The year began with a list of goals on your whiteboard. Break 1M on Twitter. Double your monthly website traffic. Hit $3M in sales. You invested in a marketing strategy designed to help you hit these goals, and now the year is coming to a close. How did you do?
It’s pretty easy to see the wildly successful campaigns and the flops, but most of your work is in between. How do you know what to budget for the coming year? How do you decide not just where to put your efforts but what exactly they should look like?
What Didn’t Work? (And What Did?)
As you plan for the new year, you want to know how to adjust your strategy for maximum results. A few things to consider:
Social Media Engagement
Find your engagement rate by totaling up all the engagements (like, comments, shares) and dividing by the total number of likes for the page. Your rate should be between 0.5 and 1%. Less than half a percent indicates you need to adjust your strategy. More than that and you’re doing great! Maybe figure out why it’s so high and see how you can keep that going—and maybe apply it to other channels.
Social Media ROI
Now take a look at how much time, energy and money went into achieving that engagement rate.
Did you make more than you spent?
Did a higher engagement rate convert to increased sales?
Non-Social Media ROI and Conversion Rate
With the other marketing campaigns you ran:
Where did your sales come from?
What was your conversion rate? Are you pleased with it?
What you were trying to achieve; what you did achieve; where you fell short
What Could Be better?
This isn’t time for strategy–yet. Look at how you performed and decide where it could be better, or maybe just where you want it to be better. Based on what you learned above from this year, choose 3 areas to improve in 2018.
- Company growth
- Likes, follows
- Brand engagement
- Conversions (via social media, email, organic search traffic, etc)
- Web traffic
- Keyword rankings
Compare what you wanted with you got. If you achieved your goals, great! Could you still do better? If you didn’t achieve them, could do better? Or different perhaps?
New Year, New Goals
Now that you know what went well and where you want to improve, it’s time to get ready for the year ahead.
One of the things most companies lack is an effective marketing strategy. The thing is that your market is made up of people, and people change behavior based on trends and prices and economies and your competition and so many factors and forces, both seen and unseen. You can’t possibly devise a strategy that sees into the future and accounts for all possible variations factors and circumstances. (But if you can, we want to hear from you!)
For your marketing strategy to be effective, it must also be dynamic. It must respond to changes in the market—and respond effectively. Like, you can’t just watch your market go to snapchat and then start a snapchat account. That may not be the best use of and resources. Maybe you want to start an influencer campaign instead. Maybe things are shifting to video so you should start producing video—but how long should the video be? What sort of content should be in the video?
And a million other factors to be considered and properly executed.
It’s a lot to get right, and a lot of time to invest to keep getting right. But the growth potential is enormous. Get a team working for you that understands your business, your needs and your market, and can adapt quickly to changes.
And if you’re not sure where to start, give us a call.
We’re always being asked by clients “How do we reach Millennials?”
Millennials aren’t so different from other markets, but no one confounds businesses quite like them. They don’t buy homes, watch TV, get married. They move back in with their parents. How can you possibly reach a market that moves back in with their parents?
Speaking as a Millennial, I have some ideas.
Attractive look, easy feel.My generation has a keen eye for design, and especially ease of use. We grew up with the internet and know both how ugly a website can look (remember Angelfire?) and also how beautiful web design has become. We have no patience for websites that are difficult or ugly to navigate!
Authenticity over legitimacy. What inspires trust with my parents: a company with Credentials and a Plan that can Solve Your Problems. Companies that use stock photos and jargon and have men in suits with degrees and 30 years of experience were considered more trustworthy.
We saw the housing bubble burst, your banks fail, unemployment soar–and all because those credentialed, experienced decision-makers. You don’t need to have a bunch of degrees or a sweet (suite) office–in fact, we kind of prefer you not. Show us your personality and we’ll decide if you’re trustworthy.
We recently had two clients who wanted to connect with the millennials in their market. Here’s how we helped them out:
Vista 360 Health
I don’t have before pictures of this site which is fine because virtually all health insurance-related websites suffer from the same problems. I chose Cigna to be our stand-in. Take a look:
Aaaa! That’s what I think when I see this page. I don’t where to look or what to click. There’s so much text and way too much information. There’s pictures and calls to action and buttons and colors and everything is just out there. No clear design hierarchy or path for navigation. In short, I am overwhelmed.
Take a look at it now:
Wooooooow it’s so beautiful! And clear! Far from being overwhelmed, the bright colors, clear shape, and obvious design hierarchy make me want to hang out at this site forever! I feel like a real human created it.
I click on Individuals and look at this:
- No awful stock photos (Millennials hate stock photos)
- Bitmoji–not necessary but it shows me they know their market (me).
- Intuitive design. I can read the copy, or I can just click the buttons. They’re clear to see and easy to understand.
- Again, the whole page is clean and inviting. Remember up top how we said that attractive look and easy feel was fundamental? This is what we’re talking about.
