Small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) often find themselves in an eternal pursuit to compete with bigger names that have bigger budgets, more employees and larger physical presences.

However, technology continues to level the playing field. SMBs have learned that establishing a digital presence is one of the most efficient ways to compete for customers. This no longer means just setting up a brand website and hoping customers click through; companies that succeed in the long term find innovative ways to get in front of their customers when they’re away from the website as well. This can mean advertising, social media marketing and more depending on a company’s goals. In fact, in 2016, 92 percent of SMBs expect to spend as much or more than they did in online advertising last year.

Stay current with today’s digital trends and read on for five strategies your brand can adopt in order to reach more online consumers and boost sales.

1. Optmize the mobile experience for shoppers.

Today’s consumers are on-the-go more than ever, and so are their shopping habits. In fact, according to Criteo’s latest State of Mobile Commerce report, mobile accounted for 35 percent of eCommerce transactions in the US.

Given these growing mobile consumption rates, it’s clear that brands that do not cater to mobile shoppers will be surpassed by their faster-innovating competitors. To stay ahead, they must ensure that their website is completely optimized for the mobile experience and incorporates a responsive design.

Similarly, advertisements must be optimized for mobile as well; ads with simple messaging, clean images and a clear call-to-action will perform best.

2. Meet them where they are.

Yet it’s important to realize that ‘mobile’ no longer necessarily means mobile phones; it can also mean tablets as well. With the array of devices at the fingertips of today’s consumers, digital shoppers can — and often do — use a combination of desktops, phones and tablets. Business that can embrace the cross-device trend will be poised for success. During H1 2016, leaders in mobile advertising — who were able to provide a unified, consistent and relevant experience across all devices and interactions — experienced a 39 percent higher conversion rate than businesses with a less mature mobile presence.

In order to be omnipresent, advertisers must employ a retargeting strategy that spans across multiple devices to successfully intercept consumers’ complex paths to purchase and encourage conversions.

3. Leverage social media effectively.

Along with the number of devices, the proliferation of digital channels has also increased, and consumers now expect to interact with brands via the channel of their preference. Social media has become the default channel for many, with nearly 20 percent of all time spent online in the U.S. occurring on social media platforms.

Thus, using these channels as an additional means of advertising is critical for brands who want to compete. In addition to building a basic social presence by creating brand pages on social media platforms, advertisers should utilize retargeting to ensure that ads are not only being delivered on publishers’ sites, but on social media sites as well.

4. Gather and leverage consumer data.

In order to offer the most impactful messages, advertisers should gather and analyze consumer data.

This can be done by combining first- and third-party data with marketing automation tools to offer an optimal ad campaign to individual users. Critical data to consider include browse history and purchase history, on top of more basic demographic information.

 

5. Enrich the customer journey.

Finally, even with the multitude of consumer data available to advertisers today, ads abound that disrupt the consumer experience with irrelevant messages and distracting images.

Given that 71 percent of consumers prefer personalized ads, advertisers should invest in data analytics technology to offer relevant, targeted ads. These customized messages will improve the consumer online experience and help brands rise to the top among other contenders.

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