If you’re like me, you’re (finally) back in the office today with a few extra pounds and a depleted wallet to show for the holidays — well and a lot of great memories. And, unless you’ve worked sometime over the holiday, you’re digging out from a pile of email messages and trying to pick up your digital marketing strategy where you left off before the holiday.
A number of great blogs put together a list of trends to guide marketers as they move into 2017. Among them, is this one from Smart Insights:
These offer a great resource as you build your 2017 digital marketing strategy. But, the new year also provides a great opportunity to make resolutions for the coming year and I’d like to suggest a few that’ll support your digital marketing strategy and, by extension, your market performance for 2017.
You’ll notice an element of overlap between different types of resolutions and that’s not a bad thing. What that suggests is that an optimal digital marketing strategy is integrated across elements.
Digital strategy resolutions for 2017
The plan — often businesses, especially SMB, fail to plan adequately for success. Now is a great time to build a cohesive plan or update the one you already have. Start with SMART goals, then research what’s worked in the past, how competitors are creating success, and update any changes or anticipated changes in the environment surrounding your business. Now you’re ready to build a marketing plan (with the 7 P’s), as well as detailed action plans for each element of the plan.
- Segment and target — digital marketing, as a new media channel, suffers from a one-size-fits-all strategy instead of adapting content, products, and channels for segments within your customer and prospect base. Check out this post for insights on creating adaptive content for reaching targeted groups, as well as consider different channels to reach different segments with appropriate messaging.
- Gain deeper insights — we’ll talk about this more when I suggest resolutions for your data analytics later, but think about the opportunity for developing deeper insights into unmet needs, hot buttons, problems, and pricing (among other topics) available by searching through user comments on social networks. Too often, we marketers are concerned with measuring performance rather than enhancing it.
- Build relationships rather than advertise — marketing, to many, means advertising and selling. Especially in the age of digital marketing, building relationships is more important than selling. This overlaps content marketing, which we’ll discuss next, but building relationships goes beyond just producing valuable content. It means celebrating others, promoting them, two-way communication, and other elements of true friendship.
- Think mobile because that’s where your market is — on mobile devices like smartphones. That doesn’t just mean creating mobile-friendly websites and apps, but thinking mobile. For instance, when a user is on their mobile device, what INFORMATION are they most likely looking for? The answer is probably the location or phone number with a menu or sales being secondary information of interest.
Content marketing resolutions for 2017
- Unless you produce valuable content on a consistent basis (at least once a week) you’re not going to cut through the increasing noise in digital spaces. Set up a content marketing calendar, assign responsibilities so you meet deadlines established on the calendar, and monitor progress to ensure your calendar is optimized.
- Vary content across channels and create content designed for different target markets.
- Use established relationships (or build new ones — see resolution 4 above) to enhance the spread of your content.
- Establish a sharing schedule that optimizes the impact of your content (depending on your goals, this might be reach, frequency, or similar). For instance, when I adopted a modified version of Buffer’s sharing schedule, visits to my website doubled in a very short period.
- Improve the visual appeal of your content by creating custom images rather than using stock images. Pablo, from Buffer, is a free tool to help. I also love Canva.
- 1. Pay attention to analytics. It’s surprising to me that businesses totally ignore analytics or only look at vanity metrics that translate only loosely into performance improvements (such as likes, follows, repins, etc). Also, go beyond looking for more ways to advertise your brand (ie. remarketing) and, instead, focus on optimizing everything you do. Ask yourself these questions, and, if you can’t answer any of them, you need to commit to a better analytics program this year.
- What do visitors look and act like?
- Where is traffic coming from?
- Which traffic converts best? Worst? Is this a function of poor attribution modeling?
- Why do visitors abandon their shopping carts?
- Which content performs best? Worst? Why?
- What’s the ROI of each element in your marketing strategy?
- Build models. Use data to build predictive models to improve planning and performance. Use modeling techniques to determine appropriate strategies for different market segments.
- Build intelligence into planning processes rather than adding it as an afterthought.
- Build analytics competencies in your marketing team rather than relying on your intelligence team to provide marketing answers. In order to effectively build your market intelligence, you need people who understand marketing theory combined with analytics competency. Start a program to train marketing folks on SQL (which allows them to query databases), Python, SPSS or SAS, and specific analytics tools. More important, teach them to ask marketing questions of their data.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) brings unprecedented insights to build your digital marketing strategy. How can information from these devices help bolster market performance? This year should be a planning year with resources dedicated to understanding the types of data available and how you can use them to support your market performance.
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