe the hit on organic reach was made to increase ad expenditures. Like it or not, Facebook’s atmosphere is hostile toward business posts and, if brands want to flourish, they’ll have to pay.
This technology can also be used to build what is called a particle background, which is a strong substitute for video content. Adding moving elements to webpages creates a more engaging and interesting web experience while allowing visitors to conveniently navigate to their desired webpage.
While the digital age has helped facilitate many human connections, it’s forced online design and the larger visual world to become more streamlined for the web. This results in designs that are flat and clean, but a bit impersonal. Artists and viewers feel nostalgia for design that feels more human. One way to achieve this is to create images that light-up the sensory and emotional centers of our brain: anything tactile, textural and personal. People are responding well to anything that has to do with direct touch. Artists strive to reach out to their audiences and develop a connection with them through images that are inviting and nearly tangible.
On a website, this might mean using photos that emphasize the look of water on a lake, or the coarse grain of cut wood on the side of a cabin. This could also mean sharing a special moment captured between a couple, family or friends. Pilch & Barnet is always looking for new ways to broaden our clients’ photo libraries so that they not only include the necessary photos, but the ones that are the most compelling and in-line with the latest design trends.
With some statistics showing that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, it’s time for marketers to embrace influencers.
Incorporating testimonials, ratings and reviews is a good, easy place to start. It’s low-cost and nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
But even more than basic online reviews, consumers trust “influencers.” Influencers are people who can connect with a desired audience on a deeply personal level and when they give recommendations, it often leads to direct conversions.
The caveat here is that those recommendations are rarely free. For traveler influencers, it makes the most sense to offer FAM trips to interested parties. It can be as simple as offering free lodging to a well-connected blogger or writer in exchange for a written piece on your area. You can go further and offer meals or experiences as well. It’s a cost-effective way to reach a very warm audience.
It’s likely the U.S. will create a law similar to the EU’s GDPR in the foreseeable future to address privacy issues and data usage. This will impact the quantity and quality of data companies can provide advertisers, who should consider this info when developing content plans. Messaging strategies will need to adapt to fit changing targeting capabilities.
Personalization continues to be a common theme across social platform advertising, especially among young consumers. With location-based targeting on the rise, marketers can tailor ads to users based on their past behaviors, including visits to stores and other habits that offer insight into their interests.
Many brands have chosen to add to the political conversation, while others serve as an escape from what can often feel negative and exhausting to users. In Q1 of 2018, brands that took to social media with a positive, upbeat and lighthearted tone reported increased engagement. Advertisers have the power to be influential voices, but they can also serve consumers with feel-good messaging that leaves a positive impression.
A new study by Marketing Sherpa revealed some interesting behavior about skippable video ads—specifically, the generational differences behind the question: To skip, or not to skip?
They equally divided 2,400 consumers into two groups: satisfied consumers and unsatisfied consumers. The first group was asked Q1; the second group was asked Q2.
Q1: Say you’re watching some online content, and a pre-roll ad for a company that you’re satisfied with starts to play. Do you always skip the ad?
Who said yes?
- 28% of millennials
- 23% of Generation X
- 20% of baby boomers
- 12% of the Silent Generation.
Q2: Say you’re watching some online content, and a pre-roll ad for a company that you’re unsatisfied with starts to play. Do you always skip the ad?
Who said yes?
- 29% of millennials
- 34% of Generation X
- 37% of baby boomers
- 33% of the Silent Generation
Though the differences aren’t drastic, it seems that millennials care more about the format of the ad and less about the brand, while the older a generation is, the more that they seem to connect their brand experiences with their decision to watch the ad.
At Pilch & Barnet, nearly all of the online video advertising we place is unskippable, meaning that users must watch the entire ad in order to access their desired video content. We do this to retain as many impressions as possible. Additionally, we’ve gotten more impressions and view-throughs for a better price with unskippable video ads, where the only way to way to skip the ad is to completely forfeit watching the video.
Tourists want to do more than consume; they want to make an impact.
Volunteer travel has been on the rise over the past few years. Many tourists want nothing but relaxation when they’re on vacation, but a significant portion of them want to leave a positive mark on the communities they visit. They do this by volunteering.
One way to attract “voluntourists” is to coordinate with local organizations/nonprofits to add volunteer opportunities tailored for visitors. Volunteer information should be readily available and easily accessible to people who aren’t from the area. Giving tourists an opportunity to volunteer creates lasting, positive memories, and increases the likelihood they’ll return or tell their friends to visit.
Travelers are braving the cold for winter wonderlands.
Travel to cold weather destinations has increased in recent years. Thrill-seekers are looking for snow sports they can’t do at home like skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Those traveling from warm climates dream of snuggling up next to a fireplace in a cozy cabin while watching the snow fall outside.
Destinations with cold winter climates have the upper hand in making winter dreams come true, and it’s a lucrative business. Brands can leverage this advantage by using positive messaging when talking about winter and all it has to offer and by sharing information about the unique activities visitors can enjoy when coming to a snow-covered destination.
Small towns with historic charm are taking over.
As popular cities get more crowded, lines get longer, and Facebook feeds get flooded with the same picture reincarnated from 30 different angles, people are looking for a refreshing view. Travelers are venturing to smaller, less populated destinations to get their own unique experience.
A major draw of small towns is historical significance. Tourists are looking to make connections to the places they visit, and a strong story adds meaning to the trip. Brands can benefit from showcasing historical locations associated with their business.