Online marketing is one of the most effective tools to grow a business. However, in order to have an efficient strategy, businesses need to stay ahead of changing technology and user trends.

Over the years, the way people consume online content has shifted considerably. A recent study by GlobalWebIndex shows that 28% of online activity happens on social media. Ad buys on popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram have grown significantly over the past few years, with Instagram outselling Facebook by 117% in 2018.

In addition to the growth of social media, most people are consuming content via their mobile devices, which changes the way businesses need to think about displaying content.

If you’re looking to include the newest marketing trends in your plan this year, these are four online marketing strategies that will help your business stand out.

1. Optimize for voice search.

Whether you use Siri to get directions to dinner or Google Assistant to play music in your home, there’s a voice assistant for every device. One statistic says that 40% of adults use a voice assistant at least once a day, and 20% of mobile searches are done via voice search.

This means it’s more important than ever for businesses to optimize for voice search. How do you do that?

  • Use structured data on your website to answer typical customer inquiries.
  • Updated your website with the most relevant and easy-to-read content to ensure a voice assistant will pick up the information.
  • Work on your online reviews. More than 67 percent of consumers consider online feedback when making a purchasing decision.

While your business might be smaller in scale, it’s still important to think through the many ways you can begin to build a cohesive voice search strategy into your online marketing plan.

2. Vertical videos.

It is important to develop content that makes sense for mobile consumption.

According to Mobile Overview Report (MOVR), 94% of users watch videos vertically, even if they were intended to be viewed horizontally. What does that mean for you? If you’re putting together video content for your business, start transitioning to vertical video.

Look at the way people are consuming content on Instagram Stories, Snapchat or even the rising popularity of InstagramTV. These avenues have changed the way that consumers see and interact with video content in an astounding way.

3. Review your social media activities.

Being stagnant is never a good thing, especially when it comes to social media. That’s why it’s important to always update your social media advertising strategy. Whether that’s changing up your demographic or switching from Instagram to Facebook ads, keeping things fresh keeps viewers coming back.

While many small businesses have been hesitant to invest in ad spend on social networks, taking advantage of advertising opportunities via these avenues can make all the difference.

Great content, along with niche ad buys, can help grow a brand.

4. Automate stuff by using chatbots.

Dedicated to the customer experience? Two best practices for outstanding customer service are to take action promptly and give customers the tools to solve their own problems. Implementing chatbots can help you achieve both.

Online marketing is an ever-winding maze of intricate tips and changing trends that can be hard to navigate. The best takeaway any small business can put into practice when developing a plan is to focus on how consumers are using online media. Implementing any number of these strategies into your online marketing plan will ensure your brand stands out and set you up for a successful 2019.