Marketing tips for 2017
Now is the time for businesses to think up some great resolutions as to how to achieve better marketing results through adoption of different techniques for 2017.
Here’s my contribution. As the co-founder of a digital marketing agency, there are lots of things I’d like to see less of in 2017 when it comes to how businesses are putting their message out there in the great big world of the Internet.
We are now well into the 21st century but in my view, there is still a serious lack attention to detail when it comes to implementing digital marketing, and understanding the impact this can have on general business. With almost every actively trading company now having a digital presence – whether it’s their website, a LinkedIn profile or an online directory listing – there is just no getting away from the fact that companies are now interfacing with the public in many more ways than via their physical shopfront.
But despite this, it seems that many are not quite getting the importance of how a company comes across on the digital airwaves. A business profile is now multi-faceted; fail to pay attention to any aspect of how that’s transmitted – whether it’s with poor photography on the website or an overly brash social media sales pitch – and you may well start to see a negative effect on your bottom line. The digital age has brought with it many new subtleties to traditional marketing messaging and you overlook these at your peril. As with any aspect of business, the key is to think things through carefully and pay attention to detail.
A business website is so important. It must not be shoddily put together. This doesn’t mean flashy graphics or lots of clever pop-ups; it means the site should be easy to navigate with clearly written content. Watch out for the simple things; nothing will put customers off like a grammatical error or a typo that interrupts the flow of what the customer is reading. Also, think carefully about what your customers will want to know, and create a site that leads them where you want them to be with the minimum of effort.
Websites that can’t be viewed on a mobile or tablet
As I’ve written before in this column, careful thought must be given to how your site will be viewed on mobile phones or tablets. Maximise customer engagement by ensuring the site works across multiple platforms. A site that isn’t mobile friendly will seriously annoy everyone who tries to use it while on the go, which, let’s face it, is pretty much all the time these days for a vast proportion of the population.
Sales pitches on social media
There is a golden rule that is worth bearing in mind when we talk to people on social media – the 80:20 rule. This means you should split your social broadcasting efforts to avoid pushy oversell. Spend 80 per cent of your posting efforts giving out information that is useful to your audience or sharing ‘fun stuff’ related to your industry. You can then spend the other 20 per cent on promoting your products and services.
Every brand has a story and channels like Facebook and Twitter are very powerful tools for talking to customers. If you continuously put out messages that are out-and-out attempts at selling all the time you will turn people away. Rather than reaching out to people, you’ll quickly get ignored online as all that sales broadcasting will show the world that you aren’t conversing, you are just ‘telling’.
If you want to engage through social media, you need to provide sparkling content that offers readers something. So for instance, if you are a cook shop, you can share recipes and info on seasonal ingredients to keep your potential customers coming back to your brand because they find your shared content useful. Then, when you push out your special offers or news of an in-store sale, you will find you audience hasn’t already tuned you out.
Failure to measure up
It’s no good spending time and money on digital marketing if you don’t then measure how well it’s doing. Lots of people seem to view the Internet as a rather sinister shadowy entity that can’t be controlled. However, what we all need to remember is that this is just a tool operated by actual human beings. In the same way you would measure response to a leafleting campaign, do so with your digital campaigns. Google Analytics and social media stats will help you find out how many people are looking through your online shop window, and you can then think about how better to target them. Always remember that for every click, view or like, there is a person at the other end. A lack of focus on digital marketing is often caused by a mindset that sees all things digital as technology rather than people.
Sales pitches masquerading as blogs
This is similar to the earlier point made. A blog is categorically not supposed to be an out-and-out sales pitch. Selling and telling are different, and if there are any golden rules in the shifting sands of the Internet age, this is one of them. A blog should be informative, engaging, and, if possible, provide some insights into you and your company. People like to read about other people, so if you stories that brings your staff to life for customers, or you have stories about how your brand has touched the hearts of your customers then your blog readers will love it.
A blog which tells everyone how fantastic your business is will just make your target audience switch off. Think of it as you would talking to a friend: no-one likes a show-off.
Digital media demands great images; it’s often what makes us look twice. The amount of bad photographs that get put on company websites is depressing, it’s just a real turn off. Investing in great photography will pay dividends.
Won a prize at an awards event? By all means, shout about it on your site, but don’t put up the badly lit photo of your company directors with their eyes shut that someone took on their mobile. It will just make you look amateur. If you have a range of beautiful products, then treat them in the way they deserve by shooting product pictures professionally to do them true justice. Similarly, if you have products that aren’t… ahem… let’s say, the most photogenic of products, then enlisting the help of professional photographers can really help you present your products in the best possible way.
E -newsletters with bad subject lines
These can be great tools in getting news about your company and products across to customers. Unlike a blog or social media posting where sharing ‘non-sell’ messages and keeping an authentic voice is improtant, this is a forum where you can perfectly and legitimately advertise new products to your clients. They have after all, signed up to hear about your special offers so they will be expecting to hear from you. However, you should also beware of a “look at us, we are fantastic” approach as this can put people off. Be clear in your message and take time to think about how the subject line will appear in people’s inbox. You want clarity, not confusion to get maximum open and click rates.
Lack of engagement
If you meet someone after you have spoken at a conference or an exhibition and they say to you, “Hi, I really liked what you said in there,” it would be the height of bad manners, not to mention terrible business, for you to just walk away without a word. It’s the same with social media, email and web form contacts. If someone gets in touch with you, don’t ignore them. Answer comments, whether it’s on TripAdvisor, Google+ reviews, in your ‘enquiries’ inbox or any where else where you invite interaction, and you’ll reap the reward in engaged customers.
Don’t give too much information
In this complex world of digital, we are all on the verge of content overload. Don’t add to that negatively with your own digital publishing efforts. It is important that you don’t just write words on your website for the sake of filling blank space. As I said before, always be aware you should be offering value to your customer and seeking to connect with them, not just finding 300 ways of saying how amazing you are.
The Internet and the digital age isn’t going anywhere, so it’s time to engage with it properly. Do it well, and I predict that 2017 will be a year of growth!
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