The end of the year is one of the busiest times for everyone – between Christmas parties, end of year reviews and analyses for 2016, we’re all pretty busy. Marketers are busy shaping up their strategies for the next few quarters and with marketing constantly evolving; here are five strategies you need to keep in mind in order to begin the New Year with a bang:
1. Mobile Accessibility and Optimization
More and more shoppers are turning to using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to research a product, compare deals, finding a retail outlet – and most importantly, make a purchase. As people become more tethered to their mobile devices, marketers are specifically looking to engage millennials in hopes of turning them into lifetime customers.
Almost three-quarters of millennials admit to never being without their phones and at the same time, this digital generation is expecting a lot more engagement from their brands. In 2016, mobile marketing is predicted to surpass $100 billion in spending and account for more than 50% of all digital spending for the first time, according to eMarketer. In fact, there are some predictions being made saying that mobile will completely overtake desktop next year. So, get with the program or get left behind.
2. A Refined Social Media Presence
As I’ve said before, having a constant social media presence is vital to the survival of your business. I don’t think I know of any company or small business without a social media presence – and in 2015/2016, not having it means you’re probably out of business by now. The simplicity of building a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn presence can sometimes give brands a false sense of security and confidence. Companies need to always keep in mind that social media shouldn’t be used for self-promotion but rather as a way to engage users and build brand trust.
As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for your entire brand – from conception, to development, to implementation and beyond. If you want your brand to be successful you need to do your homework and keep your eyes and ears peeled for customer feedback and trends that will benefit your brand. If you bury your head in the sand, all of your hard work could crumble around you.
In addition to building brand trust and increase user engagement, businesses need to make sure their websites are up to date. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for neglecting your website. Competition is stiff and more companies are resorting to videos, photos and illustrations to stand out and attract more customers. Whatever you do, just make sure you engage with your customers and that your social media presence reflects both what your business is about and what your customers are expecting of you.
3. Content Is Still King
While more brands are resorting to visuals to get customers engaged, content is still where is at. Developing quality content should be seen as a priority for any company, regardless of industry. Content marketing provides information to current (and potential) customers in order to build trust, develop the brand and ensure your brand is considered an expert in a specific subject matter.
Content will continue to reign as the most-often used way to connect with consumers as they look for more, better, and faster. Quality content generation also gives a bit of a boost in search engine ranking, but content’s main power lies on the effect it has on the perception of your brand. According to a Content Marketing Institute survey, 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information through a series of articles, compared to an ad. Seventy-eight percent of consumers believe that organizations providing customized content are building better relationships with them, while 58% of consumers consider companies that produce video content to be more trustworthy.
Today’s consumer has less patience and want instant forms of communication. In 2016, I predict a much higher demand for videos and other visual forms of content.
4. Improve Your SEO
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is a game-changing tool for marketers. Prioritizing visual content on your website adds the benefit of building your SEO ranking. Visuals such as pictures, infographics and video are much more engaging than any plain text and therefore make a search more relevant to any consumer. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but video can be “worth 1.8 million words,” according to a Forrester study.
Engaging visuals can also increase the chances users will “linger” on your page longer, but you must supplement your page with optimized descriptions, alt tags and targeted keywords – all imperative in having an effective SEO strategy. Think about it this way, most people won’t get past the first page when they conduct their search; therefore, if you’re not on ‘page one,’ you might as well be invisible. Don’t be invisible!
5. Brands Must Get Personal
Social media, new mobile technology and other types of digital communication have made us a big, online community with an explosion of online interaction. Yet, while we are being more social, we are still a bit apprehensive about giving our information away. So what’s a brand to do? Get personal!
According to the Direct Marketing Association, 76% of consumers will share personal information with a brand if they believe it will improve their experience and interaction. By collecting key data from consumers, such as past customer purchases, newsletter sign-ups, discount offers and social media, companies are able to build profiles offering targeted content and incentives to purchase. In 2016, personalized one-to-one marketing will no longer be optional, but a requirement to acquire and retain loyal customers. Getting personal with consumers equates to more emotionally connected customers who will help drive word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews.
Be sure to keep these strategies in mind as you head into 2016. If you haven’t given it much thought, what are you waiting for? Your marketing strategies are not going to execute themselves. Make 2016 your bigger, bolder, baddest business year to date!
By Jeffrey Hayzlett