4 Digital Marketing Resolutions for the New Year

At the risk of damning these ideas by calling them resolutions — which means we’ll swear we’re going to do them, but they never get done — here are four ideas worth adding to your plans for 2017.

Digital marketingAt the risk of damning these ideas by calling them resolutions – which means we’ll swear we’re going to do them, but they never get done – here are four ideas worth adding to your plans for 2017. (That’s a very manageable one per quarter for the whole year, so no excuses!)

Marketing Automation

For anyone working at anything smaller than enterprise level, marketing automation sounds scary – and unattainable – because of the expense. That’s not the case.

Yes, you can implement tools with some astronomical seat license fees, but without an enterprise-sized audience, you’re not going to reap a reasonable return. Instead, build (or upgrade) your website so that it’s focused on conversion. That means

  • Publishing content that generates interest
  • Developing calls to action to build your list
  • Automating your email for drip marketing

You can get fancier later with behavior-based triggers and other kinds of automation, but keep it simple to get started. Once you see results, you’ll be able to gauge how much of an investment makes sense.

Video Implementation

Another to-do list item that seems daunting and expensive. It doesn’t have to be. Even if you invest in full professional scripting, production and on-screen talent, video is useful in so many ways that you’ll be able to make your investment more than a one-shot deal.

One idea is to book your crew for a half-day shoot and prepare 5 or 6 – or more – pieces. If all but one of your pieces are evergreen, you can roll them out over the following few quarters as part of drip marketing campaign. Or you can shoot clips that will work as part of the time-based automation you have already put in place. (See above.)

Influencer Marketing

It’s not just in politics that we’re living in a “post-truth” world. It’s hard to believe anything you read anymore on just about any topic. Your prospects are skeptics, too. Which is why trusted sources become so valuable.

Organic or paid, connecting with influencers can be an incredibly productive way to increase your reach and your standing in the market place. Social media makes it easier than ever for you to reach the influencers. (And, in turn, for them to to have the incredible reach that you’re trying to leverage.)

The key is in finding influencers whose audiences overlap with your target audience, and whose services are complementary to yours.

Marketing Partnerships

Partnering with colleagues is almost 3a rather than 4, but since this is your resolution for the 4th quarter, we want to make it easy. (We all know how insane the 4th quarter can be …)

Again, the goal is to find colleagues whose audience overlaps with yours but whose services do not. The difference here is that you can frequently go one step further – or a step in a different direction – than you would with influence marketers by creating joint efforts to market around. (A wine shop and a restaurant can host wine-tasting dinners, a market research consultant and a digital marketer can create a consulting package, and so on.)

The four ideas above shouldn’t be an overwhelming amount of work for the new year – and they should provide you with a great return on the time and money you invest in them.

Let’s Do This, 2017: A Few Marketing Resolutions

Last January, I whipped up a list of New Year’s marketing resolutions for me and other young marketing professionals to shoot for in 2016. We don’t have to get into how many of them I successfully followed. In any case, it’s a brand new year now and it’s time for a brand new list.

Last January, I whipped up a list of New Year’s marketing resolutions for me and other young marketing professionals to shoot for in 2016. We don’t have to get into how many of them I successfully followed.

In any case, it’s a brand new year now and it’s time for a brand new list. (Keeping it shorter means a more likely 100 percent success rate.)

Group of people dressed in business attire racing on track. Some slight motion blur on people.
Look, our good friends People in Business Suits Doing Athletic Things are back!

Use A/B Testing Way More Often

I’m so embarrassed at how little of this I actually do. The number of times per week I think to myself “Ugh, these two subject lines both seem appealing but which one is the true winner which ONE??!!,” but ultimately blindly make the call and pray … well, it’s a lot of times. Not to mention the age-old question “would the text-only or graphics-heavy version of this email work best?”

Clearly, the simple and intelligent answer is A/B testing, yet it always seems to come down to an “if I only had the time” pipe dream. Or, in cases when I would need different versions of creative, “if the art department only had the time.”

