Marketing Trends: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

As marketers, you know there’s nothing worse than missing a trend. Starting a conversation with prospects by putting your content into context with a hot topic naturally drives traffic, opens doors and closes sales. It’s like making a good first impression on new customers.

When you naturally converse about a topic you and your consumers are both interested in, it creates a stepping stone to a discussion about your business.

Remember when 2009 was all about vampires? During that time, the word “vampire” returned more than 18 million relevant sites on Google, because the new, attractive version of the vampire, introduced by shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and book series “Twilight,” opened up an extensive range of narrative opportunities for the media.

In 2011, the public stopped delving in blood and started feasting on brains. So far, the zombie apocalypse, a trend that has continued into 2013, has generated more than $5 billion for the economy. Because of the hype surrounding media sensations such as “Zombieland,” “The Walking Dead,” “Warm Bodies,” “World War Z,” and even “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” major companies like Sears, Honda, The Red Cross, FedEx, Starburst, Converse and Toyota have run zombie-themed campaigns.

So how do you generate the right content for the right people at the right time? It’s all about knowing how and when to anticipate, participate and abandon a trend. Think of it like surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Get a Head Start

To survive the apocalypse, you need to first beat your competitors to relevant resources.
Marketers saw the zombie trend on the horizon in 2009 with the $70 million box office success of “Zombieland” and sprang into action. They were watching for media trends, and so should you. Start by:

  • Looking for recurring themes in the media
  • Seeing if these themes are being shared in your industry’s social media circle
  • Determining if these trends are relatable to your business

Once you’ve confirmed that an upcoming trend is relevant to your audience, you’re well on your way to creating a marketing campaign that not only catches their interest but cements your company’s brand in their minds.

Keep Moving

If zombie movies have taught us anything, it’s that to stay alive, you need to hustle.
Once you've identified and confirmed a legitimate trend, you definitely don’t want to sit on it. The thing about trends is that they don’t stick around forever, so the sooner you initiate your campaign, the more relevant it will be.

To gauge the popularity of a trend, type in a search term on Google Trends. The results will show you the search volume associated with your term over time, related terms and regional interest. If you’d like to skim through trending topics, check out Google Trends hot searches.

After researching trends, take advantage of the ones that are spiking within your target market, and work toward creating a unique idea that your competitors haven’t attempted.

Once you've created a unique marketing campaign, be prepared to track the results to assess how your consumers are responding to it. Create a PPC ad, assign a unique toll-free number to the campaign and build a landing page with a contact form to capture lead information.

Know When to Get Out

After you've defeated the zombies, there’s no point in continuing the fight.

It’s just as important to not release an outdated campaign as it is to pull the trigger on a trendy one. You don’t want to look like you’re not in the know.

A clear sign that a trend is coming to an end is when the media begins to make fun of it. Watch for spoof movies and SNL sketches that signal that the public is growing tired of the fad. When your keyword optimization software reflects what you’re seeing in the media (a drop in your trendy campaign’s traffic), transfer your budget to prepare for the next big thing.

Make Your Own Predictions

As far as the supernatural goes, we predict that witchcraft will be the next big craze. If the upcoming releases of several witch-themed movies such as “Beautiful Creatures” perform well at the box office, it won’t be the last of this magical trend.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Put your keyword optimization software in place and start making your own predictions.

Is Google’s New Image Search Really an Improvement?

Image is everything, as Google users have been discovering after the recent release of Google’s revamped image search tool. Users are impressed by the new navigation, but webmasters are voicing a mix of praise and criticism for the new design.

So is Google’s new image search tool really an improvement for users and webmasters alike? Let’s evaluate the changes.

The New Streamlined Look Is Excellent

With the old image search tool, when users wanted to view a larger version of the image, they’d click on the image and view it in an iframe, with the hosting website blurred in the background. Now the image appears in a stylish wide black bar that fills the bottom three-quarters of the screen. Users can use the keyboard to view additional images in the black bar or scroll past the bar to continue browsing.

The Updated Navigation Design Eliminates Phantom Views

The new navigation design is definitely an improvement for users because they have a more efficient way to search images. For webmasters, the new design has pros and cons. On the plus side, the loss of iframe views will give webmasters access to more accurate data and help them improve their online optimization strategy. But webmasters who were previously able to generate page views and ad revenue from these phantom views are now seeing a drop in traffic.

However, depending on how businesses use images to draw site visitors in, eliminating phantom views isn’t necessarily catastrophic to click-throughs.

Users See More Links on the Preview Panel

Google now includes four links to the image’s original Web page, giving users the option to click the image, page title, domain name or "Visit Page" button. In fact, Google’s announcement a few weeks ago said, “In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.”

With four highly visible links available on the preview panel, it makes sense that searches would result in more click-throughs overall. If a business is using visual content to lead the user to seek more information about its products and services before making a purchase, the users clicking through to the business’s website are more likely to be legitimate leads.

For some businesses, though, the new image search design could mean bad news in terms of click-throughs. For example, if a business uses visual elements such as infographics, cartoons or photographs to draw visitors to its website, more links won’t necessarily lead to click-throughs. It’s more likely that users will view or copy the images directly from the search engine instead of clicking through to the business’s website.

Only time will tell if the addition of two source links, the opportunity for recording more accurate data and a better navigation experience for the user will justify the loss of page views and revenue that webmasters are seeing.

Do you think Google’s image search tool has changed for the better? Let us know in the comments below.