Bottom line: this website is beautiful. I can find my way around without getting stuck or frustrated. I can tell the company put a lot of thought into making it easy for me, which means they value me. I like a company that values good design and a human touch. They’ve made me a happy customer.
Public Employees Credit Union
Oh, dear. I think this is even worse than Cigna. Problems:
- It’s all crammed together–it doesn’t even use up the whole screen!
- I have to go trekking around the page just to find what I’m looking for–
- –and there’s so much information strewn about that I keep getting distracted and confused
- I don’t get any sort of human touch from this site. In fact, I think they may have hired a robot to smush as much information into an 800 pixel square as it could manage
- Absolutely no sense of design, and therefore no understanding of me.
In short: I don’t want to do business with this place.
There it is! This is a site I’m happy to navigate.
- They cleaned up the design. I can find my way around the site now.
- It’s got a cohesive color scheme. It’s not like Millennials go around judging websites on the merits of their design, but we’re very attuned to it even if we’re not conscious of it. Getting it right shows us that you value us.
- Instead of looking like a robot dit it, it looks like actual humans run this credit union, and like those humans value my goals, priorities and choices.
Bottom line: Millennials are wary of banks (see: bailout, shady business practices). I know credit unions are different, but it’s still a financial institution. It’s more crucial than ever to show that you understand us and value us. This website acts as a great resource for me (because I’ll do a bunch of research before ever picking up the phone to talk to you) and shows a business that, when I’m ready to talk to, I can trust.
Times Are A-Changing, But They’re Mostly The Same
Millennials may behave differently than what you’re used to, but at the bottom of it are the same basic needs: we have problems we need you to solve, and we want to trust you to do it. We just want to see more of the people than the corporation.
There are 300 million people in the United States, and 500 million people on LinkedIn. Are you one of them? You should be. In fact, we think that if you’re a business owner, you should be all over LinkedIn.
It’s a big network, yes, but more importantly: it’s a big network filled with other professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners. On this platform, you have direct access to your peers, as well as future (and current) employees, and other thinkers in your field. Use it to build your business through networking, conversation, and exchanging ideas
LinkedIn allows you to connect with your audience in a way that virtually nothing else can. No ads or marketing (though arguably posting on LinkedIn is totally a form of marketing). No podium to stand behind or website to navigate or email app to open. Just you and your audience. It’s your best social media tool for building connection and relationships, and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
Three Ways to Establish Yourself (and your business!) on LinkedIn
To be clear, we’re not talking about networking as that slimy thing people do when they give out business cards, talk about themselves and their business and never listen to what you have to say, but will happily email you four months later asking for a favor.
We mean networking where you make connections with other people with whom you have something in common. We mean connecting person to person by:
-Sharing your ideas, successes and struggles (!) on your page.
-Congratulating people on their successes.
-Asking for help when you need it.
-Offering help when you have it.
In other words: building lasting relationships.
As a business owner, you have a valuable perspective on your industry, one that can probably help other people, and can definitely spark conversations with others in (and outside of!) your field. Perhaps the greatest value of LinkedIn is being able to disseminate these ideas to an audience who can benefit from them. Your page can be a lab for new ideas, and a venue for valuable discussions with others in your field.
LinkedIn allows you to write and publish your own posts. Use it to give value to your contacts. It will help you grow, professionally and personally.
Straight from LinkedIn.com: LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.
Facebook has a very popular group option—but a ton of people aren’t on Facebook and don’t want to maintain an account. You already have a LinkedIn, as do 500 million other professionals. Talk shop, post jobs, ask for help. Or, build a group for your customers and use it as an unbeatable option for market research.
LinkedIn was built for people like you. Use it like a pro.
I’ve written before on the blog about Derek Sivers and his book Anything You Want. It’s just such a good read! It’s a slim volume broken down into like 2 and 3 page chapters, each one a little morsel to help you think differently about your business. I always feel both more inspired and more thoughtful after spending a few minutes reading it.
I wrote in September about the genius piece of content that was the CD Baby confirmation email. He makes a point in the book that it’s the little things that matter, those tiny human touches that make your customers go crazy for your business.
One of Sivers’ examples is about how two lines of programming code cleared up the phone lines AND thrilled customers. CD Baby used to ship via FedEx each day at 5 PM, so customers would call and ask what time it was at the warehouse and see whether they could still get an order shipped that day. Sivers added a countdown to the site that, by the way, is in use by many online outlets–most apparently Amazon–that gives the numbers of hours left before the next shipment.
We don’t think of that as part of marketing–it isn’t really–but marketing and branding are so closely linked that it might as well be. It reminded me of Netflix’s recent cease and desist letter, which is another little piece of branding genius.