But, seeing as it’s been proven time and time again that testing works (I mean, logic, right?) I think 2017 is the year I stop making excuses and start making the time. If I can complete even one test per campaign I’d be satisfied. Who’s with me?

Do More Research

This one’s more or less inspired by the previous. There’s just so much brilliant marketing research being done every day, new statistics and new reports and new blogs about statistics and reports, it can get a little overwhelming. But it’s also information that could make my job a whole lot easier and more successful in the long run. In 2017, I’m planning to learn and grow more from the insight and intelligence of others in the field, starting with all the resources right here in my http://targetmarketing.adweek.com/ home.

Write Outside of Work

Before I went to college to major in professional writing, I did a lot more writing in my free time, as you can imagine. Now that I spend a good portion of my days writing promotional copy, I still don’t write in my spare time much. This might sound like more of a personal goal than a professional one, but it’s my personal belief (and many in the writing profession agree) that getting those creative juices flowing with no pressure, no deadlines, and no constraints can only improve the writing you do from 9-5. Even if it’s just journaling about my day or blogging about the latest episode of Sherlock (anticlimax much???), I’m hoping to incorporate writing into my non-working life every single day in 2017.

The 7 Things I Wish All Marketers Would Change

As 2016 winds down, let’s all make a vow — whether you use this list or make your own, let’s just agree that we all need to set our standards higher and aim to be smarter in every aspect of our marketing efforts. To get your creative juices started, here’s my list of things I am committed to change in 2017.

As 2016 winds down, let’s all make a vow — whether you use this list or make your own, let’s just agree that we all need to set our standards higher and aim to be smarter in every aspect of our marketing efforts. To get your creative juices started, here’s my list of things I am committed to change in 2017.

1. Stop using overused words, phrases and symbols

This years’ list includes: alignment, synergistic, net-net, personalized, narrative, #, and “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Oh, and try to avoid made-up words like “braggadocious.”

2. Stop adding me to your email list without my knowledge

I spend a lot of down time over the holidays unsubscribing to newsletters, alerts, sales notices and emails that I never read before hitting the “delete” button. And, if asked why I am unsubscribing, I tell them — and yes, it’s probably because I have no idea how I got on the list in the first place.

3. Stop linking Tweets to gated content

This is a particular pet peeve of mine. Clearly you’ve written an enticing 140 character intro to a topic of interest, but if it links to gated content and I’m not a member (and membership is not free), the likelihood of my joining just to access it is extremely low. Instead, it only serves to annoy me.

4. Stop sending me money-off messages after I’ve made a large purchase

Like many, I like to shop online and often a new catalog prompts me to use a new e-tailer. But after spending big bucks, don’t send me a “welcome to the family — take 20 percent off on your next purchase.” That just makes me regret my initial purchase, consider returning my items and then using the coupon to buy again at a lower price. Instead, why not offer me a “credit rebate” based on my initial purchase amount? I’ll gladly browse again knowing I have a few bucks in the bank to spend on your site.

5. Stop selling me after I call to complain

When I call a company with an issue or complaint, I simply want to be treated with respect, concern and understanding. Once the issue is resolved, I don’t want a sales pitch for another product.

6. Stop sending me cold prospecting emails asking for a meeting

The passive aggressive tone of your email (“I’m following up on my earlier request… didn’t you get it?”) is the lazy man’s way of setting sales meetings. Oh, and you must have all gone to the same sales training class, because I get at least five a week with the exact same copy, just <<insert company name/product name here>>.

7. Stop believing that social media is the marketing holy grail

Enough said.

2016: What Did I Know?

Very early this year, I set down a series of predictions for what we’d see in 2016. Now that the run of the year is mostly behind us, it’s time to find out: What did I know?

Very early this year, I set down a series of predictions for what we’d see in 2016. Now that the run of the year is mostly behind us, it’s time to find out: What did I know?

