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It is well established that more and more of the population is online, according to Ofcom and their The Communications Market 2016 report, the total UK digital audience is at 50.3 million, with almost 9 in 10 (86%) of UK adults having internet at home. Smartphones are the most widely owned internet enabled device. Having an established brand both offline and more importantly online is becoming critical to building trust and loyalty with consumers. But how can trust be built in an era where digital disruption is prevalent? It is becoming a rising problem for marketers as people return to more traditional methods when deciding on a brand to invest in, according to Forrester’s Mechanics of Trust, 67% of people trust brand recommendations from family and friends, with only 14% of people trusting the ads they see online, with data protection policies and misleading claims being some of the reasons for raised suspicions (Forrester).

Each consumer segment has it’s own challenges for marketers, building trust with those in older demographics can be difficult as they are new to navigating the digital field; Brand Watch have found that those aged between 55-64 are more than twice as likely to engage with branded content than younger demographics. “Millennials” are seen returning to their peers for recommendations over advertising. The rise in the digital consumer has also seen a rise in expectations of a business online; social media goes hand in hand with a business website and the stats support this. According to Brand Watch, 78% of people who complain to a brand on Twitter expect a response within an hour77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to. Facebook has 40 million active small business pages, but only 2 million of these pay for advertising, highlighting a huge potential for targeting consumers and increasing brand awareness. By using Facebook’s intuitive advertising system, Business Manager, a business can target and reach their exact market and audience.

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But a big question is, what are consumers doing online? The answer is simple; everything, from general browsing, social media to online shopping. Getting in touch with an active, online customer couldn’t be easier, a contact form on the website, social media accounts, email and not forgetting the traditional “Call Now” call to action. Mobile phones are still leading the charge in all areas of life, as stated by Ofcom, in March 2016 more Internet users visited online retailers on mobile devices than laptops and desktops. Nearly a third of mobile users accessed their bank accounts and 20% transfered or paid money. Google services were visited by 47.7 million users in the UK in March 2016, with online shopping retailers like Amazon (37m) and Ebay (30.3m) following close behind.

There is a huge amount of trust placed in these big name brands, but for smaller businesses there is a lot to be learned from them, by being visually present online, creating a consistent brand and interacting sincerely with customers, the same level of trust and loyalty can be created and built on. No matter what industry, consumers want to have easy access to the products they desire, so making the purchasing process as easy as possible will help bring them back. Building Brands Graphic

As a result of the increase in the digital audience, the total UK expenditure on Internet advertising has also increased, this year by 16.4% to £8.6bn (Ofcom). Paid for search remains the highest type of expenditure, accounting for 51% of total digital advertising expenditure. Mobile display advertising grew by 58.8% to £1.3bn in April 2016. More and more people are experiencing display advertising, with almost a quarter of mobile internet users in April 2016. But with this increase in advertising consumers are seeing more and more digital noise and are trying to block this digital disruption adblockers, which have seen an increase in usage of 22%.

Email marketing has also suffered, according to a HubSpot survey 96% of global consumers have at some stage unsubscribed from receiving emails. How do small businesses combat this defensive move? By providing valuable up-to-date content and interacting with customers on a level that they understand and appreciate. By taking a genuine interest in their lives, needs and wants, a business can create a long lasting relationship with consumers.

These statistics provide a unique understanding of where consumers are and what they expect from a brand. They expect a business to be online and interacting with them, whether the query is positive or negative. Reviews are no longer holding the same weight as they used to, instead, there is a return to brand loyalty with word of mouth helping to create loyal consumers. By using the business website, social media and digital marketing, it is possible to create a unified brand that produces integrated messages.

The advice from us here at Big Pixel is to get online and interact with your clients, make sure your website is the best it can be and your digital marketing strategy is in place. If in doubt, get some help, building a brand online is no easy task.

Chris McGuicken

With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, Chris is responsible for business growth, as well as maintaining relationships with existing clients and developing new ones. His experience of working within a family business and his passion for project management has lead the company from strength to strength, alongside his unique understanding of local business owners and his approachable, non-tech approach.

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