4 Hot Online Brand Building Trends

Originally published in the summer issue of California Mortgage Finance News.

Every year we all read about a slew of marketing trends. This year is no different. I’ve seen many articles…some including trends that are a bit dated and others that are quickly coming of age.

Here are four hand-picked trends that mortgage industry marketers should seriously consider as part of a communications strategy as we roll through 2018. All these trends have been evolving at breakneck speed, so now is the time to learn about and consider how to leverage them so you don’t miss out on opportunities for real growth!

Live video:

By now most of us have watched a live video stream on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…or somewhere. The impact of these live streams cannot be discounted!

There are many reasons why your brand should consider live video.

First, it’s free! It costs you nothing to produce and nothing to stream. You don’t need to write a script, hire special talent, rent expensive equipment for lighting or studio space, deal with post production – and you can use the camera on your phone or computer.

This is the most authentic way to put people in touch with your brand and allow them a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your work environment, to participate in live Q&A’s, watch interviews and more. You’re limited only by your imagination.

According to Research and Markets “Video Streaming – Global Forecast to 2021,” live video streaming was a $30 billion industry in 2016 and will grow to $70 billion by 2021.

To add more fuel to your consideration of this tactic, according to eMarketer, 63% of those 18-34 and 32% of those 33-54 watch live streamed content regularly.

The most popular platforms are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in that order.

Need another reason? Here’s an additional great stat.

According to a report from Social Media Today, people will watch a live video three times longer than they will a similar pre-recorded video. A lot has to do with the intrigue, authenticity and knowing anything can happen in a live video without scripts! Plus, it’s more personal and people get to connect with people on a more human level.

This is aided by the fact that live videos drive simultaneous interaction on social media, text and email.

Dynamic ads:

Dynamic ads are different from static ads because they are highly personalized. They use targeted, custom messages based on your browsing behavior and data from social profiles which increases relevancy and click-throughs.

You should know that this is nothing new. In fact, dynamic programmatic advertising has been around for several years. But this year, the execution of them is becoming very real as brands strive for ways to increase the currently pathetic click-through rates they experience on static ads that are better suited for general brand awareness.

Dynamic programmatic advertising has been a welcome evolution of technology that will help rebuild trust with the consumer. There has been a surge in ad blocking over the past several years. In fact, 64% of internet users say display ads are annoying and intrusive. This is according to a HubSpot AdBlock Plus research study conducted in Q2 of 2016. Mobile AdBlock usage is overtaking desktop given user migration to the mobile web.

Here’s how dynamic programmatic advertising works.

You as the advertiser use an ad template that includes a place for a headline, body copy, image and a call to action. Then, algorithms select and insert the appropriate creative elements into the template in real time. These elements come from your browsing behavior and social media profile data. They may even include data you can purchase that’s gathered by third parties.

By the time you see the ad, it is completely customized to you.

Want to get started now? It’s easy! Facebook and LinkedIn have dynamic ad platforms that are very easy to work with. They both walk you through the setup. But if you need more instruction, there’s plenty available. Just check YouTube.

Micro-moment marketing:

Did you know that 90% of smartphone users have used their phone to take small steps toward a long-term goal, like owning a home, while “out and about?” (Source: Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Google/Ipsos, US, March 2015)

Consumers and their search behavior are changing. They are more demanding and impatient about getting their answers than ever before. Because of the quality of answers they know they can get in an instant, they are moving towards an on-demand experience on search engines, especially Google. And they don’t even need to fumble with the keypad because the voice search feature is awesome!

The times when consumers have that “I want to know right now” moment where they pick up their phone and conduct a search is called a micro-moment. And these are moments where you as a company have the opportunity for real growth, provided you know how to get the right “in the moment” information in front of them and have the wherewithal to convert them.

For example, you may ask Google “what do you need to apply for a mortgage loan” after seeing a home for sale in your area. Or, maybe you’re a marketing director for a mortgage company and you know you need to replace your current CRM system. So, while sitting in an airport with nothing but time on your hands waiting for a delayed flight, you may begin your investigation by asking Google “what is the best CRM for a mortgage company.” An interesting fact here…did you know that mobile searches for “best” have grown by 80% since 2015? (Source: Google Data, U.S., Jan. – June 2015 vs. Jan. – June 2017. Top 500 “best” search terms)

In both situations, you are taking a small micro-step toward a long-term goal.

Marketers need to think about how to market to these micro-moments by providing the right content and the right experience once they click on that content. They need to think through how they can push them to the next stage and ultimately convert them.

More focus on influencer networks:

Influencer marketing has been a buzzword now for several years. But now, both interest among brands and usage has spiked! Between 2012 and 2017 it grew by 24 times and in the time between 2016 and 2017 has doubled.

You can attribute this extreme growth to several factors including:

  • The amount of “noise” online and the need for brands to find other ways of cutting through the clutter.
  • New Facebook algorithms. They have reduced, if not completely eradicated, non-paid brand marketing. The possible exception to this would be the utilization of Facebook Live.
  • People are much more likely to trust who they know more than brand messages. This is very true when it comes to micro-influencers with 60% higher engagement rates. These are influencers with less than 25k followers. Many exist on the B to B level in the mortgage industry.
  • The large impact micro-influencers can have on a buying decision.

Influencer marketing has been a growing trend over the past couple of years. Now, it’s becoming an essential part of your strategy. It’s the new PR.

These four trends all have a common thread. Personalization. They all have the individual in mind as opposed to taking a mass, generic approach.

Marketing is changing rapidly and becoming a highly personalized experience for the intended individuals that are the very best prospects for your product or service. It’s important to get in touch with and leverage these trends now within your strategy – especially as artificial intelligence becomes a key driver for truly smart advertising!