1. Social media advertising is going to get bigger and bigger. I’m not saying that just because of the size of the networks or the time Americans spend on them. The real tipping point factor here is the ability to target your message to a small audience, and deliver it pretty accurately just to them.

Tribalism is one of the more important factors influencing all media today: People want to see only things they want and/or agree with, and the ability to build a custom social circle that filters news and conversations they’re exposed to reinforces this. To maximize the effectiveness of ads, and minimize the chance for a faux pas turns into a major PR disaster (I’m looking at you, Bloomingdale’s “spiked eggnog” ad), advertisers should be trying to capitalize on those same mechanisms.

The social networks, with their in-platform targeting options, are going to benefit from that development.

Frankly, i think predicting that social media advertising was going to get bigger was basically cheating. Of course it was going to get bigger.

socialmediaadvertisingBut I think I tuned a bit more into my inner Nostradamus with the bit about Tribalism. That played out like a Ocean’s 11 bank heist throughout the course of the 2016 election. It got so bad that fake news out-performed real news across Facebook this year.

Tribalism is a powerful force. People care about reinforcing their beliefs so much that it far outweighs facts or proof. With that in mind, I’m starting to wonder what marketing could look like in what you might call a “post-truth world.”

2. More marketers are going to use personas, they’re going to use more of them, and they’re going to get more sophisticated. Again, this is about targeting and understanding your audience. As marketers move further away from campaign-based strategies and deeper into personalized, ongoing marketing, the ability to optimize ads, offers, landing pages and whole websites to a segment of your audience is essential to successful execution.

The growth of individual-level data for targeting and personalization isn’t going to replace the need to do a lot of strategizing and optimization at a segment level (i.e., personas). The ability to build useful personas, include more factors in them (especially behavioral factors), and use those insights to boost ROI is going to be a major factor in the success of online marketing.

I think I might have been behind the state of the art on this one. Personas are important to marketing, but I feel like the growth area has really been on moving beyond personas and using machine learning to do things like find look-alikes or identify buying behaviors.

3. Google updates are going to cause less chaos. Google’s aim in refining its algorithms has become pretty clear: Google wants to give searchers what they want. If you deliver web pages that satisfy the person who entered that search query, you’re likely to continue to do well with Google. If you’re manipulating your site to get more SEO traction, you’re likely to take a hit at some point in the future.

Don’t aim for where Google is today, aim for where it’s going: Make search visitors happy.

I haven’t had to describe what i mean by the term “Google Ball” all year (a reference to “Calvin Ball” from Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin changes the rules every time to suit him), so I think this one worked out pretty well. AMP is a big deal, of course, and page load speed in general has been emphasized, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything as disruptive as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.

Google is big business now, and unpredictability is bad for big businesses. I think Google is trying to shed its reputation for volatile rules changes and give website owners a more stable rules set they can count on.

4. You’re going to see more brand marketing in online direct marketing spaces. This ties into No. 1 a little bit, too. From banner ads to email and content marketing, a lot of online marketing evolved around direct marketing tactics and the call to action. I think you’re going to see more of that online marketing done as a way to promote brand content that in the past would have become a TV ad spot. The Ford In Focus videos Melissa talked about yesterday are a part of this trend. So is Red Bull’s content marketing.

This is a recognition of the content marketing fact that you need to earn time with your audience by giving them something they want to watch instead of constantly interrupting them. These types of content could have smaller audiences online, but they’re getting much more attention from the audiences they do attract. And the content can be targeted to those audiences can be targeted more effectively.

In essence, target marketing is becoming more important, even if it’s a little less direct than it used to be.

Every year, it gets harder to draw a line where direct marketing ends and brand marketing begins. But I don’t think the branding role has significantly moved online or displaced CTA-focused online ads.

The exception to that doesn’t come in the online ad space, but in the continued growth in content marketing and targeted distribution of that content.

So there’s my moment of accountability for 2016! How do you think I did? Are those predictions pretty much in line with what you saw? Are they what you expect to see in 2017? Let me know in the comments.