With a never-ending flow of new marketing ideas and innovations, it’s easy to jump on a trend too quickly without taking the right steps for proper execution. Marketing success in the new year is all about thinking differently to make your efforts smarter, faster, more nimble and relevant. With this in mind, consider taking a fresh approach to your current marketing strategies in the year ahead, rather than diving headfirst into a whole new idea.
While the following ideas may seem basic to some, many entrepreneurs are still not embracing these simple ways to modernize existing marketing efforts. Failure to implement the following tips can significantly diminish a startup’s competitive edge and could considerably set it back in 2018.
Understand mobile search
When people seek information, they connect to the device nearest them, which most often is a phone, tablet or voice-controlled speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home.
In fact, mobile devices account for more than half of the searches completed online, which means businesses that have not optimized for mobile searches might significantly hurt their bottom line in the year ahead.
Retailers can gauge their performance in mobile searches by asking Alexa or another digital assistant. If you ask where the nearest store is for the goods you sell and your business doesn’t come up in the results, then you’re not coming up for customers, either. Your location should be identified by the actual city of residence, rather than using a larger, more well-known city located nearby. For instance, don’t identify a suburban location as your Chicago store/office.
In order to rise above the competition, you need to make a mobile marketing strategy or mobile search strategy a top focus for 2018.
For starters, if you haven’t done search engine optimization (SEO) and followed its rules when building your website and its content, then you’re already 50 steps behind competitors because SEO is the starting point of all mobile searches. In addition to investing in SEO, you should sign into directories and make sure your Google information is up to date and accurate.
Embrace marketing automation
When a current or prospective customer completes an online transaction—whether it’s purchasing a product or downloading an eBook—the business should follow up with relevant communications. For new users, perhaps this is a welcome email, as well as a series of emails that will encourage activation, such as returning back to the site to view more content or scheduling a meeting. Seems simple, but many businesses are still not embracing this easy-to-implement tactic due to time constraints. This is not a valid excuse.
There are several marketing email platforms available, most of which have tools for marketing automation. Think of different series of emails you could send to users after a certain action is taken. For example, retailers should automatically send emails for the following reasons:
- Start with an email thanking a customer for the purchase, follow up with tracking the shipment and then continue communications by suggesting similar items.
- Target potential customers who have abandoned their shopping carts on your site by reminding them and offering an incentive to return to their cart. Continue communications by recommending similar or complementary items.
- Target customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while by sending an incentive and recommending items they might like based off their purchase history.
Each of these types of emails can be sent automatically via a marketing email platform, without any needed action on your end.
Take your marketing automation a step further by using artificial intelligence (AI) processes to create subject lines and actually write these emails. AI tools, such as Persado and Phrasee, create copy that resonates with your target audience and therefore increases response rates.
Marketing automation also provides the ability to test email communications and optimize what you’ve already done. Incorporating it into your 2018 marketing efforts will strengthen your business.
Ask their name and email
It’s the 21st century, and marketers are still afraid to capture names and emails of people who visit their site. It astonishes me that this is a true statement. This tactic should be the norm by now.
Tools like conversion rate optimization (CRO) display light boxes and ask visitors to sign up to receive special offers or more information. Often, the few marketers who have embraced this have the light box appear on the first page a person visits on the site. This is not an effective way to use this tool. Rather, set the tool to appear after the user has had a chance to browse the site; perhaps they’ve moved to a few different pages on the site or they want to leave.
Instead of asking them to sign up right away, your messaging would be, “Like what you see? Sign up…” or “Are you sure you want to leave? Sign up…” Test different instances of when this box should appear to determine the best route. Trying it one way won’t give you a true picture of its potential results.
Lead capture forms for subscriber lists should also be easy to find, toward the top of the web page.
Capturing subscriber names allows you to begin engaging with these people to build a relationship that can hopefully convert them to customers.
This group is also a good source of insights into how to better market the business. Ask them direct questions about what they want to see when it comes to your products or services and seek information about how they feel about the communications they’re receiving from you.
Personalize the online experience
When people walk into a business, generally they are greeted and hopefully the staff has built a rapport with them that they know who they are by name. How great would it be if you could translate this experience to your website? Great news: you can.
In 2018, your website should be able to greet customers by name and welcome them back to categories they had visited on your website.
Persistent IDs and connecting users’ identities to their name, email or phone number can make this a reality. Persistent IDs are a privacy-preserving identifier that is shared between the website visitor and the website, or business. Most commonly, these types of IDs are recognized as cookies, but many marketers today are turning to pixel marketing to track site visitors.
A marketing pixel is a small, invisible pixel on the website that includes snippets of code that allow you to gather valuable information about site visitors and their actions. The best part: cookie fighters don’t get rid of them. The pixels allow businesses to send site visitors relevant ads, measure campaign performance, track conversions and build audiences based on behavior. For example, pixel marketing can trigger an email to be sent to site visitors within hours of abandoning an online shopping cart, when they may still be inclined to make a purchase.
While the idea of being followed around the internet may seem mysterious and off-putting, tools like this are growing in popularity and are becoming imperative.
Rethink loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are nothing new, but today’s consumers want more. Traditional programs reward existing or passive behaviors with generic awards to reduce attrition. Interestingly, 20 percent of consumers never redeem their loyalty points.
Brands need to adapt to provide the engagement and customer experiences that modern consumers expect: interaction, personalization, shared values and new experiences, products or services. Modern loyalty programs should encourage engagement, reward specific milestones or behaviors, provide meaningful surprises and offer unique experiences as well as individualized incentives relevant to purchase history.
Take Starbucks, for example. There are myriad features on its app and a constant flow of fresh, new lifestyle content that excites its target audience. Those tapped into the loyalty program use their app to pay or order online and to receive notifications on their mobile devices when they are near a location, new incentives are available or a new limited time offer is in stores.
According to Accenture, more than 40 percent of U.S. consumers are loyal to organizations that present them with new experiences, products or services.
Starbucks consistently creates new opportunities that will generate an experience for consumers, enticing them to visit a location and share the experience on social media. This past Halloween we saw the picture-perfect Vampire and Zombie Frappuccinos, complete with blood dripping down the sides of the cup and brains floating on top. The most impressive, from a marketing standpoint, was the Unicorn Frappuccino. The not-so-tasty beverage had consumers flocking to stores to snap a pic of the flavor-changing, color-changing drink, racking up nearly 155,000 Instagram posts that drove in-store sales long after the promotion ended.
This is a prime example of what loyalty programs are all about, versus what they were just few years ago. The best loyalty programs include four points of interaction—social, retail, sharing and influencer—which have nothing to do with simply buying something and earning points.
Before diving right into some of the latest marketing hype, make sure you have wholly embraced the above. This will set your marketing program up for success in the new year and beyond.