2016 is approaching fast, and you don’t want to start it off with a marketing strategy that’s stuck in 2010. While you’re setting marketing and sales goals for the new year, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your marketing strategies. With digital marketing evolving as quickly as it does, it can be difficult to know where to start, and the correct path isn’t always cut and dry. Here are several marketing “must-haves” many businesses have implemented (or are in the process of implementing), and they are proving to be absolutely crucial to generating business in today’s landscape. If you don’t keep these things in mind for your own business, you’ll find yourself lest in the dust of your competition and unable to reach your prospective customers.
Let’s take a look at three marketing “must-haves” you need in order to make next year successful.
1. Create personalized experiences for your prospects and customers
Today’s buyers expect personalization, and if you aren’t addressing their specific pain points and needs at the right time, they’ll move on and find someone who does. What you may not realize is that many aspects of your personalized marketing can be automated while making your leads feel special! Forward-thinking marketers are already taking advantage of automation to save time and generate leads by collecting data about users, determining where they are in their journey, and acting accordingly. Automation can be based on event-based triggers. It’s a tool that creates better relationships and experiences without unnecessary and time-consuming manual work.
What does this look like in practice? Let’s say a user comes to your website, spends time looking at a page discussing one of your products, fills out a contact form to download an e-guide, and then shares a link to your e-guide on Twitter. These are all actions you can track—and once you have that data and an email address, the contact can be pulled into your automated workflow.
Workflows should be set up to respond to triggers in a way that guides the contact through the buyer's journey. A workflow can automatically send a series of emails to your contacts, which may include a thank you email for downloading your content offer—but you can get a lot more granular. Your inbound marketing software should allow you to set rules based on events you’ve tracked. For instance, if a contact has already filled out a form for another offer, your workflow could exclude them from a follow-up email promoting that offer. If the contact spent time on a particular product page, your workflow could send them a coupon for that product.
It’s crucial that when your contacts receive a message, it’s appropriate to their stage in the buyer's journey—so if they’re still in the research page, they may not be ready to contact you. In order to get your lead to the stage where they are ready to buy, always present them with a clear call to action for what to do next.
Workflows aren’t just for directly interacting with contacts—you can also use them to notify your internal team. Let’s say a contact downloads a case study about your services, which may be an indicator that they’re considering you. Your workflow could send one of your salespeople a reminder to give them a call and see if they have any questions. Today’s users aren’t just answering phones, visiting websites, and looking at emails—they’re also browsing social media. Marketing automation software can help you out by finding your contacts on social media as soon as they fill out a form. Your workflow might alert you if your name or product is mentioned so you can have a communications specialist respond. Automation helps you in the process of actively engaging with your leads to build cross-channel relationships.
So, are workflows the only way to create a personal experience for customers without all the manual work? Absolutely not! Even your website can automatically respond to information you collect about users. For example, you might create specific content based on the location of the website visitor and make sure they see personalized content.
The bottom line is this: your users demand a personalized experience in order to convert, but by utilizing technology, you can cut down on manual work and make the process seamless.
2. Keep up with the latest customer trends—because they change!
The most important rule of marketing is: It’s not all about you, it’s all about your customer. When did you last take the time to profile your target audience? Have you ever sat down to really think about what life is like in their shoes? What pains do they deal with and how does your product or service alleviate those pains? What are their goals, who do they answer to, who are they responsible for, what other systems and services do they use, what triggers them to seek out a company like yours, what keeps them from getting help? Is your target audience still spending time on the same channels you’ve been spending time and money on, or have they moved elsewhere?
Think about how much your business needs have changed over the years. It’s safe to say your buyer’s needs have changed just as much, if not more. Industries, needs, and buying behaviors evolve constantly, so you need to always stay on top of these changes. Do yourself and your business a huge favor and build out profiles of your buyers. The ROI will be huge.
3. Have a mobile-friendly website and email templates: It’s not optional
The use of mobile devices is at an all time high, and it’s continuing to increase. Nowadays, many people use tablets and phones in place of desktop computers when they browse the web at their leisure. It’s no longer possible to get by without mobile-friendly marketing, and in 2016, companies that have ignored the mobile trend will find users clicking away from their sites to visit a competitor's—if users even find their sites in the first place. Google updated their search algorithms in April 2015 to prioritize mobile-friendly websites. This update, known as “mobilegeddon” to marketers, served as an incentive for companies to get on board with mobile-friendly website design—but many companies are still behind.
Your website, blog, and marketing emails need to look good and function properly on smartphones and tablets. Your designs need to be responsive to the size of mobile devices, and they need to be intuitive—if people can’t easily navigate and click, they will get frustrated and leave. Keep in mind that your content appears on a smaller screen, so you have less space “above the fold” to make sure users see your message without scrolling. Also, mobile visitors are often viewing your site over broadband with devices that are less powerful than their desktop counterparts, so your pages can’t be too slow to load. Slow load times caused by large image files can lead to a significant drop in visitors to your site. Quite simply, mobile users don’t have time to wait around—that’s why they’re connecting to the web on-the-go. They want instant gratification.
Upgrade your strategy and make 2016 a smarter year of marketing
Marketing is a constantly evolving field. You owe it to yourself and to your business to frequently re-evaluate your strategies to best leverage changes in technology and customer behavior. If you’ve thought about personalization, kept up with industry changes, and made your marketing mobile-friendly, you’ll be in an excellent position to begin 2016. The next step is finding a team of marketers who can implement an effective strategy that masters each of these areas and allows you to beat your competitors and reach your target audience.