Some guys started a Stranger Things-themed bar in Chicago. Naturally, corporate giant Netflix wanted to shut it down. But, Netflix is a savvy corporate giant and so it knows that brand-building can happen anywhere and that legal is no different than customer service.
Live by this. Do all your business with this as your foundation, and you’ll be set for life.
Don’t Wait! Why You Should Begin Marketing for the Holidays Now
Between September 25 and December 25 is a 90 day window. It’s when school is back in session, Fall has officially begun, and people are just starting to think about the holidays. Pumpkin starts showing up in treats and drinks, and the beginnings of holiday decorations are popping up on the shelves. This is the time to launch your holiday campaign.
If You Don’t Have a Campaign Ready to Launch
What are you waiting for? Move your other stuff to the back burner and spend the next week putting ideas together. This is the shopping season! This is Black Friday time! Be ready to not only have offers, but to ensure that people are going to take advantage of them (because it doesn’t matter how good your deals are if people don’t know about them!)
Four Steps to Crushing the Holidays
- Release New Products at the Beginning of Fall. It’s no coincidence that Apple holds its keynote in September. They hype up their new products, get reviews, do the ad blitz, release the products, and get enough buzz generated to carry them through the holidays. If you’re not a giant like Apple, you have to be really strategic about your release date. You don’t want it too soon so you don’t have the holiday momentum, and you don’t want it so close to the holidays that people have already bought their gifts. Take your leads from your market.
- Hype hype hype. Effectively building hype means talking about the product, building anticipation for the release date, and instilling FOMO in your following. Start out with teasers and leading up to a date of reveal. When you reveal what you’ve been working on, give a tour of the product (no details! But enough that they know they want it) and host a giveaway. As you work toward the official launch date (and you should set a launch date–see #1), it’s a great idea to get collaborators on board to reach a wider audience and to showcase the awesomeness of what you’re selling
- Collaborate & Influence. Maybe the best tool in your arsenal is jealousy. You want your instagram followers to go all Veruca Salt on your product–so give your golden egg to a few people with good followings. Have them talk about it. It can an influencer type relationships or a collaboration where you work with someone else or help promote their thing, too. Maybe a mix of both? The point is: you want people to see how cool it is to use the product (which is different from just seeing how the product is).
- Limit the Opportunity. So now you’ve got the word out and you’ve got buzz going and people waiting in line (sort of) to get your product. So what do you do to drive them to your site? Keep that sale window short. Have a 24-hour black friday sale. Have a Halloween sale. Have something that is time-limited so that people don’t put it off and lose interest. Or! Have a sale that goes a few months,. But be sure you emphasize the limited quantity.
All of this takes great strategy and execution, which is why we say to start planning now! Get in front of people multiple times so they want it. Then hype it, execute, and enjoy the holiday season.
Here’s the only good thing about shopping at Costco on a Saturday: free samples. I hate crowds, parking, and waiting in lines, but oh man do I love free samples. And you know what? It works! I never would have bought that bag of sausages with the special sauce if the lady hadn’t given me a piece fresh out of her little portable oven.
Your blog is a kind of free sample. It gives a taste for the quality of your work, establishes trust, and is totally free! You don’t want your blog there just talking up real estate on your site. You want it to be a resource for your visitors—and ideally, you want it to be the reason visitors come in the first place (like samples on a Saturday). Because if people go to your site to seek out your advice on something, or your reviews of a new product, you’ve established yourself as an expert in the field and a trusted resource. That’s how you get good business, loyal customers, and great referrals. In short, it’s how you generate leads.
Establish Yourself as the Expert
Everybody claims to be the best in an advertisement. This is your chance to show them that you actually are the best. You can solve the very problem they’re coming to you to get solved. As an expert, you understand not only what you do, but what that particular customer wants. When you can demonstrate that, you’ve got yourself a sale.
Write Great Pillar Articles
Pillar articles are in-depth articles that serve to both establish your expertise and drive traffic to your site. Write about four for your site, each one 1000 words. Take your time, do your research, and ensure that they’re engaging, readable, informative, and helpful. That’s how you rise up the search results rankings and get more and more people checking out your business. This is one area you probably want to hire out for. Read on to see why.
Use Calls to Action
Calls to Action are your opportunity to upgrade that reader to a customer, thought perhaps not directly. Put an opt-in form at the end of the post and make them a subscriber. Ask a question to get them talking in the comments or on your forum. Ask them to share the post on social media. Or direct them to your online store. Done right, your pillar content brings in new traffic and directs them to customerhood.
Produce High-Quality Content
Because these articles are so so crucial to your business, get them professionally produced. Get a designer to put together infographics. Get a writer to write the post with calls to action. Get someone to do the research for it. Since this will be the first thing many see, you want it to be stellar, the best content on your site.
Everything on your blog should be providing value to your customers. Produce your posts with that in mind, then direct them to the part of your site that will most benefit them. You’ll have no problem generating leads.