There’s a lot of interest from businesses in what new marketing tactics and tools they can use. I must say that since few marketing strategies really die out completely, the important point here is to focus on what works for you and what is the most efficient use of your time. Regardless of what technologies we use to generate leads and promote our products and services, our focus remains on our audience. As business owners, we need to continue to monitor the behavior of our audience and tailor our strategies and tactics to suit their information consumption behavior.
- Content Marketing
Content marketing is a strategic-marketing technique to create and distribute relevant information to attract a target audience. Your content generation strategy has to be human-centric because each target audience consumes information differently.
Content marketing is an ongoing process that’s best integrated into an overall marketing strategy. The key is to be consistent, staying in character for your brand. Visual content has become so fundamental to the web that we’ve got entire social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest whose language is images. If you haven’t embraced using images in your marketing, it’s about time. Like images, video is so core to the internet experience. Zuckerburg himself has said, “I think video is a megatrend, almost as big as mobile.” Entire platforms have evolved including YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook Live and Twitter’s video options.
Advances in technology have made the use of video cheaper and more effective, giving small and midsized companies access to sophisticated, power technology without big budgets. When you consider that consumers prefer to watch content, instead of reading it, particularly in our region, then the power of video marketing becomes immediately apparent. Video content will continue to build momentum and audiences will be looking for it more and more.
2. Interactive Content
There’s content you can read, and then there’s content you can interact with. Interactive content is a better way to educate, entertain, and engage your audience. Building brand awareness and attraction leads to building the relationship that leads to building trust that leads to building sales that leads to building a business. Interactive content offers an opportunity to differentiate your brand and engage your audience.
Think of ways to get readers to actively participate instead of passively consume. This can include quizzes, contests, surveys, polls, and eBooks. The real measure of any form of marketing is action. As marketers for our businesses, we need to measure actions and engagements, other than shares, clicks, and views.
Although we’re still working out the technical aspect of this new technology, it’s clear that live streaming will continue to push the boundaries. We’re going to see a lot more live broadcasts, as it becomes very commonplace for people to use. Streaming live videos allows businesses to engage with their audience in an authentic way. With Facebook and Instagram adopting the live-streaming trend in 2016, the social networking sites joined Twitter’s Periscope app among the tools helping to widen access to on-demand broadcasts.
Live streaming can be integrated into your existing marketing strategy with relative ease and minimal investment. All you need is a phone and an app to communicate directly with your audience. On Facebook live streaming, for example, people can send you hearts, likes and questions on the spot. The interactivity with your audience is like nothing you have seen before.
4. Influencer marketing
There’s a consensus that some advertising spending will go towards influencer marketing. Influencer marketing isn’t new, but it will play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix. We will see more businesses utilizing digital-savvy Snapchatters, Instagrammers, and YouTubers to promote their products and service. Brands will look to influencers to gain recommendations to build trust with their audience. The only catch here is when those influencers are also speaking highly of your competitors. So you need to identify influencers that genuinely believe in your brand and that their trust is passed on to consumers.
I would like to extend this concept of “Influencer Marketing” to include content generated by your customers. More people will believe your message if other people trust you. More people will trust you if your existing customers are sharing images, reviews, and comments about your brand. It might seem like a completely new thing, but it’s really not. You just need to intentionally encourage your existing customers to share their experience with your brand on their social media platforms to build authenticity. In other words, every customer is an influencer.
5. The future of Mobile is now
This may sound like a broken record, but it needs to be emphasized. Internet traffic is now coming more from mobile devices than desktops. As a result, there was a big push in 2016 for small businesses to ensure that their web pages were optimized for mobile browsing. This mobile-friendly attitude was the first step towards being mobile-centric, but that journey is not over. If you’re not catering your content, ads and online experience to a mobile user, then you are missing a massive opportunity. And remember: It’s not just about “optimizing” for mobile; it’s also about making sure that piece of content gets integrated with a user’s lifestyle on the go.
Mobile marketing SEO techniques will be particularly important with Google modifying its techniques to fit mobile searches with its ‘Mobile-first’ strategy. Google takes into account businesses that are mobile-friendly. Having a website that is not mobile-friendly will knock your website a few pages down on Google. Websites that are not optimized for mobile viewing will often load much slower on those devices and loading speed also affects your SEO. Also, Google now only focuses on quality and original content, so should you. Make quality the focus of your content marketing strategy. Go back and look at your online content where you’ve compromised quality, and strategize ways to do better going forward.
6. Get even more personal
Personalization doesn’t die away with time. The essence of your success lies in segmenting your content and delivery of products and services to reach different types of audience members based on their preferences, habits, etc. The most common form of this strategy is through lists, where certain content gets sent to certain types of users based on which lists they’ve opted into. In a world of too much content and not enough time, personalization is a huge win for businesses looking to earn the attention of their consumers. The winners will be those who can form meaningful and personal connections with customers to win over hearts and minds. The winners will be the ones who can provide a personalized and meaningful experience to earn lifelong loyalty.
When it comes to personalization, I’m also talking about personalizing your customer experience with your business. In other words, personalizing content recommendations such as apps that offer a “choose your own event planning experience”, “choose your own catering experience” or “choose your own adventure experience”.
7. Marketing automation
Marketing automation refers to the software that automates marketing actions. Businesses need to consider automating repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier. Marketing automation combines marketing campaigns across all channels – from direct mail to online, social and mobile initiatives. It combines insight-focused capabilities from your CRM, lead management system, web analytics platform, and other systems to create something that’s more than the sum of the parts. The aim here is to save time. This is where marketing automation steps in. It has revolutionized the way organizations are managing their time and targets. Marketing automation allows businesses to shift their focus to the best possible prospects that can be converted, thus saving time and energy.
8. Advertising still matters
It’s becoming so easy and more cost-effective to target your audience with promotional campaigns through social media. You not only need to promote your products and services, but you may also consider promoting valuable content to drive traffic to your various online platforms, including your website. Some businesses started to create educational content because advertising was not working. Now, marketers are advertising their content to generate traffic. Isn’t it weird?
No matter what year it is or what platform you choose for this year, what really matters is your audience. You need to keep your marketing and your message humancentric. Focus on how your audience is consuming information and where they spend most of their time. With that in mind, leverage your existing marketing channels with new ones to maintain visibility and to stay on top of mind.